(Closed) How long should my reception be?

posted 8 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
5072 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2012

the maximum amount of time you can have the hall is 5 hours?  Is the ceremony considered part of that time?

are you asking if you should start the ceremony later to have the reception end later?


Post # 5
1423 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

I’ve been to receptions that lasted long after we left (usually around 10:00 p.m.). The average by me is 8 hours. Our venue tried to get us to be 4 hours, which is unheard of to me. Ours will be booked for 6 hours, which is still short by our regions’ standards.

Our rough timeline –

[9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Time reserved for decorating rooms]

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.: Ceremony (room is reserved for an hour)

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Cocktails in reception room while we do pictures

4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.: Reception

[10:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.: Time reserved for breaking down]

Post # 6
827 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I think that five hours from the beginning of the cocktail hour to the end of the night is a typical length.

I think that the best thing to do would be to work out a more detailed timeline and then go from there as to how long you want the reception to be. 

Post # 7
5072 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2012

I think 10 pm is early if it’s a Friday or Saturday night wedding.  I wouldn’t expect a reception to be over by then.

Our ceremony and reception are in the same place. 

5 to 5:30 – Ceremony

5:30 to 6 – cocktail hour for guests who came to ceremony

6 pm – continuation of cocktail hour/reception officially starts

6:30 – our entrance followed immediately but cake cutting and first dance

7 pm – dinner 

our reception goes until midnight.

Post # 8
2692 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

That is about typical for here (4-5 hours for reception).  I only have my hall for 4 hours of reception time (but extra time to set up and decorate).  I can pay for any extra hours I want but since it’s Sunday night I think a 10pm end time is perfect.  I even anticipate people leaving earlier.  If the party is still hopping  by 10, we’ll get the extra hour and end at 11pm.

Post # 9
1623 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

OP, since your ceremony is a Saturday night, I would opt for the extra hour and have the reception end the same time you can no longer serve alcohol: 11pm.  If you’re including cake cutting and first dances and start at 8pm, I think that only will give your guests 1.5 ish hours or less if things are delayed to dance/mingle if you end at 10pm.  I think that’s a little short in my opinion, but I’m from the midwest and it might be different here.

Post # 10
3470 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2012 - The Gables Inn, Santa Rosa, CA

10pm should be a find time to end things– most guests wont stay much past that even if they have the option– once you and the groom leave, people will start trickeling out pretty quickly. 

Post # 12
412 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

In Michigan a reception usually last 6 hours total. For example ours starts at 6 pm and ends at midnight. That is pretty standard of the places that I priced out before choosing our venue.


Post # 13
129 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I think 10pm would be fine. We only had a few hours of ‘reception’ too…ours was

Day before – set up arch, chairs, tables, rearrange all other furniture, cook food, set up candles and decorations, and my friends put up balloons (I’m allergic). The florist set up our flowers the night before. We also got manicures and pedicures.

Day of –

9am – Went to the venue and let the baker in, she set up the cake and finished decorating the last bits

(From 9am until 1:30ish, the last minute decorations and food were put out)

2:00 – Ceremony started

2:10 – Pictures

2:45 – Open bar, buffet-style dinner. We opened gifts per guests’ requests – many on his side live out of state and haven’t seen him in years, so they never get to watch him open gifts. This was our ‘reception’…we had everything packed up and the venue was as good as new by 6pm.


We didn’t do the bouquet toss, garter toss, first dance, father daughter dance, etc…so that cut down on our time by some.



Post # 14
74 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

I think it totally depends what region you are from. Before I came to this forum, I have never heard of a wedding ending before 1am. And almost everyone stays that late, even the older people! Our reception will be going until 2am. What is common in your region? Unless ending at 10pm is really common in your social circle, I think that is too early for a Friday or Saturday night reception.  

My friend recently told me that he is travelling to a wedding far away and found out that it is only from 6-10pm. He was completely shocked (enough so that he told all of our friends about it) and a bit upset that he was travelling so far for only 4 hours of celebration. He is still going to go to support the couple but he definitely does not seem to be a fan of their timeline!

Post # 15
1023 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Typically the ceremony is 30 minutes or an hour (depends on the type of ceremony your having).  The cocktail hour is an hour and the reception is four hours. 

I would suggest having the ceremony start at 6.  Cocktail hour 6:30 – 7:30 and the Reception from 7:30 – 11:30.


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