Catholic Weddings

Catholic Gap??

After the thread about the gap, I'm curious as to how common the gap is?



Re: Catholic Gap??

  • I never heard of a gap until TK,even for my cousins' Boston weddings.  Around here, most people get married at 2, and have a reception immediately following.  I wouldn't like a gap.  Unless you're my best friend (and then I'd be in the wedding anyway), I probably would either skip the ceremony or the reception.  Might seem mean, but I would just be WAY too exhausted.  Also, as a bride, that would be WAY too long and exciting a day for me!


  • I think I may be the only one who does not have strong feelings either way on this issue, lol. I didn't have one though and most of our friends haven't either...we just seem to have early (like 4-5 pm) dinner receptions
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  • It definitely depends on where the wedding is, and what season.  Two of our good friends got married in March 2011 and had about a one-hour gap between the ceremony and reception.  BUT they had their reception at a hotel, so most of the guests just went there and drank at the bar (well, we didn't because it was omg expensive, but people staying at the hotel got free drinks).  The only inconvenience ended up being that the "bar" was really just a table set up in the lobby and we were all standing around, but it was still fun and we got to see some friends we never ever see, so it was fun.  Also, March in Texas is really not that hot, so it wasn't like we were all dressed up and sweating to death.

    However, a girlfriend of mine recently got married in May and had like a 4-hour gap (maybe less, I can't remember), and I ended up declining.  The wedding wasn't far enough away for me to justify getting a hotel room, but it was still about an hour from where I lived.  In a town I'd never been to.  I just didn't want to get dressed up, drive all the way out there, and then have to entertain myself in the heat for that long.  I probably could have gone home and come back, but that would have meant at least four hours on the road and that's just ridiculous.



  • Usually there's a cocktail hour at the reception, during pictures.  I don't even consider that a gap, because it's part of the reception, at the reception site, and is hosted. Also if there's an hour between the reception and ceremony, but there's an hour long drive, I don't really consider that a gap either.  I just consider that travel time. 


  • Oh, yeah.  We had a cocktail hour at our reception site while we took pics at the church.  My only regret is that I opted to do a "grand entrance" with the bridal party so they all had to wait until we got there to enter.  I don't think they waited that long, but in hindsight, I wish I'd just let them go in and party.  I see a gap as, "Ceremony is at 2, reception is at 6," with nothing planned in between.  And then if I'm going way out of my way to get to this wedding, I find that hugely inconvenient.



  • Ohhh the Catholic Gap! I had never heard of it until I started attending weddings with FI (he is from Nebraska). Almost all of his friends are Catholic, and they do the 2:00 wedding followed by reception starting at 6. 

    Most of my family weddings have all been at parishes that allow a 6:30 or 7:00 ceremony, followed by a late reception. So, I voted definitely not the norm. (Then of course, my dad's side is not Catholic so those weddings have been typical 4-5 ceremony with reception immediately following).

    Church we are getting married at does either 2:00 or 7:30, so we are doing 2 with reception immediately following. No gap!

    FSIL (also from Nebraska) has said that she really likes the gap because it gives everyone time to go to the bars and get a drink or two beforehand... that's what we've done for FI's friends weddings, but as an out of town guest it is really obnoxious to me (mostly just with transportation issues as nothing is ever in walking distance). She did mention to me that FI's mom *hated* the gap, so I don't think she'll be pushing for it or anything. Also where we are getting married doesn't exactly have a plethora of bars to go during the gap. I think it works for FI's friends because they all went to college in Omaha, so they drive around to their old hangouts and such... still, an awful lot of driving, and an awful lot of drinking quite early in the day... hasn't always ended well for the brides/grooms that I've seen....

    FI's friends have also had special things for the WP to do in the gap (rent out this trolley and go drinking on it). We've done the trolley thing twice now and that is actually really fun :) but since it's not common in my family/friend circle, we're not having a gap. Also doing November wedding - says the sun will be set by like 6 PM, so I don't think it will feel weird/early ending at 9 or 10.

    [P.S. I have a new username for silly reasons unrelated to message boards, so... hi again!]

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  • Yay, November weddings are the best!  We started with a 7:30 start time, and then at one point H and I were driving around at like 8:30 and I pointed to the sky and said, "This is what it's going to look like when our wedding is over."  So we decided to move to 2.  I was a little bummed to learn DST wouldn't end until the day AFTER our wedding, but it still got dark plenty early.  Our videographer got a great time-lapsed shot of the sun setting over downtown Dallas, which was just amazing!



