(Closed) What is the longest time between ceremony and reception you've ever seen?

posted 7 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 16
1306 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

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Anonyfish:  3 hours…and it was too long. they did have heavy apps, cocktails, and music…but by the time the reception started, half the guests were pretty buzzed!

Post # 17
2056 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

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weatherbug:  +1 You cannot win the etiquette award with church restrictions.  You can have the reception at 3 pm, which as an improper meal time would probably amount to appetizers or cake and punch and not a full meal, and would be drawing complaints from the out of town club and some people who think that they “deserve” a full meal for attending a wedding.  (This is where people will say it’s fine to have a cake and punch reception, and it truly is, but if we’re all honest, that is not the typical expectation of a wedding reception.)  You can have the gap, during which people will complain about how they are so bored, or be rude enought to just show up for the party without coming to the ceremony.  Or you could throw your church wedding out the window, which of course is just ridiculous.  You can’t win.



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Anonyfish:  What area is this wedding in?  Who is this wedding for?  Even small towns have interesting things to see, or at the very least, go the next town over.  Grab ice cream at the local parlor, get a drink at the local bar…  Really, go where the locals go, it can be a lot of fun.  Or even go to the movies.  I heard Kingsman is pretty funny, or you could try an Oscar nominee.

Post # 18
1281 posts
Bumble bee

If by reception you mean dinner then on here I always read that the gap should be no longer than 1 hour but in the UK Id say most weddings average about 3 hours. The ceremony finishes and then theres the receiving line, then drinks and photos, throwing confetti etc. Then everyone stands around chatting and scoping the venue for an hour or so. Then people slowly make their way for dinner. If the reception is at the hotel people sometimes use the time to check in and put their bags away. But if you mean between the ceremony and the actual reception venue and cocktail hour then Id say probably an hour- and that was just due to people driving between venues. 

Post # 19
110 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I don’t mind a gap of a few hours… especially when it’s easy to go relax back in the hotel. 

The worst for me was a 1pm ceremony on a Friday, after which bridal party and family went for a private lunch…. then reception was at 8pm at a venue with no food, limited bar (the liquor choices were atrocious), and no tables. Also, no slow dances AT ALL. I felt like I was at a rave… luckily it was a dear childhood friend and I would have gone to anything she wanted for her wedding…. but I have to say it was really inconvenient. And we had to figure out dinner on our own! 

Post # 20
2584 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

I went to one on their property in the smallest town ever.  I believe the gap was 4 hours, and we didn’t know anyone (other than the bride) at the wedding, so we went to the car and slept.  There wasn’t even a pub or something to go to.  The rest of the guests were family or close friends and they were all camping on the property so they sat in a giant circle in lawn chairs and drank and we felt so awkward.  We also left immediately after dinner because there wasn’t assigned seating and we ended up at a table alone. 

Another one was over the Easter long weekend at the local zoo.  There was NO parking.  People were parking on the grass and in the aisles…it was ridiculous.  Anyway we finally found a spot and made our way through the crowds to the ceremony site.  Luckily it’s only a 10 minute drive from our house, so we went home for the 5 hour gap. 

Post # 21
281 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

I don’t understand the gap “hate” and strong adverse reactions to it.  just an example, we have a 4 hour gap – total guests of 30 people.  Grandparents and older uncles wanted to sleep/nap prior to reception, mom wanted to shower and change clothes prior to reception, and friends wanted to go to some bars after ceremony and prior to reception.  Every single person in my wedding wanted the gap, was all right with it, planned for it, etc.  A wedding timeline is couple-specific (who in turn think about their guests demographics and wishes).  So, the longest gap I know is 4 hours aka my wedding gap.

Post # 22
414 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

I see this often with Catholic cermonies. I’m use to it because I’m Catholic and I understand sometimes they can’t make the ceremony later. I don’t really mind it but I could see how it is rude for out of towners or guests. If they aren’t getting married in a church, I would see it as rude.

I’ve also been to ceremonies where the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception followed eachother immedialtey one after the other. By the time the bride finished photos guest had ate up all the cocktail hour food and were so hungry/ansy because the bride & groom had taken forever with photos
I can see both sides.

