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Etiquette

Large Time Gap Between Ceremony and Reception

Our ceremony will be in the Catholic church. We just met with the priest last night. We were told that the only time allowed for weddings is 1:00. Estimating that the ceremony will take about an hour and then about 30 minutes to clear out the church... that means everything with the ceremony will wrap up around 2:30. We do not have a venue for the reception picked out yet but the size of our town will probably only require at most 30 minutes to get to any venue that we choose. So that puts timing around 3:00. I do not want to have a reception that starts that early. I'd prefer to start around 5 or 5:30. I have no idea what to do to remedy this. I guess I could just suck it up and do a 3:30 reception but that just seems too early. We could also do our pictures after the ceremony but that still does not prevent the guests from sitting around twiddling their thumbs waiting for us. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for any advice in advance! <3
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Re: Large Time Gap Between Ceremony and Reception

  • As stated above, you have 2 choices, start the reception at 3p or find another ceremony option.

    I'll guess you want to get married in your church so finding another ceremony option won't work for you. The fun thing about earlier receptions is that you can do an after party at a lounge or a hotel! I love those.
    Blue_Bird
  • Agree with the others - time to suck it up.
    doeydo
  • Ditto PPs. Just suck it up and have a reception that starts at 3. I'd rather attend that as a guest than deal with a gap.
    doeydo[Deleted User]
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I would just suck it up and have the early reception.   People are not going to go around looking for their watch to strike 5pm to have a good time.      Weddings generally have a flow to them.  Cocktail hour, meal, dancing, etc.   As long as you continue the flow a 3pm reception will be as much fun as a 5 pm reception.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    doeydo[Deleted User]PrettyGirlLost
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I agree with everyone. Gaps are rude. Either have a 3pm reception or find a different church to get married in that will accommodate a later ceremony start time.

    doeydo[Deleted User]PrettyGirlLost
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I appreciate that you are putting your guests first prior to selecting your reception venue.  Many others do not consider the time or comfort of their guests.

    The best case scenario would be to start your reception by 3:30 as other posters have suggested.

    Would you consider having a Friday evening ceremony?  With everything in such close proximity, the timing would work out quite nicely for an evening wedding.

    Other posters may find a valid argument against this next suggestion, but I will pose it anyway.  If you have a rather large guest list, you might be able to extend cocktail hour to 90 minutes.  Guests can use that time to mingle through the myriad of people.  If you have a non traditional, interactive guest book, it would give all the guests a chance to comment and sign.  If your ceremony starts late, that also will aid your cause.  Again, this would be a last resort, but it could work.

    We were fortunate that our parish allowed for a Mass as late as 3:00 PM even with a parish 5:00 PM Mass.  We did start our cocktail hour a bit early as compared to most receptions, but everyone was more than ready to celebrate and enjoy.  If you do need to start a bit earlier, as PP's have said, your guests will not only be ready to start the party, they may actually appreciate an earlier ending to the evening.
    PrettyGirlLostjendemeyer
  • Early reception.
  • RebeccaB88RebeccaB88 Figment of Your Imagination member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Then you'll have a 3pm reception start time, regardless of what you want. That's just part of it. Suck it up. If you want to get married in that church, and not be rude to your guests by making them wait around on you, then that's just what you'll have to do.

    If you didn't have the church time limitation, then you could alter the ceremony time. What about doing a morning ceremony and brunch/lunch reception immediately after?  
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Ask about Friday night.  H & I were allowed to start our ceremony much later.  So we had a 5 PM start time for the ceremony.  This allowed us to avoid the gap and still have an "evening" reception.  So you need to figure out what works best for you.  

    My sister recently married and there was about an hour in between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception.  So my parents hosted drinks and very light snacks at their home for any guest.  They didn't have a ton of food, since there was still going to be a cocktail hour at the reception, but they had enough to satisfy all guests.

    Regardless of what you do, you need to properly host your guests.  You have been given many options that can work for you.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Do the early reception.

    My reception will be starting at 1pm. And I'm really looking forward to having it during the day. We're also doing a really fun after party.

    PrettyGirlLost
  • Also look at Sundays. We were able to have a full Catholic Mass starting at 3p, with cocktail hour starting at 4.30p, and dinner served at 5.45p -- no gap.
    Anniversary

    image
    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
  • A friend of mine has the same problem... 1pm was the latest they could get the church. She wants a 5:30pm dinner so there's a gap from 2-4:30 (when cocktail hour starts)... So that will be barrels of fun. Eliminate your gap - everyone will be very thankful you did.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • I recently attended an 11am Catholic wedding with a 6pm reception. It was awful and everyone was talking about just how horrible it was at the wedding. Do you want the same thing happening to you? Do the 1pm wedding and have a cocktail hour beginning at 3pm. You can be off taking pictures during the cocktail hour and show up for the entrance.


