Here’s a great article that talks about the potential pitfalls of an overly-long reception.
Aside from the reasons mentioned, there are other reasons a reception shouldn’t go too long.
Every couple wants their wedding to be memorable, but we have to be sure the celebration is memorable for all the right reasons.
A professional DJ/MC will work with you to plan a timeline and an event flow that has a very distinct beginning, middle, and END that is memorable and powerful for as many of your guests as possible. A powerful, high-energy ending can’t be had if many or most of your guests have already decided to pack it in for the night.
Think about it… Do you want your guests to leave tired and sweaty on a high note, wanting more after a high energy ending, or do you want folks to trickle out over time, letting everything end with a fizzle?
When you think about it that way, partying “all through the night” at your reception might not sound as appealing as it once did.
Most local venues sell packages that go until 11pm or 12am. Because we’re making such a huge investment in the venue itself, there’s a huge temptation to use it all and try to keep the party going until the very last minute “because we paid for it.” But planning to end a bit earlier – an hour for example – can make all the difference in the world.
It’ll let your friends and family who have to help you clean up get done a bit sooner, and hey… It’ll give you a few minutes to change, breathe, and regroup before you have to head out to that AWESOME AFTER PARTY you’ve got scheduled!
How much is “long enough?”
Four hours is the optimal length for a wedding reception that includes a cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing. This also allows enough time for the traditional wedding elements like special dances, tosses, etc.
What can make it longer?
There are things that can make having a longer reception nice, ideal, or even necessary.
Certain ethnic and religious celebrations typically have longer wedding ceremonies and receptions that are structured differently, and that have different elements.
Other things that can make having 5 or even 6 hours necessary might include having a larger guest list – say 200 or more people – that will need to go through buffet service for dinner, and/or dinners that include more than one or two courses. More time will be needed for these situations, and others as well.
What’s the usual?
My clients average 5.5 hours of wedding day coverage for their wedding ceremony and reception.
This includes half-an-hour for Prelude music before the ceremony, half-an-hour for the ceremony itself, and 4 to 4.5 hours for the reception. This is the perfect length for a nicely-paced, smooth-flowing wedding celebration full of awesome memories!