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Etiquette

Rationalizing The Catholic Gap?

My fiancée and his family are extremely sentimental people, as well as devout Catholics. It means a lot to him that we get married in the same church and venue in that his parents were married in. The church and venue are both spectacular, however we are not allowed to have a ceremony later than 2, and the venue won't start a cocktail hour earlier than 5.

Everyone on his side of the family is used to gaps and doesn't think this is a big deal at all, however I'm concerned that many of my close friends and relatives (almost all non-Catholics) will resent us or not show up to the ceremony because of this timeline. To make things even more complicated, this is a rather large wedding (~350 people) and his parents are footing the vast majority of the bill so I don't feel like I can push back on them without looking like a brat... I have looked at other churches in the area but they either don't have a big enough capacity, or also have a time restriction forcing a gap.

I'm doing the whole "Here's local activities in Milwaukee!" on the wedding website, but it feels like I might as well say "Prepare to fend for yourselves for two hours in dress clothes!". I've brought up the idea of somehow hosting everyone during the gap (Open a Bar tab? Someone's house?), but every option just seems not practical for a group our size. FH/FMIL is firmly convinced that people want to "freshen up / put up their feet" before the reception. Anyone have ideas of how to tackle this or do I just need to suck it up?
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Re: Rationalizing The Catholic Gap?

  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    edited March 14
    Two hours is way too long to have people wait for a cocktail hour to begin even if they are hosted for that whole time. I think you need to have a talk with your FI and come to an agreement about a change of venue for the reception. I understand about the church having a time restriction but surely you can find another venue that would start cocktail hour earlier. It is just rude to ask people to hang around in dress clothes for that long. You may have to decline you future in-law's money if they stick to their guns about the venue though. There is the saying of those who pay get a say.
    OurWildKingdomInLoveInQueensJen4948
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
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    edited March 14
    Change your venue. Get married in the same church, but have a venue that starts immediately after your ceremony. 

    Totally fine to have your wedding at 2. What is not OK is to have people wait around afterwards.
    OurWildKingdomInLoveInQueens
  • @ShesSoCold ;
    There's a lot of kneeling and standing during mass as well, so maybe that can be exhausting?.. (only kidding). Unfortunately the church does not allow any activities after the ceremony itself because they have a Saturday service in the late afternoon. I'm told by fiancée that a brunch wedding is off the table due to the needs of their small family business (dead serious, FH and father in law will both be working the morning of our wedding. w/e)...

    I would absolutely be open to a new venue, but I don't think I can argue against one that has such a deep sentimental value to my fiancée and his parents. The Knot Etiquette doesn't hold any weight to these people! 

    @ILoveBeachMusic ;
    I would rather force people find something to do for 2 hours than cut my guest list down to 30 because that's all I can afford haha. I think at this point I'll just tell people privately that I won't be offended by them missing the ceremony...
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
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    OP I still think you are wrong here. You need to stand up to your ILs and FI. I don't know if most of your guests are in town or out of town. If I were an OT guest I'd be super pissed at having a 2 hour gap in a town with which I was unfamiliar. I might not say anything to your face, but I sure as hell would talk about it. If I were an in town guest I would probably go to the ceremony and skip the reception. To me the most important event is the ceremony - seeing the two people married. @ShesSoCold is right, if you don't stand your ground now, you will be giving in to your in laws your entire marriage. Set boundaries now.
    OurWildKingdomInLoveInQueens
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
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    edited March 14
    I was raised catholic and have been to literally dozens of catholic weddings. Somehow almost everyone figured out a way to make it work without a gap, because they're not assholes. And in the one case where there was a gap, most of us waited it out at a local bar where we got a little drunk and complained about how rude it was the whole time. Believe me, the couple was not excited to greet a bunch of drunk, irritated guests. It really drained the fun out of the reception. 

    It's clear that your FILs don't care about your guests. But these are your guests. It's not a trivial thing like the color of napkins; this is a hill worth dying on. It's extremely rude and it's directly impacting how you are treating your friends and family. Even if it means turning down their money, don't let them push you around on this. You have lots of options: Friday wedding, daytime wedding, different venue, worst case, gap venue. The fact that it's their way or the highway and your FI is going along with that is a huge problem.

