Significant Time Gap Between Ceremony and Reception Is A Hospitality Opportunity

by admin on September 12, 2013

It is pretty customary for a wedding ceremony and the reception to be spaced hours apart from each other. Primarily to allow the wedding party to get pictures and prepare for the reception. But now that I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize how terribly cumbersome it is to attend a wedding, and then wait 2.5 hours for the reception to begin. Usually receptions include a dinner, buffet or appetizers, so you don’t want to go to one of the many restaurants they list off in the “wedding program” or the wedding website, if there’s just going to be food at the reception. Many guests are out of town, too, and haven’t the foggiest clue what to do with themselves in an unfamiliar town.

I don’t think this is an etiquette faux pas, but I think it’s asking a lot out of some guests. To waste 2-3 hours waiting for your reception to begin. And to be honest, a lot of times when there is such a long break in the middle, I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t end up attending the reception. My friend recently got married, and even though her reception venue was a stone’s throw away from the church, there was a 2.5 hour break between the two. When the reception got going, almost none of the families with small children, and older people showed up.

Do you think this is asking a lot out of guests? Or is it simply customary? 0821-13

I think your community has enshrined rude behavior as “customary”.  An hours long gap between ceremony and reception only serves the needs of the photographer and his/her subjects while guests are expected to occupy their time in the interim.  That is a profound attitude of entitlement to believe one’s guests have an obligation to mill about waiting for the wedding royalty to deign to make an appearance in a timely fashion.   If the reception is meant as an expression of hospitality to dear guests, making them wait for that graciousness is inhospitable.   And you think treating guests so rudely and with so little thought to their comfort is not an etiquette faux pas?

The only way a significant time gap between ceremony and reception can be redeemed is if there is a hospitality or “comfort suite” set up in a hotel for out of town guests to get a light snack, rest and freshen up.  I’ve seen extended family members open their homes,basically an open house, during that interim gap and offer guests a place to sit down, relax, have a drink and some nibbles while waiting to go to the reception.

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara September 13, 2013 at 3:31 pm

I went to a wedding a few years ago where the guests went over to the fellowship hall, where the reception was being held, immediately after the ceremony while the couple had their photos taken. The only problem was that NOTHING WAS SERVED until the couple and their family showed up, and it was at least an hour. No beverages, no food, no music, the dinner was out since it was a buffet, but everything was covered up. So the guests ended up spending an hour or 90 minutes milling around the hall, making awkward small talk with people they had never met while they waited for the couple to arrive so the reception could start.

My husband and I were so hungry that we actually ran out and got frozen yogurt.


ciotog September 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I’m having a gap of a whole day…evening wedding Saturday with dessert and champagne afterwards, informal barbecue reception Sunday with kickball and volleyball and croquet. I’m hoping this isn’t too inconvenient for the guests!


Jen September 16, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I think that sort of event could be lovely, provided you understand that some people might not be able to do both days. 🙂


metallicafan September 13, 2013 at 4:00 pm

When I got married I purposely had my ceremony in the later afternoon. I don’t think that there was much downtime, the reception hall was a little distance from the church, so by the time the guests got there, it was open and they were served drinks and the appetizers were being passed.

When my bil and sil got married there was a big gap in time. My mil and fil had an open house for people to come and have something to eat and drink and relax a bit. I also remember some guests attended the reception only.


WifeyDear September 14, 2013 at 2:06 am

Until I started reading this website, I’d never even heard of anyone having a huge gap between ceremony and reception. The Happy Couple always took pictures during the reception, in between mingling. I really don’t think I’d attend a reception 2.5 hours after the wedding!


Wren September 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

It’s been way too long since I’ve attended a wedding. Apparently there is now a gap to deal with. I hope that when my children marry, they will allow no more than 45 minutes for post-ceremony photos, during which time guests at the reception site will enjoy cocktails and small edibles as they mingle to soft rhythms.


ketchup September 14, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Precisely for this reason, we’d decided to do the photography session in the morning, before the ceremony. We held the reception and the ceremony at the same location and people did not have to wait at all. It all went seamlessly from one to the other.
My sister in law did the photography between the ceremony and the reception and we had to wait. In the rain no less. No, I’m not a fan of the ‘gap’.


