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At what point is a wedding too long?

I haven't thought super hard about our timeline yet, because we've booked our venue for 24 hours. Some of the girls on my month's Facebook page were discussing theirs, and I kind of thought their wedding seemed too long. One girl said her ceremony started at 2:30 (with pictures before) and her reception wasn't ending until after midnight. Is that normal?

I feel like if I were a BM and I showed up for getting ready and pictures at noon, I'd be over the whole thing by 8 at the latest. I was really thinking my whole event would be like 5 hours, tops. Like ceremony starting at 5, reception over by 9 or 10, and then I will be ready for maybe going to a bar with our close friends and just getting to our hotel room to snuggle with my new husband. Is that too short? Most of the weddings I've been to have only been about 4 hours or so.

What's the standard here?
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Re: At what point is a wedding too long?

  • The standard in my area is 4 hours for the reception.
  • 4-5 hours.  My venue includes my ceremony and reception time and I'm allotted 5 hours.  The only time I've seen weddings last that long is if there is a time gap between the ceremony and reception.
  • That's pretty normal where I am.  I've never been to a reception that wasn't 8+ hours long.  When mixed with the fact that there are a lot of Catholic couples who have to have church weddings, it's a whole day affair.  An average reception I've been to would have a cocktail hour starting around 4:00, dinner around 5:30, then speeches, and then dancing from 8:00-1:30am or so.

    Frankly, 4 or 5 hours seems really short to me.  Clearly, what you're used to plays into this a lot.
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  • 4-5 hours.  our ceremony was at 3pm.  Our reception was wrapping up around 8:30-9.
  • Our receptions usually last 5/6pm-ish till 12/1ish in the morning, but we have huge gaps up here.  2-4 hours.  Everyone actually goes home to sleep or goes out to eat.  One year we stopped by the casino on the way home and made some cash.  I think mine was the only wedding I've ever attended which didn't have a gap.  We had about 45ish min cocktails while we finished up photos and then we mingled for about 20-30 more before dinner started.  

  • I have my reception space for 5 hours, ceremony & travel will be 30 mins total. 
  • My ceremony was at 6 and my reception ended at 11:30. 

    Generally in my area, ceremonies are from 30 minutes to an hour, then there's cocktail hour, then a 4 hour reception. 



  • Our ceremony will start at 4:30, over by 5:15, reception from 5:30 to probably 8:30 or 9. I know we'll both be ready to head home, love on the dogs, take a shower and go the fuck to sleep.

  • 4-5 hours.  our ceremony was at 3pm.  Our reception was wrapping up around 8:30-9.
    This was ours too.
  • I think it also matters if you're having the wedding and reception at the same venue. We did, and our ceremony started at 7, lasted about 20 minutes, and we did our exit at midnight. If you include people milling into the building to start drinking, it was a 4.5 hour reception.

    If we had people drive from ceremony to reception we may have started the ceremony at 6:30 for travel buffer time.
  • Our ceremony/reception are in the same place and the whole thing (ceremony, cocktail hour and reception) is from 6pm-11:30pm.

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  • harper0813harper0813 member
    First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited June 2013
    Our ceremony and reception are at the same venue. 5 pm until midnight. Venue must be empty by 1 am. I think it's normal for the area - most weddings I've been to, at least, have lasted until midnight or slightly beyond. But there are only a couple dozen people left by 11.

    OP, I agree with you that the sooner the day starts, the sooner I poop out. Noon is pretty early, especially if the reception goes until midnight. Early weddings I've been to (meaning: starting before 3 - I've been to one that started at 11!) always prompt me to leave around 9 or 10, even if I'm just a guest. And every wedding I've been to that early, unfortunately, has had a long gap.
  • In my circle, long receptions (8 hours+) are very common.  Our wedding was at 3:30, with the reception going from 4:00-midnight.  Honestly, in my circle, it would be odd for a wedding to be done before midnight.  I've been to weddings that have lasted from 2:00 pm until 2:00 am.  
  • I feel like the only time a wedding is too long is when there's a gap in between the ceremony and reception.
  • It doesn't matter to me how long it is. I leave when I'm ready to go. 


    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
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  • My pastor's wife said she's been invited to a wedding in August with a ceremony start time of 2 p.m. and a reception start time of 6:30 p.m. I couldn't believe that and told her so. The wedding is in Milwaukee, and she said it's common in that region for BPs to spend about four hours taking pictures (I would not be OK with that at my wedding, and I'm sure my BP wouldn't appreciate it either). She said she and H will probably take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese's or something until it's time to go to the reception.

    Plus, she said the special dances aren't supposed to start until 8.

    Does anyone else think this is weird?
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  • harper0813harper0813 member
    First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited June 2013

    My pastor's wife said she's been invited to a wedding in August with a ceremony start time of 2 p.m. and a reception start time of 6:30 p.m. I couldn't believe that and told her so. The wedding is in Milwaukee, and she said it's common in that region for BPs to spend about four hours taking pictures (I would not be OK with that at my wedding, and I'm sure my BP wouldn't appreciate it either). She said she and H will probably take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese's or something until it's time to go to the reception.

    Plus, she said the special dances aren't supposed to start until 8.

    Does anyone else think this is weird?

