(Closed) I'm afraid my reception is too short! Help me maximize the time, please!

posted 4 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
11760 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Ours was 7-11 and it went by QUICK! But, I think getting the pictures out of the way before hand definitely helped. I think even if you had a 10 hour reception it would feel like it flew by! By the time we ate and started making rounds (we made it to 4 tables), there was only an hour left, so I said F- that, I’m goign to dance!

I think your timeline looks great, but be prepared for things to go over time.  You can plan to a point, but on the day of just be prepared to go with the flow.  Enjoy EVERY second.  While it’s nice to make your rounds, it’s more important you enjoy your day. People understand you are busy and trying to juggle everything and everyone and still have fun.  I was so worried our parents (or guests) would be upset we didn’t get to every table, but our parents were totally on our side about it.  

Post # 5
11274 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

Establishing and adhering to your timeline is extremely important. Because my venue prided itself on having staff to oversee this, I didn’t give it a thought on the day of my wedding. I knew (or so I thought) that the staff would keep my wedding on track.

Unfortunately, there were so many assumptions built into that  assumption, and I had no idea what truly awaited me on the day of my wedding.

Because of extremely heavy holiday-weekend traffic, traffic accidents, and the fact that, even without traffic, my venue was 1.5 hours from the salon where I had my hair and make up done, it took me two hours to reach the venue, and there wasn’t time for many of the pics I had wanted to have taken prior to the ceremony. 

My ceremony began on time at 6 p.m. and went until 7:10. By 7:45, we were outside having posed bride and groom pics, and by 9 p.m. (I only know this time now from seeing it on DH’s watch in the pro pics) we were finally seated at our sweetheart table at the reception.

DH and I DID get to eat, and, after dinner I went upstairs to get out of my dress (again) to use the rest room.  By the time some of my bridemaids had put me back into my dress and I was having my lipstick touched up prior to having family pictures taken, the person from the venue and my photographer came to find me to tell me that it was 10 p.m, (WHAT?!?!) and that I only had an hour  left of my reception (WHAT?!?!?).  Keep in mind that all we had done so far was to have introductions, our first dance, the toasts, and dinner.

I was completely shocked and could barely comprehend what they were telling me. I had less than an hour for DH and I to dance with our respective parents, cut our cake, and have pics taken with our family. This ultimately left no time for me to even greet our guests. I was devastated that all of these people — many from out of state, including some I had not seen in decades —  were in the same place at the same time to celebrate with me and to meet my DH, and I could not even spend any time visiting with them or dancing with them, or even introducing them to my husband.

I could think of little else on our honeymoon. I cried often and was so upset because of it. It took me nine months to recover from my obsession with going back in my mind trying to find a way to re-do a timeline that there was no possible way I could now change. It honestly was one of the most significant disappointments in my life.

Post # 7
11284 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2012

@LilDrAnya:  my only concern for your timeline would be rushing 15-17 tables through a buffet and allowing them to eat within an hour.  unless you have a double sided buffet, (cut the waiting time in half) i’m afraid not all of your guests will have proper time to eat dinner.

Post # 8
11274 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009


Unfortunately, no. My guests stayed in the area near our venue, but DH and I left immediately after the reception for our departure city an hour and a half away. I saw no one either before or after the wedding. My parents were able to spend time with out of town family, and DH’s parents were able to spend time with their out of town family, and DH stayed at the hotel near the venue the night prior to the wedding, so he was able to visit with some guests the night before the wedding. Because I stayed in my city the night before the wedding so that I could finish packing for my honeymoon and go to the salon there, I didn’t have that opportunity. I am thankful that time has helped to heal this situation. However, I still wish I could go back and do some things differently.

Post # 9
167 posts
Blushing bee

Normally I would allow an hour for a sit down dinner so I would add on about 20mins to give your guests time to actually get their food. I’d also allow 30mins for dessert – remember you still have to cut it, get a photo taken, cut it up into pieces for all your guests and serve it/have your guests collect it to eat. 


