(Closed) gap between ceremony and reception

posted 9 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 3
2434 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

I’m kind of cringing about this to be honest.  If I was a guest that didn’t get invited to dinner, I know my feelings would be hurt.

Are you saving money by not having all the guests at dinner or by having the reception later?  If it’s by excluding guests from dinner I think you should just cut your guest list to a number that you can accomodate.

Also- I think the gap and the lack of dinner would make a lot of people choose to either attend the ceremony or the reception.  4 or 5 hours is a lot of time to kill.

Can you lessen the gap and just have cocktails and heavy appetizers instead of a full dinner?  Or have the reception be more informal- like a BBQ or something that is less expensive?

Post # 4
80 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

My mother and I have discussed this many times. We hate when there is such a large gap between the ceremony and reception. If your guests are planning on attending both it is very inconvienient for them. I like the idea of a later reception with wine and dessert. If it were me I would hold the ceremony later in the evening. That would be much better than having that large of a gap.

Post # 5
451 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I have to agree. I never like the gap in between the ceremony and reception.

Especially for those who are out of town only an hour from home, would they be considered out of town guests?  Dinner at a Restaraunt can only last so long. Lets say the ceremony is at 2-3 then they have 5 hours of time to find the Restaraunt sit down eat. In reality your not at a Restaraunt for longer than 2 hours. In my opinion and from experience, it’s much easier to go ceremony to reception. You may lose some people when going to the reception that were at the most important part in the ceremony. 

Could you do appetizers and dessert? That way people know to eat a larger lunch and maybe cut the time in between the ceremony down from 5 hours to 3 hours? they can still find dinner in between that way and not have too much time.

Post # 6
5494 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2011

this scenario makes me cringe a bit.  First of all, I’m not a fan of the huge gap.  I guess it’s fine if you line in the area and can go home or if you’re from out of town and have a hotel room to go to.  But what if you’re from like an hour and a half away?  too far to go home but not far enough that you have a hotel room.  then you’re left just wandering around town all dressed up.  Honestly, if I was in that situation I would choose to go to either the ceremony or reception but not both.

Second, to have such a large gap and then not offer dinner is also giving guests less incentive to stick around.  If I had to wait throught the gap but then knew that there was a dinner and dancing with the newlyweds, maybe i’d grin and bear the gap.  But the scenario you mention just seems like the reception is an afterthought. 

I would suggest either moving the dessert reception to right after the ceremony or moving the ceremony late so there’s no gap.

Post # 7
4466 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I sort of have to agree.  We went to a wedding in the spring where the gap was even smaller than you’re suggesting and it was such a process.  A few of us went to go get a snack and a couple drinks (in cocktail attire in the middle of the day) then luckily we found someone else’s place to hang out at for a couple of hours, and even then we were all early to the reception.  It’s a lot of time to kill and even getting dinner will only take up an hour or so.

Post # 8
6009 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

Catholic masses almost always cause gaps.  I think it’s inconvenient, but I understand where you’re coming from, so I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.  However, I feel like it would be kind of weird to have a hosted dinner for a few, but not everybody.  Since you’re already planning on having a dessert reception, could you just move the reception times up?  You could still have dessert and champagne right after the ceremony.  End the reception by like 5 or 6, and you could still do a hosted dinner for your out of town guests/bridal party/family after the reception.  Also, a lot of couples go out afterward with their younger friends; if you still wanted the late-night after party atmosphere, you could extend an open invite to a no-host gathering at a local bar or club later in the evening.

I know these suggestions might not work for you.  🙂  The gap is pretty long (but unavoidable), so I agree with rosychicklet that the main problem here is hosting a dinner for a few people but not everyone.  I think it would be better to include everyone in the dinner, not have a dinner at all, or move the reception times up so it ends before the dinner begins.  Good luck!  I’m sure it will all work out!

Post # 9
7174 posts
Busy Beekeeper

The gap is a bit awkward and inconvenient for wedding guest who will have nothing to do.  Are you planning to have any food other than dessert at the after party?  Maybe you could do a cocktail type party immediately following the mass instead (and just add heavy appetizers to your already set menu)

Post # 10
2641 posts
Sugar bee

I agree with Mrs. Spring.  Persoanlly, I don’t ahve a problem with a gap.  You’re having a Catholic wedding.  Sometimes you can only do so much.  You have to work with the church’s schedule.  If people have an issue, they can skip one of the events. 

What I have an issue with is that the reception, when it does arrive, does not include dinner.  I can understand a light reception, that immediately follows a ceremony.  But if your guests have to wait for the reception, I feel like it should at least be something to wait for.  I fear that if you keep this scenario, you might get a larger than average decline %.

Post # 11
1230 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

I understand the problem you would have with the Catholic ceremony and it causing a gap. My FH and I are having a full Catholic Mass during our ceremony but we are having it on a Friday night instead of Saturday. If we were having it on Saturday, the times for the ceremony would have been 11am or 3pm (creating quite a gap between the ceremony and reception). However, since it is on a Friday, the times we could choose from were 5pm or 6pm. Much better times and neither would create a gap between ceremony and reception. Would it be possible for you to get married on a Friday night instead of Saturday? If not, the gap wouldn’t be such a big deal if you were having a dinner reception insted of just a dessert reception. I think it would be too much to ask your guests to wait 5 hours for dessert.

Post # 12
374 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I agree. So much time is very inconvenient for your guests, maybe try heavy appetizers and limit the alcohol to cut back on costs?

Post # 13
647 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

I definitely think you’d need to provide something for the guests to do in between, I know those gaps are tough with the way Catholic masses have to be timed!

Post # 14
1956 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2010 - Tannery Pond at the Darrow School

Ya, unfortunately gaps are often unavoidable when dealing with a church, Catholic churches in particular.  I have to agree with the majority that waiting around for 5 hours for a dessert reception isn’t ideal.  I think if I was your guest, I would probably just head home after the ceremony and not wait around for that long until the reception. I also think it’s a lot to ask of people to come from out of town and then not feed them dinner.  It’s particularly exclusive to host a dinner for some and not for all…I think this is probably an idea left to the wayside and you need to go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to include everyone without too long of a gap (2-3 hours should be the max).

Post # 15
524 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

Because I assume you wanted honesty, as I guest I would be pretty put off.  Not only is there a huge gap between the ceremony and reception, the huge gap doesn’t even end in a dinner.  Some people, but not others, are invited to dinner.  I could deal with one or the other situation because I understand sometimes that one or the other is unavoidable, but not both.  If I was local I probably would not attend the reception.  If I was flying distance, and thus faced with the prospect of fending for myself for 5-6 hours in an unfamiliar area, I probably just wouldn’t attend.

Would it be possible to:

(1) change your date to one on which the church will have a later time slot available?  I know of Catholic churches and university churches (at which you can have a Catholic mass) that have time slots beginning after 5pm on Saturdays.

I changed my date to avoid a 5 hour gap.  Now it’s only two hours.  I’m also having a full Catholic mass.

(2) have a lunch reception.  They can run half as much as dinner.

(3) have an informal, less expensive dinner reception for all beginning at 5 or 6.

Post # 16
6597 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2010

I think I would be kinda unhappy if I was a guest and I was not getting dinner over that long timeframe and knowing that some people were having a hosted dinner.

I vote changing the ceremony until later (after dinner) so noone will expect a meal and apps and dessert would be fine


Have a light reception directly after mass with apps and dessert so that once again people will not expect a meal!

Good Luck!

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