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Catholic Weddings

What to do from the ceremony to reception?

Hey all!!

I'm getting married next year, and our church only allows us to be married at 1:00 on our date. That will mean our ceremony would be done by 2.

I know as far as our reception goes - I imagine it would be a 30 minute travel time.

I really hate the idea of starting a reception early, but I also hate the idea of my guests waiting forever to eat. What should I do? Do you guys have any suggestions? Anything to do in between? Should I just start cocktail at 3 pm?

Re: What to do from the ceremony to reception?

  • scrunchythiefscrunchythief member
    Tenth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments Name Dropper
    edited March 2016
    I would definitely start the cocktail hour as soon as guests would arrive from the ceremony.  Especially since people will be fasting at noon if they want to receive communion, you should get food started asap.  


    Our ceremony was at noon.  Since our reception was at the Knights of Columbus, they said based on past experience to start the cocktail hour at 2, since we also had about a 30 min drive.  But, they were ready to go at 1:30, and people could come in and start eating and drinking then.  Once we got done pictures (I think it was less than an hour), DH's great-uncle, who is a priest, said grace, and we started dinner.  Our reception lasted till 7.

    It was awesome.  The dance floor was active through the whole time after dinner. Guests also could get home at a reasonable hour, even if they had a bit of a drive.  It also meant we were not tired for our wedding night:)

    God bless you both for your upcoming marriage!
    holyguacamole79
  • What time does your venue have as your start time? It's fairly typical for people in our area to have a 2pm mass that lasts until 3, and cocktails to not start until 5 or 5:30. People will find something to do, honestly, and that is the way our wedding will be. 
    MesmrEwe
  • I've mentioned this long ago here... and its apparently looked down upon, but until coming here, I had no idea that some time gap wasn't almost always done. In my city, its the most common thing. I've played over 235 weddings now, and 95% of them were afternoons with an evening reception. I've been to maybe 1 or 2 weddings that didn't have some time in between and there were complaints about there not being time in between. 

    The idea being that weddings are all day affairs here. Every wedding I've been to (99%) that had some time to kill in between, I went off with friends or family to a restaurant for a beer, an appetizer, and to catch up with people I hadn't seen.

    If this isn't common where you are or in your family...then there may be a problem. It's just beyond what I know. 
    MesmrEwe
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    We started our cocktail hour immediately.   It was a 20-30 minute drive to the reception.  We had a 2:00 wedding, which was done by 3:15.  We had the reception start at 4,but the venue was nice enough to say that guests can show up a tad early.   Our reception was until 9,and by then ... we were ready to go.   
  • Our timeline was similar to Holyguacamole's and it worked out great.  I would advise against a gap.  I know they're common some places, but I would very much not appreciate a gap.

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  • First - know your crowd...  I've been here short of forever and it wasn't until venturing to the national boards that "the gap" became highly frowned upon though I'd never been to a wedding that didn't have one.  A few years back when a cousin got married they did the mid-afternoon activity post-ceremony only they forgot to check the baseball schedule and figure out when the game would likely be over because they were an hour and a half late getting to the reception where the rest of us were waiting because they got stuck in game traffic.  Had they skipped it and just had people go to the reception venue there wouldn't have been any issues.  But - guests love wilted salad and hot food served cold because it'd been sitting in warmers <GRRR> (it was opening day of deer season so a lot of us didn't go to the ceremony and straight to the reception).. 

    I'd say start at the reception as an afternoon tea/appetizers type thing with punch available with some misc. activities there as soon as people get to the hall then start the full cocktail hour at the hour just before dinner time.  Possibly start dinner slightly early (5:30).. 

    Know your crowd...

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  • I don't like saying that this is something that's done and it's OK among a lot of Catholics.   By that token so is birth control.

    You should really do what you can to have no gap.   I'd either see if you can have a later ceremony on a different date or I'd start the reception earlier in the afternoon.   Afternoon receptions are great.

    FWIW, I've attended MANY Catholic weddings and of them, TWO had gaps.   I was in one and in the other I sat around in my dress in a family member's house for 4 hours trying to stay "excited" without staining myself with lunch.   All the others including my own event had no gap. 
    scrunchythiefholyguacamole79
  • tigerlily6tigerlily6 member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited March 2016
    I recently went through this issue of organizing schedules myself, OP. The only wedding I have ever been to that didn't have a gap previously was (1) not Catholic, and (2) had the ceremony and reception in the same venue, so there would have been no need for a gap. It had never occurred to me before coming to TK that some people disapprove of gaps, but I have found this is correct. I asked a few of my trusted friends who I knew would be honest with me, and they all agreed that having a gap was annoying for them as guests, especially if they're not from the area and don't really have anything to do but go back to a hotel room for the interim.

    I think it is a "know-your'crowd" thing, though, as @MesmrEwe noted. The Catholic community where my parents live always have gaps, and it has taken a lot of effort on my part to persuade my parents that no-gap is a good thing ("But it's so nice to take a short break and rest and freshen up! Who wouldn't like that?" etc). And both my parents and FI's have expressed concern that don't want the party wrapping up too early -- this is what happens when you mix Polish and Irish Catholic families, I guess! We like our dancing and drinking.

    My remedy has been to talk to the coordinator at our reception venue. The regular "reservation" lasts 6 hours, but I have added an extra hour so that we can have a cocktail hour with appetizers go from 3-4:30 (during which time the WP can finish up photos at the Church and then come to join), start dinner off no later than 5pm, and and still have everything wrap up at 10:00. At that point, I am sure FI and I will be pooped anyway, and if any of our friends and family are still wanting to party, they can take it to the bars downtown. 
                        


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  • When we discussed this with my wedding planner she advised no gap. So, no gap it is.  
    Being this is truly an all day affair many people will likely be happy it is ending early and for those who don't want the party to end, organize an after night out!   We decided to do that. It has been well received. 
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