How Long Do Weddings Last? (Reception and Ceremony)

Planning a wedding can be super stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to make it the perfect day, when all you really want to do is enjoy the special moments with your partner, friends and family. However, it can be important to ensure that everyone has a good time, and everything runs as smoothly as possible. 

This means sticking to a pre-prepared plan, timeline and schedule. We know, sounds like fun, right? Whilst a schedule can seem boring, with so many events as part of a wedding these days, it’s the only way to ensure that it goes well.

You’ve got the actual wedding ceremony, the pictures, the reception, the speeches, the first dance and so much more. So how long should the wedding be? 

How long do weddings last?

Weddings are usually all day affairs. There’s a reason they call it a wedding day, and not a wedding afternoon. Most people will spend the majority of the morning getting prepared and ready, and making their way to the church or venue.

Then, they will get married in the afternoon, before heading to the reception, which typically lasts a few hours or takes the party on into the night! 

If you are planning a traditional wedding, then be prepared to have a full day of activities planned. That being said, some people prefer a small ceremony with just a few witnesses or family members and friends.

In those cases, the wedding can be quick, and just the ceremony which will take an hour or two. It really depends on what type of wedding you and your partner want. 

If you want to get married in city hall, then you will only need about 30-45 minutes to get officially married! However, there are particular timelines for most traditional wedding days. 

How long should a wedding ceremony be?

A wedding ceremony is usually anywhere between 30 minutes and one hour. This depends on the vows, the service, whether there are readings and other parts of the ceremony involved. Typically, a wedding ceremony will not last any more than an hour. 

Once married, the couple will usually head outside the church or venue for some photographs, which can take another hour or so. Most wedding ceremonies are held in the afternoon, with couples getting married from the hours of about 12pm to 5pm.

After this, the newlyweds will lead the way as guests start to head on up to the reception, which can be held at the same place as the ceremony, or in a separate nearby venue. 

How long are wedding receptions normally? 

If you are wondering how long to hire out your reception venue, then we are here to help! Most reception venues have set packages of a certain time limit that you can hold a party there, which can be extremely easy and helpful if you are unsure where to start. 

However, for the most part, most wedding receptions are expected to be about 4-5 hours long. However, some can be upwards of 6 hours, depending on where the reception is held. 

After the wedding ceremony takes place, then most receptions will begin immediately afterwards. At first, there is usually a cocktail hour, where guests can socialize and mingle between one another, enjoying a few drinks and appetizers, talking about how beautiful the bride looked and how romantic the ceremony was!

Then after this hour has passed, the guests will be seated on their allocated tables.

Once everyone has found their place, then the bridal party and the newlywed couple will be announced to the room, and will make their grand entrance. At this point, some newlyweds like to have their first dance, but others choose to do this later on in the evening.

After being announced as the happy couple, they will most likely welcome their guests and thank them for coming to the wedding. After about half an hour, food is generally served to the guests, and everyone is left to enjoy their meals.

Not long after dinner has been served and eaten, most weddings will then move onto the speeches and toasts. The bride and groom may give one, along with the father of the bride, best man or maid of honor. The speeches typically last about 45 minutes. 

Then, it’s time to hit the dance floor, where the bride and groom will have their first dance. Other guests can then join in, and you may have a father and daughter dance, or groom and mother dance. 

After a few moves have been cut on the dance floor, it’s time to cut the cake. Many guests will leave once the cake is cut, so do not do this too early in the evening. After the cake has been cut and served, it’s time to get back on the dance floor, get your groove on and dance the night away! 

About 15 minutes before the end of the reception, there will be a last dance to wrap up the night and make sure everyone gets the message! Finally, the bride and groom will make their grand exit, and all of the wedding guests will send them off with good luck and well wishes! 

What time do weddings normally start?

Weddings generally start at around 1pm. Most people may arrive before the actual wedding ceremony and meet with family or friends and socialize before the actual ceremony begins. If close members of the bridal party or the groom, then they may actually be part of the day from early on in the morning, helping the couple prepare. 

However, the majority of actual wedding ceremonies are held at either 1pm, 2pm or 3pm. Then, the wedding party would move on to the reception, which is generally 4-5 hours, but some can go on for longer, as guests dance and celebrate into the night.