What Should You Do If There is a Gap in Your Wedding Timeline?


In an ideal world, every wedding would go straight from a 5pm ceremony to cocktail hour with barely a blink of an eye. But what if you don't get that coveted timeslot at your chosen ceremony venue? With the possibility of a few hours between the ceremony and the beginning of the reception, it can feel like a lot of time to kill, but don't worry! Our experts have a few tips on how to handle a gap in the timeline.

It's not ideal, but having a timeline with a gap in the middle is fairly common, especially if you're getting married in a house of worship on a popular weekend. So how can you make the most of a morning ceremony and an evening reception?

Keep guests' comfort in mind as you're planning. You, your groom, the wedding party, and your immediate families should wear the same attire for the ceremony as for the reception (since you'll be front-and-center in all the pictures), but that doesn't mean your guests need to wear black-tie attire at 11 am! Include a note in the invitation or on your wedding website that the ceremony is "formal daytime attire," and then specify the desired dress code for your reception. Yes, it means your guests have to bring two outfits, but they'll be much happier donning a nicer daytime dress or suit for the morning, then changing into something more formal for the evening.

See more: How to Plan the Perfect Wedding Weekend

It's also a great idea to offer options for activities between the ceremony and reception, whether it's your favorite local lunch spots, a list of nearby museums, or something you've scheduled for guests to enjoy, like a trolley tour of historic downtown. Share this information on your wedding website, and if you're providing welcome bag, slip in a note that highlights some of your suggestions.

For the wedding party, the time right after the ceremony is perfect for portraits and group pictures. Getting these out of the way on the early side means no one has to miss cocktail hour later! Then, you can either all head out for a formal luncheon or go back up to your suite to change into casual clothes for sandwiches and salads.

Looking for a little alone time with your new husband(!)? Send the bridesmaids and groomsmen off together, then have a private lunch à deux — with some champagne, of course! Then get back together for hair and makeup touch-ups and to help one another back into your dresses and heels.

No matter what you decide for those in-between hours, make sure your wedding party and guests know when to regroup for the reception. You don't want anyone to miss the party!

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