(Closed) Reception length?

posted 11 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
1074 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I think the average is 4 hrs, not including cocktail

Post # 4
5822 posts
Bee Keeper

Our reception was four hours, and I still felt it was really really rushed!  I think five hourse?

Post # 5
605 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2010 - Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

i’m no expert, but i think the buffet dinner might take longer than an hour–people moving around, talking, getting up for seconds, you and your spouse making the rounds, etc. r people may want to dance for longer (assuming that it might take as much as 30 minutes for people to warm up and get comfortable dancing). 

the weddingbee wiki (on the bottom right of the weddinbee page) has a an entry about wedding day timelines that include reception timelines, and links to past bees’ posts about their day of timelines:


hope this is helpful!

Post # 6
6593 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2010

Ours is going to be 6 hours not including cocktail hour. But we want to have a lot of dancing and partying so it really depends what you are going for. I would be disappointed with just an hour of dancing. Especially if you are going to toss the bouquet and garter too!

Also I think an hour is a bit short for the buffet also!

Post # 7
1465 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

You’ll only be dancing for 1 hr? That sounds short. Usually folks have at least 3 hrs for dancing. If the reception is over at 11, then an 8pm dinner seems late. If they’re enjoying themselves, then guests won’t want to leave.

That said, there is no right or wrong as for the length since it’s totally up to you. I’ve been to cake and punch receptions that lasted 3 hrs max and dinner and dancing receptions that lasted over 8 hrs, and in both cases, guests felt that was short, at least from what they said to each other.

As for the buffet dinner, how big is your guest list? A larger guest count will make the timeframe longer. But I’ve seen buffets that lasted for an hour with no problem. Talk to your caterer and see what they normally allow for.

Post # 9
198 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

Ours is five with the cocktail hour. I’m not sure if that’s normal though.

Post # 10
3282 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2009

Your edit sounds just about right! 

Post # 12
1465 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

The weddings I’ve been to (nearly all that served dinner were buffets) had the food left out while the next event was starting. However, to ensure food safety, the caterers have to pick it up after being out for a total of 4 hrs. Depending on the caterer, they may let you take home leftovers, in which case those can be set out at the very end to reheat at home. Not every caterer allows that though.

Post # 14
7774 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

We’re doing 5 hours w/ 1 hr cocktail hour.

Post # 15
1336 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

We’re doing 6 1/2 hours, 5:30pm-12am, first hour will be cocktail. 

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