How long do you expect your guest to stay at your reception?

posted 1 year ago in Etiquette
  • poll: How Long do you expect your guest to stay?
    Whole reception until last dance : (44 votes)
    32 %
    Until after dinner : (22 votes)
    16 %
    Until they feel like leaving : (70 votes)
    51 %
    Other explain below : (2 votes)
    1 %
  • Member
    752 posts
    Busy bee

    You’re going to have a lot of guests who will stay to party the whole event.


    But if you have elderly guests or guests bringing small children, don’t expect them to stay long.  


    I think about 75% of my guests left before the dance started.  Was I sad?  Not really.  You can’t order someone to stay and have a good time.  Likewise, I usually like to leave weddings early unless I know a LOT of people there and I really want to kick back and party.  

    744 posts
    Busy bee

    @TwoCityBride:  At my wedding, 30% of my guests left after speeches were made (right after main was served and eaten). Luckily I had a lot of courses so they left around 10pm. Asians don’t like to dance, so it was expected.

    2377 posts
    Buzzing bee

    Most of our guests stayed until the very end, or about 30 min prior. :)

    1535 posts
    Bumble bee

    I’d say I expect them to stay as long as they want to … I mean, I don’t want to feel like we’re forcing them to hang out if they’re bored, uncomfortable, tired, etc.

    At the same time, I’ll probably be a little sad if a bunch of people leave right after dinner.  My fiance and I are really looking forward to having a lot of our family and close friends together in one place, and we really want everyone to have a great time.  Obviously everyone doesn’t love dancing, but we’re also thinking of renting a photobooth as another fun option for guests.  I know you can’t make someone have a good time, but we’re really trying to do whatever we can to ensure our guests have fun.

    2627 posts
    Sugar bee

    If anyone left early then I dont know about it. Some people may have left within 30 minutes of the last dance, but almost everyone stayed until the end from what I was told/remember.

    6304 posts
    Bee Keeper

    I am really worried that a lot of people will leave early, because of the distance–to the point that I am thinking of chipping in for hotel rooms (with the added benefit that it will help curb drunk driving, though I am pretty sure everyone definitely knows better than that.)

    8511 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper

    I don’t think it’s right to leave a wedding early. It’s not like you’re going to have this exact day all over again. The bride and groom go through a lot to make this day as best as it can be. 

    But, honestly, I don’t have a clue as to whether or not my guests left early… And I only had 100 of them. 

    406 posts
    Helper bee

    Since most of our guests have about a hour’s drive to where our wedding/reception is being held, I dont expect them all to stay til the party ends. i’d love for everyone to stay through dinner and cake but if they leave before dancing, I will completely understand! I’ll just be happy they came to share in part of our special day.

    3897 posts
    Honey bee

    I’m so worried our guests will leave early and the party will die out. I suspect that all our in-state guests, who will mostly be about 2 hours away, won’t stay in town and will leave early to get home at a decent hour.

    That said, I wouldn’t leave a wedding very early. I think at most I’d leave an hour early, and that’s assuming it’s a long wedding that is going until midnight+.

    1996 posts
    Buzzing bee

    Our guest like to party so they will def stay until the end, even my grandma! I’ve left a few weddings early but not super early. 


    10748 posts
    Sugar Beekeeper

    I am pretty sure the young crowd will all stay until the end – we like a good party! I expect the older ones to leave earlier and that’s fine.

    1243 posts
    Bumble bee

    Our reception will start around 5. About 2 hours of jazz music, followed by our cake cutting, first dance, and very few speeches.  After that, dancing.  I expect my hardcore friends/partiers to stay until midnight, but fully expect others will depart earlier. I won’t be bothered if things wrap up early, as long as everyone has fun while they are with us. I anticipate my MOH will be free to leave anytime after 8, though I will expect her to secure and transport any gifts people bring to the reception with her.

    1357 posts
    Bumble bee

    Guests at a formal dinner or dance should not leave until after the guests of honour depart; and guests of honour should depart early in the evening so as not to place unreasonable restrictions on the other guests. In the olden days when bride and groom were truly newly-wed and had the very novel experience of a wedding night to look forward to, and when the hostess was someone other than the bride so that the bride and groom could in fact enjoy the role of guests-of-honour, those rules worked reasonably well. Dinner concluded with the happy couple cutting the cake; the host and hostess opened the floor with dancing and then danced with the guests of honour; the happy couple went and changed into their travelling clothes while the other guests carried on dancing, and the bride tossed her bouquet as she ran out the door to the tin-dedcked get-away car — and then the rest of us were free to dance the night away, or go home and catch the last period of Hockey Night in Canada, as the spirit moved us.

    Nowadays the bride usually acts as hostess. A hostess is supposed to remain until the very last guest departs, to bid them goodnight, but that is fine because usually the wedding night is nothing new or exotic for her to rush away to anyway. Something is lost, however. Without guests of honour, there is no obvious signal as to when it has become okay to leave. So guests are doing their best to figure it out for themselves. A nice idea I have seen suggested, is for a bride who is acting as hostess to introduce her parents and new inlaws to guests as her guests of honour. Then the parents can deremoniously bid the newlyweds good-night — I have seen it done where the bride, who did not want to do a bouquet toss, took the opportunity to touchingly give her bouquet to her mother — and then the parents depart early in the evening as guests of honour are obliged to do, signalling to guests that the time has come when they canleave without giving offence.

    At a formal dinner party with no guests of honour, the guests should wait until after coffee is served. If port was served separately from coffee, guests must wait until the port-drinkers have finished and joined the coffee-drinkers, and had a chance to drink a cup of coffee. Then they may depart at any time after that. At a formal dance, the guests should wait until after the first dance and after they have had a chance to ask their hostess to dance (if theyre a gentleman) or the host has had a chance to ask them to dance (if they are a lady). At a minimum, that means until the beginning of the second dance, although the third dance would be kinder. After that they may leave.

    True, it is always more rewarding if your guests stay and dance until dawn — it demonstrates your accomplishments as a great hostess. But you cannot force or command their continued presence. If guests want to go home in the early evening, as long as they stay for the minimum first cup of coffee or second dance, then you must accept their choice graciously.

    1852 posts
    Buzzing bee

    hopefully most stay til the end since the whole thing is only 4.5hrs including the ceremony, but i’m sure i won’t really notice too much unless a whole bunch of people leave early

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