Margaret June 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm

We did the same for my daughter. It worked beautifully. Appetizers were served while photos were taken, and the bar was open.


Hanna September 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I’m so glad someone finally made a post about this, and that the Admin agreed it is not hospitable at all to have such a huge gap between ceremony and reception! We recently went to a wedding where, like the OP, the reception venue was very close to the church, but there was a 2 hour long gap between the two. DH and I decided to go home, even though we lived about 10 minutes away, and we sat awkwardly around our house in our wedding clothes. We did not eat dinner because we thought there would be food at the reception. I had no idea why we thought this, but the wedding was at 5:00 so I just assumed… We get to the reception and only half the people show up who were at the ceremony, and come to find they are only serving these tiny desserts. Needless to say my husband and I were starved and felt like we wasted 2 hours of our life waiting for the reception to take place!! I don’t even know what the wedding party was doing!! When we showed up 2 hours later to the reception, they were still taking pictures outside the reception site… Surely it didn’t take that long! It was a wedding I did not enjoy, and I don’t think others did either, a big reason being that huge age between ceremony and reception.


Angel September 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I don’t like the lack of substantial food at a reception. If you are having a reception at 5, you need to provide a full meal for your guests, plain and simple. To me that is way more rude than any time gap. I would be upset if I arrived at a dinner-time reception and there was no dinner.


Kimstu September 15, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Oy, a 5 PM ceremony followed by a two-hour gap and then NO DINNER? Sounds as though the hosts were hoping all the wedding guests would just go out and get their own dinner during the gap and then show up again for a nibble of dessert! Gosh, how hospitable.

Now mind you, I’m all in favor of wedding hosts choosing a scaled-back reception with only light refreshments if that suits their tastes or their budgets better. Mid-morning brunch? Mid-afternoon punch & cake reception? Evening desserts-only? Fine by me, nom nom nom!

But if you’re not serving a substantial meal, then you should not be entertaining your guests during a conventional meal time! And inviting them to a combined event that falls on both sides of the meal time, with a hospitality-free gap in the middle where the meal ought to be, does NOT qualify as being a gracious host.


kingsrings September 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm

They should have included little slips of paper in the invites stating that during the 2-hour gap, guests were welcome to go to the McDonald’s, Denny’s, etc., located at such-and-such street, lol…..


NostalgicGal September 16, 2013 at 11:43 pm

And some wag should go down to said fast food establishment and ask the manager and put up a few of those expandable wedding bells and such in the order area… so those guests that do so know they found the place. (snarkoff)


Karee September 14, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I find the time gap to be very annoying as well, and someone said it best when they said it can really kill the vibe of the wedding! Thankfully my sisters have done a very good job at transitioning between ceremony and reception. My oldest sister had the ceremony at the church, and afterwards people filed into the reception, which began 30-40 minutes later after pictures. My other sister got married outside in a lovely park and everyone milled around in the area while pictures were taken (a little informally). Everyone then made their way to the reception site (a 5 minute drive) and the reception began right after.

I live in the Midwest of the United States, and I would say the big gap is VERY common, at least with the weddings I’ve attended (barring the ones mentioned above). Every. Single. Wedding I’ve been to has at least a 1.5-3 hour gap. And the reception site was always really close by!! My husband and I have either gone to get drinks, or went home, and usually the “wedding vibe” was gone by the time we made our way back to the reception!


Cami September 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

I live in the midwest too and every wedding I’ve attended here has had a huge gap. I was told that the gap originated so that dairy farmers could go home to do the milking. These days, however, the wedding party uses that gap to go bar hopping. Yup, that’s the “thing to do” — rent a party bus and have the wedding party toted from bar to bar. While your guests do…. what?

We’ve stopped attending both ceremony and reception. We pick one and just do that.


WMK September 14, 2013 at 7:06 pm

When Hubby and I were making our wedding plans almost twelve years ago, we purposely scheduled our reception to be no more than an hour after our church ceremony. Fortunately, we did not have out-of-town guests and it worked out beautifully.

We were able to do the pictures AND go and visit his grandmother in the hospital on the way to the reception all within that hour gap.

