How Long Should My Wedding Reception Last?

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dance floor We often meet with clients that think their wedding reception should last ALL night long. And in some cases, they are right. But more often than not, less is more when in comes to wedding receptions.

Here in Jacksonville, the typical wedding reception lasts between 4 and 5 hours.  There are some factors that will influence your reception length:

  • The type of meal being served. If you are serving a 5-course meal, your dinner will last longer than an hors d'oeuvres reception.
  • How long your cocktail "hour" will last. Many couples have a "cocktail hour" that lasts longer than an actual hour.
  • Your guest list. If most of your guests are from out of town, and are staying at or near the reception venue, they may be more likely to party later.
  • Venue restrictions. There may be sound ordinances you need to comply with, or your venue may have a limit on the number of hours in your rental fee.

Some reasons to end your reception a little earlier include:

  • The send-off. If you'd like to have a grand exit, you'll want to leave before all your guests do.
  • You'll be exhausted. You've spent a year planning every detail of this day, and the butterflies in your stomach may not let you sleep the night before!  Plus, you'll usually be up very early on the wedding day to start hair and makeup.
  • It's easier on the budget. The longer your reception lasts, the longer you will have to pay for food, drinks, and entertainment.

If you'd like a longer reception, consider staging an "after party" in a different space at your venue. Create a unique setting, and have different entertainment. Or, keep the post-reception casual by meeting at a nearby bar. Just be sure everyone has safe transportation home afterward!