How long was your wedding? Including: Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, & Reception

posted 8 months ago in Reception
Post # 2
5563 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: July 2018

Our ceremony will be at 2pm and the reception will finish at midnight. 

I personally wouldn’t expect dancing if a wedding ended at 9pm. 

Post # 3
1716 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

It seems super short to me but I’m used to longer weddings. I don’t think people will dance if it’s endjng so early.

Our ceremony was at 5 and we had the venue till 2 AM. 

Post # 4
705 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2018 - UK

Our ceremony was 1pm, meal at 3pm, reception from 6:30pm til midnight with the evening food at about 8:30pm. We’re in the UK though, so I know our weddings tend to last longer in general…

3.5 hours does seem quite short for the reception, I think I’d go with the extra time if you’re able to budget for it

Post # 5
359 posts
Helper bee

I see our wedding being super short and sweet. Also because it will be outside in the blazing heat but also a small affair. Only inviting like 75 ppl and assuming only 50 if that will show. 

We plan on having karaoke/dj and lots of activities and booze/food. There will also be a pool. But I think the heat and people having little ones might shut things down sooner than later.

I’m assuming 4-5 hours for whole event. And lately, with the weddings I have attended and or been in, that is pushing it. They have gotten shorter and shorter regardless of atmosphere or entertainment/alcohol.

Post # 7
2495 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

Ceremony was at 4pm and reception went till 1am.

Post # 8
1211 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

We had our ceremony (full Catholic mass) at a different location from the reception at 4, cocktail hour 6-7, reception 7-midnight. 

Post # 9
441 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2018

This was my exact time line! Ceremony started at 4 and reception ended at 9pm with a cocktail hour inbetween the two. We could have gotten pictures done on site before hand if we wanted, however, we didn’t do a first look. So they just delivered lunch to me and my friends and also to my husband and his friends. My wedding was very small (30 people) I was also concerned about this not being enough time, but also didn’t want to purchase the extra hours! This was more than enough time, and I was so happy it ended when it did 🙂 


ETA: I wouldn’t expect a dance party though if it was to end at 9! we mostly mingled, ate, and me and my husband played a newlywed game that everyone seemed to have fun with!

Post # 10
3446 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2017 - City, State

It depends on the vibe and how many guests you’re having. I had a small wedding and the whole thing lasted 4 hours from start to finish. We had plenty of time for photos, but we also weren’t taking photos of 40+ family members or anything so it went quick. We even got to sit down and enjoy cocktail hour with the guests. Our photos took maybe 30 minutes after the ceremony, but we didn’t want a lot of posed/portrait style shots either.

We did go out to a pub after the wedding for the dancing bit, so if you include that as part of the wedding (which I don’t as it was a “come if you feel like it” sort of deal) it was 8 hours in total. 

Post # 11
6600 posts
Bee Keeper

Ceremony 4pm and ended at midnight. We moved the party inside after that, but the reception was technically over. 

We also did first look and some pics prior, but mostly because we wanted to mingle with our guests at cocktail hour! 

Post # 13
2758 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

Our ceremony started at 3:30pm and our reception ended at 1am. I’m pretty sure the party/dancing didn’t even start until around 9pm (dinner served at 6:30, also taking into account speeches, cake cutting and first dance). 

Post # 14
12119 posts
Sugar Beekeeper

People will dance. That’s ridiculous. 

This is only about 1/2 hour shorter than virtually all of the typical evening weddings at the venues in my area, ie five hours from cocktail hour to end time. With the exception of any after party for closest friends, guests where I live typically would not stay any longer than that. Four and a half hours including cocktail hour is actually plenty of time to do it all, though five gives a more generous timeline and a little more time for dancing. 

From a practical POV, it would be better to do a first look and family, couple photos and any portrait photos  ahead of time. The walk down the aisle can be every bit as special. Making the reception longer wouldn’t really solve the problem of missing out and you risk people leaving after five hours or less since that’s already a very long day. And gaps are not considerate to your guests. 

Of course everything is relative. How long is the typical reception where you live? 

Post # 15
238 posts
Helper bee

We had our ceremony at 4pm, cocktail hour 4:30-5:30pm and the reception went until 10pm. Then we had an after party on site 10pm-12am. That seems to work out great for us. Most weddings around here end at 10pm because of the noise ordiances. 

We did do our pictures before hand but I didn’t want to miss cocktail hour regardless

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