Catholic Weddings
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Time between church and reception

Hello:-)

I'm really excited to be getting married in my church, and we just picked a place to hold our reception as well. While I've been raised catholic, I have only attended one catholic wedding. Since our ceremony will be starting at 1:30-2pm on a Saturday (Saturday mass is at 4pm).... what would be a normal time for the reception to begin? I guess I always thought that we would have an evening reception with dinner and dancing, but I don't think I would want the break between locations to be too long either.

What do most people do? I'm just looking for any input/suggestions.

Thanks! :)

Re: Time between church and reception

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    edited December 2011
    This is a subject of much debate on the boards.  The issue you bring up is commonly referred to as the Catholic gap.  It can be an inconvenience for your guests to have dead time between an early afternoon ceremony and an evening reception. 

    Some brides either have an afternoon reception starting after the ceremony or have a Friday night wedding so they can have an evening wedding and reception. 

    I'm having a 3:00 ceremony and a reception starting at 6:00 (about a 25 minute drive from ceremony to reception).  We are either going to set up a hospitality suite at the hotel or have a relative host an open house so that guests have somewhere to go in between and have light refreshments. 

    Things to consider when deciding what to do include how many of the guests are local and Catholic.  Most of our guests are in are large Catholic extended families and are used to a gap between the mass the reception.  Also, many of our guests live right near the reception location, so it is easy for them to just stop in at home.
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    Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    your reception should start immediately after your wedding, if at all possible.  if you cannot find a reception location to acccomodate a reception starting at 230-300, then you should consider doing a morning wedding with a lunch reception.  many on here think a 3-5 hour gap is acceptable, but i personally have never seen one or heard of one until i came on the knot and i've been to numerous catholic weddings both in the mornign and in the evening.

    most gaps are avoidable if you are willing to compromise on either time of day or reception location.  if you insist on the evenign reception with a large gap, then you should at least provide some type of hospitality suite.  you cant let your guests wander about all dressed up for sevearl hours.  if folks have a hotel room, tehy could go back to that, but the problem with gaps is those folks who travel a distance long enough to not be able to go home but close enough that they dont need a hotel room.
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    edited December 2011
    I think a lot of it has to do with timing things like cocktail hours/etc. if you can afford them.

    We're getting married at 2:30. Ceremony should end between 3:15-3:30. We have to have everyone out of the church at 4:00, so guests will be leaving by then.

    Our reception site it about 15-25 minutes depending on traffic and if you choose to take city roads or hop on the interstate. So guest would be arriving at the venue anywhere from 4:15-4:40. Our venue is three levels, so on the first floor there's lounge furniture and some tables set up for people to come and mingle and relax. We're planning on having little things like mad libs/etc. on the tables.

    Then cocktail hour moves to the 3rd floor at 5:00 going until 6, with dinner starting at 6:30 ish. It sounds like a big gap, going from a 2:30 ceremony to a 5:00 cocktail hour, but with the driving time factored in it's not enough of a gap for me to serve a late munch early dinner since we have a place for our guests to go.
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    edited December 2011
    Wow thanks for all of the replies so quickly! Luckily our reception location only books one event per day so it can start at anytime:-) We plan to leave the church at 3:30 (we want to meet guests after the ceremony and do pictures) and well actually this is the time we have to leave since mass starts at 4pm. I will probably see if our appetizer hour can start at 3:30-4pm and hopefully plan for an early dinner around 5pm. I was just trying to get a feel for what was "normal" or expected. Thanks again! :):):)
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    Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    oh, if you can start anytime, then see if you can start at 2pm, your ceremony will most likely go to 3 or 330 depending on Mass/NoMass, length of readings, etc.  330-430 should be good for cocktai hour, then  dinner probably wont get served until at least 5 anyway, byt the time folks move from teh cocktail hour spot to the dinner location, then wait for you to be "announced" (if you are doing that).  defintiely  not too early to eat, and i think folks will appreciate not having to wait around or kill time.
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    edited December 2011
    Our ceremony started at 1:30pm and our reception started 30 min after the ceremony because is took 30 min to drive there.  We started with a cocktail hour while we had our pictures taken.  I don't remember the exact time line, but it is in my bio.
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    mswood1977mswood1977 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    This is why I am thankful our parish allows evening weddings on Saturday after the 4:30 Vigil mass.  We are having our wedding at 6:30 and our reception to follow immediately.
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    akg0053akg0053 member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I was not willing to compromise on a gap. Since most of my guests aren't Catholic, I found this to be completely rude.

