I know there has been discussions about this before, but I feel like my situation is pretty unique so any input is appreciated.
Our ceremony and reception are at the same place, but in different rooms. The ceremony starts at 3 pm, which should end before 3:30 pm and our reception/dinner kicks off at 6:30. We have access to both rooms at 2 pm, but set-up for ceremony will be the priority and the reception set up can wait until afterwards.
As many of you know, about a good 3/4 of my guest list is coming from out of town, which I define as anyone who has to stay overnight at the venue in order to make it for the ceremony/reception. Most of these guests are family and therefore will be able to mingle amongst themselves during any gap - our venue is also a hotel so many will probably go back to their room and mingle/freshen up there.
Onto my actual question: Is is necessary to start cocktail hour/provide guests with some sort of entertainment right after the ceremony before the reception?
My mom, who is my biggest supporter in wedding planning, but also my biggest stressor, thinks that we should get cocktail hour started ASAP after the ceremony, at 3:30 pm. I'm thinking we'll need time to set up the reception, the DJ has to move between the two spots, so the earliest I could think to start it is at 4:30 pm. My FH and I also want to mingle a bit after photos at cocktail hour (thinking to be done photos at 5:30 pm) so our cocktail hour might turn into a 2 hour long thing. I also don't want guests liquored up before dinner even starts, which I can see happening with a longer cocktail hour.
Any other wedding I've been to didn't really have a cocktail hour. Maybe half an hour before dinner to mingle/figure out seating/get that first drink, but the reception venue was different from the ceremony one. The one wedding I went to that was in the same venue had the ceremony and reception in the same room so there was a gap to switch out the room and then the guests came back, found their seats, and dinner was served!
Right now, my options look like:
a) Scramble to start at 3:30 pm with decorating/set up being done as guests enter, my mom's pick
b) Start at 4:30 pm - good happy medium
c) Start at 5:30 pm - venue's recommended time