I think if I was invited to a wedding that had any more than an hour lag between the church and the reception, I’d just go to the reception.


Sarah Jane September 14, 2013 at 7:15 pm

A couple I know rented a large estate for the weekend. Everyone arrived at 5pm, and cocktails and appetizers were served immediately on the patio. Everyone then moved to the lawn for an informal ceremony. Immediately after, dinner was served outside. It was one of the more smoothly-run affairs I’ve been to.


Margaret June 17, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Lovely. Absolutely perfect!


Vicki September 14, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Bar hopping?!

That’s a particularly tacky version of “we have an A list and a B list, and some of the guests aren’t being invited to the coolest bit of the wedding.” Particularly tacky because it isn’t even OK, nice to see you, goodbye” to some people and “Dinner is served” to the rest, 90% of the wedding guests are being asked to sit around doing nothing while the inner circle go out and drink. (That it’s drinking is secondary; scheduling a long “photography” break so there was time for a hot air balloon ride or origami lessons for just the wedding party would be equally rude.)

I could accept “sorry, but we need two hours to take all the photos we want, have some snacks while you wait” and maybe even a photography break without the hosts providing food–that might be an accident–but “we’re going to make you stand around with strangers and nothing to eat so we can bar-hop”? That’s the last party I’m going to be at with those “hosts,” I don’t care who or how closely related we are.


AngePange September 14, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Where I stay, it is also “customary” to keep guests waiting for extraordinary lengths of time while the bridal couple has their photos done. It is tedious for the guests, and often there isn’t even place for the guests to sit down, which can be problematic when you have older guests and the weather is very warm. A lot of couples have therefore started finding ways to keep guests entertained during the time between the ceremony and reception and a very popular thing to do now is to have the cutting of the cake immediately after the ceremony, as well as a comfortable place to sit down. My fiancé and I have decided to hire a musician to entertain our guests and we plan on cutting our cake and serving tea and cake while we go and have pictures done for about an hour. Our MC is also an amateur comedian (he’s very good though) and he will be entertaining guests as well. We’ve been to a few weddings where this sort of thing has worked out quite well before. If you’re kept entertained and fed, it’s a lot easier to handle that “wait” for the return of the couple. 2.5 hours just seems like a crazy long time though.


Gellchom September 15, 2013 at 8:56 am

I wish people would just forget about not seeing each other before the wedding and take the photos before the ceremony (which is what most people in our community do. The photographers arrange some sort of “reveal” so the couple still gets “That Moment” of first seeing each other). Even without a gap, for the couple to skip all or most of the cocktail hour to go do a photo shoot seems both a bit rude to the guests and foolish for the HC – don’t they want to be at their own wedding reception?


NostalgicGal September 15, 2013 at 10:48 pm

There are many stories here on eHell where a couple decided to let the guests sit, got delayed with photography (decided to eat and/or open gifts) or otherwise let their guests to fend for themselves for a few to several hours before showing up to the reception… and the vendors wouldn’t even hand out ice water when it’s a very hot day (one couple was steamed because a few of the guests waiting outside in summer heat went on a run to a convenience store and brought back cold drinks because people were literally collapsing from heatstroke… and the caterers just watched)….

If you need your pictures so bad, do them in the morning, get married in the afternoon, and have your reception right afterwards. I attended a friend’s some years ago, and their photog was running loose BEFORE and getting the shots done (I had to help with a pitcher of ice water, dish soap, and ‘unscrewing’ the bride’s ring as her hand swelled up… so she could use her ring for the ceremony)

Anything else is crass IMO, making people wait especially if you are doing an outdoor, weather nasty, or lots of out of town guests.


cattlekid September 16, 2013 at 10:05 am

In DH’s family of origin, it is very common to have a gap of at least an hour and a half to two hours. Brides and grooms are not allowed to see each other before the wedding. Pictures are taken before the wedding of the groom’s family and brides’ family separately. The group pictures have to be taken after the wedding.

Because of this gap, it is common for many people to not attend the ceremony unless they are close family. You can literally have twice to three times as many people at the reception than attend the ceremony. I find it somewhat rude but that’s just what they do. Or they attend both, the ceremony in their “church clothes”, then they run home and change into their “party clothes” for the reception. Unfortunately for us, most of the churches and venues (usually one and the same) are not near our home so we are stuck with dealing with the gap.

