Gap between wedding and reception? Thoughts

posted 2 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 16
7578 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

The reason you have cocktail hour is to fill the gap and give the guests something to do while the bridal party is off taking photos. You can always mingle after dinner; it’s rude to keep your guests waiting, although you could extend cocktail hour a LITTLE BIT to give you time for photos and a tiny bit of mingling.

Post # 17
7542 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

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crustyoldbee :  Yes to all of this!! With my ILs they all want to head to the local “tavern” and hang out. Except DH and I don’t drinkf, so we’re stuck sitting around on a damn bar stool eating apps. By the time we make it to the reception we’ve just spent 3 hours in a bar eating. We’re tired, not hungry, and feeling grimey and just want a shower. 

I’m just thankful that all his childhood friends opted to have a more standard non-church wedding with a normal ceremony/reception….and that his family members are all now married so no more of those either. 

Post # 18
538 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2018 - City, State

90 minute cocktail hour, wherein you take an hour worth of photos and do 30 minutes of mingling, sounds downright pleasant. Especially if there are apps and beverages (doesn’t even have to be alcohol – lemonade and spa water are fine.) Unhosted, but different locations for reception and ceremony? Also fine. 90 minutes to just sit around waiting for the party to start sounds irritating. Full disclosure: I’m an introvert, so standing around making small talk in an empty space is a special circle of hell for me, but it still doesn’t sound like a great call. Just extend your hosted cocktail hour to mingle and you’ll be fine.

Post # 19
50 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: April 2019

I’m going to go a little against the grain here, and say that I personally wouldn’t mind an hour-ish gap. My friends/family are super fun and close and at weddings where there has been a gap we usually make our own fun- cocktails and apps in someones hotel room, stop at a bar nearbye etc. Also, cocktail hour (in my opinion), typically has the best food of the night, and as a bride/groom I would not want to miss the cocktail hour that I had paid for to take photos.

With that said, there is always the option to take bridal party and family photos before the ceremony so that afterwards you can just take a few newly married couple photos and hop over to the cocktail hour.

Some people will find a gap “rude” but you reallly can’t please everyone anyway

Post # 20
212 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2020

I went to my FH’s cousins wedding last fall and she had a 2 hour gap. While it was a little strange to me it wasnt a huge inconvenience. We ended up going to a local bar and getting a few appitizers and drinks. honestly it was a nice break from (and i mean this in the nicest way) the whole family, the calm before the storm if you will LOL. i can absolutely see how others wouldnt like this, but it isnt totally out of the ordinary.

Personally we are not having any kind of gap, were doing a first look and photos before the ceremony and then the reception will start aprox. 30 minuts after the ceremony ends. 

Post # 21
499 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2019

We’re probably doing an hour gap and I don’t see this as a big deal. By the time people stop chatting outside the church, get to their cars or transportation, part of the hour will have passed by. It’s about a 10 minute drive from the church to the reception. There are also lots of cute shops close to the church, people can pop into one or two and then head over.

I’ve been to multiple weddings where there was at least a 3 hour gap. I hung out with friends and wandered around. It’s probably a bigger issue if people don’t know any other guests at the wedding.

Post # 22
217 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2019

Our ceremony will end at around 2:30, and our cocktail hour will start at 3:30.

We did this because of availability of the church and the reception venue though, and not because we wanted photo time. 

The ceremony and reception are downtown, and there are several breweries and restaurant within walking distance for our guests to pass the time. I personally don’t think it’s a big deal. I’ve been to many weddings with small gaps and didn’t think anything of it 

Post # 23
1123 posts
Bumble bee

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Newtothebee3 :  My cousin had an hour gap at her incredibly large country club wedding (Catholic). I remember the hour passing quickly because we walked around the club looking at various cute things she had set up at snack stations; she sort of told a story about how they met; his proposal, etc., and had a short story with a picture on a small posterboard at each station. I thought it was a cute idea. There was a bar, and we mingled with family, and were able to watch her and her party take pictures on the golf course from the balcony. It was a fun cocktail hour, and I actually enjoyed it more than the reception. I think if you have plenty to keep everyone entertained for the hour, you should be OK. 

Post # 24
1835 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2019

Gaps suck. 

