Ceremony / Reception "Gap" Timing?

posted 2 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 2
5773 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

That’s too big if a gap, especialy at a time when people are going to start thinking about dinner. Start the cocktail hour earlier and serve some nibbles.

Post # 4
202 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

SweetEmerald:  I understand your concern. Sadly, something I’ve noticed over the years is that if  brides have a big gap, then a large number of guests won’t bother going to the ceremony at all.  They’ll just save themselves the inconvenience and show up at the reception.

A possible solution might be to: 1) take photos before the ceremony so that you can 2) start the ceremony at 5:00 PM, and then 3) begin cocktails/hors d’oeuvres at 6:00 PM.  I think dinner, toasts, cake cutting etc. may take longer than you think (depending upon how many guests you’re inviting and the style of the reception).

Good luck! 🙂

ETA that if you begin cocktails and appetizers at 6:00 PM, and dinner between 7:00 – 7:30 PM, that should put you right on track time-wise!

Post # 7
8388 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

I’m not a huge fan of time gaps, is there anyway you can plan something else for your guests to do?  Take my opinion with a grain of salt though, my ceremony went straight into my cocktail hour and were all at one location (aka super convenient for my guests).  I’m sure there are many others that find a gap to be acceptable, and even expected.

Post # 8
1627 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Two to three hour gap is fine from start time of ceremony to start time of cocktail hour is fine. People can grab some coffee or go take a nap. I wouldn’t expect people to wait around for the dancing to begin. 

Ceremony at 4:30 (provide snack packs for guest- water, granola bar and address/ directions to reception)

Reception at 7:30

7:30-8:30cktail hour

8:30-10 dinner and cake cutting & service

10: dancing

Post # 9
405 posts
Helper bee

Do not have a gap.  It is, however, acceptable to have an hour of hosted drinks, food, and music for your guests while you are off taking pictures or whate have you.  That is called a cocktail hour.  

Post # 10
1441 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

I don’t understand creating an artificial time gap.  Can’t you get your own entertainment for the reception so you don’t have to make people wait until the free entertainment starts?

Post # 12
1629 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2014 - Church

SweetEmerald:  I would say for that time of day it is too large of a gap (this coming from someone who is having a gap of 1.5 hours). Unless you come from an area that does late dinners at that time, that is a long day for people to have dinner so late. Also, I would ask the restaurant how long dinner usually takes. Also, are you planning on doing speeches throughout the meal? If you are then you need to take that into consideration, as well. We (me, FI, wedding party) will be forgoing the most of cocktail hour so guests can have h’ors d’eurves and other small food while we have our photos taken. Our dinner will start at 6:30. That means that guests will have between 4 and 5:30 to do what they like (Church wedding and restaurant reception). Guests are usually pretty good with milling around. Have an iPod set up if you cannot have even a DJ until the live band starts. Create some fun props and other things to keep people entertained … But  I honestly wouldn’t want guests to wait until like 7 to eat snack type food …

Post # 13
133 posts
Blushing bee

It depends, how far is the church from the restaurant? Are you having a receiving line at the end of the ceremony? I’m sure you will be greeted by a ton of people who want to take pics with you either way. That can be time consuming, and you’ll need time for pics with your hubby at the chapel. If it takes time to get to the restaurant then 7 is reasonable. You could also have cake box favors when guests leave your ceremony.

Post # 14
576 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

Are you completely set on your venue? It sounds like it’s causing a huge headache for you and will also cause one for your guests. 

Post # 15
743 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2014 - Our Backyard/Steakhouse

SweetEmerald:  I’m with Doeydo on this one.

Don’t have a gap, the gap IS your cocktail hour – where you’re out doing pics while your guests mingle and wait for you.  Either make your ceremony later or start your reception earlier.

No one is going to ‘nap’ between, who naps with their hair and makeup all done up?  Anyone who is from out of town will be bored wandering around in their formal wear and any one local will get home, get comfy and not want to go out again.

Respect your guests time and avoid the gap.

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