Gaps make me cranky, especially when dinner gets delayed and there are no appetizers but of course the bar is open. Then everyone is plastered before dinner and those of us who don’t or can’t drink are stuck dealing with the aftermath.


Krystal September 16, 2013 at 12:00 pm

We’re planning our wedding for June 2014. We’ll be doing our ceremony & reception at the same location. We’re planning on having a late afternoon ceremony (3:30-4:00) and then cocktails immediately following it while we go do the group pictures. We’re planning on doing individual family pictures prior too the ceremony so we only need to do the couples pictures and joint family ones after. We’re getting married at some barns so we will be providing our guests with some outdoor games to play, think ring toss & horseshoes. The DJ will be playing and drinks and appetizers will be provided at that time. I think it’s going to work out well. Then we’ll come back and mingle with our guests until dinner.


Jen September 16, 2013 at 1:19 pm

@Rae, I love your idea of having the wedding/reception near a cultural attraction!

Regarding the bar-hopping, I share your abhorance of this practice and absolutely do not understand the mindset of bridal parties that do this. It’s rude to the guest and it’s utterly tacky and trashy to arrive at your reception drunk. To me, this is just as rude if not more rude than the various gift/money grabs we’ve seen on this site.

I think this whole 2-3 hour gap practice is symptomatic of the current ME!ME!ME! trend in weddings. Yes, the wedding is the bride’s (and groom’s!) day but the day is also about families coming together. The happy couple should be of the “we are happy to SHARE the day with our closest family and friends and want them to have a happy and comfortable time at this event” mindset instead of an “everyone is here to cater to our every whim like peasants/slaves” mindset.


Ange September 17, 2013 at 3:23 am

We have actually booked a lovely function room at a pub for our wedding (sounds crass but it’s a nice venue) and they have kindly offered to set aside an area for guests while they turn the room and we nip off for photos. our tab and food will continue while we’re outside. I’m a bit concerned though as we booked for 7pm and are doing a lot of food but it’s appetiser style, apparently it might not be enough. We’ve recommended the restaurant at the venue for early dinner as it serves delicious food but honestly guests are getting a fair bit of food anyway, can we squeeze by on that?


NostalgicGal September 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Suggest you buckle your belt tighter and have the place put out more food for the guests than appetizers. Expecting me to come to your reception and pay for my own meal, then wait to get some afternibbles when the party starts, doesn’t quite sit well. I’m more inclined then to say lovely, tata, and eat and leave or just leave… before the party.


Doris September 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm

You would leave before the bride and groom return? I thought the intent of a reception was to celebrate the love of the couple, not to entertain and feed the guests.


NostalgicGal September 18, 2013 at 3:43 am

If I went to the wedding, then was told to fend for myself for two hours (even if there was a lovely restaurant to dine at) then the afterparty (reception) is just nibbles… (appetizers) during what is a prime dinner hour…

I might not want to buy my own meal then be served a dessert or similar… if I’m not eating and buying my own food, do I want to hang and be hungry for two hours to then eat (or end up not eating, my food allergies plus diet restrictions are …disgusting… and I might find out I can’t eat anything at the reception) or…

I’m happy my friends got married but all the choices if I was a guest to this event aren’t very good, to wait out for the reception and eat too. Okay if I’m a guest I was warned I hope, and I can deal with the situation.

As the hostess, I feel that for the guests’ sake, a) the gap should be shortened; serve more substantial food at the reception. b) change the timings so the reception is no longer falling in prime evening mealtime (5-8 pm) … an afternoon reception is more conductive to serving appetizers or desserts. Have a lovely hour or two of an afternoon tea type reception, then turning the guests loose to continue to socialize, grab a meal, go home…

Doris, I’ve been in the wedding industry and a bride a long time ago. I’ve sewed for brides, I’ve made jewelry for brides (for one bride I did all her silk flowers), and I’ve officiated. I’ve hosted a lot of various parties and events, from cooking fifteen removes (at least two dishes per) for sixty, to being the overall hostess… If this was my friends I’d want to be there to celebrate with them; but IF. If I was a guest this is awkward and I’d feel put upon over how it’s arranged. If I was the hostess, I’d do some things differently.