    Therefore, we are doing a Friday night wedding.
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    Jay+MarissaJay+Marissa member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    We're doing a hospitality suite, but we wont have much of a gap anyway, with the time it takes to get to the reception site.

    Rude...maybe? But most of my guests would find it more rude to travel hundreds of miles for a lunch reception. Just the way my family does it. Remember evey group is different--no one size fits all.
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    Theresa626Theresa626 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    You really need to do what you think is best for you and your family.  I'd be super pissed if I traveled tons of miles for a brunch reception. Every catholic wedding I've ever been to has a gap. I  expect it and don't think anything of it and so do most of my relatives. It's not rude at all in my opinion.  So, if you want an evening wedding, go for it.  There is lots of debate on this subject and ultimately, I think you should do what is best for you.

    That said, it is nice to offer something for guests in the mean time during the gap.  Here's what my relatives have done.  They had a large suite in the hotel rented out where they had soda and party platters and people went to hang out there.

    Another relative had everyone go to the parent's house during the gap.  A friend of the parent's was there to set out all of the food and let everyone in.  It was like a long extended cocktail hour.  They had a whole bunch of very nice hors d oeuvres that they had made earlier in the week and then popped in the oven.  they also had lots of champagne and alcohol and everyone hung out there for a few hours.  

    My wedding has a gap and the reception is at a hotel that is part of Universal Theme park so there is a a free boat ride around the hotel and gardens, a ton of shopping and attractions, a large plaza with gardens and a gelato store, many bars and lounges and a movie theatre that they can visit during the gap.  Though the gap will only be an hour and a half so I doubt they'll see a movie.  If you have any area attractions near by, you could include a ticket to see them during the gap as your favor.  For example, a butterfly garden or a local museum.  
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    edited December 2011

    IMO, gaps are generally rude to guests and should be avoided if you have the option.  Since it seems like you have time options, I'd shoot for a wedding Mass beginning at 2 p.m., which would have you done shortly after 3:00, plus time for a receiving line if you do one.  Then, have a cocktail hour beginning at 3:30 or 4:00 (depending on the amount of time it would take people to drive from the church to the reception).  By the time you are ready to serve dinner, it will be 5:00-5:30, which isn't too early IMO. 


    I had a Friday evening wedding.  Initially, I chose Friday because the church was booked on Saturday, but it had the added bonus of avoiding any gap.  We had a 5 p.m. wedding, and the reception began at 6:30.

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    edited December 2011
    We wil have a gap, too. Our wedding is at 1pm on Saturday. It is full mass, and with pics and all afterwards, we won't be at the reception until 3pm or so. We are serving finger food, snacks, fruit, etc as the guests arrive. The country club where we are having it also has a pool table and a patio with chairs, etc so that guests can mingle and chat while the bridal party is arriving. Then we will have dinner.

    We went to a wedding in Sept where they got married at 1:30 and did the same thing and then we ate dinner. Everything was very fine and went smoothly. I am not stressing the Catholic gap much, I am just going with the way we have it planned.
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    Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
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    edited December 2011
    I'd be super pissed if I traveled tons of miles for a brunch reception.

    i find this odd.  if you were that bothered by a brunch or lunch reception, then wouldnt you just RSVP no and not travel all those miles?  its not like you are being forced to go to the wedding.

    also, i thought folks came to a wedding to see the couple exchange vows.  thats the primary focus of the day, not the type of food being served or the band or the DJ or the favors.
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    edited December 2011
    buckeye--we are doing about the same as you--2pm reception, receiving line at church to eat up some time, then cocktail hour will start at reception hall (about 20 mins away) at 4pm. I hate that there might be even a slight gap, but it was the best we could do.  We hope to arrive between 4:30-4:45, we'll do our first dance upon entering, cut the cake, then dinner will be served.  The rest of the night will be dancing!
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    luvdelilahluvdelilah member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    This is a great topic for debate - no one ever seems to agree on one thing!  We're doing a 3pm Mass, an hour and half break, cocktails at 5:30 and dinner at 6:30.  The gap was unavoidable since the 3pm slot was the only one left and the venue won't start the reception earlier than 5:30pm, so we made a map of local spots for guests to visit. 

