top of page

How long should your wedding reception be?

Updated: May 23

How long should a wedding reception be.
Time to grab a drink (and each other) - Image: Lee Allen Photos

Probably the number one question I get asked is how long a wedding reception should be, and the answer? Not very! People often over-allow for that gap between exchanging I-do’s and tucking into dinner, so below I’ve popped together 3 things to think about when factoring it into your timeline...

1. Factor in snaps

Definitely one to discuss in detail with your photographer (and also influenced by how formal your wedding is) think about how long it’s REALLY going to take to get those family portraits done. Gathering guests who have access to champagne is like herding cats, so make sure you’ve got someone on-hand with a clear shot-list and a booming voice, but also remember to keep it short and sweet. 10 key portraits is plenty and will mean your guests aren’t stood around for 3 hours whilst you attempt to retrieve uncle Tim from the toilets for the 50th time.

2. Consider your canapés

How big are they? How many are you serving? How quickly are they coming out? All essential questions to ask your caterer as you plan for the reception. Early afternoon weddings are great, other than the fact that all too often a 1pm start time means your guests have Not. Had. Lunch. Combine this with an emotional ceremony, excitable giddiness and a glass of prosecco and you need to get something in there quickly to stop it turning into a rave at 4 in the afternoon. The standard allowance is 2-3, but if you’re wanting to elongate your reception a little then it’s worth upping the canapé count to keep everyone happy (and vaguely sober).

wedding timeline planning
Never underestimate the power of a good canapé! Image - Ellie Gillard Photography

3. Take time for you

Yes, YOU! It is your wedding after all, and you’d be shocked at how many couples I work with who haven’t even given themselves a second thought (you’re in there with them, aren’t you…). Setting aside 20 minutes during your reception where you aren’t shooting or mingling will give you both a chance to regroup, reflect on the ceremony and bask in each other’s glory before heading back out for round two. Plus, it means you can disappear with a tray of canapes without anyone stealing them – you’ll be starving, trust me!

The main thing to remember is you don’t HAVE to fill your reception with bags of activities and entertainment, instead it really is just a bit of breathing space between ceremony and dinner. Take some time out, keep the photos simple and make sure everyone has had a few snacks along the way to guarantee a perfectly-timed and smooth-running reception.

Love, Kate x

bottom of page