Post # 23
812 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

I’m not a fan of long gaps…especially if guests have travelled to be there and end up at a loose end for hours. Expecting guests to go to the cinema or bowling etc halfway through the day just seems outrageous (in my opinion).

The last wedding we went to was in a hotel (we had a room for the night). We were having such a lovely day and then suddenly there was this 3 hour gap which honestly just cut the day in two and ruined the flow for me. We ended up going for a lie down since we’d had a couple of drinks so we were groggy when we woke up and it took us a good while to get back into the spirit of the day.

For our wedding, we have allocated some time after the ceremony for couples photographs but have organised a boat tour round the lake for our guests while we do this. The plan is to then meet them at the reception venue for the cocktail hour so this time can be spent mingling and chatting with our guests before the sit down meal. 🙂 

  • This reply was modified 6 years, 11 months ago by SellyJo.
Post # 24
80 posts
Worker bee

I don’t understand why people make such a big deal about long gaps?

As long as their venues aren’t in the middle of nowhere, I really appreciate having a few hours to go have coffee with other guests, laugh, unwind, go for a walk (be prepared, bring flats!) so I’m all refreshed and ready for a great reception!

The bride and groom don’t have to feed you for the entirety of the day… it doesn’t hurt to spend a few dollars on a muffin to keep you going!

Post # 25
15 posts
  • Wedding: September 2015

It’s fairly standard to have a long gap in between ceremony and reception in Australia, especially if it’s a church wedding and then reception elsewhere. Usually it’s 3-4 hours, unless the bride & groom are getting married at the reception place, then it just rolls straight into the reception. The longest gap I’ve been to was 9.30am wedding and then reception started at 6.30pm. Everyone just went home and did other things until it was time for the reception.  

Post # 26
6311 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

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Anonyfish:  About 3 hours, and then we showed up to have a full hour “cocktail hour” before dinner. Catholic weddings. They suck. Sorry if that offends anyone. I know people consider it normal for Catholic weddings, but I consider it rude. I totally understand you don’t have any control over your ceremony start time but you DO have control over your reception start time. I get that starting your reception at 3 or 4pm isn’t ideal if you want a late evening party but to me it’s way better than making your guests wait so long.

It’s norm in DH’s family, and ugh I hate those weddings. His whole family normally goes to a nearby bar/restaurant even though we could easily go home. I find it really annoying to sit in a bar for three hours. We’re all usually starving and we end up orders apps – but by the time we eat we get to the reception and aren’t hungry. I totally support couples having the wedding they want, just not at the expense of their guests comfort.


I photographed a destination wedding where the couple got ready at the same hotel with all their guests, then bussed everyone 1.5 hrs away for the ceremony, and then 1.5 hrs back to the hotel where they then held their reception. Talk about miserable. I mean, I get paid for the 3 hours of drive time so to me it was just time to relax during a stressful day but I can’t imagine being the guests who sat on a bus for 1.5 hrs, sat through a 1 hr church wedding, then another 1.5 hrs on a bus back to the reception. To have been a fly on the wall in the guest bus would have been pretty funny because I highly doubt any of the guests had a clue it would be that far.

Post # 27
3292 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

3 hours for me, and I just didn’t know what to do with myself (I was attending the wedding alone). I went to McDonald’s and sat there drinking soda. 

Post # 28
58 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

Oh like 3-5 hours is normal where I live. I don’t think anything of it. I like the break.. either go back to the hotel or house to relax. Or hang out with other guests in the middle at a lounge or something.

Post # 29
2083 posts
Buzzing bee

I think the gap hate arises from a feeling that it should be all one event. when the event includes a mid-day 3-5 hour stretch with nothing to do it becomes an irritating, seemingly poorly thought out event.

It will be helpful if in your circle people see it as two separate events then it just becomes sort of an annoying schedule of having a few hours between two events to entertain yourself.

Post # 30
1210 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2016 - Modern, Classic, Fun

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Anonyfish:  6 hours!! It was the most ridiculous thing ever. I went back to the hotel and took a long nap. That’s why when I get married we will be going tight from the ceremony to the cocktail hour and then straight to the reception!

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