Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Ceremony and Reception Timing Dilemma

Here's the dilemma: I am having a traditional Catholic wedding on a Saturday afternoon. There is a mass at 4:00, and I can either have my wedding at 2:30 or 5:30. The problem is that my guests can't arrive at the reception site until 6:30 pm. What do the guests do with the time in between? Should I have a later wedding ceremony, and risk not being able to get all of the pictures I want?

Re: Ceremony and Reception Timing Dilemma

  • I have to have my Catholic wedding ceremony at 1:00 that is the only option.  For out of town guests I am going to provide a list of some things to do around our city in between the 2 events (putt-putt, sites to see, or one of a kind stores in the area) We are going to put the ideas in the welcome bags for when they check into the hotels. Another option that some do is taking pics before the wedding... For me thats not an option I want to see him first time at the ceremony. Or you could take all of the seperate pics before. You may also want to talk to your photographer about lighting concerns if you wait for the later wedding.
  • I really dislike gaps, I find them to be rude and very inconvenient. If you can, have the ceremony at 5:30 (that way they can proceed directly to the reception) or have the ceremony at 2:30 and move the reception time up. Most gaps are avoidable but exist because brides and grooms want to have a church wedding and an evening reception. In a case like that it is completely avoidable. There are very few cases when a gap is completely unavoidable and wanting to have an evening reception is not one of those cases. Providing something to do (hospitality suite at a hotel, for example) is better than nothing, but I never find the need to go to the hotel and check in or freshen up (which is logic used by many a bride to explain the gap).
  • What about cocktail hour? You could have a 5:30 ceremony (every Catholic wedding ceremony I've ever been to is loooong anyway). Then send your guests off to the reception site, where they can have appetizers, hour de vours, cocktails, wine, etc. It gives guest an opportunity to mingle with one another. We're having a cocktail hour. To save money on music, a friend of ours is playing piano for some background music and ambience. Two close friends who are not immediate family or in the wedding party are acting as hosts until our parents arrive after pictures, followed by our bridal party. I think that's what cocktail hours are for at fill in the gap. Guests will be mingled, have a little snack in their tummies, and be loosened up and in a good mood by the time you arrive. Then the dining and party can begin! Is it an outdoor wedding? If so, you may have an opportunity to set up some casual fun lawn games that people can play while they wait for you to arrive and others mingle. Not necessary, just a suggestion!
  • I forgot to mention, since you said your guests can't arrive until 6:30... Does your reception site have a garden area that they'd be willing to let you use as a cocktail hour spot? Or perhaps your church may have one? A Catholic church I used to go to years ago had a beautiful garden outside, and I'm guessing that brides used it creatively a time or two.
  • I don't see why there would be a problem if you had a 5:30 ceremony - that would be perfect! After your ceremony, your guests can go to the reception venue, it should be pretty close to 6:30 by then.  Have a cocktail hour while you take pictures, that is what they are for anyway. Please don't intentionally build in a 2 or 3 hour gap just for pictures.  Take all of your pics prior to the wedding, or at the very minimum, EVERY pic you can without the 2 of you.  I wil only take 45 min or so to finish up after the ceremony and you will be arriving right at the end of the cocktail hour.  Perfect.
  • Have your wedding at 5:30 Reception starts immediatly after at 6:30 for coacktail hour. you take all the pictures you want that just involve either you or fi seperate before the wedding. You take teh few that involve both of you immediatly after the wedding then join the reception for dinner at 7:30
  • 5:30 would be perfect. Mass: 5:30-6:30 Cocktail hour (while you do pics) 6:30-7:30 (or push back for travel time) You are introduced, dinner is served 7:30-8. If you do some light apps during cocktail hour, people won't be starving, even if 8 is later for dinner for them. Even if you decide not to see each other before the ceremony, you can still do the bulk of your pictures before. You with your BMs, your family, etc. FI with his family, his GMs, etc. Then leave just the pics with both you and the groom for the hour break. That's plenty of time. If you go with the 2:30 mass, you can do all your pics after, but your guests are stuck. The only polite thing to do in that situation is to host your guests somewhere during the break. It doesn't have to be fancy, but a place where they can go and have some refreshments. No one wants to wonder around the city or go to a museum dressed up in fancy wedding clothes, so your guests would end up skipping the ceremony, skipping the reception, sitting in their cars in front of the reception for 3 hours, or going to a bar for 3 hours. We were stuck with an early mass, and trying to figure it out. The cost of hosting everyone in a suite in the hotel (even with soda and snacks) was a lot more than just getting the extra hours and starting our reception at 4.
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