Catholic Weddings

What to do with the Catholic "gap" between ceremony and reception?

My family is not Catholic but my FI is. We're having a Catholic wedding without a full mass. I am not used to Catholic ceremonies and am unsure with what to do with the gap of time between ceremony and reception.

The church will marry us at 1:00 PM. Our reception location is not set to begin until 5:30 PM - or 4:30 if they allow us to move it earlier. It is 30 minutes away (40 w/traffic) so this will kill some time.

There will probably be a 2 hour gap. FI's family is fine with this (they are used to it being Catholic and local to area) but my family isn't sure what to do since they are all traveling from out of town. We will either invite guests to hotel in between (although this requires a lot of driving), suggest a bar/restaurant for guests to go to... OR look for another church w/later start time.

Anyone else have this issue?

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Re: What to do with the Catholic "gap" between ceremony and reception?

  • edited December 2011

    For my sister's wedding & my best friend's wedding... they both invited people back to the house (parents) in between.   Water, pop, sandwhiches, snacks were provided.  I know we at really fast, then went and took pictures (or vice versa).

    Other weddings I've been to with gaps provide a list of things to do in the area.  Favorite restaurant or bar, favorite park. Take a quick nap back at the hotel. etc. 

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  • HandBananaHandBanana member
    Seventh Anniversary 500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    My MIL hosted in between.  She only lives a few blocks from the church.

    A lot of people go to check into their hotel.  I used the Wedding Mapper site.  You could use it for your guests and put in locations of interest.
  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    This is common in some regions of the country. Hopefully, you can start your cocktail hour earlier, to minimize the gap. At the very least, you should direct your guests to locations where they can sit, grab something to drink, use a restroom.... it's ideal for you to host something specifically.

    You can provide information in your program, on your wedding website (if you have one) and/or as an insert to your invitations. Also, try to reach as many guests as you can to spread the info.
  • catarntinacatarntina member
    1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    My parents had a informal cocktail hour in between the ceremony and reception.  Some went home or went to the hotel to check-in and relax.  They had drinks and appetizers.  We had a 2.5 hour gap.

    We chose my parents house because they literally live across the street from the church, so it was not an inconvenience for them to go over there.

    It's very common in my circle to have a gap.  It's actually expected.  You just don't go straight from ceremony to reception here.
  • kmgreccokmgrecco member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    As long as there is somewhere for your guests to go... restaurant, hotel, etc, I wouldn't worry about it.  We have about 1.5 hr break, and our ceremony and reception are in the middle of nowhere, about 30 minutes from the hotel, so we rented a room at the church for just appetizers and refreshments.  It didn't cost too much extra, and at least I feel better giving them an option of where to go.
  • zelis42zelis42 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    We have a similar situation.  People I ask (Catholic or not) tell me that they pretty much expect a 1-2 hour gap between the ceremony and the reception.  No one in my family is prepared to host 150 people, though, so one option we've considered is checking with local theatres to see if we can get our guests discount tickets to a movie.  They can go see the movie, we can get our pictures, and we regroup in time for dinner and cake.
  • ootmother2ootmother2 member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    We had about 1 1/2 hour gap so we served refreshments, wine, fruit & cheese, water, etc. in one of the villas at the CC where the reception was held.  About half the guest attended the other either went back to their hotels or the beach.
  • mica178mica178 member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    We had a 45 minute gap (one hour gap, but 15 minute drive from church to reception).  We hosted light refreshments (wine, water, lemonade, fruit, cheese, etc.) in the parish hall for guests.  It was nice for the guests not to have to drive to yet another place in between events.
  • ootmother2ootmother2 member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    damn!  We forgot to serve lemonade.  I lose :P
  • jazzybaccjazzybacc member
    Third Anniversary 100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Whenever that happens, I usually just go to the hotel and chillax for time being.. let the feet rest from shoes.  People will find something to do.. and yes you'll get people who complain, but ignore them.  They're trying to rain on your parade.  If you feel the need, offer ideas for things to do in between.
  • edited December 2011
    We had a cocktail/hor'dourve hour at the country club where our reception was held. During that time, we did more pictures on the lawn and around the country club and chilled for a few with our family, friends and WP before the reception formally began.
  • newlyseliskinewlyseliski member
    1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    We had a 2 hour gap between the end of our ceremony and the "official" beginning of the reception and social hour!  We informally visited with folks outside the church, took a few photos outside the church and took a leisurely drive to the reception hall.  We arrived before most of the guests did, so that gave us an opportunity to visit with people as they arrived.  I'm also from an area where gaps are pretty commonplace, so it's not an issue usually!  I think it's acceptable if the reception hall is more than 15 minutes from the church... ours was a 20 minute drive.  As PP's recommended, having an early social hour at the hall or nearby the hall would help fill that gap adequately.
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    im a lifelong catholic, as is my husband, and neither of us (or our families) have been to a wedding of any denomination with a gap.

