Our ceremony (without a Nuptial Mass) is at 2pm (the time isn't negotiable). I assume that it will go to about 3pm (please correct me if I'm wrong!). We can start our cocktail hour/reception anytime that we want, essentially (our reception venue is about 20 minutes away from the church). My concern is that if the cocktail hour starts at 3:30 or 4, we would need to serve dinner by 5. Is that too early? We'll have hors d'oeurves at the cocktail hour, so there will be plenty of food. I guess I'm concerned that if we start too early, people will get hungry again after dinner and cake. I'm also concerned about the gap lasting too long or people getting bored/restless at the cocktail hour. The party has to end by 11pm (venue rules).
Most of the guests will be from out of town, so a gap could be a good time for them to check into hotels, but I don't want to presume that. It would also suck for the minority of guests who live in town. So I need help. What's a good timeline?