Post # 11
593 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2013

I think your reception is plenty long enough.. especially if you aren’t huge into dancing. I know some bee’s think a timeline is SUPER important to stick to and while I made one, we did not stick to it.. I mean the general order went the same but things flowed different.. Ours was like this:

4:30-5 Ceremony

5-6 Family and Couple Pictures while other guests enjoyed drinks and hors’dourves

6-6:30 Formal Entrance, my husband and I then went straight into our first dance followed by dad/daughter dance

6:30-7:30 Dinner Buffet.. They called them by table so the early tables were done by like 7 but they were fine just chatting. During this time we spent about 10 minutes eating and then went around and talked to each table. We had 14 tables with 8 guest at each table and we made it a point to talk to everyone, even if it was just a hello. We were done by 7:30.

7:30-8:30 Our guests started hitting up the dance floor, we were however getting pictures with our guests, the candy buffet opened

8:30- 9 Cake cutting (took like 5 minutes) then handing out cake, people continued to dance though except for when we were actually cutting back

9-10 Dancing continued, people continued at candy buffet, etc. 

10 Bubble Exit

Post # 12
231 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

Your timeline is somewhat similar to mine and everything went just fine for us!  We had a 7-7:30 pm ceremony, followed by a cocktail hour and plated dinner for 100, and we still had time for 2+ hours of dancing at the end. 

My one piece of advice is to talk through the timeline with your venue contact to make sure they are on board.  For example, our venue had us move up the cake cutting (which you may want to do as well), since they needed more time to cut it up before it could be served.  We were able to stick to our timeline in large part because we worked together with our venue to create a schedule that worked for the kitchen and the servers.  Depending on what the venue says about how long they estimate it will take to move your guests through the buffet and dinner, you may even be able to move your toasts up so you can get to dessert and dancing sooner.

Another thing you might want to consider is switching up the order of the dancing.  We initially had the same dance schedule as you, but on our DJ’s suggestion, we did the first dance and parent dances at the beginning, and then did the Hora after dinner.  This meant that people went to their tables and ate at the beginning, rather than everyone getting fired up with dancing and then being told to sit back down. When the dance floor “opened” after dinner, we had a couple slower dances, and then went into the Hora.  It was great because it got everyone on the dance floor, where they stayed for the rest of the night.  Just something to think about 🙂  Good luck and enjoy your wedding!

Post # 14
1480 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013 - Creek club at ion, SC

tagggin myself in

Post # 15
9956 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

As an Encore Bride… so someone who has been thru the process twice… I will tell you that altho your Wedding Day will be one of the most memorable of your entire life (only outranked by the Birth of Children IMO)

It will also be one of the shortest days ever !!

It frickin flies by…

One minute it is 10 AM and you are getting your hair done… next everyone is rushing around for Pre Wedding Ceremony Pics… then you are at the alter… the Reception having a Dinner you barely get to eat… Cutting Cake, and First Dance

And then poof, like it is over !!  And you find yourself alone with your Hubby as you make your way to your Wedding Night / Honeymoon Destination !!

Lol, probably WHY soooo many couples say they find themselves at the end of the day exhausted, yet too geared up to sleep… so they sit up and talk, sip champagne or eat… into the wee hours **

IF ONLY there was a way… to slllllow it all down.

My Best Advice is try to stay in the moment… savour each and every element (block everyone else out as much as you can)

Your Timeline is probably do-able… but it is super-tight for sure.

You’ll really need someone to help you keep it all on track (those little time reminders that another Bee mentioned) as you yourself will have absolutely NO SENSE OF TIME

Hope this helps,

PS… And my second best bit of advice… don’t have an early AM flight or need to be anywhere the morning after (Day # 1).  Better yet if you can sleep in a bit.  Mr TTR & I enjoyed a Late Check Out… and a leisurely drive to our Departure City… and the amenities of our “Airport Hotel” before flying off the following day (Day # 2).  BEST IDEA EVER.


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