    it shoudl be avoided.  can your reception venue do a lunch/afternoon reception and you can have your ceremony in the morning?

    if you insist on the gap (which is a bride/groom gap, not a catholic gap) you should provide a facility and refreshments for your guests.  but they will most likely be very bored and possibly drunk or very full on munchies by the time the reception rolls around and then they wont eat the nice meal you paid for.

    you also might get folks who opt to skip the reception altogether or some will skip the ceremony.
  • doctabroccolidoctabroccoli member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_catholic-gap-between-ceremony-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:0843d0e9-be69-41ea-a1cf-5a7262d69a4fPost:8b8a3889-6fbb-4b8f-b39f-91fc244b368e">Re: What to do with the Catholic "gap" between ceremony and reception?</a>:
    [QUOTE]im a lifelong catholic, as is my husband, and neither of us (or our families) have been to a wedding of any denomination with a gap. it shoudl be avoided.  can your reception venue do a lunch/afternoon reception and you can have your ceremony in the morning? if you insist on the gap (which is a bride/groom gap, not a catholic gap) you should provide a facility and refreshments for your guests.  but they will most likely be very bored and possibly drunk or very full on munchies by the time the reception rolls around and then they wont eat the nice meal you paid for. you also might get folks who opt to skip the reception altogether or some will skip the ceremony.
    Posted by Calypso1977[/QUOTE]

    Calypso, a gap is not the end of the world.  Seriously.  The bigger question is if it's common in your social circle or not.  Gaps are not black and white.

    You know what our friends who didn't go to my parents' house did during the gap? The ran around downtown St. Louis and did their own photoshoot. The pictures are high-larious.
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  • edited December 2011
    Calypso - I have no choice. Living in a large city, there are many Catholic churches - I contacted over 10 and the latest ceremony available was 1:30 PM. It is safe to assume that in some instances, even though the bride and groom may not prefer it, the gap is unavoidable.

    Would this plan be OK?

    After the ceremony, there will be a shuttle for OOT family and guests that wish to go back to the hotel. They will have around an hour to relax, freshen up. To those that drive to the wedding, our church is located within walking distance of a cute main street with lots of shops, bars, and restaraunts. I think I will create a map of "Our favorite places" and allow guests to explore for an hour. Then with the 30 minute drive to the venue, this should take up all the time needed.

    Thank you all for your responses!
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  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    spangler - I think you're doing a good job of ensuring the comfort of your guests during the gap. I don't think that it is always avoidable and I don't think a gap implies that the bride and groom are insisting on it. There are constraints on all sides, and you have to do the best you can do.
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    my point was simply that you shouldnt assume that if your guests are catholic that this is normal to them.  becuase clearly, it is not normal for all catholics.

