Ok, so 85% of our guests are coming from out of town and we have a large gap between the end of our ceremony (3:30ish because we are Catholic and it’s at 2) and cocktail hour (5pm). We have no idea what to have our guests do! I do not want to start cocktail hour earlier because honestly I don’t want to walk in at 6 pm to a drunk mess of people I barely know (my fiancé’a side) and I’m not making dinner earlier because then we have less photo time. Did anyone else have this problem or have any recommendations? My mom is calling me a bridezilla for not moving stuff but it’s my day, I’d rather give our 300 guests something to do instead!
Latest activity by Jasmin, on September 23, 2019 at 4:28 PM
Personally, I wouldn't worry about it. It's not that long of a gap. My SIL had her Catholic wedding at 1 pm and cocktail hour at 5 pm. I thought it was a long gap but it wasn't my wedding! I did notice that there were many more people at the reception compared to the ceremony. If you want, you could have some refreshments in a room in the church. Leave some board games or something. 🤷♀️
Is there a reason you can’t move your ceremony to a bit later. As a guest I can tell you that’s a long time. We recently went to a wedding that did this and we drive 2 hours to get there and almost decided to drive back home rather than wait around and ride around the town wasting time. If you don’t have something for people to do they may leave. I’m not sure what you could do with them during that time.
I would close that gap. If the ceremony can’t be moved I’d do first look photos so you can start cocktail hour after the ceremony. If that means starting dinner at 4:30 or 5 pm that’s ok. But especially making out-of-town guests mill around for a few hours isn’t exactly considerate.
Our ceremony was at 2:30, over by 3(not a mass). 30ish min drive to the reception. Cocktail hr started at 3:45 and we entered he reception a little after 5. We were eating by 5:30. It was perfect. We had plenty of time for pictures. I think extending cocktail hr a little bit would be your best bet.
I've never been to a wedding with a gap that wasn't local. If I did, I probably would check into the hotel. That might be what some guests do. Every wedding I've been to with a gap I've noticed two things. Guests either miss the ceremony or they are drunk and leave early. Because guests don't want to go home, they go to a bar and drink. Whether cocktail hour starts early or not people will have had drinks before the reception. Yes, I have been that drunk guest from time to time. Whoops!
Our wedding is at 2. It'll go for 45 minutes to an hour, then pictures will take about 2 hours for us (family pictures after the ceremony, then the wedding party pictures at another location). Cocktail hour will start at 5 at the reception venue. I'm just gonna mention that in the invite and the guests can freshen up or grab anything they forgot at their house or hotel.
We didn’t want to do this to our guests (or ceremony is at 3pm and reception doesn’t start until 6:30pm) so we just invited everyone to the reception on the invitation and verbally extended the invite to the ceremony to close family and friends. You could hire a magician, or some kind of entertainment for them.
We have lots of Catholic relatives so I totally get "the gap." Unfortunately, in our family, it generally means a really poor turnout for the ceremony.... Personally, I think it's rude to not go to the actual wedding and just show up to party, but in two completely unrelated sides of our extended families it is super common. (Even worse, on one side, not only do lots of them skip the ceremony, but half of those who do come show up dressed like they are taking a break from mowing the lawn -- jeans, dirty t-shirt???? Then they go home and get cleaned up before the reception....) If most your guests are familiar with the gap, I think they'll just roll and handle it the way they usually do. However, since your mom is questioning it, I'm guessing not all your guests are Catholic. If a lot of people will be staying at hotels, they can possibly go check in (if they haven't already, many check-in times are 3 or later). I'm not sure where you can send people to go that won't involve getting a drink/snack...that they will have to pay for. I'd think about doing first look & taking most pictures before the ceremony, then have the cocktail hour begin as soon as guests would arrive at the venue. You can do some pictures and get there midway through cocktail hour. Good luck!
Is it possible to move the wedding to a later time and maybe do a first look and pictures before hand? Having that many people coming in from out of town to sit around and be bored might not go over well with them. What are you doing during the cocktail hour? A lot of people do pictures then so the guests can eat something light and have a few drinks and mingle.