That’s why we have eHell… post and ask, and get the opinions. Yes the reception is to celebrate the wedded couple, but as it is an event after the ceremony, it is dealing with the guests and she the BTB is asking….


Ange September 18, 2013 at 11:20 pm

There might be some confusion as to what we’re doing. The wedding ceremony is at 7, our photos and room turnover are expected to take no more than 30 min and food is brought out from straight after the ceremony. We aren’t changing venues or anything, it’s all the one place. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

NostalgicGal September 20, 2013 at 4:15 am

Ah, Ange, that’s a bit different.

I’m not sure what ‘dinnertime’ hours are where you are, but 7 is in the prime dinner hours here (5-8). It’s good that it will be a brief break and not hours…

If your guests know they should snag a meal before the ceremony, then a dessert/appetizer reception is sounding better. If your guests are expecting you’re going to provide a meal and find out no… it may make for some hard feelings on their part. Even if the place does serve meals.

I do wish you the best on your wedding and may everything go smoothly.

Doris September 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I can see your point. If we were hosting a wedding reception to be held during a mealtime, a full meal would be provided.

If we had a gap between the ceremony and the reception, we would do as my nephew & his bride did – suggest entertainment and provide small foods to tide guests over.

If the gap covered a mealtime – well, it’s difficult to think of the correct wording, but we would find a way to let guests know what type of foods would be provided at the coming reception (full meal, dessert bar, appetizers, etc) so that they could decide if they needed a full meal before the party AND we would let them know we were providing “nibbles” at a certain location, so that guests could mingle and celebrate. A chance for the two families and their friends to get better acquainted.

My family has a tendency to laugh at me for going overboard, so a few “nibbles” provided by me would be a groaning board of hot and cold dishes to cover everyone’s tastes. Location of the interim party would be somewhere comfortable for all guests. Possibly an event room in a local hotel. If most of the out-of-town guests are staying in the same hotel (a big possibility in our small town) that hotel would be most convenient.

Redblues September 20, 2013 at 2:21 am

It’s to celebrate with your guests, which yes, includes feeding them. Telling your guests they can buy their own dinner if they want to eat a meal?!? REALLY?!? Scale back. Have fewer guests, or don’t have your reception at dinner time. People aren’t there to worship you. They are your guests, not subjects groveling for favor. I sure would leave before the bride and groom return if they kept me waiting through dinner for a couple of hours while they prance around playing dress up for the photographer, or else I wouldn’t bother attending the wedding at all, just the reception.


Redblues September 20, 2013 at 10:11 am

It’s to celebrate with your guests, which yes, includes feeding them. Telling your guests they can buy their own dinner if they want to eat a meal?!? REALLY?!? Scale back. Have fewer guests, or don’t have your reception at dinner time. (And yes, 7:00 PM is dinner time. You are not in the clear. If the wedding starts, say, 2 hours before that, you have just taken up their dinner time with your wedding.) People aren’t there to worship you. They are your guests, not subjects groveling for favor. I sure would leave before the bride and groom return if they kept me waiting through dinner for a couple of hours while they prance around playing dress up for the photographer, or else I wouldn’t bother attending the wedding at all, just the reception.


Ange September 20, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I’ll just hope you posted that before my explanation went through….

Thanks for the kind wishes and advice everyone. As it turns out I ordered more food than I thought when I spoke to the venue yesterday. It will be more like 16 pieces per person then cake. After this discussion though I’ve checked in with family and my close friends and my fiancé is going to take his immediate family and grandparents to dinner at the restaurant beforehand and my girlfriends were already getting ready with me and I’m getting us pizza. I asked my family if I could do something for their dinner but they’re happy to sort themselves out. So overall I think there are going to be a lot of leftovers!

Kimstu September 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Let’s see, @Ange, “pub”, “nip off”, “appetiser”: I’m guessing that your wedding is taking place in the UK. 😉 I’m not fully up to speed on British wedding etiquette, but by American-etiquette standards, I would say that if the wedding itself doesn’t begin until 7 PM and is then followed by the reception-type activities, you’re in the clear on the “mealtime” issue.

