Wedding Reception Forum

Ceremony to Reception site - how far is too far?

I apologize if this has been covered, I'm new to the boards and after a quick glance through recent topics I didn't see it.  Someone please point me to other threads if I've missed it.

Our ceremony site and reception site are going to be two different places.  The ceremony site is special to us, it's the church where I grew up, we're pretty much set on that.  The drawback to the church is that it doesn't have a great reception space, and they don't allow drinking.  Bottom line is we want wine with dinner so we need to find another site for the reception.

So what we're running into now, is that there aren't a lot of choices (other than other churches, which doesn't help us out any) in the town where we're getting married for reception sites.  We're expanding our search to nearby areas, but I'm afraid of getting too far out and it getting complicated and being more of a hassle than we want our day to be.

Some of our guests will be traveling a few hours to get to the area for the wedding, and available hotels are about 20 mins away from the ceremony site (between the ceremony site and potential reception sites). 

My question is:  if you were a guest at a wedding and you were provided with a map and directions between sites, how far would be too far to drive between a ceremony site and a reception site?  30 mins? 45? What's your threshold?

Re: Ceremony to Reception site - how far is too far?

  • This does get asked a lot and I think the general consensus is that anything more than about 30 minutes between is too far. 

    If the hotels are 20 minutes from the ceremony site, can you find a reception site near the hotels?  Or even at the hotels if any of them have banquet rooms?  That way if the guests have to drive to the ceremony, at least they'll come back near their hotels for the dinner.  Also check restaurants that have private rooms or banquet rooms. 
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  • lipovace lipovace member
    First Comment
    edited December 2009
    My wedding is about a 25 minute drive to the reception.  I had a hard time making this decision.  Thinking people would skip out on one or the other it made me hesitant, plus what would they do in the meantime while I took pictures. 
    What made me decide that it was okay is that true friends will take the drive, it isn't a big deal because my friends and family know its my special day.  All of my family is coming from out of town so what made me feel better was having the hotel close to the reception site, then the drive was only to the wedding.  I say go for it, you only get married once and you want everything to be about what you want, and whatever will make you happiest!! 
  • I don't think there's a hard and fast threshhold.  30 minutes is a decent guideline, but if I were in a strange city and didn't have a car of my own, faced with a 30 minute trip I'd probably skip the ceremony.

    Think outside the norm with your reception venues.  Art galleries, bowling alleys, movie theatres, public parks, museums...  If people can go there, eat, and relax, it can host a reception.  I would definitely try to find a reception site around the hotels where people will be staying.
    This is a neglected planning bio.
    This is a belated married bio, with no reviews yet because I'm lazy.

    Sometimes I feel like people think that brides are delicate little flower princesses who get all dressed up and pretty for one special moment of their dreams, when really they're just normal people who just happen to be getting married. Things shouldn't have to be sugar-coated for grown-ass women. -mstar284
  • In Response to <a href="">Re: Ceremony to Reception site - how far is too far?</a>:
    [QUOTE]I say go for it, you only get married once and you want everything to be about what you want, and whatever will make you happiest!! 
    Posted by lipovace[/QUOTE]

    Be careful not to fall into that trap.  Yes it is your wedding day, and your FI's, but you are also hosting your guests that are taking time and money to travel to your wedding and to buy you gifts.  You need to keep them forefront in your mind and make sure you aren't doing anything to make the day really difficult for them.  Yes they are you family and best friends, but that doesn't mean you can offend them.  They may not tell you to your face, but they'll think it and talk about it.
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  • I think it also depends on the area you're in and your guests.  Where I am, most of my guests live in small towns and drive 30-45 minutes one way to work, or the mall, or whatever, so driving 30 mins in between my ceremony location and reception location isn't a big deal.  That being said, my reception is taking place in a hotel, so there won't be any additional after-reception driving time required. That might be a good compromise for you, like pp said, if you can find a place for your reception that's closer to a hotel
  • I would run this question by your local board as well, since the "thresholds" seem to vary by area sometimes. Your local girls will have a better idea of your particular area and the amount of reception sites available.

    In my area, it's pretty typical to drive up to about 30-45 minutes to get to a reception hall. The "gaps" of up to 2-3 hours are also fairly common here, although people always say that it's nice if you can nix those altogether.

    The most I ever drove was maybe an hour away (more with traffic), AND there was a long gap on top of that. That was pretty annoying.

  • I think 30 minutes is about the max I'd be comfortable with.  I've been to a wedding where we had to drive 45 minutes before, and it was annoying. 

    If you do end up needing something further than that, I'd pick a reception at or near a hotel, and arrange some sort of shuttle or something, especially if people aren't familiar with the area.  I'd be a lot happier riding an hour if I don't have to pay attention to the road and I can chat with relatives.
  • I recently went to a wedding this past weekend where the church and reception site were over an hour apart and no one seemed to mind in the least. Guests had more than enough notice between STDs and invitations about the distance and many people ended up staying at a hotel together afterwards and had a great after party! I think it just comes down to your type of guests and what they are typically use to... Good luck and I'm sure whatever you decide will be great!
  • The longest drive I did was an hour.  I didn't mind because the reception was closer to my home.

    In general I think it 30 minutes is a good gauge.  But I would not decide on attending a wedding or not based on how far the venues are.  I just go with the flow.

    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • I don't think that's too far. Not sure what the hotels are like, but bigger hotels have ballrooms...maybe you can look into that for the reception. My guests are ALL out-of-towners and will be driving about 45 mins from the church to the reception.
    Good luck!
    Rebecca & Matt...June 26, 2010 My Bio
  • I had this exact problem. I wouldn't settle on the wedding site. It was the church my parents were married in and where I was baptized. It is about 30 minutes from my reception site. I looked for a closer reception site but there was nothing around that was in our price range and the church site wouldn't allow alcohol. We decided that we would let the guests know on our STD about the distance and also we have an hour between ceremony and reception. We do realize that some guest will skip the ceremony and we decided that we didn't have a problem with that. Ultimately we decided that this is what we wanted and that we can't accomadate every guest.
  • I've been to a wedding where the reception was at the hotel everyone was staying at and the ceremony was 45 mins away, it wasn't that big of a deal to us, but some people might find it irritating. I would say do what you want, you can only accomodate guests so much, especially if the church is special to you, don't give up what you want for your wedding. maybe offer shuttles from the church to the reception
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