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Catholic Weddings

Ceremony/Reception times

I everyone! I'm new to this board, but was hoping to get some ideas. My fiancee and I are just getting started with our planning. We would ideally like to have a Saturday wedding due to mostly out-of-town guests. However, I'm not sure how to work out the times for the ceremony and the reception. We need to be completely done with pictures and everything at the church by 3pm (due to Sat mass). Do most people tend to just have an early reception right after that? We would like to include dinner and dancing, etc. but not sure how that would work with such an early start time. I've been to a wedding where they decided to have a later start to the reception, but that leaves guests with nothing to do for a few hours. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Re: Ceremony/Reception times

  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    do not have a gap.   that's very rude to guests, although some folks say gaps are common although i'm a lifelong catholic and i've never been to a wedding with a gap, nor has my husband.  they are usually 99% avoidable if you are willing to do a morning wedding with a lunch reception or find a reception hall that will let you start at any time in teh afternoon, rather than having 2 blocks (a 12pm-6pm slot and a 6pm-midnight slot).

    we were married at 11am (did all of our pictures before), and had our reception from 1230-4pm (we didnt have dancing, but you could do 1230-6.)  we didnt forego dancing because of the time, but because we didnt want it.

    we were at a wedding a few weeks ago that was at 2pm, and the reception was 3-8pm and they had all of the elements.

    if you do yoru wedding at, say, 1pm or 130pm, folks will probably have eaten their lunch (or a late breakfast) at 11.  they will be hungry come 3pm.  so you could have cocktails 3-4, then dinner at 4pm.  this is also a good time frame for anyone traveling who isnt staying at a hotel but making the trip in a day.  that was a big factor in our 11am ceremony - we had numerous folks who had a 2 hour drive, and who had left kids at home for the day (we didnt invite kids).  this allowed them to have breakfast with the kids, find a sitter for the day and be home in time to tuck them into bed.
  • edited December 2011
    The gap is a pretty controversial thing on the Knot, and it seems to be a very region/social circle/cultural difference. I would say that if having one doesn't feel right to you, then it is definitely not right for you. (On the other hand, if it seemed like the normal thing to do, I would say it's probably ok for you.)

    My church does weddings at 10, 2 and 7. I thought 10 was too early and 7 too late for my crowd, so I'm having a 2 pm mass. The reception will be from 4-9 that evening, and will include dinner, dancing etc. We're doing cocktail hour 4-5 and dinner about 5:30.

    We are also using a reception venue that only hosts one wedding per day and allows us to set the time for our reception, so we can do it immediately after, instead of fitting into pre-designed reservation blocks.
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  • edited December 2011
    I agree with the PP, go with what you feel is comfortable as far as a gap. My time frame went as follows

    Ceremony: 2:30-3:30
    Cocktails: 5-6
    Dinner: 6-8:30
    Dancing: 8:30-12

    Our wedding as almost all out of town guests, luckily the hotel was very close to the church. Most of our guests went back to their hotel and freshened up before attending cocktails. I even had guests thank me for the time to relax before the reception.

    But, I think it depends on your comfort level and your guests
  • mica178mica178 member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
    edited December 2011
    I agree with PPs.  Try to avoid having a gap. 

    Our wedding will be at 3pm.  From 4-5pm, we have light refreshments in the parish hall for anyone who's not taking pictures with us/any parishioners who show up to see the nuptials.  Then the reception starts at 5pm.  Yes, it'll still be light out during dinner, but I'd rather serve an early dinner than ask my guests to entertain themselves for a couple hours wearing cocktail dresses and heels.

    Trust me, get a couple drinks into people, play good music, and there'll be dancing, no matter what time of day it is.