    I think as long as you take in to account your traveling guests by shortening the gap as much as possible, offering in-between activities, and letting people know beforehand, everyone will enjoy the day!
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    MissAngelMissAngel member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011
    [QUOTE]if you were that bothered by a brunch or lunch reception, then wouldnt you just RSVP no and not travel all those miles?  its not like you are being forced to go to the wedding. also, i thought folks came to a wedding to see the couple exchange vows.  thats the primary focus of the day, not the type of food being served or the band or the DJ or the favors.[/QUOTE]

    I would still travel all those miles to see a friend/relative get married, but after spending the money on the plane tickets, hotel rooms, gifts/presents, etc... I would just like to spend a nice dinner with some people I may or may not know to share in the joy of my friend getting married.

    Brunch/Lunch receptions are generally much shorter.  If all weddings were just about the vows and not the celebration with the couple of the union, then we would all just YouTube our weddings.

    It just depends on where you are from... I think we can agree to disagree on this one, but I still don't think we should be calling anyone/anything rude just because that's not how we might do it.  Everyone is different.
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    Jay+MarissaJay+Marissa member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    All this thread is missing is OOTmother adamently defending the gap :)
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    ootmother2ootmother2 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_time-between-church-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:32ac35c0-4c7d-4c97-827a-64fe674edfdbPost:4d0c0425-7692-4553-b602-7100292dcc6d">Re: Time between church and reception</a>:
    [QUOTE]All this thread is missing is OOTmother adamently defending the gap :)
    Posted by Jay+Marissa[/QUOTE]


    you rang?

    i think i will wait until the replies reach 30 before I put my 2 cents in here ;)
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    edited December 2011
    We have a two hour gap. It's unavoidable and many of our guests are Catholic and will 'get it'. We're going to do a hospitality room if budget allows. If not, our ceremony is on a college campus (many of our guests are alums) and there are plenty of things to do and places to go.
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    edited December 2011
    I'm so glad to have found this thread. My FI and I are being married in the Catholic church. He is Catholic, I am not - so no mass for us. How long do you think the ceremony will be without the mass? Would it be good to expect 30 minutes or so? I personally don't like the idea of the gap because I don't want my guest to have to deal with it. My family is not Catholic, my friends aren't Catholic so the Catholic Gap (I love that by the way, very funny) would make no sense to them.

    Because of evening mass at 5:00 our wedding can start no later than 2:00 to give time for the ceremony and pictures. If the ceremony ended at 2:30, do a receiving line and let guest see us off at the church (to eat up time), 15 to 20 minute drive to the reception and have the reception start at 4:00 or 4:30. Hopefully, we would arrive by 4:30 to start a meal at 5:00ish??
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    mswood1977mswood1977 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011

    I have never heard of this Catholic gap before, of course I have never been to a Catholic wedding before either.  We are having a full mass with the reception to follow immediately.  Our praish allows Saturday weddings only.  You can have your wedding anytime before 1:30 PM or anytime after 6:30 PM.  We set our wedding for 6:30 PM and our reception starts whenever the ceremony is over and people drive to the venue (probably around 7:45 or 8:00).

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    Kaye SmithKaye Smith member
    First Anniversary First Comment
    edited December 2011

    I've been to quite a few weddings that have had the gap (both Catholic and not), and I've never found it to be rude, most likely unavoidable for the couple.  We're getting married at a school, so we were able to choose a time later in the day and avoid the gap - but even if we weren't able to do that, I think most of the guests would be able to understand the gap!

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    Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Answer Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    briana, even without Mass you should plan for one hour.
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    Kate504Kate504 member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    I have never heard of a "gap" before this is new to me,
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