    Stand up for yourself and your marriage now. Like PP says, if you let them control this, you're setting the precedent that they can control everything for the rest of your lives. 
    OurWildKingdomInLoveInQueensMobKaz
  • @ShesSoCold ;
    That's great to hear that your wedding worked out so well! I would feel so sad if I could only share the day with 30 friends and family, but everyone is different and that's okay. My personal feelings are that two hours of one day is not worth souring the relationship with the people who will be in my life for the next 40+ years. Again, you may have a different point of view but that's fine.

    Having a less than great wedding timeline (1 day) is not equivalent to having someone name your child for a lifetime so don't be ridiculous. How am I being a doormat if they're literally shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for what they want?
  • Find a venue that does a tea party type reception. Then you can segue into cocktails and dinner. But avoid the gap. It really isn't necessary. The only reason gaps ever exist is because people think all receptions must be dinner receptions, but that just isn't true. It's common, sure, and most people like it that way, but you can have a really nice tea reception that ends at 5. Or you can start with that and go on into a cocktail and dinner party.

    And I disagree with your ILs that brunch won't work. If the queen of England thinks its okay to host a wedding breakfast for her grandkids' weddings, it's fine for us commoners.

    Full disclosure, we had a brunch wedding reception for our D's Catholic wedding last summer. Full mass starting at 10:45, out of there by noon, and off to the reception immediately following. Bloodies, mimosas, wine, beer, champagne, brunch foods. Over by 4. Lot of leftover cake!
    OurWildKingdomcharlotte989875
  • @ShesSoCold ;
    That's great to hear that your wedding worked out so well! I would feel so sad if I could only share the day with 30 friends and family, but everyone is different and that's okay. My personal feelings are that two hours of one day is not worth souring the relationship with the people who will be in my life for the next 40+ years. Again, you may have a different point of view but that's fine.

    Having a less than great wedding timeline (1 day) is not equivalent to having someone name your child for a lifetime so don't be ridiculous. How am I being a doormat if they're literally shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for what they want?
    Is it their wedding or yours?  
    OurWildKingdomnightnerdInLoveInQueenscharlotte989875
  • CasadenaCasadena
    500 Comments Fourth Anniversary 250 Love Its Name Dropper
    member
    edited March 14

    I mean, it seems like you know this is shitty but you're not going to do anything to change it.  That's fine, but be prepared for people to be annoyed by it. 

    I have been to probably 25 weddings in the last 8 years and I can think of ONE that did not have a gap (not including mine).  So is it super common? Yes.  Is it super annoying and avoidable every single stupid time?  Also, yes. 

    ETA: If I were in your shoes I would at least have the conversation with my fiancé and IL's to say that having a gap is rude and many people will think so.  You'd prefer to not have that, so what can you do to work it out.  That way at least it's on them for being poor hosts.  Just my two cents.

    nightnerdInLoveInQueenscharlotte989875STARMOON44
  • @ShesSoCold ;
    While that's true, I'm not bridezilla. My FIL's literally cried when we toured this venue that they got married in because of how nostalgic it was. They even pointed out where they had their first dance (his mom is in a wheelchair now). At this point I'm thinking that putting my foot down over a 2 hour gap will make me look like a bigger asshole than having the gap itself. 
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
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    @ShesSoCold ;
    There's a lot of kneeling and standing during mass as well, so maybe that can be exhausting?.. (only kidding). Unfortunately the church does not allow any activities after the ceremony itself because they have a Saturday service in the late afternoon. I'm told by fiancée that a brunch wedding is off the table due to the needs of their small family business (dead serious, FH and father in law will both be working the morning of our wedding. w/e)...

    I would absolutely be open to a new venue, but I don't think I can argue against one that has such a deep sentimental value to my fiancée and his parents. The Knot Etiquette doesn't hold any weight to these people! 

    @ILoveBeachMusic ;
    I would rather force people find something to do for 2 hours than cut my guest list down to 30 because that's all I can afford haha. I think at this point I'll just tell people privately that I won't be offended by them missing the ceremony...
    What are you going to do when they insist that your first daughter be named Beulah because of deep sentimental value? I don't know your in-laws but if you keep giving them inches (and I think a huge gap is bigger than "inches"), they're going to get used to you being a doormat and they'll start taking miles.

    Both my mom and my H's mom offered to pay for our wedding in full if we changed our plans. We declined and planned the wedding we wanted with our money (ironically we didn't get that wedding, but for other reasons). That really helped set the tone for our marriage and helped MIL understand that she does NOT have a say in it. 