  • Most Catholic churches have Saturday Mass that typically start at 4 or 5:00. 
    The latest time my church has available for weddings is 2:00.  And, many of the reception locations do not have start times until 5:00 or 6:00, especially if they host other events in the morning. 

    Honestly, the only time I've been to a wedding where the reception was immediately following were not Catholic weddings.  I guess I just thought the "gap" was a normal thing...
  • Around here, reception venues will do a 3pm reception following a 2pm ceremony, so maybe that's why there aren't lots of gaps.  Also, most Catholics weddings I've gone to lately have been Friday evening weddings.  That's what I'm doing, since I didn't want to wake up super early to get my hair done!


  • edited July 2012
    My parish will do weddings at 10, 2 or 7. For us, 10 was too early for some of our family members and 7 was too late for the little kids and grandparents, so 2 was the best bet.

    Most of the Catholic weddings I have been to are 2 pm start time and 4 pm reception. I don't consider that a gap either. By the time you get out of the chuch, mill around, do a receiving line if they have one, and travel to the reception venue, it's pretty much time for cocktails.

    Our wedding followed that pattern (sans receiving line), but people were able to get into the reception venue for drinks and snacks. We were done at nine, and no one balked at all. I'm sure some people took the party to other locations; some people were ready for bed; H and I headed to our hotel (and ended up getting a drink at the bar there, to relax and enjoy some time together and away from all the craziness).
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  • I haven't been to many Catholic weddings, so I really can't say whether it's the norm in my area.  The one I went to last weekend had a small gap, ceremony ended at 3 and cocktail hour started at 5.  It wasn't a problem for us though, we just went back and checked into our hotel, chatted with friends, and then it was time to head over already.  The majority of weddings that I've been to have been Lutheran weddings, but even there it's probably been 50/50 on whether there's a gap.  The main problem I notice with a gap is a lot of our younger friends just go back to their hotel rooms and drink during that time, so you end up with lots of tipsy/drunk guests at the dinner...

    We won't be having a gap, at least not a gap where there are several hours between ceremony and reception with nothing planned for the guest.  Our ceremony will end probably around 3:30, and guests can go straight to the reception location for snacks/drinks, and we'll serve dinner between 5/5:30.
  • i think its a more modern day thing.  catholic weddings were typically always held in the morning.  the idea of an evening reception is what has prompted this issue of a gap.
    ive lived in new england my entire life, and the boston area for 10 of those years and ive never been to a gap wedding of any denomination anywhere.  it was totally foreign to me when i came to the Knot.

  • We are having a gap in our wedding. The church can do a 1:30 ceremony which will then end around 2:15ish. Our cocktail hour is at 5 pm because I don't want a early reception and then end at 8 or 9. Our families love to party and be around each other. Between the church and reception it is an hour drive. I will also be letting people know what they can do in between such as check into a hotel, shop or get a small bite to eat and or drink which most will do then take the shuttle from the hotel to the reception. If I wasn't getting married in a catholic church I would have had it all at one location to not have a gap, but I could not picture myself not getting married at church.
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  • Like others have pointed out, if you get married in a Catholic church on a Saturday, there is pretty much no way around it since there is almost always another Mass at 4 or 5. The only times I *haven't* been to a wedding with a gap, have been non-Catholic weddings or weddings on Friday evening. In fact, even some non-Catholic weddings have had some sort of gap, since they still want that time to go around and take pictures.

    The Newman Center church at my college deliberately cancelled the regular Saturday Mass in the summer (when all the students were gone anyhow,) so they let people have weddings at 4 pm or whenever.

    Friends of mine actually just mentioned yesterday that they were at a wedding on Saturday, and during "the gap" they were able to stop by someone else's graduation party during that time!

    I'm probably the only one in the world that feels this way, but I've actually also benefited from the "gap," since with my job as a church organist, I'm able to go and use that time to play Saturday Mass at my own parish!
  • In Response to <a href="">Re: Catholic Gap??</a>:
    [QUOTE]Like others have pointed out, if you get married in a Catholic church on a Saturday, there is pretty much no way around it since there is almost always another Mass at 4 or 5.
    Posted by lalaith50[/QUOTE]

    See, I don't get that.  There is a way around it....have an afternoon reception :)  The churches here don't have Sat evening ceremonies.  People just have their reception at 3pm . 


