Many things go into deciding how long your wedding should be. But everything narrows down to culture, preference and guest availability.
For instance, some Indian celebrations take 12 hours or more, while Irish weddings are usually stretched to 9 hours.
But most times, weddings don’t last this long.
See Also: Wedding Reception Planning Checklist
But, Is 6 Hours Too Long for a Wedding Reception?
No. Not exactly. Most wedding receptions last between 4-6 hours, and even most wedding venues offer schedules for these hours.
Ideally, your reception should not be shorter than 4 hours unless you plan on moving to a secondary location. But traditionally, 5 hours is the average time for most receptions.
How Long Should a Wedding Reception Take?
There is no standard time for how long a reception should last.
But as said earlier, four to six hours is the average time. It may be more or less depending on the individuals. Remember that different factors come into play when deciding the reception time.
These factors may either add up or reduce this average time. For instance, if your venue only allows three hours, you may have to stick to this timeline or find a secondary location if the budget allows.
Some venues, however, don’t set a strict end time.
Therefore, the couple and guests can party until late. Generally, the time your venue sets depends on whether they’re booked the next day, their cleaning schedule and noise restrictions in that area.
Please remember that some venues are stricter than others. If your venue is relaxed, you can request to assess the place several days before your wedding.
That will let you arrange furniture, set up big electronic equipment and bring décor.
That way, you can save on the rental fee since you will reduce the time you spend in the space during the wedding reception.
What Happens During the Wedding Reception?
The length of time your reception will take depends on the events that will take place. If you have too many activities, expect to spend more time in the venue, which means more money.
But note that there isn’t a standard itinerary on what should happen during the reception. So it is on you to choose the traditions to include and those to ignore.
Let us look at some of the main events that take place in most wedding receptions:
Introduction and First Dance
These usually last 20-30 minutes. Please talk to your MC to limit the amount of time individuals spend on this activity.
Introductions should be limited to you and your spouse.
Sometimes the bridal party gets carried away at this time. So, be careful to limit how much each person takes.
Don’t be afraid to remind the wedding party of this. Remember that it is your day, and you have every right.
Also, you will need to allow more time if your wedding party has a choreographed routine they plan to perform.
If your reception is in the evening, dinner is the main event and takes the longest time.
So, when planning your itinerary, please allocate this session more time. Besides eating, this event will also include other activities. It usually lasts around 1-21/2 hours.
While food is integral at this point, it is not the most crucial part of the dinner service. The most important are the speeches, toasts and ceremonial pomp.
Toasts usually happen once everyone gets their food.
Often, the maid of honor, the best man, and the bride’s father give the toast in this order.
Please note that toasts are not speeches. So, you don’t need an overly eloquent person or long speeches to make a toast to the newlyweds.
The people speaking should not deviate from the most important people of the day: the bride and groom.
It’s not necessary to give the couple’s background, especially when each person sharing the toast says it.
All your guests know the person speaking and why they are there to speak.
Therefore, there is no need for the person to give the toast to remind them.
After the speeches and dinner, it is now time for dancing.
If you already did your first dance, there is no need to repeat it. But, if you didn’t, you can have it here.
The DJ will open the floor and offer a general invitation to anyone who wants.
Most people will choose traditional dances like father and daughter, mother and son, etc. including such dances before everyone else gets to the floor will encourage people to hit the dancefloor.
Remember that most people are shy about doing something as the first ones. So, your guests may not feel comfortable until you show them the way.
The dancing should be limited to 1 ½ to 2 1/2/ hours.
An hour is way too short for dancing.
But anything past two hours is also tiresome to you and your guests. It’s better to leave your guests wanting more than have them tired and bored.
Most venues have a 10 p.m. curfew, and some close way earlier. 10 p.m. is usually enough for most couples. But some want to go past this point.
That is why after-parties are becoming a norm.
If you plan an after-party, inform the bar or club of your intentions.
Some places may even offer discounts depending on the guests you bring.
But please don’t stay up too late. You only have one wedding night, and it’s wise to spend it with your spouse.
Drawbacks of a Long Reception
Some couples decide to have their reception for more than seven hours.
But while this has some perks, a long reception can also turn out boring.
If you are serving alcohol, the longer your guests are served a drink, the more they will be unable to function optimally.
So, it means that you or someone else will need to carry the burden of ensuring they get home safely.
Additionally, those who work at the reception also get inconvenienced by long reception.
Remember they have to clean the space, get home and rest before starting the next day. So, the longer your stay is, the more you keep them waiting.
Also, a long reception will up your cost. You want to keep this in mind if your budget is limited.
You can choose a second venue for the guests who want to continue with the party.
But make sure you inform the venue ahead of time so that they plan for the crowd.
A 6-hour reception is not too long. But anything past this point may be considered long.
If you are unsure about the timeline to use, consult your friends and family for advice.
You can also ask the wedding venue as some may have strict limitations on time.