1. If your ceremony is early and reception involves dinner, host a lunch either at the ceremony site or at a home or restaurant near the ceremony. However, be very careful! You put a lot of time and money into planning your dinner, so you want your guests to feel satisfied but not full. Serving your own appetizers, rather than encouraging guests to grab lunch on the own, is the best way to do this!
2. Host the reception immediately after. There can be a cocktail hour for guests, allowing the wedding party to take their time arriving at the reception. To execute this plan the best, it's recommended that you include a "First Look" element before the ceremony! This is where you take the bulk of the photos with the wedding party, so it doesn't have to be crammed in between the ceremony and reception.
3. Equip your guests with ideas of what to do in between. If you are near a city, let them know of shops, movie theatres, museums, parks or bowling alleys in the area! Make your guests aware that they may want to change into something casual after the ceremony for the rest of the day!
4. An hour to ninety minutes between ceremony and reception are the most ideal amounts of time. It allows for a cocktail hour, a quick set of photos among the bridal party, and for guests to arrive at the reception and take their seat. If the ceremony and reception are more than a half hour apart in distance, you should air on the side of caution and make the gap between ninety minutes and two hours.
5. Have a family member host a get-together at their home in between. There can be light hors d'oeuvres and plenty of photos!
6. If you don't have a choice in the ceremony times and it ends up being earlier in the day, there is no harm in moving the reception up as well. Instead of tiding guests over with hors d'eourves because they skipped lunch, host an early dinner.
7. If the reception is outdoors, lay out yard games such as ladder ball, bean bag toss or volleyball for guests to entertain themselves in the mean time. If indoors, scatter board games and "get to know you" games for guests to mingle. Set up Bingo and include prizes! Of course, a bar or even a champagne fountain might be enough to tide guests over for a couple hours, but anything to keep the rowdiness down of the younger guests is helpful!
8. Book a tour bus take guests around the city to see the various sights and landmarks. This will show off beauty of the city that you and your spouse will live in, and make sure the driver points out landmarks pertaining to your relationship as well!
9. Plan a scavenger hunt around town for guests. This will work best if the ceremony and reception are nearby, so that guests won't feel lost or rushed going between venues. For example, provide your guests with a clue as they leave the reception. Include 2-4 destinations along the way, each with another (obvious) clue to the next location! These spots can be where you and your spouse first met, where your first date was, where you got engaged, or just your favorite hangout spot!
10. Have a photo booth at the reception for guests to get goofy and remember your day by!
All in all, don't stress about a gap in between your ceremony and reception. This is very typical, especially when the ceremony is in a church, so guests do not see this is annoying or out of the ordinary. This time in between is for you and your spouse to mingle, take photos, and enjoy the company of your bridal party as you travel between venues. Of course there are ways to minimize any boredom your guests might feel in between, but once the dinner, drinking and dancing starts, all they will remember was the fabulous day they had at your wedding.