(Closed) Choosing a Ceremony Reception Gap

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 2
746 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

Now keep in mind I had my reception and ceremony at the same place.  I do not think you should have anymore time between ceremony and reception.  It is not just about the time that you need but consider the guests.  If you start pre- cocktails at 6:30pm your guests will be waiting around with nothing to do… from reading this board this is one of the things guests hate about weddings with different locations for the reception and ceremony.

I planned by own wedding without any professional help, wedding planner etc.. I felt that with my timeline I was cutting things a bit close.  But I also did not want my guests waiting around forever while the pics were taken.  What I did was take some of the pics before the ceremony.  It worked out great for us.  Now my hubbie and I did not care if we saw each other before the ceremony.  Even if you took pics before the ceremony with your bridal party and maybe your side of the family… then you will not have to worry if you run late as you will not have as many pics to take. An added bonus is that you may be able to get some unique pics in different location than the other pics taken at the reception site.

If you do not decide to take pics before the ceremony, you should start pre-cocktail at 6:30 and cocktails at 7pm.  At my wedding, the unexpected happened, some things took much longer than I thought.  It is always better to give youself extra time than not enough.  It does not matter how well planned the wedding is.  You have to anticipate the unexpected.

Post # 3
620 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

The main question is if you want to be at the cocktail hour or not. Most brides and grooms are not present for the cocktail hour because they are taking photos. For those that are at cocktail hour, they take 90% of their photos before the ceremony. Another thing to consider is when you will be doing family photos. Will that at the church following the receiving line?

If it were me, I’d just eliminate the gap and not attend the cocktail hour. Take as many photos beforehand that you can. The only issue might be is if you want to take photos at your reception site with no one there.


Post # 4
3035 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2015 - Walnut Hill Bed & Breakfast

what exactly do you think your guests are going to do from 4:30 until 6? If it only takes a half hour to get to the reception venue… that leaves an hour of downtime? which isn’t enough time to do anything but sit around and wait… 

Post # 8
5153 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

View original reply
sbdozier:  If you plan to attend cocktail hour…why not skip the receiving line? Leave immediately afterwards and go do your pictures. You can greet at cocktail hour (a receiving line there as people enter) or mingle/greet (that’s what we did). We didn’t want to miss our cocktail hour because thats where the most delicious food is! 

Post # 10
1403 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Why are you making an artificial gap?

Post # 12
8686 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

Im sorry but I think people will skip the ceremony. No, I don’t want to sit around and watch photos or sign a guestbook while I wait for you to take pictures. You say the venue is flexible so move up the reception time. This is avoidable (the gap)so I feel like it’s rude.

Also, I live in Bergen County ON River Road with views of the Hudson. No, I don’t think people will be that interested in it less yet for more than an hour while you have the gap. Most people in this area see city views and it’s nothing to them…..

Post # 13
7480 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

Your cocktail hour can be two hours. Start it early amd skip the gap. Gaps SUCK for guests. 

Post # 15
1112 posts
Bumble bee

View original reply
sbdozier:  I think you should keep your guests comfort in mind when planning travel time and gaps. It’s not ideal to have a 30 + minute drive between venues. You risk people not showing up to the ceremony, or not showing up to the reception.

Offering a shuttle service is a great idea and will probably be much appreciated by your guests. However, you will have to offer a shuttle service to/from the hotel all day so your guests aren’t stranded at your recpetion site and their car is 30+ minutes away at the ceremony site. 

My advice – get all of your pictures done before the ceremony with your bridal party and family (without FI). After your ceremony, cut the receiving line and take off immediately to go do pictures with your hubby. Have the cocktail hour start the moment the first guests arrive. Ceremony ends at 4:15, 15 minutes to socialize/get to car, 30 minute drive (so approx 5 p.m.) The apps can come out at 5:45 when the majority of your guests will have arrived. But please have the bar opened the moment the first guest arrives. Nothing is worse than standing in a big empty space with nothing to do except stare at pictures of other people. Have your guest book out and people can sign as they mingle – that’s totally fine!

In the meantime, you and your hubby have been taking pictures from 4:45 – 5:45, and you join the cocktail hour at 6. You’ve missed 15 minutes of passed apps, but that’s not a big deal. You can ask the reception space to bring apps to you and your bridal party as you are taking pictures. They often do this anyways. Open the doors for the reception at 6:30 and dinner is served at 7. 

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