2.5 hour break between ceremony and cocktail hour

posted 2 years ago in Logistics
Post # 16
1590 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2018

This is typical of the Indian weddings I have been to. There’s usually a long ceremony followed by a meal (lunch) and then everyone goes back to their hotel room/home to rest and change into their reception attire. 

Post # 17
511 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

People on this forum tend to be extremely anti “break”, but in my real life, many (most) of the weddings I’ve been to have had 2-3 hour gaps between the ceremony and reception, and it was totally fine!

Personally, I appreciate having some time to freshen up and grab a drink with just my date or close friends. Since your venue has a bar, many guests are staying on site, and you’re providing snacks, I think it’s fine! But, you know your crowd best. Are gaps common in your circle? If so, I would not worry about it!

My own wedding had a 2 hour gap between the ceremony and reception (but also a 30 minute travel time between the church and reception venue) and it was perfect. The ceremony ran way over (since many of our guests were late, we started later) and many people stayed to socialize outside the church for about half an hour. The reception was open for guests to start arriving about an hour beforehand, with snacks available, so it did not feel like there was a gap at all. If we hadn’t built that buffer in, I feel like everyone would have needed to rush.

Post # 18
22 posts

This is pretty common for an Indian wedding, even with a high proportion of non Indian guests. We did this for ours. Main thing to get comfortable with is how many of your guests have hotel rooms (in our case mostly all!) and assuming that portion is high, most people will want to go back to rest and change for the evening (and in some cases check in too!). For those that don’t have rooms, would plan for tea and snacks and see if you can have a couple of rooms that people can change in!

Post # 19
2971 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2021

View original reply
bee7463 :  another alternative would be to host a “hospitality suite” during the break. 

Does the venue need 2.5 hours or do you want that break for photos and outfit changes? If it’s the latter, perhaps you can knock it down to 1.5 or 2 hrs, especially if you don’t intend to go to additional locations for photos. 

If you or your parents/soon to be in-laws have a large room or set of rooms at the hotel, you could set out snacks and beverages in kind of an open house style so that anyone who doesn’t have their own room to go to or who would prefer to socialize than take a break can stop by and hang out. It would obviously need to be a large room or suite, but perhaps this could be a good excuse to upgrade your suite to a really swanky one? Lol 

Or, yeah, just do the basement or have cocktail hour in the ballroom. 

Whether guests are entering the ballroom first for the cocktail hour or for the reception, anyone who is going to be wowed will have that wow moment. I’m confused about why it is important to you to have that moment happen as they enter the reception instead of cocktail hour? Cocktail hour is basically just part of the reception anyways, is it not? 

Also, for photos and stuff, a lot of couples have cocktail hour specifically to have somewhere for their guests to go that is hosted while they are off doing photos and stuff. It seems a bit odd to have a multi hour break followed by cocktail hour and then the main reception. Why not just have cocktail hour during the break or scrap it altogether and just go straight into the reception after the break? Obviously you can have some time for people to settle in and grab drinks, mingle, etc before beginning with dinner or any of the reception program, but it doesn’t need to be a formal cocktail hour. 

ETA: chiming in to add that I also disagree with the overwhelming sentiment on this board regarding breaks. They are super common in every social circle I’ve ever been a part of and I have only been to a couple of weddings that didn’t include a break between the ceremony and reception (I consider a hosted cocktail hour as part of the reception)).

Most weddings I’ve attended had a break that was anywhere from one hour to two hours in length, but typically not any longer than two. 

As long as I have somewhere to go to relax and freshen up I actually prefer that there is a break. In your case, more than half the guests are staying at the hotel and one could assume that most of the others either live or are staying nearby or are friends with or related to people who are staying at the hotel, so would probably have somewhere to hang out anyways. 

Post # 20
760 posts
Busy bee

View original reply
sboom :  Gaps are indeed common in a lot of circles, including my husband’s family,  but I think the ‘overwhelming sentiment on this board’ is an indication that there are often more guests unhappy with a gap than the bride and groom realize- because many of us will just suck it up and be polite about it. 

Post # 21
4591 posts
Honey bee

I would either eliminate the gap or make it longer so people have time to go home to rest for a bit and change to formal wear. Two and a half hours is an awkward time. And asking people to be in formal wear for five hours before 6pm is considered poor etiquette in the US.

Post # 22
2971 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2021

View original reply
crustyoldbee :  eh, different strokes I guess. I actually prefer when there is a gap 🤷

Post # 23
2027 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

All the Indian weddings I’ve been to have had the ceremony and reception on separate days for exactly this reason. The ceremony is so long, IMO you NEED a break. As a guest, I will want to change from whatever sari/outfit/lehenga I wore to the ceremony into something fancier for the evening celebration. I would want to go back to my hotel room or house to change, regroup after sitting on the floor, and have a bite to eat. I would actually vote for a LONGER break between events if you are planning to do them on the same day….

Post # 24
106 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2020

Every single wedding I have been to or heard about has had a gap. Some more inconvenient than others.. sounds like you are doing what you can to make it comfortable for guests. 

Post # 25
9251 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

If there has to be a gap then I want a good gap. As in enough time to actually relax or do something. All of the Indian weddings I have attended have had a morning ceremony which is over by 12pm and then an evening reception starting at 6-7pm. Same for the catholic gap. Morning ceremony and evening reception for most. 


Post # 26
29 posts

Even the majority of traditional church weddings or civil ceremonies I’ve been to (in Australia) have had a gap of a few hours which often have been too short to go back home and then come back out again, but long enough that you really need to find something to do to kill time. The fact that everything is happening in the one location and you’re providing refreshments is fine. Whilst some people might say you need to prioritise your guests’ comfort, I’m more in the camp of “they’re fed a nice meal and invited to YOUR party” so they can suck it up. 

Post # 27
5056 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

View original reply
sboom :  me too and preferably one long enough for me to go home or to a hotel for a while and relax. I’m usually wearing some form of stomach sucker under my dress for an occasion like a wedding. Being able to let it all hang out for a few hours between the ceremony and reception gets a total thumbs up from me.

I’m totally like this guy in the gif as soon as I step foot back home after having to wear a tummy control garment for a few hours!!😂

Post # 28
16 posts
  • Wedding: September 2012

I agree that a long gap will likely dampen the rest of the day. Keep in mind that not everyone has to be elderly (or a child) to get tired easily. Some people have auto-immune disorders or like me..severe back issues. I cannot sit or stand for hours and hours at a time. A 10-12 hour affair would easily be a deal breaker for me as I would suffer for days after in pain afterwards. I could easily stand an event 5-7 hours but any longer than that and I would not attend.

And looking at me, I look perfectly fit and healthy. You would never know about my physical disabilites. In fact most people are shocked when they learn about my chronic pain.

So if you have 250 guests, you can bet that for more people than you think this would not be the joyous occasion that you are intending. It may be a big struggle for them for various reasons that you are not privy to.
Please make it easier on them. Everyone is going to remember the ceremony & reception and the overall experience. They are not going to care very much about the cocktail hour.

Post # 29
311 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

I don’t think 2.5 is that big a deal we had 3 hours to kill for ours though most people had to drive back to the hotels after the ceremony and check in, then relax till the bus picked them up at 5 and it worked fine.  

Most people had drinks in the room of someone or went to a pub.  I think for elderly it actually helped get them thru the day.

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