  • lalaith50lalaith50 member
    1000 Comments Third Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited July 2012
    ^ oh, I forgot that option. Yes, of course. But for some reason many people are opposed to that idea (actually, I wouldn't really like it- I HATE eating meals at odd times, lol!) and many venues don't allow it.

    ETA: I would personally rather have to entertain myself for 2 hours (it's not that hard- don't most people know some other people at a wedding they're at? we usually get together with friends we havent seen in a long time!) than eat dinner at 4 pm! 
  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    I think it is a trade-off. Sometimes reducing a gap means you have to sacrifice amenities/luxuries that your guests would prefer to have. I think you just have decide what would irk your guests less.

    In this area, on Saturday, you will be very hard-pressed to find a venue that will let you start a reception at 3pm. They are pretty standard - either 11-5 or 5-11. If you wanted a place that would let you start in the middle, you would need to use a restaurant, which would mean likely cutting your guest list in half and being kicked out by 5. If you are really super-duper creative, you might get lucky and find a barn or something unusual that will work with you - which means a further drive for your guests and likely port-o-potties. So, your guests wind up sacrificing, too. In this region, where guests expect a very big, long reception, they would likely complain less about a gap, than a "limited" reception.

    We lucked out and found a chapel that was an "extra" building used by a parish. They didn't hold anything at the chapel except for one mass on Sundays. So, we were able to pick our ceremony time.
  • To each his own, right?  I mean,I know plenty of people aren't fans of Friday evening weddings -- it's a pain because traffic is bad and you have to leave work early, etc.  I'm sure some of my guests will think "why on EARTH is she having a Friday wedding?!" 


  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    Yeah... I just think it isn't as cut-and-dry. There are different variables/constraints for everyone, so you have to decide what your guests would prefer. I do think that if there is a large gap (more than an hour), the couple should organize/host some refreshments somewhere.
  • newlyseliskinewlyseliski member
    1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited July 2012
    We had a gap... but it's also very common in my area and expected amongst many of my guests for Catholic weddings unless your reception is also at the church.  Our ceremony was at 3pm and our reception hall opened up at 5:30pm.  The ceremony start time was atypically late for my parish and usually the only slots on Saturdays that they offer are 11am and 2pm.  The only reason we had a later ceremony time was becase our wedding was the same day and place as our archdiocesan ordinations which typically packs the 3,000 seat cathedral until about 2:00pm. 
  • I feel bad, in a way. My super-small parish has only 1 Mass/week, on Sunday morning. We could pick any day of the week but Sunday, any time of day, for our wedding.

    And we still picked 2pm.

    Why? Basically, the photographers advised post-ceremony pictures around 4pm (in November.) We're doing a full Mass. In our Rite, with a sizeable congregation, that's over an hour. And we don't plan on starting on time. Start Mass at 2:20, end at say 3:40, and voila! photos around 4pm.

    Photos/"cocktail" hour for that hour, plus a reception site an half-hour away, puts dinner somewhere between 5pm and 6pm, which my family considers early, but in the range of normal.

    The wedding is also on a holiday Monday, so working people will be back at their desks the next day. Dinner around 6pm lets them attend most of the reception and still catch late flights.

    On the Catholic gap and less flexible parishes: Are there really so many places in the country with both inflexible parishes and inflexible reception venues? My Catholic friends get married at 1pm or 2pm and have 0 gap. They just serve the meal at like 3pm. That's awkward, but preferred over a gap, IMO.

    I find it's a California hang-up that seems to require/expect a full meal at weddings. Obviously, normal etiquette says they could do something lighter at that time of day. I think, though, that my friends want to dance until it's thoroughly dark, so they serve a meal to avoid the shorter times of cake-and-punch receptions.

    And, of course, our reception venue is also super-flexible. We get the space from like 10am to 10pm.

    I know I'm lucky, but I also know we looked HARD for a reception venue and only considered those that would fit our plans, though the day's schedule was hardly a tricky issue in our venue search.
  • ootmother2ootmother2 member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited July 2012
    Most of the Catholic weddings I have attended had a gap.  Several in Massachusetts so I assumed it was customary there.

    I've only been to one daytime wedding and that reception started 30 minutes after the ceremony.

    We had about 90 minutes of a gap so I set up wine, cheeses, water, fruit, etc at one of the villas at the cc where the reception was held.

    5:00 was the earliest the country club could schedule a wedding and all of the other wedding venues on the Cape held two or more weddings at once which was a problem for the B&G
  • I answered that I'd never heard of it, but that's also because I've never been to a Catholic wedding.