  • edited December 2011
    I have a gap.  Wedding is at 2, we'll be done by around 3:15 and the cocktail hour starts at 6 (there is 45 min drive to the reception site).  In between we're considering offering a little bus tour of the city for those that are staying at the hotel and taking the shuttle to the church.  This is still a work in progress, but I went to a wedding in Cleveland and the bride did the same thing and we all loved it.  Here in the Chicago area a gap is fairly standard with my family and friends.  I can't remember the last time there was a church wedding that did not include a gap.  I wear something comfortable and nice to the church, and then in between I go freshen up, relax and get ready to put on my party dress for the evening. 
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  • lisa89760lisa89760 member
    Fourth Anniversary 500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    every single saturday catholic wedding I've ever been to (which is about all of them I've been to) had a gap.  Maybe it is a regional thing and here in Michigan we are one of those regions that tolerate it!  We are having a gap.  I don't think it's rude and actually my guests would find it more rude if I didnt' have the open bar all night =) (that is something that is important to me and the fiance as well!) If you want to have a ceremony at night, I would try and provide a place for the out of town guests to go like a suite at the hotel or someones house.  
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  • agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 100 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    In my family and area it would be rude to NOT have a decent size gap. It's expected. A wedding is expected to be an all day affair here.
  • edited December 2011
    We had a gap, but not much of one. We got married at 1pm, the wedding was over by 2:05pm. We did some pictures before, but had to do the formals of the WP afterwards. While we were doing those pics, there was a appetizer/hor'dourve hour going on back at the country club where our reception was held.

    Dinner was served at 5pm and the activites began after that. I guess it was just my family, but we had reserved the dj until 10pm and a lot of our guests started to leave around 7pm. We were a bit disappointed, but didn't let that stop us from still partying and spending time with the guests that did stay until the end.
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  • rombacjarombacja member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I'm also a Chicago wedding where I think it is pretty standard to have a gap. Our mass is at 2pm and our cocktail hour doesn't start until 6pm. I'm giving my guests a list of items to fill their time if they are interested, but I would expect most of them to just grab a snack and relax back at the hotel for a bit. I could see if you have guests who live 30-60 minutes away from the wedding/reception I think that's when it gets a little tougher on them b/c its probably too far to go home, but too much time to fill. Luckily (for this problem at least!) 90% of my guests are going to be in from out of town and will be staying in a hotel right by the reception hall.
  • catarntinacatarntina member
    1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_ceremonyreception-times?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:ce893f45-194e-45ac-8a2a-1173ce1b51d3Post:acb6c9ce-efb9-419c-bc8c-9432cf6ce2de">Re: Ceremony/Reception times</a>:
    [QUOTE]every single saturday catholic wedding I've ever been to (which is about all of them I've been to) had a gap.  Maybe it is a regional thing and here in Michigan we are one of those regions that tolerate it!  We are having a gap.  I don't think it's rude and actually my guests would find it more rude if I didnt' have the open bar all night =) (that is something that is important to me and the fiance as well!) If you want to have a ceremony at night, I would try and provide a place for the out of town guests to go like a suite at the hotel or someones house.  
    Posted by lisa89760[/QUOTE]

    I am getting married in Toledo, OH which borders Michigan and is only 40 minutes from Detroit.  A gap is standard and expected in this area.
     
    People enjoy going to a bar or whatever in between ceremony and reception.  I've never been to a wedding without a gap either.  Catholic or otherwise.

    The wedding is at 2, and will be over about 3.  The reception starts at 6, and it's a 35 min drive from ceremony to reception. People are welcome to go to my parents' house for informal cocktail hour (they live across the street from the church).  But a gap is very standard here.
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  • newlyseliskinewlyseliski member
    1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    We're probably going to need a gap and it's pretty common in the Midwest, it seems!  About half of the weddings I've attended had a gap and half did not.  The half that did not were where the wedding and reception were at the same place.  Our ceremony will be at 2pm and we'll have a social hour with appetizers starting at 5-5:30pm. 

    Our primary reason is photos and time limits at our church... they'll be having ordinations the morning of our wedding, so we can't really take any photos at the church until after the ceremony... so we won't be seeing each other until I walk up the aisle.  We'll need to fit both formal church photos and informal offsite photos in "the gap."  Our rentals people and caterer may not be able to get into our reception hall until noon to set up, so we also wanted to allow enough time for that!