    Calypso - I have no choice. Living in a large city, there are many Catholic churches - I contacted over 10 and the latest ceremony available was 1:30 PM. It is safe to assume that in some instances, even though the bride and groom may not prefer it, the gap is unavoidable.

    did you inquire as to whether they could marry you in the morning?  most churches are happy to do wedding ceremonies at 10 or 11, and then you could have your reception from 12-6pm.  ive been to several that are set up this way, and a few opted to have an after party. 

    if it is because you want the evenign reception, then the gap is a choice that you are consciously choosing to have.
  • doctabroccolidoctabroccoli member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_catholic-gap-between-ceremony-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:0843d0e9-be69-41ea-a1cf-5a7262d69a4fPost:b79a9381-f482-45a4-9cd6-041100f2efec">Re: What to do with the Catholic "gap" between ceremony and reception?</a>:
    [QUOTE]my point was simply that you shouldnt assume that if your guests are catholic that this is normal to them.  becuase clearly, it is not normal for all catholics. Calypso - I have no choice. Living in a large city, there are many Catholic churches - I contacted over 10 and the latest ceremony available was 1:30 PM. It is safe to assume that in some instances, even though the bride and groom may not prefer it, the gap is unavoidable. did you inquire as to whether they could marry you in the morning?  most churches are happy to do wedding ceremonies at 10 or 11, and then you could have your reception from 12-6pm.  ive been to several that are set up this way, and a few opted to have an after party.  if it is because you want the evenign reception, then the gap is a choice that you are consciously choosing to have.
    Posted by Calypso1977[/QUOTE]

    My point is that you regularly attack gap posts with a sledgehammer and make assumptions about people's guests that may or may not be true (like them being drunk or bored). Multiple people on this board and E have pointed out your absolute and sometimes unfriendly tone with respect to gaps, hence my saying that gaps are not black and white.  Some people expect them, some people don't.  No, it's not necessarily just a Catholic thing but more of a social circle thing.  If your group of friends/family all has lunch receptions, it's what's accepted in your circle.  If your group is used to dinner receptions (even if that means a gap as a result of a religious ceremony), then that's what is accepted.   
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  • agapecarrieagapecarrie member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 100 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    I've mentioned it before, but in my fam circles, and I think this is kind of true for St. Louis too, its considered almost rude to not have a gap....but it has to be the right amount of time. An 11 AM wedding with a 7 PM reception is waaay too long. If its 2 pm wedding, 6 or 7 pm reception, then you have enough time to grab an appetizer and a beer with friends. By the time all the wedding announcements, toasts, receiving line at beginning, is done, you're hungry again. I think this is especially true for out of town people-- they have a hotel to go to in the middle of it.  If its too long and you live across town, thats a pain. The point being, if there is going to be a gap, it should be a decent amount of time to actually do something small in between.

    Weddings in my fam are considered huge events, meaning, its not just "an evening out" mentality, but its a whole day that everyone makes appropriate preparations for. It's a little less about the bride and groom and a little more about the opportunity to visit with fam and friends, which I think is great.
  • lalaith50lalaith50 member
    1000 Comments Third Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    argh, I totally just typed out a really nice response and it got eaten! 
    (reminder to myself....ALWAYS "control c" anything longer than a sentence before submitting. sigh.)

    Basically, (what I said was,) a 1.5-2 hour gap is pretty common around here in my circles. 

    One idea; my parents went to a wedding a year or two ago in Minneapolis and the host parents rented a bus to take the out-of-towners on a tour of the city.

    for my wedding, I would say about 90% of the people either are from the same city (and so can go home for the gap,) or else are far enough that they will be renting a hotel room and can go there. I am also providing a list of things to do in the area on the website.
  • ootmother2ootmother2 member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    Everyone has to understand their family & guests as well as their own personal likes and dislikes.

    My family would have me committed if we had had a morning wedding or a wedding without drinks and dancing.  There would also be a large group of friends who wouldn't complain to me but you can be sure they would be complaining to each other!

    I've never been to a morning wedding anywhere, the concept if foreign to me

    ETA: The gap was not accidental as the latest time the church would allow was 1:30.  The venue, a  country club in the area, had guest privileges until 4:30.  Other parties and weddings are restricted before 5:00 due to club rules.