    ETA again - I had 30 guests at my wedding and it was pretty great. Just sayin'.
    I had 15 guests at mine. It was awesome. Even when we were planning something bigger (long story I won’t go into here), we made sure there wouldn’t be a gap.
    eileenrobInLoveInQueens
  • @OurWildKingdom That's awesome. It was my priority as well to not have a gap. But frankly it appears that I am outnumbered (FH+ his parents), out priced (they're paying), and my wanting a smooth day for our guests matters less than my fiancé wanting to carry on a family tradition. It's tricky all around. :neutral:
  • @Casadena ;
    Believe me I would NOT be posting this if I hadn't already had the conversation! My concerns were brushed off as silly. They don't see the rudeness in it that I (any many others on this thread) do. They make the argument that these people are "adults" and can entertain themselves in a big city for two hours in summertime without it mattering.

    I haven't decided if I will do anything to change it yet because I am only 1/2 of people getting married so everything isn't up to me. 
  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
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    I hate that it’s called the Catholic gap. I grew up Catholic, have been to dozens of Catholic weddings in my life. I’ve only been to one that had a long gap, and that one didn’t end well because my BF at the time and my brother had words and almost took a swing at each other.

    Don’t take that risk. Stand up to your future in-laws or elope.
    InLoveInQueenseileenrobMobKaz
  • Can you add a receiving line and then add a cocktail hour at the venue?  If your event starts at 2 it will end at 3 and then a receiving line could add another 10-15 minutes.   How long of a drive is it to locations that would have your reception?  

    If you can make your reception at 4 assuming a 20 minute or so ride, you have no gap.   Can you make it work that way?
    OurWildKingdom
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    You know this is rude, and you should not do it. Not sure why you're here asking for advice if you don't want to take any of it. 

    Find a different venue. It's great that your FILs had a great time at their reception all those years ago, and it's sentimental for them. But this is your wedding. I think it's silly to have to choose this venue for these reasons. 

    OurWildKingdomcharlotte989875MyNameIsNotInLoveInQueens
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Why are you here? Everyone is telling you its rude, and you keep doubling down. 

    It sounds like you just want permission to be a dick.

    So here it is: be a rubbish host to appease your inlaws, but you have to own it. And you have to own the fact there is going to be a lot of whinging and complaining about your wedding. 

    Gaps are dick moves. 
    OurWildKingdomInLoveInQueensMobKaz
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    member
    Change your reception venue to eliminate the gap. If anyone complains, tell them that since they picked the church, they picked the consequences as well. Gaps are rude -- Catholic or non-Catholic.
    InLoveInQueensOurWildKingdom
  • Something to consider about Milwaukee - if you've got a home game the day of your wedding or any sort of crowded event (State Fair, Summerfest, concert, etc.), they very well may end up stuck in traffic between your ceremony and reception site.  (speaking from experience here!)..  

    But really, Ceremony at 2, that means wrapped at 3, receiving line for 300+, and you're not really going to end up with much if any gap for the size of event.  
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  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
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    I hate that it’s called the Catholic gap. I grew up Catholic, have been to dozens of Catholic weddings in my life. I’ve only been to one that had a long gap, and that one didn’t end well because my BF at the time and my brother had words and almost took a swing at each other.

    Don’t take that risk. Stand up to your future in-laws or elope.
    110%.   It is NOT a Catholic gap.  This is an "I want what I want and don't care that I will be a poor host to get it" gap.

    I will not attend a wedding that has a gap.  It forces me to choose between a ceremony and a reception.  The reception is to thank guests for attending their ceremony.  

    I agree with everyone else.  OP, you want a dream wedding paid for by someone else and you will throw them all under the bus as an excuse for what is ultimately YOUR choice.  You are choosing to be thoughtless to your guests.
    OurWildKingdom
  • I think you should try everything you can to avoid it but sometimes it happens. I have gone to weddings in small rural towns where there literally aren't other options and I have dealt with the gap. It's not the end of the world though not preferred.
    MesmrEwe
  • I think you should try everything you can to avoid it but sometimes it happens. I have gone to weddings in small rural towns where there literally aren't other options and I have dealt with the gap. It's not the end of the world though not preferred.
    This!

    I've not only had to deal with the gap in small towns, but the B&G and/or parents of the couple being dairy farmers, milking time is milking time!  Dinner is served when they're finished and cleaned back up..  
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