    In some circles in Milwaukee, yes, this is common. Most weddings I've attended in Milwaukee have at least 2 and at most 5-hour gaps. And pictures often take a while. I was in a wedding last summer where we spent 2.5 hours taking pictures. I attended another wedding where the party spent 4 hours taking pictures. These have all been Catholic weddings - not saying that it's a Catholic thing, and it could very well be a coincidence. But yeah, that's not unheard of. Lovely, right? I can't wait to see how much my guests enjoy the absence of a gap and the concept of the ceremony and reception taking place at the same venue.
  • itzMSitzMS member
    First Answer First Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment
    My pastor's wife said she's been invited to a wedding in August with a ceremony start time of 2 p.m. and a reception start time of 6:30 p.m. I couldn't believe that and told her so. The wedding is in Milwaukee, and she said it's common in that region for BPs to spend about four hours taking pictures (I would not be OK with that at my wedding, and I'm sure my BP wouldn't appreciate it either). She said she and H will probably take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese's or something until it's time to go to the reception.

    Plus, she said the special dances aren't supposed to start until 8.

    Does anyone else think this is weird?


    I'm from Milwaukee, and I can tell you this isn't common. It is a Catholic area, so gaps sometimes happen. Though I had a Catholic wedding in Milwaukee with no gap...so it's doable. Most bridal parties take pictures during cocktail hour like normal people.

    My wedding went from 11-3:30.

  • My pastor's wife said she's been invited to a wedding in August with a ceremony start time of 2 p.m. and a reception start time of 6:30 p.m. I couldn't believe that and told her so. The wedding is in Milwaukee, and she said it's common in that region for BPs to spend about four hours taking pictures (I would not be OK with that at my wedding, and I'm sure my BP wouldn't appreciate it either). She said she and H will probably take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese's or something until it's time to go to the reception.

    Plus, she said the special dances aren't supposed to start until 8.

    Does anyone else think this is weird?
    FOUR HOURS for pictures?!?!  That sounds exhausting.  The only thing I'd want to do after taking pictures for four hours in a heavy dress would be take a nap.  I would not be in the mood to party.  Plus, that's a really really long time to leave your guests stranded.
    Don't worry guys, I have the Wedding Police AND the Whambulance on speed dial!
  • My pastor's wife said she's been invited to a wedding in August with a ceremony start time of 2 p.m. and a reception start time of 6:30 p.m. I couldn't believe that and told her so. The wedding is in Milwaukee, and she said it's common in that region for BPs to spend about four hours taking pictures (I would not be OK with that at my wedding, and I'm sure my BP wouldn't appreciate it either). She said she and H will probably take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese's or something until it's time to go to the reception.

    Plus, she said the special dances aren't supposed to start until 8.

    Does anyone else think this is weird?
    I'm from Wisconsin, and while I haven't attended any weddings in Milwaukee, I have attended several in the Madison/Milwaukee area.  I've been to a couple of weddings with gaps, but this generally doesn't happen in my circle.  Whether it is common or not, it is still rude to have a gap.
  • Our ceremony was at 4:00, cocktail hour started at 4:45-5:45.  We had our first dance and intros, dinner was served by 6.  We had the venue until midnight and about half our guest list was still there when we closed down at 11:30.  We have a big party crowd so we expected that.  I definitely wouldn't go any longer than 5-6 hours MAX!  I was sooooo ready for bed by 11.

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    June 1, 2013 - finally making it official!

  • My circles must be the clueless ones.
  • 4-5 hours.  our ceremony was at 3pm.  Our reception was wrapping up around 8:30-9.
    This was ours too.
    Yep us too. We did getting-ready pictures, and the photographer wanted hair mostly done before those, plus time before the ceremony for first look and WP pics, so I think we started getting ready around 9 or 10. It was early and made a long day for the WP, but I didn't make anyone get ready with me, and we fed everyone lunch during pics, so I think they forgave us. After the reception we hung out in the hotel lobby and played drinking games until the wee hours. In general I think weddings unofficially end when the booze runs out or the people pass out. Officially, they should end sooner.
    Cheers to the bolded part

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    June 1, 2013 - finally making it official!

  • 5-6 is normal to me. My ceremony started at 6; we did the last dance around 11ish.  Now if you are in the wedding, plan the whole day for hair/makeup, pictures, etc.

    I went to a friends wedding last weekend that started at 2:30- I figured cool I'll be home around 8-- Nope it went until Midnight.  By 10 I was done and left-- the bride was annoyed people were leaving early.
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  • mcda04mcda04 member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    The norm in my family is 8-10 hrs. Mainly because we're Catholic and wedding ceremonies are held between noon and 3pm. Our Mass started at 12:30 and ended at 2. The reception ended at 11:30.  My in laws held an after party for us at their house and lots of people went but H and I were beat, we went home right after the reception.

    Our total guest count at our reception was 145 but only 70 for the ceremony. That's probably why our party ended late; If all of our guests arrived to the ceremony, I'm sure the reception would've ended by 8 or 9.
  • erinlin25 said:
    5-6 is normal to me. My ceremony started at 6; we did the last dance around 11ish.  Now if you are in the wedding, plan the whole day for hair/makeup, pictures, etc.

    I went to a friends wedding last weekend that started at 2:30- I figured cool I'll be home around 8-- Nope it went until Midnight.  By 10 I was done and left-- the bride was annoyed people were leaving early.
    This is annoying.  It's perfectly fine to have a long reception, but you have to understand that not everyone will stay the whole time.  Our reception was 8 hours, and I completely understood when some of our family friends and older family members left earlier in the evening.  

    I also think that if you are going to have a long reception, it's important to know your crowd.  We still had several people dancing up until midnight.  H and I actually ended up driving a few people back to the hotel because they didn't all fit in the shuttle and we didn't want them to have to wait for the shuttle to come back another time.  H's grandma left at 11:30 -- but only so she could hit the casino before heading home! Clearly, we have a crowd that likes to party and is accustomed to late receptions, but this isn't the case with everyone.
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