To avoid confusion, though, I’d suggest not calling the refreshments “appetizers” (sorry, “appetisers”) as that does seem to imply that a more substantial meal will follow. Say “snacks and desserts” or “finger foods” or whatever the British is for that. (Savouries? Puddings? Nibbles?) If I were one of your guests, that would suggest to me that I should perhaps go out for a light meal beforehand and save some room for yummy refreshments at the reception.

But then, I believe we Americans are notorious for liking an early dinner hour, so assuming that a 7 PM wedding is a post-dinner event seems reasonable to me. For all I know, that could be spang in the middle of the standard British dinnertime and your guests will be expecting to get a sit-down meal. Maybe try telling them you’re having an “American evening reception”? 😉


Ange September 18, 2013 at 6:20 am

Close, Australian 🙂

Another term we’d use is canapes or nibblies. We are serving 12 pieces per person of things like mini burgers, pizza, spring rolls etc and then cake. I did put out it was ‘drinks and canapes’ rather than a meal and yeah, we made it a bit later so people could either eat at home or choose the restaurant.


No Wedding September 18, 2013 at 3:59 pm

So the wedding is at 7, or the reception is at 7?

If the wedding is at 7, I’d think you’d be OK serving the canapes/nibblies and cake. That’s late enough that I’d think everyone would have early dinner pre-wedding.


Ange September 18, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Yeah the wedding is at 7, it’s sort of a one stop shop. We get married in the room then it’s turned over while we get pics then we go back in for dancing etc.

NostalgicGal September 20, 2013 at 4:16 am

Aaah, yes it is becoming clearer; and it is sounding much better 🙂 than originally posted.

Redblues September 20, 2013 at 10:15 am

12 pieces per person does not come close to a full meal.


Doris September 17, 2013 at 3:56 pm

We had an hour or so interval between my nephew’s ceremony and the reception. Because of this, he and his bride had provided ideas for short sightseeing trips in Cleveland. We chose to revisit a beach which our youngest son and his girlfriend had not been able to see the day before. Some people went to their homes or hotels to rest and change clothing. Which was fine with the bridal couple. In addition, they had arranged for early arrivals at the reception site to be provided with food and drink. Not many took advantage of that because the entire wedding party was being photographed outdoors there, providing a chance to admire everyone and laugh at the small things said and done. (The wedding party and guests included some jokers. Meaning that affectionately and appreciatively.)

The interval, because the bridal couple thought of their guests’ needs, was pleasant and no inconvenience at all.


Nikki September 18, 2013 at 11:14 am

When I got married, there was a little distance between the ceremony and reception site, but immediately upon arrival (right after the ceremony), guests were treated to music, ample indoor and outdoor seating, an open bar, and appetizers.
We still took less than an hour to take photos of the group, and were ready when dinner was served.

My goal was to make sure that every guest felt welcomed and comfortable at all times.
All of which was learned from this site. 🙂


AllisonWonderland September 22, 2013 at 1:19 am

Because of the, erm, dingy condition of the neighborhood surrounding the church where my husband and I married (long story), we decided on a secondary location for the posed wedding pictures. This would have created a huge gap between the service and the reception, especially seeing as the reception was right downstairs. Instead, we moved the service back an hour, took the photos first, and the photographer traveled with us back to the church, photographed the wedding, and then took a handful more posed shots inside the church while those attending the reception made their way downstairs and those not made their way out. It gave us a small window for people to settle downstairs so they weren’t still finding their seats while lunch was getting underway but they also didn’t have to mill about bored and hungry.


JustJane September 22, 2013 at 10:29 pm

I’ve run into this situation many times, and it is an annoyance for the guests. Since I have begun planning my own wedding I have learned there is a logical, logistical reason for the lag time. Many (not all) churches mandate that weddings held on Saturdays must be completed by 3:30 PM while most reception venues do not allow for seating until 6:00 PM simply because earlier hours are made available for “day” events (and never shall “day” and “evening” events shall meet). This reality never occurred to me until confronted with it myself. The lag time is a pain but at least it allows for a nap before the party gets going.


whatever September 25, 2013 at 8:41 pm

We took our photos after the wedding- my mom refused to let my husband see the dress. But, in that time, we arranged for everyone to be bused to the restaurant. The restaurant was *supposed* to start serving the food (everyone knows the newlyweds don’t eat much at the reception), but it didn’t, and everyone was waiting for us! It was so embarrassing after all that planning.