    The reception is 20 minutes away from the ceremony and the hotels are super close to the reception site, so hopefully they'll figure something out to burn 1 1/2 hours :)  I'll probably have a list of fun things to do in town, too!
  • ootmother2ootmother2 member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    New Yorkers seem to perfer gaps as well.  or Thursday evening weddings (no clue why)

    Wedding @ 1:30 + receiving line outside the church took us to 3:00.
    We hosted wine, cheeses, fruits, etc at villas at the CC where the reception was to fill in for 1 1/2 hours.  The B&G, parents, WP went for pictures on the beach while this was going on.

    Cocktails from 5 - 6:30 and then the dinner, dancing, etc. until almost midnight.
    After party.  I conked out at 1:30 but there were still partiers going.

  • ootmother2ootmother2 member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_ceremonyreception-times?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:ce893f45-194e-45ac-8a2a-1173ce1b51d3Post:91c60bfd-ec77-42f1-bf88-0c3878e23455">Ceremony/Reception times</a>:
    [QUOTE]I everyone! I'm new to this board, but was hoping to get some ideas. My fiancee and I are just getting started with our planning. We would ideally like to have a Saturday wedding due to mostly out-of-town guests. However, I'm not sure how to work out the times for the ceremony and the reception. We need to be completely done with pictures and everything at the church by 3pm (due to Sat mass). Do most people tend to just have an early reception right after that? We would like to include dinner and dancing, etc. but not sure how that would work with such an early start time. I've been to a wedding where they decided to have a later start to the reception, but that leaves guests with nothing to do for a few hours. Any thoughts? Thanks!
    Posted by jonandheather35[/QUOTE]


    YOU are the only one who knows what will suit you and your guests best.
    Everyone on the boards has an opinion but it's NOT "one size fits all"

    In my family and circle of friends, a wedding usually is a weekend long event starting with the bridal luncheon and the groom's golf outing on Friday.  Rehersal and RD then everyone meets up after for more partying. Usually, this is not hosted by anyone, but occasionally someone will do a house party.

    Weddings, because of the 1:30 - 2:30 church times, have a gap and something is organized to entertain the guests.  Dinner & dancing usually start and go lateer with an afterparty.  (most of the seriously elderly are gone by then)

    Day after brunches are common.  Frankly, I think the day after brunch purpose is to feed bloodly marys to those who partied too  hard ;)

    Think out what you & FI want and plan accordingly.

    GL!
  • edited December 2011
    Our wedding is at 12:30 and we have to be gone by 2pm or 2:30pm because we're getting married at one of the California Missions so they have like 6 weddings a weekend. So we're planning on having our reception 3-8pm.
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  • edited December 2011
    As PPs said, the gap is pretty controversial on the Knot and seems to be a very local/cultural thing.  Another PP said it was regional, but honestly, I think it's more local...  I went to college an hour or so from Toledo, Ohio, where a PP mentioned that gaps are almost expected.  And of the dozen weddings that I've been to in that area, only two of them (one Catholic, one Protestant) had gaps -- and those ones were the ones that guests griped about under their breath.  The newlyweds in that area make great efforts to eliminate the gap.  Only an hour away, but obviously a world of difference in local wedding traditions, since a gap was considered rude there, but acceptable an hour away.

    Again, this is a really local thing.  If a gap feels wrong to you, then that's probably your sign that it isn't common or well-received in your area or cultural/social circle.

    Here are the options I've seen lately at about 10 weddings that didn't have gaps:
    1) Friday evening Mass, with reception following.  This is actually the option that my DH and I chose, and it was a ton of fun -- we did pics before the 5 p.m. ceremony, then started the reception right after our receiving line finished and danced until almost midnight.  However, Friday doesn't work for everyone, and it seems like you prefer Saturday, which is fine.
    2) Saturday morning (~10:00 or 10:30) Mass, with brunch or lunch reception following.  I've been to a couple of these weddings lately, including my widower father's.  You can still have a bar and dancing at a lunch reception, though it is likely to be a bit tamer than an evening reception might be (since most people don't get as soused as they might in the evening).
    3)  Saturday afternoon wedding, with cocktail hours and dinner following.  This seems to be the most common variant.  The most recent one I went to was a 2 p.m. Mass, over by 3 p.m., half-hour drive to the reception venue, cocktails from 3:30-5, speeches/toasts etc. beginning at 5, then dinner, then dancing until about 10 p.m.


