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Jackie
Savvy December 2019

~30 minute gap between ceremony and cocktail hour

Jackie, on October 1, 2019 at 11:30 AM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 0 39
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So we are doing a destination wedding this December in Vermont in the Green Mountains. Yes, we are the "crazy" people attempting a short outdoor ceremony. Everything is on site ceremony/reception. We are planning to start the ceremony at 3:30pm, have it wrapped by by 3:50pm-4:00pm. Our cocktail hour doesn't begin until 4:30pm.


Everybody is travelling from out of state to attend. Is this a really bad gap? We figured for people travelling the day of, they could use that 30 minutes to check in to the rooms (also on site) if they hadn't already. There is also a bar/tavern in the venue which is adjacent to the terrace where we are getting married. We also wanted a buffer in case the weather turned and we had to push the ceremony back.


Am I getting worried for no reason? Or should we be trying to coordinate something to fill that time for guests? Anyone who had similar experiences? Thanks in advance!

39 Comments

Latest activity by Katherine, on October 3, 2019 at 8:47 AM
  • MrsD
    Legend July 2019
    MrsD ·
    • Flag

    What do people do for the 30 minutes in between? Go to the tavern? I think you'll have a heck of a time getting people to come back within 30 minutes if they head to a bar.

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  • Amber
    Master February 2020
    Amber ·
    • Flag

    Could you not move your ceremony back half an hour or the cocktail hour up half an hour? Is there a reason for the gap? I think it should be avoided if at all possible.

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  • Sarah
    Master September 2019
    Sarah ·
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    Agreed. Also, how many guests are you inviting? Will the tavern have enough staff to handle your entire guest list if everyone heads in there? I’m not sure why you’d need to push the ceremony back for weather. I assume you’d just move it inside. As someone from New England, if you’re getting married in Vermont in December, you have to be prepared to move inside anyway. I love my family and friends but I’m not standing outside in 10 degree weather to watch anyone get married.

    You should really either have the ceremony at 3:30 and start cocktail hour at 4 or start the ceremony at 4 with cocktail hour starting at 4:30.
    • Reply
  • Caytlyn
    Legend November 2019
    Caytlyn ·
    • Flag

    Why is there a 30 minute gap when everything is on site? Seems inconvenient for your guests.

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  • Ivy ORP
    VIP October 2019
    Ivy ORP ·
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    30 minutes is too long if they don't have to travel anywhere. I wouldn't want to go from a ceremony to checking in, I'm the kind of person that would take care of that beforehand. If you're expecting guests to grab a drink at the bar you're either going to overwhelm the staff or have a difficult time getting guests to your reception. I would definitely shorten the time in between.

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  • Fab
    May 2017
    Fab ·
    • Flag
    Since your having a destination wedding a lot of guest will probably be taking pictures during that time and mingling also If your photographer has a second person they could set up a spot to take some group pictures. 30 minutes is not that long some guest might not even notice
    • Reply
  • Chandra
    Master May 2019
    Chandra ·
    • Flag
    I had a 1.5hour gap but we had 2 locations with a 30 minute drive.
    That said, I think if everything is in the same place there really shouldn't be a gap.
    • Reply
  • Jackie
    Savvy December 2019
    Jackie ·
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    So it is at a resort ... the hotel is on the 1st floor, basement floor (i guess), has the tavern, right outside of that is where the ceremony is... 50 ft over to the right is where the cocktail hour/reception is

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  • MrsD
    Legend July 2019
    MrsD ·
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    I see! I guess in my opinion, if there isn't a hosted cocktail hour in the wedding venue space, it will be really hard to rally everyone for the reception if people just break off into random areas for 30 minutes not knowing where to go or what to do.

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  • Jackie
    Savvy December 2019
    Jackie ·
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    My other concern is that the place said they will "try" to have all rooms ready before their normal check in time, but there's no guarantee (ugh!). Their check in time is at 3pm. People are driving about 5-6 hours on average to come up to the wedding so I wanted to give that buffer in case people were late and couldn't check in prior to ceremony

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  • M
    Dedicated October 2019
    M ·
    • Flag
    Everything is on site at our venue and whenever our ceremony ends, cocktail our begins-which ultimately will lead to more dancing at the reception and/or some buffer room if things get delayed. If that’s not possible at your venue, move your ceremony back. A half hour is an awkward gap. You can’t do much in 30 minutes so most people will just stand around waiting.
    • Reply
  • Jackie
    Savvy December 2019
    Jackie ·
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    Well we had a hard time with the open bar charges, if we went over a certain time limit (5 hours) they then increase the fee by $10/person which would add another $1k+ to the bill as there are also weird taxes in VT as well so you then get hit with the state and alcohol taxes on top of that. (something we didn't realize until after booking)

