How long should a reception be?

posted 3 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
2243 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

My reception lasted 9hrs. We started cocktails at 6PM. I had expected people to start clearing out around 1-2am but people just kept dancing so we went till 3 (and they still lingered after). So surprised but everyone had a blast!!

Post # 4
7664 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

I would say that you want it to be as long as possible! Ours was about 1445 to 2300, and the only reason we got away with cleaning up that early was because it was so hot that people wanted to go home and shower. String it out, I say! Make the most of your day.

Post # 5
42157 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

@Wildflower2016:  It should be long enough that people get to eat, drink and be merry and short enough so that everyone is still having a good time when it is time to go home.

There is no one anwer. What works for one couple likely wouldn’t work for others. What time of day is the wedding?Are you having the ceremony at the same venue? Is there music and dancing?

Post # 7
646 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Our reception will be about 3 1/2 hours. We have our venue from 6 pm to 10 pm and we’re doing our ceremony at the same location.

Post # 8
2884 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

we had our reception fro 7.30-2 but thats quite standard for weddings in mexico. im fairly sure theyre shorter in my native UK

Post # 9
10219 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Agree with @julies1949:  there is NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWER here, just a whole lot of variables to take into consideration.

A Reception must be long enough to greet every guest, and thank them for coming… and to provide a bit of refreshment… that can be anywhere from a glass of punch and a slice of cake (1 hours) up to a full on many many hours all day & all night affair (6 to 12 Hours)

(Where I live in Canada, many Brides marry in the afternoon between 2 to 5, afterwhich there are Pictures, a Cocktail Hour, Sit Down Dinner, and lots of partying… not uncommon here to see a Reception Party go on into the wee hours… 1, 2 or 3 AM, so the full Reception could last up to say 8 Hours or longer.  In other countries in the Commonwealth, things are similar too… with Morning Weddings being popular, and there is a Wedding Breakfast / Brunch afterwards, then a Dinner, then a Party)

In the USA, Weddings tend to happen later in the day, and Receptions with full on meals tend to go 4 maybe 5 hours on average… then if someone wants more partying, there is “an After Party”

In truth, what you choose to do will be a lot more about your “vision” and your “budget”… and how those 2 things dove-tail together.

Hope this helps (somewhat),

EDIT TO ADD – My first Wedding (Circa 1980) I was married at 4 PM.  Followed by Photos and a Mix & Mingle Cocktail Hour… then a 4 Course Sit Down Meal (Dinner at 6 PM).  Then the Cake Cutting & Toasts, Speaches etc.  First Dances, and then Partying.  Around 11 PM, my Groom & I went to change into our “Going Away Attire” got back just before Midnight in time for the Midnight Buffet.  More Dancing… more mingling.  And around 1 or 1:30 AM we were gone.  The party was just beginning to wind down.

This time round…

Mr TTR & I Eloped to a Destination Wedding (just the 2 of us, saying our Vows on a Beach).  After our Honeymoon we had a Back Home Reception… it was an Evening Party.  Cocktails & Hors d’Ouevres – Champagne & Cake – DJ & Dancing.  It ran 5 Hours (8 PM to 1 AM).


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