How long btwn ceremony and reception?

posted 3 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: How big of a gap is normal between ceremony and reception/or how long is your gap
    1hr : (37 votes)
    61 %
    2hrs : (11 votes)
    18 %
    3hrs : (10 votes)
    16 %
    3+ hrs : (3 votes)
    5 %
  • Post # 3
    5460 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: August 2012

    We had a one hour gap between the ceremony and the reception for photos, and during that time we hosted cocktail hour for our guests so they wouldn’t be hungry & bored.

    I think as long as you are providing some sort of refreshments and entertainment for your guests you can have an hour, even and hour and half gap*.

    If your photographer needs that much time, see if you can get photos of you and your girls and you and your parents before the ceremony.  They can also get pics of the guys and of your FI & his family prior to the ceremony as well.  Or, you can look into doing a first look.


    *Catholic ceremonies often have a very large gap and it’s considered normal in many circles.  If you’re having a full mass, then a gap is probably going to be expected by your guests & they’ll be prepared.

    Post # 4
    1734 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: March 1998

    Pay attention to the weddings of your social circles. In our case, there was about half an hour…but we were married on the dance floor of our venue. We cleared out, they brought out tables with food, and everyone was eating within half an hour. While they were bringing out the tables, we had a receiving line off to the side, where we took pictures, so we made the most of the time we had.

    Honestly, the “seeing the bride for the first time at the wedding itself” tradition is fading in light of pragmatism. Is it possible that you could all meet before the ceremony and take some of these pictures to cut down on the time in between? 3 hours is a LONG wait, especially if you have guests out of town.

    My personal limit in between would be 2 hours, and even that’s pushing it.

    Post # 5
    1646 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: May 2014

    We are doing a 1.5 hour gap.

    Post # 6
    9526 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: August 2013

    My options wasn’t on there! I didn’t have any gap at all! Guests were dismissed from their rows at the ceremony and walked 20 yards over to where the cocktail hour had drinks and snacks and light music. I, personally, don’t like down time between the ceremony and reception unless the reception is very casual and I’m going to change into jeans or something like that. I know that it’s unavoidable for some Catholic weddings, so I don’t complain. But I still hate it. So we purposefully did most of our pictures before the wedding so we didn’t need to have a gap. It was great!

    Post # 7
    207 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: March 2014

    @beachbridebc:  As a guest, I would be annoyed at a 3 hour gap. Where is the ceremony/reception? Is there anything for guests to do in those 3+ hours? 

    Post # 8
    545 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: June 2013

    We had no gap, the ceremony rolled right into a cocktail hour hosted in the same spot as the ceremony and then we went downstairs to start dinner. We did nearly all pictures before the ceremony and snuck off during dancing to get some sunset photos which took about 15 minutes. I wanted lots of time with guests. We would have skipped cocktail hour but our ceremony location was really nice, a rooftop garden, so we wanted to enjoy it with our guests. 

    Post # 9
    134 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: June 2014

    No gap for us either. In our social circles, a gap of 1-2 hours is normal, but as a guest I have never liked it as it’s not enough time to go and really do anything.


    We are getting married in the garden at our reception site, so our guests can watch us having photos taken while sipping cocktails, enjoying hors d’oeuvres and playing croquet.

    Post # 10
    1646 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2014

    @beachbridebc:  We’re doing about a 1.5 to 2 hour gap. It’s fairly normal in my family and my FI’s family but I’m sure our friends might have a problem with it since it isn’t there norm. Ceremony is at 4:00 and Dinner is at 6pm. There is about a 20 minute drive between ceremony and reception locations as well. 

    Post # 11
    6977 posts
    Busy Beekeeper
    • Wedding: August 2012

    The shorter the gap the better IMO. We had no gap.

    Edit: the only wedding we have ever skipped a ceremony for had a 3 or 3.5 hour gap. We have two dogs, and between the gap and the drive there (2+ hours) we would have been gone like 13 hours. It just wasn’t feasible for us.

    Post # 12
    8850 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA

    @JenGirl:  +1.  Zero gap, a cocktail hour immediately followed the ceremony on site.

    I’d be bummed if I had to wait around for 3 hours to eat or drink or hang out while the bride and groom took photos…

    Post # 13
    1112 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: August 2013

    We had a 2.5ish hour gap. Right after the ceremny we talked to peple for a few minutes and were congratulated, then we had family pictures for half an hour, bridal party pictures for about half an hour and then the rest of the time was couple’s portraits. A first look wasn’t an option for us either. We pretty much had an extended cocktail hour, with plenty of snacks. All of our guests enoyed sitting out in the sun and getting to know each other or getting caught up. No one minded it, and in fact I think most peple enjoyed it.

    Post # 14
    2286 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: May 2015

    @beachbridebc:  If there was a 3 hour gap I would not attend the ceremony. Sorry, I think thats a huge inconvenience and rudeness to your guests in the name of pictures. One hour to 90 minutes hosted cocktail hour is appropriate. 

    Post # 15
    16 posts
    • Wedding: June 2014

    We r gonna have around an hour to 1.5 hr gap between ours… The reception is 30 min away so that leaves ppl around 30 min to an hr to do something.  our reception starts a 6, no cocktail hour, dinner right away.  I have decided ppl can figure out something to do in that time.  The hotel is walking distance to the reception and there are bars by the reception.  I was not willing to pay an extra $2000 for 1 extra hour and cocktails… I have gone to plenty of weddings with longer breaks In between and gone home between.

    Post # 16
    1157 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: October 2013

    We went to a wedding that had a 3 hour gap in between the ceremony and reception. The only reason we didn’t skip that wedding was that our favorite bar was halfway along the walk between the church and the dinner venue. Those beers & fries were the only thing that made that schedule bearable! It is just too much time to ask of your guests. 

    I was also a bridesmaid in a wedding that took 2 hours for photos after the ceremony. My poor, neglected date!

    My advice would be to try to take as many photos ahead of time as you can. Even if you want to avoid a “first look,” you may be able to take a lot of the family & bridal party shots in advance. Also, 3 hours is a loooooooong-ass time for some photos, so you may want to talk with your photographer about why that’s really necessary?

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