A wedding reception is an exciting event. It follows the wedding service and provides the bride and groom with a chance to relax a little after the ceremony and spend some time interacting with the guests. The reception also provides a way for the bride and groom to thank the guests for coming to the wedding by providing them with food and beverages. As with all parts of a wedding, there is etiquette to bear in mind with regard to wedding reception times, and brides and grooms should plan carefully in order to take the needs of guests into account and to ensure that everyone has the best possible time at the reception.
After the Wedding
- Most brides and grooms plan for the photographs to be taken after the wedding ceremony is over but before the reception begins. The problem that arises, however, is when the photographs take too long and guests are waiting for the reception. The bride and groom should thus plan ahead to prevent the photographs from taking too long, even more so if they plan to have a receiving line to greet their guests. An acceptable time between the ceremony and the reception can be 30 to 45 minutes; when the wait time reaches upwards of an hour guests begin to get frustrated. The bride and groom should also make cocktails or some type of refreshment available during the wait.
Length of Reception
- A standard wedding reception lasts anywhere from three to four hours, so the bride and groom should plan for guests to stay that long. The larger the guest list, however, the longer the potential for the reception to extend in time. There is nothing wrong with guests remaining at the reception after the bride and groom have left, however, so the wedding planners should be prepared to keep the food and beverages available for those who want to stay and continue the party.
Time of Day
- Time of day is a factor to take into account for the length of the wedding reception. A morning wedding will have a shorter reception afterward, largely because guests might have other plans for the day. A wedding that is held in the late afternoon or evening, however, can have a reception that lasts well into the night. The wedding planners should consider the time of day during which the wedding and reception will be held in order to prepare for how long the reception needs to be.
Cutting It Short
- While three to four hours is standard, wedding reception etiquette does allow for shorter receptions, particularly if there is a conflict at the venue. The reception should be at least one hour to one hour and a half, as long as the bride and groom use discretion in indicating time constraints to guests. The main goal, however, is that guests not be made to feel uncomfortable and the bride and groom be sure to welcome everyone and thank them for attending.
- Wedding guests are, of course, encouraged to show up to the reception on time, particularly if the bride and groom plan a receiving line for greeting their guests. Some guests, however, will be unable to make it to the reception on time. Wedding etiquette discourages late guests at the ceremony, but the bride and groom should welcome late guests at the reception, since this is generally a more informal event.
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