The last two weddins had two different gaps and both were done awfully

1: Gap was 2 hours in the heat (37C) with no where to sit. Drinks were served about an hour into it, but by that stage we were all so hot and bothered we drank more than was wise. So about 50% of the wedding was half cut before the reception even started.

2: Gap was 5 hours. Yes it was a catholic wedding but still come on hey. what the hell were we going to do for 5 hours in our cocktail dresses. We went to the pub around the corner from the reception venue and spent the afternoon there. It was actially the worst.

For our wedding the ceremony starts at 4, cocktail hour starts at 5. Ceremony 30 mins, 30 mins family photos, then we bugger off for 1.5 hours for our own photo shoot while our guests drink and have canapes before reception starts at 6:30 (we enter 6:45). Reception ends at midnight.

5 hours. I was like are you freaking kidding!?

Post # 25
2972 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: January 2021

This is one of those questions that honestly is waaaay better off being asked within your social circles rather than online. There is a lot of variation between different groups of people, regions, cultures, etc and as you’ll have noticed already, people tend to be *very* opinionated about it and assume that what they have experienced to be normal *is* normal. 

Almost every wedding I have been to has had a 1+ hour gap between the ceremony and reception. It has never been an issue and it was something I honestly never even took notice of until I got on WeddingBee.

For me, it’s just habit to check the reception start time and location basically and treat the ceremony and reception as separate events to an extent, and I generally prefer to have that bit of a break in between, especially at out of own weddings. Gives a chance to check into the hotel room, take a breather, freshen up a bit, etc.

It’s really not that hard to pass an hour or two of time and I generally prefer that over feeling rushed from venue to venue or from ceremony straight into cocktail hour. But that’s just me and it would never phase me to think it is rude or unaccommodating for the hosts not to budget that break time lol 

By the time people finish hanging around gabbing after the ceremony, they’ve probably already killed a solid 30 minutes. Then if there is any travel to the reception venue that’s another 10-20 minutes. Anyone who drove or flew in that morning may want to take the opportunity to check into their hotel before heading to the reception – there’s another 30-60 minutes depending how leisurely they choose to be about it. 

All this simply to say – there is nothing wrong with having a gap or not having a gap, and if you are concerned about it coming off rudely, ask for opinions from your friends and family who will actually be at the wedding. 

Post # 26
268 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2019

Ehhh. I’ve never minded a gap. And to be honest, I’ve never been to a wedding without one (most people in my social group are catholic). I had a gap. It was fine. To be fair though, wouldn’t suggest having a gap if your ceremony is at the same location as the reception. That seems a little strange to me. 

Post # 27
9245 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I dislike gaps especially if it is an outof town wedding/destination wedding. But if you aregoing tohave a gap Ipersonally prefer a long gap. The majority of my extended family are catholic so often have the “catholic gap” come up. Much prefer a 10 or 11am ceremony and 6pm reception in those cases because I can go home, get changed and do something. If I had to sit around all dressed up for 1-2hrs between the wedding and reception them I would probably rethink attending unless we were close. But I hate getting dressed up and always feel uncomfortable. 

Post # 28
308 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2029

keviah12 :  I agree here!  If there is a cocktail hour in between that’s fine.  I went to a wedding where we waited an hour or more w/nothing to do but sit outside watching the people set up inside.  

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

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annabananabee :  lol maybe I am just an exceptionally sweaty person but a lot of those old Catholic churches don’t have air conditioning…I have definitely taken advantage of a gap to “freshen up” before.

OP, agree with PP to ask people you know in person and not strangers on the internet. This is very much a social circles thing. A gap is normal/expected in my circle and I personally appreciate it. I do think an hour is awkward, because it’s not really enough time to rest or do anything between the ceremony and the reception. By the time you get somewhere, it’s time to leave.

Post # 30
499 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2019

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sboom :  Thank you – I was starting to panic! I asked my Maid/Matron of Honor and she was like “What? I’ve never heard of a gap being rude” and I remember she had a gap of a couple of hours. In my social circle it’s not seen as unusual, at least when church weddings are involved. Obviously if the ceremony is at the reception venue, then the reception follows right after. My mom also thinks it won’t be an issue as my family is used to gaps.

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