  • I recently attended an 11am Catholic wedding with a 6pm reception. It was awful and everyone was talking about just how horrible it was at the wedding. Do you want the same thing happening to you? Do the 1pm wedding and have a cocktail hour beginning at 3pm. You can be off taking pictures during the cocktail hour and show up for the entrance.


  • Definitely move your reception up to 3:00 but also, will it take 30 minutes to exit the church?  I don't think it will.
  • jneen101 said:
    Definitely move your reception up to 3:00 but also, will it take 30 minutes to exit the church?  I don't think it will.

    Agreed. It takes about 5 minutes for the sanctuary to clear out at our church on Sundays. Even with twice as many people in attendance, I doubt it would take much longer.

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • I can see how a receiving line would require 30 minutes, but OP didn't say whether that was what she was thinking. 

    I remember bar and bat mitzvahs with morning ceremonies and lunch receptions followed by evening parties, but I don't think that would work in this case (although I did think the PP whose parents hosted guests during the short "gap" was pretty awesome). 

    Totally check with the church about Fridays and Sundays, if you can schedule one. You also don't specify whether this is "your" church (where you go to church) or just a church (although I assume it's the former). If you don't have an allegiance to this specific church, why not look for another? Worst-case scenario, just have the early wedding. You could have cocktails from 3-4:15, entrance at 4:30, some dancing, and dinner at about 5:30-6. 
  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    wagen said:
    Thank you for all of the words of advice. I do 100% understand and agree that a huge time gap with nothing going on is rude to guests. Thank you for all of the suggestions to fill some of the gap and the encouragement for the 3:00 reception. We are going to be doing a receiving line which would require about 30 minutes to exit the church. It is my church so we will not be changing the place of the ceremony. I will be taking a look at the possibility of a Friday or Sunday ceremony but will most likely go with an earlier reception on Saturday. Thanks again!! :) <3

    Sounds like your head is on straight. Good luck!
    JCbride2015InkdancerRebeccaB88[Deleted User]
  • We had a 2pm Catholic ceremony and our reception started at 3:45.  It went great!  We had a cocktail hour, introduction and first dance, then dinner served around 5:15.  Cake around 6:45.  Reception ended at 9:00, but it could have gone later.  Plenty of people stayed that long, and then went partying all together into the night (H and I didn't join them--we were tired).  But even an early reception can transition into a night reception if you have some party people!

    Starting your reception even at 3:00 would be fine.  People will still have fun, and honestly, it's great to get a lot of good daylight photos!  

    SaveSave
  • We are having the same issue as we are getting married in Banff and everyone will be from out of town. Most weddings up here do unfortunately have a time gap and as a guest and as a bride, my opinion changes. 

    YES it is annoying to have a big gap but as long as you can find somewhere to go/pre drink/socialize it is ok. If you are not required to stay out of your venue for set up, then maybe you could have an early cocktail hour and have your guests mingle and do pictures and socialize until the party gets there. You would definitely need to serve appetizers then while people are waiting for dinner. Depending on your budget, you could have a Photo Booth set up, or other activities such as an ice breaker game, or something you come up with....be creative! 

    Most of my guests will probably socialize as they do not come together as a family often and many of them will be camping 10 mins down the road so they will likely go back there. My singles and stray friends - Im going to get one of them to host their hotel room for drinks and social time and put out the word so no one feels awkward or left out. 

    hope that helps?
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer

    mjl86 said:
    We are having the same issue as we are getting married in Banff and everyone will be from out of town. Most weddings up here do unfortunately have a time gap and as a guest and as a bride, my opinion changes. 

    YES it is annoying to have a big gap but as long as you can find somewhere to go/pre drink/socialize it is ok. If you are not required to stay out of your venue for set up, then maybe you could have an early cocktail hour and have your guests mingle and do pictures and socialize until the party gets there. You would definitely need to serve appetizers then while people are waiting for dinner. Depending on your budget, you could have a Photo Booth set up, or other activities such as an ice breaker game, or something you come up with....be creative! 

    Most of my guests will probably socialize as they do not come together as a family often and many of them will be camping 10 mins down the road so they will likely go back there. My singles and stray friends - Im going to get one of them to host their hotel room for drinks and social time and put out the word so no one feels awkward or left out. 

    hope that helps?
    If you are hosting something for the entire gap then it's not a gap, it's a cocktail hour.  But it still shouldn't be more than an hour or so.



