How long is a Wedding Reception?

February 25, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

How Long Should my Wedding Reception Be?

Your wedding plans coming together? You don't know how long to plan a reception. You have met with a few vendors. Have they asked you how long do you want your reception? You may not have met with any reception vendors yet. But, you know that you will need that number.


How many hours is a wedding reception?

Short and simple; anywhere from 3 - 5 hours. But!!! Don't go booking your reception for that number. You need to calculate more than only your party. Remember you need set up, and tear down. Those numbers vary on who is doing that task, and how much decor you have.


Is that too long, or not long enough?

Break it down for a simple look:


40 minuets for photographs

- Guests eat Hour 'dourves

- Guests get drinks

- Guests get warm/cool

- Family & Bridal Party photographs


15 minuets for grand entrance and


1 hour for dinner

- some times you can crunch your own dinner in 30 minuets

- you can start thanking guests for coming


15 minuets for toasts & speeches

- Maid of Honor, Best Man, Parents


20 minuets for first dances

- Couple, Father(s)-Daughter(s), Mother(s)-Son(s)

- About 5 minuets per dance


10 minuets for Garter & Bouquet tosses


10 minuets for couple shoe game (or other party dances)


10 minuets for cake cutting/ enjoying a piece


10 minuets for guests to get a piece


1 - 2 hour for extra dancing


Total hours for the reception celebration example is 4 - 5 hours.

Including set up and tear down, that is 6 - 7 hours needed to rent a reception location.


This is no exaggeration in this quick list.

As a photographer I find this to be quite accurate.

I have had first hand experience that you can crunch this in less time. Trust me. You won't have time to breath if you go any shorter.


Hope this helped. I know every wedding is different. Yours could be longer or shorter. This is a great way to compare and see how many hours you need your reception venue.


My Own Experience:

I was a dumb dumb. I booked the wedding reception hall and included the outdoor ceremony time. I didn't think about tear down time. When the party was over, my husband and I were ready to leave. Well, since I didn't schedule right, we had to stay and clean up. That was a big bite in the butt. We had a 6am flight, and we didn't finish cleaning till 11pm, and we were an hour drive from our home.

It was terrible! We thankfully slept the entire flight


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