I would close the gap as much as possible. I’ve never been to or in a wedding with more than a 30 minute gap between the end of the ceremony and beginning of cocktail hour. Do you really think you’ll be taking pictures for 2 hours? That seems like a very long time.
I think that the board games and refreshments are a good idea. Or yiu can add a list of things to do in town. Also people can just deal with the gap
I noticed you mentioned picture time being very important to you. If you do not have a wedding planner I would suggest you hire one that could help you navigate your day so that the flow is pefect and will not inconveinence your guest. Or worst waste your money as you have planned to accomodate several people who may not attend the reception due to the gap in time. Example bridal party pictures could be arranged to happen early on the wedding day so after the ceremony you spend less time taking pics, and could have a short coctail hour and then go into the reception. Hope this helps!
I’m not sure if keeping the times as is will prevent people from drinking. I can honestly tell you that for any wedding I’ve been to that’s had a significant gap between the ceremony and reception, I’ve found a local bar to grab some drinks. Especially if I was not close to home where I could just go home, I wouldn’t want to go sit in my hotel room when I’m all dressed up. I’ve also never been to a bar between the two and not been there with or ran into people from the wedding. I don’t do this with the intent of getting drunk, nor do most other people. It’s a social thing more than anything. Maybe you could move the cocktail hour up, but delay opening the bar. Nothing says that you have to start serving drinks immediately. Or you could close it throughout dinner to give people a break from drinking. Unfortunately I don’t think anything you do is going to prevent people from getting drunk if that’s what they’re aiming to do.
I'm Catholic as well and the only option to be married at my church was to have the ceremony at 2pm so we just changed venue. I think a 3 hour gap is pretty big but like you said, this is your day. Maybe providing guests with options of things to do that are close to the reception would be nice, I saw one option that a bride did was send her guests on a scavenger hunt to fill some of that time.
Thanks everyone for the tips. A few things from my end: we can’t move the ceremony and adding the hour the the reception is going to cost about 1000$ in addition to what we are already paying. My side is Catholic and my fiancé’s mothers side is, not his fathers side or step dad and that’s the largest group of invites. We will not being doing a “first look” as personally I don’t like them or agree with it. We are very traditional and want when I walk down the aisle to be when he sees me. We might do some photos before hand with the bridal party sides that don’t involve both of us though thanks to your recommendations!
I guess im just being a bridezilla but I don’t think it’s fair to give people more booze and time away from us so when we show up they aren’t at their best. My whole family had the gap and we dealt but my fiancé and mother don’t want it. 🤷🏼♀️
I guess I don't see the problem here. 1.5 hours isn't that big of a gap for a catholic wedding. How long does it take to get to the reception venue? I would probably just stop in at a bar with my date in between and have a drink or two then go to the reception for cocktail hour. Nbd. But I will say you could change it to only 1 hour of wait time between ceremony end time and cocktail hour beginning (4:30) because that leaves 2 hours of pictures for you; that's more than enough time as people only typically work with 1 hour of pictures (the cocktail hour).
It’s a catholic wedding, if most of the people there are catholic they expect it. My cousins wedding was at 10am and her cocktail hour wasn’t til 5pm. That’s just how it goes sometimes. We went to subway and got lunch, went to the hotel her reception was at and hung out with family. People will find ways to occupy their time. Luckily my ceremony (not a full mass) is at 4 and then my cocktail hour is at 6pm. It takes about 20 minutes to get from the church to the reception space, so there won’t be too much time to kill!
I've only been to one wedding with a gap (similar timeline to yours). What I noticed was over 50% of guests skipped the ceremony and just came to the reception. Guests that did come to the ceremony dressed very casual then dressed up later for the reception, but everyone went home in between. We flew into NY from CO, so we just went back to our hotel after but we did dress up for the ceremony. I would have appreciated something in the hotel welcome bag like "things to do in between the ceremony & reception" or something like that.