How far apart can the ceremony and reception be?

While you might have the perfect places in mind to get married and hold a reception, make sure the two venues are close enough together. Out of consideration for your guests, the two should be as close together as possible. Ideally, you want your guests to be able to witness your vows and then to celebrate with you. As a general suggestion, try to keep the travel distance under 20 miles from ceremony to reception. If your reception site is further away than 20 miles, then be sure to make it a special destination for you as well as your guests. Most people will make the effort to go wherever they are invited, but if you make it too far away, be prepared to have some guests attend the ceremony and go home. You might also have others skip the ceremony and only attend the reception. Keep this in mind as you decide on the two sites.

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that has a community center or public club house, you may want to consider those options. That way your guests will be at the church and have a drive of only a few miles. Research your local area and you may be surprised to find a wonderful venue for the reception only minutes away from the ceremony site.

If you choose to have your reception at a favorite restaurant or site that requires a hefty drive, be sure to allow plenty of time between the ceremony and reception for travel. Take into consideration “rush hour” traffic or road construction along the routes your guests will be using.

A real life example of this principle:

A wedding ceremony held at an old cathedral in the Italian district of Chicago (the bride’s hometown) where the reception is held 5 hours later at an Italian restaurant in northern Indiana (the groom’s hometown). Allowing for so much time in between allows guests the time to explore “little Italy” and discover the wonderful shops and wares. More cautious guests would also have more than enough time to make a leisurely drive despite any traffic or road construction to the northern Indiana town and relax between events. In order to justify the drive, however, the reception site would have to be an unforgettable celebration.

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