Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Acceptable Distance from Ceremony to Reception

Re: Acceptable Distance from Ceremony to Reception

  • Hi all, 

    We have gotten to the point in the planning process where we are essentially down to two venues. The problem is we hope to get married in the family Church and there wasn't an awesome venue too close. The church is in the outer limits of the suburbs. Google maps says the preferred venue is 37 minutes from the Church. Our second venue option is about 20 minutes. 

    Is 37 minutes too far if all the following is true:
    1. The Church is 28 minutes from the hotel 
    2. The hotel is 10 minutes from the venue (Its a hotel park with about 8 options of varying prices)
    3. We will offer a shuttle from the hotel to the reception and back.
    4. There will be a 2-3 hour gap between the ceremony and cocktail hour regardless because of the times offered by the Catholic Church. 

    My thought is that if there is a gap it doesn't make too much a difference if the venue is 5 minutes or 40 minutes because people will need to fill that space anyway. People may stop at home if they live close to the church, or if they are staying at the hotel go there. The venue will also let people get there early. 

    I have made the drive during the time of day and week the wedding will be and it would be very surprising if traffic was an issue. 
    I know we can try to find another church, just trying to decide if that is 100% necessary if we want to stay with the preferred venue. 

    Is this too far? If yes, is there anything that we could provide that would make it more acceptable to you?

    Appreciate the feedback!
    #4 isn't acceptable.  You'll need to look into either different ceremony times if possible or different venues. 

    Believe me I get it.  I am Catholic and had a Catholic ceremony.  We looked hard to find a reception venue that worked with our timing.  Ultimately we planned it so there was no gap at all.  The ceremony was over an hour, we had a receiving line and then the reception started after a 20 minute ride between the ceremony and reception venue.  

    The above really is a must.  Some will call it a Catholic Gap or something expected but it is rude and you need to revamp plans and look into a different venue as plan C if it ultimately requires that. 

    Once you figure it out, try to keep that to less than 30 minutes and that's with traffic.  

    Ex: when I got married we loved a venue on the water.  We knew that based on the timing the 25 minute drive could have ballooned with shore traffic so it was a non starter for us. 
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Agree with PP. Your real issue here is the gap. You need to find a venue that will allow you to start your reception immediately following the ceremony, accounting for travel. Leaving a gap is quite rude.

    That said, 20-30 minutes is the maximum amount of time that you should allow for travel between ceremony and reception. Shorter is better, especially in cities that may have traffic concerns.

    Our ceremony mass was at 2, ending at 3. We didn't do a receiving line. Travel time was about 25 minutes, so refreshments started at 3:30. We had a little bit of a longer cocktail hour with the main part of the reception starting at 5. 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Deliberately planning for a gap between the ceremony and reception, even for a Catholic wedding, is rude. So you need to look for a venue that can begin your reception as soon as the ceremony ends.

    Do your best to minimize the distance and travel time between the ceremony and reception venues. 30 minutes of travel time is reasonable, but no more than that.
  • Thanks for the feedback everyone!

    I didn't realize that was even an issue. Every Catholic wedding I have been to has a 2-3 hour gap in the middle and I just thought that was customary. Thanks you!
  • Also, What is good about the far venue is that it will allow us to start the cocktail hour at any time. So if we moved it up so there would not be a long gap (just appropriate travel time) Would that be too far?
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Totally agree, if you can avoid a gap by adding an extra 10-15 minutes of travel time it isn't an issue.
  • Agree that I'll take 10-15 minutes in a car if it means I'm getting a cold beverage as soon as I get inside.  

    I've done the Catholic Gap a few times.  They bore the snot out of me and make me feel like I'm sitting around just wrinkling up my dress clothes.  I do not "get" the concept. 
  • I agree that, while no more than 30 minutes away between the ceremony and reception venue is optimal, I think 37 minutes is close enough.  Especially since that is the location that will work with the time you need to start the cocktail hour when people arrive, instead of having a 2-hour gap.
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  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Also, What is good about the far venue is that it will allow us to start the cocktail hour at any time. So if we moved it up so there would not be a long gap (just appropriate travel time) Would that be too far?

    Avoiding a gap is key to proper hosting.  I have to ask, however, as to how long your cocktail "hour" will last.  Hopefully, you would be pushing all reception events up, and not just hosting an incredibly lengthy cocktail hour. 
    My DD had a Catholic Mass.  It is hard because many parishes need to offer those Masses early enough to accommodate Saturday evening parish services.  But it is really important to keep your guests in mind.  I have declined attendance at weddings that involved a gap that was beyond acceptable.  For one, although I was considered a "local" guest, the wedding was in the city.  I did not need a hotel.  I was expected to "find something to do" for 4 hours dressed in formal attire on a summer Saturday afternoon.  For a different OOT event, a lengthy gap forced us to get a hotel.
    Please do all you can to avoid this as your guests will appreciate it! 
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