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  • Cyndy
    Master May 2019
    Cyndy ·
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    With everything being at the same venue I would try to keep things to a tighter schedule to avoid people wandering off.
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  • Jackie
    Savvy December 2019
    Jackie ·
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    Another tough detail to throw in here, sunset is at 4:15 in Vermont. So the LATEST we can do our ceremony is at 3:30pm.

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  • Caytlyn
    Legend November 2019
    Caytlyn ·
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    Then I would move the ceremony back or the cocktail hour and reception up.

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  • Jackie
    Savvy December 2019
    Jackie ·
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    Pushing the ceremony back if the roads by chance are bad or what not, I am not sure. There are a lot of variables in this mix I'm just doing my best to keep my head above water. It's certainly not going to be 10 degrees the first weekend of December, that is what NE and VT see maybe Jan-March. I am from New York.

    We would move the ceremony inside if weather was uncomfortable and truly bad. Wasn't looking for opinions on the fact we are getting married outside. Strictly advice on how to handle the gap, if its really not that big of a deal, or what other people have done personally.

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  • Sarah
    Master September 2019
    Sarah ·
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    You included info about why you had the gap and I commented on that info. It may not average 10 degree temperatures but higher elevations absolutely can get that cold, even in the beginning of December. I’ve never seen a gap at a wedding where everything is at the same location and as a guest it would confuse me if I was told to go find somewhere to hang out for 30 minutes.
    • Reply
  • Mcskipper
    Master July 2018
    Mcskipper ·
    • Flag
    I don’t understand a gap when everything is on site and would be confused by it as a guest. Despite all your comments, I still have no idea why you would plan for this gap. I don’t understand how it relates to the bar timeline at all (close the open bar after 5 hours...5 hours is a good long time, this shouldn’t be an issue). I haven’t seen any reason why you wouldn’t just start the cocktail hour and reception earlier ?

    Gaps are annoying and inconvenient when at 2 different sites , but...at least understandable. At the same site, it doesn’t make any sense, and it WILL be an issue. Either people will stick around waiting for something to happen (getting impatient when it doesn’t), or they’ll wander off and only slowly trickle back in, throwing off all your start times— probably a mix of both, realistically. I for one wouldn’t go somewhere else and come back, I’d just sit there waiting. As would most of my social circle. So why not just start the cocktail hour right away?
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  • Mcskipper
    Master July 2018
    Mcskipper ·
    • Flag
    If it helps— my timeline was similar: we had a 3:30 start time for our ceremony. Cocktail hour immediately after. So, started at 4. We too paid for 5 hours of bar service. That started at 4 and ended at 9. It was fine— that’s a normal length of wedding party, and how long all our vendors were hired for (not only did bar service shut down at 9, but, so did the dj, and so did all the catering service). It was a fine normal length of party— but if we wanted to hang out after we could— just without all those services . It was a residential area and all needed to be packed up and gone by 10. We just moved the party elsewhere for an after party (well, those that wanted to keep it going — MANY people had already headed in for the night— they’d already partied their little hearts out!) ....But just because we had to pack up and out for our circumstances doesn’t mean you do— your party may be able to keep going strong, just that your open bar will be done. Many weddings close the bar an hour before the event ends — probably because in a lot of cases they’ll only allow for x number of open bar hours or that’s all the couple pays for — I’ve also seen open bar closed during dinner (though I’m not a fan of this one as a guest) to get the extra bar hour later. The last wedding I went to, the open bar shut down after their hours were up, but there was a cash bar in another room that anyone was welcome to go to after the open bar hours.
    • Reply
  • Da Mom
    August 2022
    Da Mom ·
    • Flag

    As a guest I would be a bit confused by a gap when everything is at the same venue. However, you will have some guests taking photos with you (I assume) and others checking in as you mentioned, then maybe just do a consumption bar tab in between. That way guests don't have to open their wallets and will be fully hosted - something I strongly believe in, especially with a DW. Not sure how many guests you will have, but I think it would be difficult to rack up $1,000 in drinks in 1/2 hour so you would be saving over adding additional time to your drink package.

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