(Closed) Spinoff: The dreaded GAP between ceremony and reception – how long is acceptable

posted 7 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: How long is TOO LONG?
    Under an hour : (35 votes)
    19 %
    1 hour - 1.5 hours : (65 votes)
    36 %
    1.5 hours - 2 hours : (33 votes)
    18 %
    2 hours - 2.5 hours : (20 votes)
    11 %
    2.5 hours - 3 hours : (11 votes)
    6 %
    3 hours plus : (16 votes)
    9 %
  • Post # 47
    178 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: November 1999

    It depends on the location. I once attended a wedding where there was a two hour gap between ceremony and reception, and it worked fine since it was in a city, so all the guests had something to do during that time.

    Post # 48
    904 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: September 2015

    Our ceremony and reception are taking place at the same location.  I’m not fussy about my Fiance seeing me before the ceremony, so we’re going to try to take as many pictures as possible before the ceremony.  Since I’m not a fan of “the gap”, we’re going to have a relatively late ceremony (4:30 p.m.?) which will last ~30 minutes, followed by an hour or so of lawn games, cocktails, and appetizers, followed by the dinner & dancing.  

    While I agree that adults should be capable of finding something to do, my venue is a 10 minute drive from the nearest town, and a 15 minute drive from the town where all of the guests are staying.  I figured I’d provide shuttles between the hotel and the venue so folks didn’t have to worry about driving at the end of the night.  I don’t want to trap them at the venue for 2+ hours with nothing to do while we take pictures, and since we’re having a later ceremony, we have time to do the pictures beforehand.

    I personally really dislike the gap, so I’m trying to minimize it as much as possible during my own wedding.

    Post # 49
    504 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: July 2013

    @jg780806:  I have the same situation at our Catholic church because the Saturday parish mass is at 5:00 so he wants everything wrapped up at the church no later than 2:30. I will have a gap of 3 hours. Very few people are from out of town but we are having a reception of appies and wine at my autn’s home until our reception that starts at 5:00. Everyone in our family and most of my friends understand that it was important to me to get married inmy chruch, so I am not stressing about this…

    Post # 50
    8575 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper
    • Wedding: October 2014

    Anything over an hour and you’ll probably start losing people.

    Post # 51
    4464 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: February 2012

    If the ceremony and reception are at the same venue I don’t think there should be a gap. After the ceremony you should go right into cocktail hour. I’ve been to weddings where the cocktail hour was over an hour, and it get frustrating, but it is what it is. I think you should have an hour cocktail hour in between the ceremony and reception. 

    Post # 52
    692 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: February 2013

    Definitely depends on the time of day & location.  Also whether or not I was aware of the gap ahead of time.  If I know there’s going to be a gap, I’ll look up places of interest in the area and find something to keep me occupied.


    Though, with the thought of wearing my chosen outfit for more hours & potentially walking around in it, I might be less inclined to dress up as much, and if the gap is really long and/or falls within a mealtime, I’m going to get myself food rather than wait for the reception to eat.


    ETA: This is assuming that “gap” litterally means nothing is going on, no location or venue to be in.  I wouldn’t call a cocktail hour or passed apps, or even “walk around the museum while we re-arrange the chairs in the main room”, as a gap.  I actually have been to weddings where, ceremony ends, church closes, see you at the reception hall in a few hours.  So that’s what I think of for a gap.  Once, me and 3 other guest all went to the local mall in our wedding guest get-up because we unknowingly had to kill about 3 hours.

    Post # 53
    688 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: July 2012

    I have waited for gaps longer than 3 hours, and the ceremony/reception where in the same space, at a farm, in the middle of nowhere.  There was no cocktail hour, no drinks, no food. Nothing. We all crammed into someones vehicle and drove to the nearest town to eat something.

    Ladies, if you are going to have a longer gap, have a cocktail hour so your guests don’t go fill themselves up somewhere else!!


    Post # 54
    1845 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: June 2013

    I’m Curious.. 

    Our ceremony and reception are at the same venue. The ceremony is from 4:30-5:00, then it’s immediately into cocktail hour while the Bridal Party takes pictures outside. Cocktail hour is 5:00-6:30, there will be an open bar, plated apps and circulating apps during this time. Then after intro’s and first dance, dinner starts at 7. Is this acceptable?

    Post # 55
    692 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: February 2013

    @FortiesFlare:  You’re fine.  You’ve planned for guest entertainment the whole way through.

    Post # 58
    86 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: January 2014

    I’m from New York and our church had two times available, 1PM or 3PM. I’m getting married in the dead of winter, and the sun goes down at 4:30PM. I’m very traditional and we won’t be doing a reveal before the wedding, it’s not something I ever pictured or wanted.


    If we wanted pictures with sunlight, our only option was to pick the 1PM option. Our cocktail hour starts at 6:30PM. This is also the earliest they will allow, the venue is one wedding at a time but if there is a day wedding it would end at 6PM. The distance between the church and the venue is about 30 minutes.


    Looking at it from the Bride & Groom’s perspective, which hey, at the end of the day, it’s kind-of a little bit about us:

    1:00-1:45/2:00PM – Ceremony (If it starts on time)

    2:00PM-3:00PM – Receiving Line, Pictures at the Church, etc.

    3:00PM – Drive to photo location

    3:30PM – 4:45PM – Pictures at alternate photo location

    4:45PM – Drive to Venue

    5:30PM – 6:30PM – Pictures at Venue, Family photos, etc.


    Now, again, I live in New York, and weddings tend to be a little different here than in other states. I’ve been to plenty of weddings across the country, and we just do things different. I literally live in a central hub. If you cannot figure what to do with yourself when you’re walking distance to three malls, hundreds of stores, hundreds of restaurants, etc. then just don’t attend the ceremony! If you have a problem with there being a gap, then simply avoid the gap and just attend the reception. Problem solved. 

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