(Closed) Advice needed: reception length

posted 10 years ago in Beehive
Post # 3
2 posts
  • Wedding: May 2002

That seems like a decent amount of time. It’s 4.5 Hours. Most wedding receptions are 4 – 5 Hours.

Post # 4
212 posts
Helper bee

it may be a 1/2 hour too short but in general, i think thats a good length.  we’re doing 1 hour cocktail plus 4 hour reception for a total of 5 hours.

Post # 5
46 posts
  • Wedding: October 2008

When I was looking at venues I was looking at either 4- or 5-hour receptions (including cocktail hour).  So at least in my experience your plan seems to be in the normal range. 

Post # 6
41 posts

I think it’s a good amount of time. My reception is going to begin at 5pm and end at midnight! I think that’s a bit long but my guests love to drink and dance. Have you thought of doing the speeches during dinner?

Post # 7
106 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2008

HA!  Here I am thinking that I needed to start mine at 3 and end it at like 10!  Oops!

It sounds like you’ve got a great timeline going.  I’d stick with it and if you feel it needs to be a little longer (which they tend to do with stragglers), then go with the flow. 

Post # 8
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

Your timeline looks a lot like ours, although ours starts and ends one hour earlier.  We have a lot of guests who will drive around around 90 minutes/2 hours for the wedding, and in talking to them most will not get a hotel but will drive back home that night.  We don’t want them on the road too late, so are calling it an early night – those who have hotels or are local will probably adjourn to another location.

While I have been to events that were longer, I think that around 5 hours is pretty standard, and is plenty of time.  Most of the photography packages we looked at quoted a standard time of 6 hours, so with some photos before the ceremony that would also support the idea that 5 hours is fairly normal.

Post # 9
1238 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

5 hours seems to be the standard.  Our timeline is similar to yours.  We went to one wedding over the summer that started at 5pm and went until 2am, but we left at 10:30 exhausted.  It seemed as though once the cake was served most people began to leave. Only the wedding party and younger (20 somethings) stayed late.

Post # 10
402 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

this seems decent. if nothing you could shave off a little bit of time on your cocktail hour….making it a cocktail in 45 or 30mins, if you can get your pictures done in that time.

 otherwise, looks good.


i’m planning to have a 4 hour reception, bc ours will be super early (beginning at 12:30) so i doubt there will be many who want to stay and party.

Post # 11
1246 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

Our reception is only going to be 3 hours! Ridiculous, right? But that’s the venue’s constraint. We’re not doing a cocktail hour and we’re doing a super-short ceremony, after which guests can walk a dozen yards to the reception site and immediately start eating. Still – crazy.

Post # 12
84 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2007 - Ceremony at a cement and stained glass cathedral and reception at a boutique hotel ballroom

4.5 hours is a good amount of time. Our cocktail hour began at 5:30, reception began at 6:30, and the dancing ended at 11pm. We had an extra 1-1.5 hours at the end where people were just mingling and dancing.

Post # 13
260 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2008

Check with your venue/DJ about how long you’ll need for the buffet, because of the lines.  Depending on the number of people, you might need to have the general reception shenanigans cut into the dinner, or need to make dinner longer.

Post # 15
60 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

my mother-in-law says i should (need) do a three-hour reception.


this seems too short to me.


i was thinking of this:

3:30-3:45 ceremony

3:45-4:30 pictures and let our guests go in and drink(cocktails) and mingle

4:30 eat and drink and then start to dance

6:00 more dancing

7:00 cake

8:30 end!

no first dance, garter toss, etc.


how does this sound?

Post # 16
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

Your timeline is a lot like ours, but a bit earlier – our ceremony is at 4:30; cocktail hour starting immediately following; dinner at 6:00, and ending about 9:00.  We are also not doing garter or bouquet toss, although we are doing a first dance.  I am not sure if we will cut the cake before the first dance or at the band’s first break – still thinking about that.

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