    PrettyGirlLost
  • We faced the same thing, and went with an early cocktail hour. Several in my family were upset, as they couldn't imagine us doing pictures before the wedding.  Previous family members had a gap.  The difference for me was they were all 22-23 at the time, and 90% of the guests lived within a 20 mile radius.  90% of our guests are out of town, and we couldn't figure out anything that would be interesting for that crowd to do.  Consider the age of guests and the availability of attractions in between.  Keep in mind, with a 1pm service, most people won't have had a normal lunch so the natives will be very restless and hungry by 3.
  • OK, I'm in a similar situation as the OP (did you find a solution yet?) and I don't see any way around having a 2.5 hour gap between the end of our ceremony and the start of of our cocktail hour.  I was a little concerned til now that it was a bit too long, but now I'm worried because you all are making it seem like it's the worst thing that could possibly ever happen??  I'm also confused- as a guest, at least half the weddings I have attended had a two-hour-or-so gap.  It has never bothered me or any of my friends; if anything, I preferred it.  Depending on the situation, we would utilize that time to have cocktails/appetizers and catch up with other guests at a nearby restaurant or the hotel.  Or even, gave me that extra flexibility to go back to the hotel room, freshen up, style my hair better, etc. and relax.  For local weddings, the same- just gathering in someone else's hotel room.  For me, it has never been anything but extra bonus time to enjoy the day.  Could this be a regional or age related thing?  I can see that it might not always be the most convenient, sure, but I'm really surprised by the unanimous vehemently negative reactions.

    And not sure what to do about it for our own wedding :(

     

    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • AprilH81AprilH81 Columbus, OH member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers

    OK, I'm in a similar situation as the OP (did you find a solution yet?) and I don't see any way around having a 2.5 hour gap between the end of our ceremony and the start of of our cocktail hour.  I was a little concerned til now that it was a bit too long, but now I'm worried because you all are making it seem like it's the worst thing that could possibly ever happen??  I'm also confused- as a guest, at least half the weddings I have attended had a two-hour-or-so gap.  It has never bothered me or any of my friends; if anything, I preferred it.  Depending on the situation, we would utilize that time to have cocktails/appetizers and catch up with other guests at a nearby restaurant or the hotel.  Or even, gave me that extra flexibility to go back to the hotel room, freshen up, style my hair better, etc. and relax.  For local weddings, the same- just gathering in someone else's hotel room.  For me, it has never been anything but extra bonus time to enjoy the day.  Could this be a regional or age related thing?  I can see that it might not always be the most convenient, sure, but I'm really surprised by the unanimous vehemently negative reactions.

    And not sure what to do about it for our own wedding :(

    That's called a cocktail hour/reception and should be taking place immediately after the ceremony and hosted by the couple.
    photo composite_14153800476219.jpg
    PrettyGirlLostabbyj700
  • InkdancerInkdancer The Shire member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer

    OK, I'm in a similar situation as the OP (did you find a solution yet?) and I don't see any way around having a 2.5 hour gap between the end of our ceremony and the start of of our cocktail hour.  I was a little concerned til now that it was a bit too long, but now I'm worried because you all are making it seem like it's the worst thing that could possibly ever happen??  I'm also confused- as a guest, at least half the weddings I have attended had a two-hour-or-so gap.  It has never bothered me or any of my friends; if anything, I preferred it.  Depending on the situation, we would utilize that time to have cocktails/appetizers and catch up with other guests at a nearby restaurant or the hotel.  Or even, gave me that extra flexibility to go back to the hotel room, freshen up, style my hair better, etc. and relax.  For local weddings, the same- just gathering in someone else's hotel room.  For me, it has never been anything but extra bonus time to enjoy the day.  Could this be a regional or age related thing?  I can see that it might not always be the most convenient, sure, but I'm really surprised by the unanimous vehemently negative reactions.

    And not sure what to do about it for our own wedding :(

    Think of it this way: imagine you are a guest coming in from out of town. You weren't expecting a gap. You don't know any of the other guests. That kind of person may well really not enjoy a gap. I know that I certainly wouldn't. If I've come all that way to see your wedding and you're not hosting me for several hours of the day, I would be annoyed at the unexpected wait time. Recently, I went to a wedding where the nearest hotel that I could afford was 45 minutes away from the wedding location. If that were the case for a gap wedding, the guest wouldn't be able to reasonably go back to their hotel - they'd get there and have to turn right back around. It's just not very polite to guests who won't be hosted.

    For your wedding, work with your reception venue and your church to move the ceremony and reception closer together. Here is an example timeline: If you're planning on having your ceremony from 2 to 3 pm, allow half an hour for travel to the reception, then have cocktail hour from 3:30 to 4:30 (maybe even 5:00 although that's pushing the limits if there isn't enough seating for everyone to rest their feet). Then you can do your entrance and spotlight dances, and serve dinner at 5:30 (maybe 6 with an extended cocktail hour).

    You can also see if the church will allow you to push your ceremony back half an hour or so, so that your reception venue doesn't have to be open so early.
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    PrettyGirlLostKeptInStitches
  • Have the early reception and then plan a totally BA bar meetup later that night for anyone who wants to party late.  You'll have an excuse to buy a super fabulous cocktail dress :)
    image
    PrettyGirlLost
  • InkdancerInkdancer The Shire member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    antoto said:
    Have the early reception and then plan a totally BA bar meetup later that night for anyone who wants to party late.  You'll have an excuse to buy a super fabulous cocktail dress :)
    This is exactly what we're doing!
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    antototcnoble
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