    One thing you might want to consider, if you're trying to avoid a gap, is to do some of your formal pictures in an alternate location -- i.e., have a 1:30 Mass, take a few pictures afterward, be out of the church by 3, then take some more pictures in a pretty location elsewhere.
  • clearheavensclearheavens member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments Name Dropper 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_ceremonyreception-times?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:ce893f45-194e-45ac-8a2a-1173ce1b51d3Post:c31c3084-299e-465b-a37d-5c106ebb5a1d">Re: Ceremony/Reception times</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Ceremony/Reception times : <strong>YOU are the only one who knows what will suit you and your guests best. Everyone on the boards has an opinion but it's NOT "one size fits all"</strong>
    Posted by ootmother2[/QUOTE]<div>
    </div><div>Ditto this.  You will have many people on both sides on this one.  Only you know the needs of your guests the most.
    </div>
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  • edited December 2011
    My schedule is similar to another one mentioned above:

    Ceremony: 2-3/3:30ish
    Cocktails:  5-6
    Dinner/Dancing:  6-midnight

    Our wedding is in a resort area though so there are a lot of activities during the gap and the hotels are right near by.  I've been to weddings in that same area with the same schedule and time moved by really quickly during that gap actually.  By the time the wedding got over around 3:15 or 3:30 we would inevitably kind of mingle around with other guests before deciding to go into town or go back to the hotel to freshen up.  By the time we actually decided to go somewhere or back to the hotel, I always felt like it was basically time to head out to the reception site. 

    I think this totally depends on what you feel is right and your location.  Take into account travel times and what there is to do in the area.  It makes all the difference in this decision.
  • ootmother2ootmother2 member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_ceremonyreception-times?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:ce893f45-194e-45ac-8a2a-1173ce1b51d3Post:c03e1f7a-34e3-46a4-87d2-484e70566eb5">Re: Ceremony/Reception times</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Ceremony/Reception times : Ditto this.  You will have many people on both sides on this one.  Only you know the needs of your guests the most.
    Posted by clearheavens[/QUOTE]


    haha

    You have absolutely NO idea how a morning wedding would fly with my family & friends.  I would probably be disowned and/or burned at the stake. Before brunch even!
  • edited December 2011

    Although it seems as though you have plenty of opinions on "the gap" already- I had to throw mine in as well. We're Catholic- the gap is expected- its' not a big deal. It's your wedding day- plan it however you want. It's not a bad idea to do something like having light refreshments in the parish hall/gym to hold out-of-towners over until its time for your cocktail hour/reception to start, but c'mon. We're Catholic- it's what we do and it's what we havev ot live with. If your guests are snooty enough to be angry about a two or three hour gap then they shouldn't be guests to the most important day of your life, anyway.

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  • edited December 2011
    I'm not a fan of the gap myself. Any of the religious weddings I've been to have had it, but the ones where the ceremony and reception are at the same site usually don't have the gap.

    Our ceremony is at 3pm on a Sunday, and we'll start the reception at 5pm. The ceremony should take about an hour give or take. The reception site and the hotel are within 15 minutes of the church and we plan on shuttle for hotel guests (which will be almost everyone...yay for responsible drinkers!). So a little time to get to the hotel and settle in, and then catch the shuttle to the venue...should bring us right to 5pm.
  • edited December 2011
    The gap question is a very controversial knot topic.

    Our timeline:

    2:30 ceremony
    2:40 time ceremony actually started
    4:00 we are married! leaving church after receiving line and bubbles
    4:10 we arrived at park for pictures
    5:05 we arrived at cocktail hour

    Our invitation stated a 2:30 nuptial mass, 5:00 cocktails 6:00 dinner.

    We figured by time we would be done with church would be about 3:45 or thereabouts.

    The reception venue was 12 minutes from the church.

    Our venue told us if guests arrived early they could get a drink at no charge. We did not promote that idea. But if anyone showed up early, they would be allowed inside.

