What to put in wedding invitation about long gap between ceremony and reception?

July 8th, 2011

I’m having a Catholic wedding at 2:30pm, Reception (starting with 1-hr hosted bar with hors d’oeuvres) starts at 6pm. The driving time between that two locations is about 30-40 mins. I realize there’s an easy 2 hour gap wait for guests that will not partake the in picture taking after church.
My question is – how can I word in the invitation, so they’re given heads up, to let them know about this gap in order for them to plan for something in between. Should I list places to go/visit? I’d like to see actual sample of invitation indicating something of that effect, if possible. Otherwise, please advise. I’m planning to send invitations within 2 weeks.
Thanks for all the input. Additionally, the times are fixed now. I’ve tried moving both vendors and none can budge anymore, unfortunately.
Krissylyn and Seamstress – Thank you! Comments made me laugh and smile.

14 Responses to “What to put in wedding invitation about long gap between ceremony and reception?”

  1. fizzy stuff says:

    My advise is do not have a 2 hour gap. Being all dressed up with no place to go is one of the chief complaints of wedding guests. I think it’s really an imposition to ask that of your guests.

    The cocktail hour is just that: one hour. You get one hour to take pictures, and then you should hurry to go greet your guests who have come out to support you.

    If an hour is not enough time, you are either a bridezilla or your photographer stinks.

  2. MML says:

    Here’s a link below that may give you some information on what you can do for your guests in the 2 hours that they will have idle after the wedding, but before the reception:


    I hope this helps.

  3. SupernaturalSweetHeart<3 says:

    Generally the couple getting married will arrange for drinks and hors d’oeuvres for their guests while they go off and get their photos done. Perhaps, to help fill in some of the time, you can arrange for some group photographs to be taken after the ceremony (eg. get the photographer to stand in as high a place as possible, with all your guests crowded around you – these photos are becoming very popular). This can help to fill in at least half an hour, then another half hour or so of traveling to the reception (can take longer if guests are waiting for lifts/taxis). I would be contacting your reception place and arranging for the drinks and hors d’oeuvres to begin at 5 instead of 6, that way your guests will at least have somewhere to go and sit down, have something to eat and drink. Asking your guests to go do something else for 2 hours can seem a little rude, and like you haven’t organised your day very well. You should be trying to look after them and their needs as well.

  4. Mont says:


  5. an says:

    You can prepare snacks such as cakes an tea or coffe after the matrimony so that those who do not take part in photographs session will spent some time there. Usually, guests will talk and chat before they realize time is getting short. So, they probably have 1 hour free time, say, if they start journey at 4pm. At the reception, 1 hour for guests to register is ok. You can specify that “wedding reception begins at 6 pm sharp”, so people will expect the registration to take place before that. The timing is fine.

    You can prepare a simple puzzle at each table for the guests to have fun so those who register early will not feel bored waiting for the receiption to begin.

  6. CC 9/24/11 Bride says:

    You just list the Location and Time of ceremony

    then list the Location and Time of reception

    come join us…getting married blah blah


    1234 Wilkins Dr
    Somewhere, CO 28745

    Reception to be held at Place

    Do you list places for people to go/visit? No. Not on the invitations. Make a website (theknot.com) and put places on their. Or list places for them to visit on a separate card and add it in the envelope with invitation.

  7. seamstress says:

    Honestly, you really do not have to mention anything about the gap in the invitations.

    I have been to ceremonies and receptions that have a similar gap in time. It is quite obvious by the times stated on the invites, so there is really no need to point it out. We all have GPS or Map Quest to find our way around and can decipher the distance between the ceremony and the reception on our own and figure out something to do.

    At least, that is what I do when presented with this situation. I am an adult and I can easily entertain myself for two hours. I have used the internet to find out local attractions, shopping and restaurants whenever I go anywhere unfamiliar to me.

  8. nova_queen_28 says:

    Why can’t you do what many people do these days: have pictures taken before the ceremony so your guests aren’t miserable with a 2-hr gap. I did the math, the 2-hr gap doesn’t include drive time to the reception — a catholic wedding is usually about an hour, so its done by 3:30pm. Even if it takes 1hr (potentially double your estimate) to drive from church to reception, guests will be bored out of their minds for 2hrs before the reception starts.

    Some people who insist that the bride & groom do not see eachother will do all the photos except for the ones involving the couple prior to the ceremony, some people (myself included) did photos with the couple prior to the ceremony. It just helps speed things along and is much nicer on the guests.

    If you absolutely cannot change your gameplan, just list the times for each event, don’t accidentally put “reception to follow” – spell out “Reception at 6pm at ____Country Club” because guests typically will drive right to the reception after the ceremony is over.

  9. krissylyn says:

    A million thumbs up to Seamstress. She’s got it all right.
    For the rest of you (who obviously don’t go to or know much about church) – Such gaps are quite common in Catholic ceremonies so that the wedding ceremony takes place before Saturday night Mass starts.

  10. Matt says:

    Don’t even worry about it. Most people understand this time period will exist for many reasons. It allows people to take a drive, relax a bit and locals to even go back home and recharge before the big reception.

    If all are from out of town and their are few options in your town, you might want to off the record pass along some suggestions for some area places to go visit or see. It also depends upon the size of the wedding. If there are less than fifty people, you can probably talk to most and put your fears to rest. If you have five hundred coming, they will find something to do.

    Look at it this way, many weddings are around noon and the reception is like after six p.m. Two hours is not even that long. It allows people not to have to rush right to a reception. Some go out for pics halfway across the city and have a six hour gap. I could understand if it were so long. Two hours is not a big deal. Relax and good luck to you as your start your journey with your spouse.

  11. Miss C says:

    Can you change your wedding time to 1:30? Picture Time? Reception Time? Could you take some pictures before the actual ceramony? One hour gap is resonable for people to find the venue after the wedding, grab a drink, a table and some appetizers, but then…to sit and wait for another hour? I think, as the host, you should solve this problem, not worry about wording it on invitations – your in luck though since you havnt sent out your invites yet!

    2 hours is a long time to make people wait…if there is no way around that, if i were you, I would find a way to keep them entertained during it. Adults & children alike, waiting stinks. Especially if it can be helped.

  12. double d debbie says:

    Just put the times on the invitations

  13. Because I Said So says:

    Your guests can do the math on their own, there’s no need to address the long gap in between the ceremony and cocktail hour on your invitations. But if I were you, I’d have your cocktail hour at 5pm so that dinner can start at 6pm or 6:30, at the latest. As it is you’re putting out your guests by asking them to occupy themselves in the local area for 3 hours after the ceremony, so if you can cut that down to 2 hours that would be better. Don’t keep them waiting until 7:30 or 8pm for dinner.

  14. Daver says:

    Well, assuming your quests know how to tell time, and do simple math, you don’t need to give them a “heads-up”, lest you end up insulting thier intelligence by pointing out the obvious.

    It would be better if you didn’t have such a long gap in between with nothing for your guests to do and/or no place for them to go.

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