    We made good use of the villas for refreshments during the 90 or so minutes before the venue opened for the cocktail hour (well. hour and a half but who's counting)  No one was drunk or starving when the reception started.
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    i just think its erroneous to refer to it as a "catholic" gap which some how implies that its the catholic church's problem that you want an evening reception. 
  • IrishcurlsIrishcurls member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I do agree with Calypso that it is only in wanting both a Saturday Catholic ceremony and an evening reception that you "have" to have gaps. There are alternatives. We chose Friday evening because we didn't want to deal with hosting a gap. However, I've been to lots of weddings with them, and think as long as there is something hosted (even cookies and punch) then it's acceptable. 
  • 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_catholic-gap-between-ceremony-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:0843d0e9-be69-41ea-a1cf-5a7262d69a4fPost:60820d46-53ad-4489-9b69-82b252476330">Re: What to do with the Catholic "gap" between ceremony and reception?</a>:
    [QUOTE]i just think its erroneous to refer to it as a "catholic" gap which some how implies that its the catholic church's problem that you want an evening reception. 
    Posted by Calypso1977[/QUOTE]

    I think that several posters have mentioned that the Church should make wedding times more available for brides & grooms.

    4:00 confession and 5:30 Mass still leaves 2 1/2 hours that could be used for weddings.  Or even with only two hours extension, there's still time that could be made available & could be used.

    My pastor agrees on this, btw.
  • edited December 2011
    Oh Goodness, another gap post. I love how the responses are always the same!

    We had one. Life went on. In fact, not having one would have made things tight.

    I actually get more annoyed when I go straight to a reception and the B&G take their sweet time getting their due to pics, etc.

    Do your best to make it an "easy" gap for your guests, but leave it at that. I certainly wouldn't choose to have an afternoon reception instead of an evening reception if that is what you want/is expected.

    It may be inconvenient for them to have to wait a bit in between, but I think it is worse for an OOT guest to be on their own for a whole evening in a strange city! What's the fun in that?
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  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    Meh, reception halls here all do afternoon receptions from 12 to 5. It's relatively standard. The majority of the churches ONLY do weddings beginning at 1pm on Satursdays. If you have a ceremony within mass, you may not be finished until 2:30, then a receiving line and travel time to the reception hall, would only leave you with 2 hours at the reception hall.

    We lucked out because we found the diamond in the rough church that allows you to start pretty much whenever you'd like to, so we could avoid it.

    So, I don't think it's always the case that the bride and groom are forcing a gap just for an evening reception. In fact, my sister is attending a wedding this weekend where the bride and groom purposely booked the reception hall for the afternoon and couldn't get their home parish to do a Saturday morning wedding ceremony, so they are doing their Catholic ceremony on Friday night and then the reception on Saturday. To me, that is more inconvenient for their guests than if they just had the evening reception on Saturday with a couple hour gap in between. 
  • ootmother2ootmother2 member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    on a different topic, Riss, I love your shoes. 
  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Knottie Warrior 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_catholic-gap-between-ceremony-reception?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural%20Wedding%20BoardsForum:615Discussion:0843d0e9-be69-41ea-a1cf-5a7262d69a4fPost:c8f6a86d-1578-48c2-a8dc-894b8a9a0ee7">Re: What to do with the Catholic "gap" between ceremony and reception?</a>:
    [QUOTE]on a different topic, Riss, I love your shoes. 
    Posted by ootmother2[/QUOTE]

    Thanks! I have a shoe addiction, for sure! But I am insane about never paying a lot of money for them.
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    the church offers ample reception days and times - just not during mass times which of course often fall on saturday nights.  i have been told that back in the day, Catholics were always married before noon.  i'm actually surprised, OOT, that knowing your general age demographic that you have "never" been to a wedding other than in the evening. 

    the church also has to make sure they have times available for funerals and baptisms.  weddings arent the only sacrament given at church.
  • lisa89760lisa89760 member
    Fourth Anniversary 500 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I don't really find the term "catholic gap" offensive or anything its just is what it is...mostly Catholic weddings have gaps since the ceremony is usually earlier in the day and a lot of people choose to have an evening reception. 

    I agree with Jay&Marissa that I actually find it worse when the guests are all waiting for the bridal party to come because the ceremony was right before the reception.  One wedding we were sitting there for 2 hours before they came and the appetizers ran out after 15 min sooo nothing but an open bar! 
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