KC Kidder December 10, 2014 at 4:09 am

So your Mom was running the show and told you and your husband what to do?


EllenS October 2, 2013 at 6:53 pm

I have been to so many weddings with dreadful lags before the reception started – including one where the guests were sent to a sort of “holding pen” for over an hour (aka Purgatory), and another where the reception venue was too small to accomodate all the guests, so we were “rolled” in and out alphabetically by last name! Our “time slot” started at 9pm, after a noon wedding!
When DH and I got married, we had pictures with our respective families and attendants before the ceremony. The reception hall was a short walk away on the same site as the chapel. After the ceremony, we held the receiving line outside the chapel door, then followed the guests down the walkway, had a toast and led off the dancing.
THEN, after everyone was dancing and enjoying the buffet, we went to a separate room and had our formal pictures done, after which the photographer took posed and candid shots of the reception and family groups.
It really didn’t seem that complicated, and everyone said they had a great time.


dedicated1776 April 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm

The way things USED to be done in some areas included a VEERRRRYYYY long gap. But “back then” all of the guests were local. When my in-laws got married (45 years ago) it was customary to be married at a morning mass, then the guests would go on their merry way (back home or to the home(s) of family members of the couple), THEN the reception was at night (usually at the church hall). In this day and age, with so many out-of-towners, it’s absurd and inconvenient.


Katie July 20, 2014 at 10:00 pm

I am having a gap. Completely not by choice and it has nothing to do with the pictures. My church will not do my ceremony later because of sat night mass and my venue won’t pull up cocktail hour. This venue has been my dream and I have to hope my family will understand. I would never make them wait for that long simply because I wanted pictures taken.


tracey October 7, 2014 at 10:48 pm

I think it is rude to expect guests to wait on the wedding party for extended lengths of time without so much as a drink of water. If there is a wait, then some type of refreshments should be served, especially if the wedding is around a meal time. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, just something to curb guests’ hunger until the meal and/or buffet is served. Trust me, your guests will appreciate it.


KC Kidder December 10, 2014 at 4:07 am

Ah, yes, it is time to celebrate with your guests…but is it really a reception if you are not there? The word reception derives from the word” receive” as to receive your guests in a receiving line. If you are not there it is not really a reception and guests can only nibble away at dips, and crudités, and little sausages for so long before hypoglycemia sets in. Little kids can only behave for a fortnight or so, and Grandpa’s Pacemaker only has so much charge before it plays out and he slumps to the floor.
Really, what the heck are brides and grooms thinking?
I realize you are paying the photographer a Bazillion dollars but he works for you… set the rules, so make up your mugs and get your bride and groom pictures taken the week before. Then have him take the wedding party an hour before the event. You need only take the ones of Mom and Dad and the family after the event before dashing to the reception. Should not take more than a half hour. Somewhere around 1996 or 1998, Courtsey went out the door and the happy couple now think they can act like brats and treat guests like beggars. I will not put up with it and return to my hotel for two hours to rest and watch TV.


Maggie April 11, 2015 at 11:16 pm

We have a 2.5 hour wait. I am taking a laptop & my textbooks for uni


Tiff May 4, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Sometimes it’s simply what you have to do. Our church had a set time for ceremonies, due to afternoon mass times; our reception venue had a set time for the cocktail hour to start. Leaving us with a 2-2.5 hours gap. It is what it is. Guests from out of town went to my in-laws place to visit since they were their relatives. Guests that were local had time to grab a bite to eat, go home for a nap, go get the kids set up with childcare if they opted for that, change if they preferred more comfortable attire for the reception.

I’ve never minded a gap because with church weddings it’s often what happens due to mass times, I’ve also never noticed it affect whether people skip the reception. I’ve found that more then likely people skip the ceremony and attend the reception instead of the opposite.


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