Louisiana-New Orleans

3 or 4 hour reception?

Hi Ladies!
Is 3 hours long enough for a reception or do I need to do 4 hours? Getting married at 3pm at the Cathedral with my reception at a hotel on Canal Street starting at 4:30pm (after 2nd line). What do you all think? Should I end the reception at 8pm or 8:30pm?
Thanks for your advice, fellow Knotties!!

Re: 3 or 4 hour reception?

  • edited December 2011
    I have the same timeline as you (Cathedral at 3:00, 2nd line to reception which starts at 4:30) and I have been having the same debate about adding an extra hour to the 3 hr reception. My wedding planner informed me that 3 hours is standard in NOLA, but all of my guests are OOT and that may seem short to them (and me). She also suggested that I keep in mind that since this is a DW, most of my guests will want the opportunity to go out after the reception. I agree with that, but I think ending it at 8:30 still gives everyone plenty of time to do that. My fear is that 3 hours is not going to be enough time to do everything I want at the reception and have plenty of time for me & FH to really dance and have fun. I should note that we are not doing the "reception" style (that is unfamiliar to us and our guests will be perplexed with not having a seat/table for everyone), so some of the initial time will be spent with them finding their seats. So....at the end of the day, and much debating, I think we have decided to go with 4 hours. HTH and I'd be interested to know what you decide and why (I'm still stressing about this. :)
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  • edited December 2011
    We went with a three hour reception and it went by WAY TOO FAST!!  My mom tried to buy an extra hour at the end of the night!  I would go with the four hour.  It gives you enough time for the tosses, cake, visiting with people, etc.  You will have more time for dancing and eating and actually enjoying your reception!
  • RYLZRYLZ member
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Where I live (NYC) and where I'm from (Canada) receptions are typically 5-6 hours and include a sit down plated dinner (and some times in addition to hour long cocktails)

    About an hour is taken up by finding assigned seats, intro of the bridal party and parents and bridal party, toasts, and the first dance. Dinner (4 courses), cake-cutting, bouquet and garter toss probably eat up another 45 minutes. That would leave me almost no dance/party time if I only had 3 hours total!

    Our ceremony is at 4, 2nd line, then cocktail hour at 5:30, reception from 6:30 to 11:30 with the possibility that we'll go to midnight. Going out after the wedding is not so common in our circle (in fact they'd find it down right odd) but stretching the reception out if the dance floor is still packed is. My particular OOT guests would likely feel jilted for coming so far for a three hour affair! They'd expect a solid 2-3 hours of party time with an open bar and dance floor, and no "wedding stuff".

    I'd go with whatever is common in your circle and feels right for you.
  • edited December 2011
    Our wedding planner said she always advises adding the 4th hour and that's what we're doing.  I think 3 hours would go by too quickly.
  • meganb1977meganb1977 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I'd say it depends how many guests you are having and whether you are planning on an after party.  Is there any way your venue could be flexible and your mother could slip them an additional payment to keep the party going a little longer if you want?

    Also, assuming you're having a cocktail reception and not a plated dinner, 7:00 would give your guests a better chance to go out for dinner afterwards if they are still hungry.  8:00 might be a tad late for that.
    Whoever said it was supposed to be happily ever after is a big fat liar.
  • edited December 2011
    Do 4, that's what we are doing. Especially if you're late for some reason or another... that way you don't have the whole thing zip by too fast if you were 30 min late due to stuck in traffic, rain, whatever.
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  • edited December 2011
    The venue is fine with us staying as long as we'd like, but I need to figure out how long to hire the band. I'm thinking 4:30 to 8:30pm or have the band play 5pm-9pm. 9pm might be too late, though. We're having a heavy cocktail reception and no after party. We're thinking people will want to go out in the quarter or hang in the hotel bar after.
  • edited December 2011
    One of the bands we're looking at (Karma) can only play until 8pm but I'm concerned that it'll all go by too quickly with out that extra 1/2 hour at the end.
  • phunluvin82phunluvin82 member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    I did 4 hours and had to pay extra for the last hour, but I would do it again for sure.  Even at 4 hours, I feel like it went by sooooooo FAST! 

    That being said, I think it can depend on the size of your wedding also.  We had almost 200.  I would have less of an issue having a shorter reception at a much smaller wedding.  You'd still have enough time to hang out with everyone if you had a 3 hour reception with say 75 people...but with 175...not so much.

    I don't think it would be the end of the world if you had an ipod type set up at the end if the band couldn't play longer.  We actually had about 20 minutes at the end of ours after the band was done playing (b/c of a curfew on outside live music @ our venue) and it was not an issue for us.  People kept dancing to the recorded music...and it actually gave everyone an indication that it was wrapping up so they started coming around to say goodnight and planning places to go after and stuff, so it was fine.
  • zoopsiedaisyzoopsiedaisy member
    100 Comments
    edited December 2011
    4 hours!!  We had a 3 hour reception and were begging to add a fourth, but were unable to.  Our reception ended at 11:00 and many of our guests went out after without complaint!
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  • edited December 2011
    We're inviting about 400 so I'm guessing that  around 200 will actually come, but everyone we talk to says they're coming so, who knows! Either way,  it'll be big!
     
  • fatgirlboofatgirlboo member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Definitely add the 4th hour. We had a cocktail hour, then the 3 hour reception, followed by the 2nd line at the end out to Bourbon street. It still seems too short.
  • edited December 2011
    We did a 6 hour reception, mainly because we had an early ceremony (1pm), so we did cocktails from 3:30 to 5:30, then early dinner 5:30 to 7:30 and two hours of dancing 7:30 to 9:30.  Then we told our guests we would meet for drinks in the FQ for those still wanting to party (most of the younger guests).  It sounds really long, but the day flew by!!  Our cocktail hour seriously felt like 5 minutes to me.  And at 9:30 when the band stopped playing, the dance floor was full and everyone wanted to keep going - if we had added two more hours I think people would have stayed. So I would definitely suggest going for as long a reception as you can get!   If you can't add extra hours, maybe agree on an after-party venue and meet up with people there.  


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