Yeah Weddings
wedding reception length

How Long is a Wedding Reception? Average Wedding Reception Length

Before you can start creating a schedule for your wedding, you might have a few questions about the expectations behind hosting a wedding reception. How long does a wedding reception last? How exactly should I plan my wedding day itinerary?

In the whirlwind of trying to figure out your guest list or what to choose as your wedding centerpiece, you might be lost with trying to create a wedding itinerary, but it shouldn’t be completely forgotten.

Mapping out your romantic occasion through some kind of wedding reception schedule will definitely ease your anxiety and ensures that you’ll have an unforgettable experience when the special day finally arrives.

What should I do if I want a longer ceremony and reception than initially planned? Can I hold an after party if I want to keep celebrating through the night? Look no further to have your questions answered!

How Long Do Wedding Receptions Last?

wedding and ceremony

The average wedding reception lasts between 4 and 6 hours, but ultimately the length of your reception is up to you, your budget, and your venue.

If you’re looking at a pre-created wedding reception schedule because you’re not sure where to begin in the planning process, know that you’re not alone in your confusion. However, don’t feel obligated to follow them completely. Every wedding is unique in its own way so feel free to modify the order of events to fit the nature of your ceremony instead.

When eventually creating your own wedding itinerary, your list of events should ideally be happening between 5 to 6 hours and most venues already offer packages within that amount of time. 

How Should I Plan My Wedding Itinerary?

Creating your own reception timeline truly comes down the specific wants of you and your partner. Plan for a shorter ceremony if you want a longer reception that allows for more drinks and dancing. Make sure to consider the transportation time between your ceremony and reception if the events are happening in two different places.

reception after wedding
Give yourself some wiggle room when figuring out your wedding reception schedule. Too strict of a reception timeline might heighten your anxiety and lessen your enjoyment of this special day if some parts of the day last longer than expected and vice versa.

Make sure to leave enough time for cleaning up if the venue doesn’t provide a crew in their package.

Expect your guests to arrive half an hour after their invited time, whether that has to do with transportation delays or general tardiness.

Anything less than the time range of 5 to 6 hours creates a rushed atmosphere that would negatively impact how you feel about your ceremony and reception. Too much longer might feel dragged out and bore your guests unless you’ve supplied adequate entertainment. 

How Can I Host a Longer Reception Than Originally Planned? 

Anything longer than planned for your wedding day itinerary means extending your contracted time with the venue’s staff and your own hired help. Expect to go beyond your intended expenses when making this decision.

Double check with the venue to fully know their expectations and make sure that extensions are even possible, especially at the last minute. 

reception after wedding

If your venue has a cut off time for music due to their own policies or local laws, consider hosting your ceremony and reception earlier in the day so you feel as if you’ve had an adequate amount of time for celebrating. Indoor venues tend to be more generous since they can contain the noise.

Be careful with allowing more time especially if your venue has an open bar too. You might end up with too many intoxicated guests and other kinds of drama that you weren’t initially anticipating when creating your wedding itinerary.

Consider not serving any alcoholic beverages an hour before the reception ends so guests have an adequate amount of time to sober up. Provide your guests with transportation options if they are too intoxicated to drive.

How Can I Keep Celebrating Even After the Reception is Over?

reception after wedding

Having your wedding itinerary pass into midnight might sound like the perfect idea if you’re a night owl, but you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew. You won’t be able to find much time throughout your special day to rest and might find yourself exhausted much earlier than expected.

If you still feel energized by the end of the night, just remember that your guests might be feeling tired and could leave the reception before it actually ends. Your after party of fewer guests should consider going to a nearby lounge or bar, whether at the venue or not. Ask to sneak away to somebody’s hotel room, but don’t offer your own for the sake of needing somewhere to rest. 

Final Thoughts

reception timeline

If you’re feeling unsure about how your reception timeline is going, reach out to your friends for their advice to ensure that your special day will definitely be memorable. Asking the wedding venue might be helpful as well!

Let us know in the comments if you’re further along with planning a wedding reception and if you have any advice for others who are in the early stages of making their wedding itinerary.

This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

Lauren Peterson

Add comment