    I also don't think most of my guests have been to Catholic weddings. 

    I think they'd all be pretty pissed to have a large gap.

    We expect our 2pm ceremony to be over around 3:15.  Reception begins at 4:00pm (earliest they would start).  We figure people will slowly walk out to their cars and drive the short drive to the reception, which means they'll probably only have maybe 15-30 minutes of time to kill.  What we really want to do (haven't okayed with the church yet) is to serve some cookies/lemonade in the courtyard of the church (it's a pretty patio with tables and chairs).  Otherwise, there's plenty of stuff to do around the reception site for 15 or so minutes. 

    I think in reality there will be very little of any gap at all, but the only problem we have is that dinner is not until 6:00pm.  But we'll have plenty of drinks and hors d'oeuvres to last during those 2 hours, and we'll also make our introductions, have the first dances, and any speeches during that time.  So I don't think people will be bored waiting for dinner.

  • Eliz77Eliz77 member
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments
    I have never been to a Catholic wedding that didn't occur in the AM, with reception to follow. I think it's not ideal to expect your guests to devote a huge part of their day to your wedding and end up waiting around between ceremony and reception for any longer than an hour in between. My brother is getting married in the fall and he will have a four hour gap in between. I am already debating how I will make it work, considering I have an epileptic dog who needs medicine every eight hours and the wedding is almost an hour away, which means renting a hotel room would be silly, but the drive back and forth doable for us. 

    I think if the gap could be an hour or two max, and some sort of area is reserved for the guests, it is fine...even if not ideal. 
  • In Response to <a href=" Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:0783fa2a-76c1-4efd-81cd-da87b3ee13f0Post:44cacede-35e1-49b7-b58a-8527c444372d">Re: Catholic Gap??</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Catholic Gap?? : See, I don't get that.  There is a way around it....have an afternoon reception :)  The churches here don't have Sat evening ceremonies.  People just have their reception at 3pm . 
    Posted by Resa77[/QUOTE]

    A lot of reception halls wont allow you too. You either have the space from 12-5 or 6-11. They can not do a 3 start time bc then they could only have one event that day instead of two. They would lose money. Sounds logical to us just start when we want, but most places, especially around here, will not let you.
  • Eliz77Eliz77 member
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments
    ^^^This. Just like Churches have specific times allotted for ceremonies, most reception sites have specific hours they are willing to rent out the space for receptions. I am sure there are exceptions to the rule where you can have some flexibility in planning, but all in all, I think when one plans to marry in the afternoon at a Catholic Church, it can be challanging finding a venue which allows the reception to follow. Same holds true when the couple wants to have an evening reception to find a Church to hold a late afternoon ceremony. 

    My venue has two weddings a day, 12-5pm or 7-12am. So, having an 11am ceremony, with reception to follow works out well for us.
  • And we don't plan on starting on time. Start Mass at 2:20

    why would you purposely start your wedding 20 minutes late?  that's kind of rude.
  • In Response to <a href="">Re: Catholic Gap??</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Catholic Gap?? : A lot of reception halls wont allow you too. You either have the space from 12-5 or 6-11. They can not do a 3 start time bc then they could only have one event that day instead of two. They would lose money. Sounds logical to us just start when we want, but most places, especially around here, will not let you.
    Posted by pisha82[/QUOTE]

    <div>This just sounds so bizarre.  I know there are venues in DFW that do multiple events in one day, but it definitely doesn't seem to be the norm (I'm talking about receptions, not ceremonies).  We booked our reception venue for five hours (not including set-up and tear-down), and we pretty much got our choice of when those five hours would start.</div>



  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    Most of the reception halls here don't let you choose your time. They have their set "afternoon wedding" time and "evening wedding" time.
  • I didn't grow up in a Catholic community, and I've never been to a Catholic wedding, so I had never heard of this. But I have been to one non-Catholic wedding with a gap. I don't think anybody complained about it or thought it was a horrible breach of etiquette, contrary to what certain Knotties on the E-board would have you believe. 

    We're having a gap, mainly because we're doing a backyard reception in August in Southern California, so 3:30 pm isn't a great start time for that. At first I thought nothing of it, and then I started feeling sick to my stomach over it after reading comments on TK about it. However, my mom and Aunt (who used to do wedding coordination) both have been insisting that the guests will be happier with an evening reception. I also ran it by my BMs, and they don't see any problems with it either.
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