    The way I saw it was, in a perfect world, the guests might have had an hour "gap". But is that really a gap? Between the church and reception there are a ton of shops, stores, cvs, etc. I felt confident that our guests could find something to do to pass the time. If I can kill an hour in cvs waiting for a prescription, then a guest can kill time between chatting with people outside the church, using the restroom either at church or the reception hall, freshening up, writing out a card, driving to the venue, enjoying the view of the lake between, taking a moment to rest at either of the two parks between the places, etc.

    A few of our guests even went home because they lived close enough. Since the hotel was a half hour away I don't think anybody checked in, but they could have. We didn't have too many overnight guests.

    Even though the knot people think I had a gap, I really don't feel that I did. It all depends on your guests and on how much time you are talking about.

    Also, since my sister had a 1:30 wedding and 6pm reception with tons of time in between, I believe she had a gap. Her ceremony and reception were a half hour apart and she did have a shuttle for the guests at the hotel, but still as far as I'm concerned, with three hours in between, now that's a gap.
  • edited December 2011

    Almost every wedding I've been to has had a gap becuase of the available times of the church and reception sites. It has never been a problem in my family. The majority of us go grab a bite to eat in between the ceremony and reception.

    My fiance and I were also planning on having a gap for a 3pm ceremony and a 6pm-12am reception but after attending two weddings in the past few months, my fiance and I realized that starting the cocktail hour/appetizers an hour earlier would eliminate hungry guests waiting around for food. So we're bumping our cocktail hour up an hour.  It takes about 20-30 minutes to get to our reception site, so our guests won't have to wait very long for appetizers that start at 5:00 pm.

    That also means we would have to end our reception an hour earlier but we also saw that most guests had left by 10:30pm anyway.


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  • edited December 2011
    We were worried about the gap too. We figured we're having a 2pm ceremony (full Mass) and having the cocktail hour begin at 4. That gives plenty of time for guests to get over to the reception from the Church (its about 20-25 mins away) and they can even stop at the hotel to freshen up (we are providing a shuttle from the hotel to the reception and back so no one has to drive).
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  • edited December 2011
    I know people hate gaps, especially on the knot, but just to throw my two cents out, I don't mind it and I find it preferable to a lot of the other options out there. We did:
    2 pm ceremony (ended around 3ish, plus receiving line, so everyone was out and done by around 3:15)
    5 pm cocktail hour (although the first hotel shuttle picked up around 4:15 and arrived at venue at 4:45)
    6-10 pm dinner, dancing, etc.

    No one complained to my face at least. Yeah, it's not ideal, but I'd rather that than a Friday or Sunday wedding, hands-down (no offense to anyone with a Friday or Sunday, I know there are a billion reasons to do it then). Most of the weddings that I have been to that were in a church had a gap of an hour or more. I've always found something to do!
  • edited December 2011
    This has been a crazy issue for me as I've been trying to get things planned. As my fiancé is not Catholic, we aren't going to have full Mass, but we will have a Catholic Ceremony outside the Mass. I wanted a later afternoon service then the 2pm or in the morning. Especially since my fiancé's family is not Catholic, they might not understand the traditional time frame of a non-Catholic wedding.  

    I found, a lot of weddings around Kentucky (in general) have a gap in some sort or another, except for the ones that the service/reception are at the same venue. 

    We got really lucky with the Church I attend. They don't have a Saturday evening Mass at the church (generally the local Korean community uses the sanctuary for a Saturday service) but it wasn't a big deal to request the church for the wedding on that Saturday evening. Since I'm a member of the Parish, it makes it a lot easier too! So this means I get to have my 4pm afternoon ceremony on Saturday. I'm pretty excited about it. 
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  • LittlinLittlin member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    We had a gap - our ceremony was at 3 (ended at 4), the reception started at 6.  We couldn't arrange it any other way with the church and venue.  There was a great pub right across the street that many guests went to, or they headed back to the hotel where the venue was held to check in (many guests stayed overnight).  A lot of guests enjoyed that they could freshen up, relax, even change if they wanted to.  I've been to weddings with a gap and without, and both were fine!  I would have liked to flow from one to the other, but the option wasn't there (there was mass right after our ceremony, and the reception venue couldn't start any earlier), so we just did what we could! 
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