How much time for dancing at a wedding reception

How Long Is a Wedding Reception? - Reception Timeline

When all is said and done, your wedding reception will likely be between five and seven hours. Even on the short side of things, a reception should never be shorter than four hours, unless there is a secondary location that everyone has been made aware of.

Traditionally, five hours is a standard amount of time for a reception.

In terms of preparation, your wedding ceremony should be your main focus, but your wedding reception should be your main focus in terms of planning. Lucky for you, Zola is committed to making your planning process easy, so that you have more time to focus on the essential emotional preparations. In the months leading up to your wedding and the reception, you’re preparing for a life-long commitment, but you’re also planning what will undoubtedly be the greatest celebration that you ever attend.

While we can't tell you how to prepare for the commitment of marriage, we can tell you everything you need to know about your reception. One of the most common questions for couples planning their wedding reception is, “How long is a wedding reception?” As most venues charge by the hour, having insight as to the reception's length is critical for your plans.

How Long Is A Typical Wedding Reception?

The average wedding reception lasts between five and seven hours. Even on the short side of things, a reception should never be shorter than four hours, unless there is a secondary location that everyone has been made aware of. Traditionally, five hours is a standard amount of time for a reception.

Wedding Reception Timeline: The Main Events of A Wedding Reception

Every reception is going to have its own character based on the traditions you choose to include or ignore. However, there is a particular outline that most wedding receptions follow, which will give you a good indication of how long your reception will last. To understand the length of your reception, let's take a look at a quick breakdown of the main events of a standard wedding reception.

The Introductions and First Dance

This part of the reception should only take about 20 to 30 minutes tops. The length of this affair will ultimately depend on how extravagant your introductions are. Obviously, if your wedding party has a choreographed dance routine that they intend on performing, that's going to eat up some time.

While we’re all for the fun and creativity of self-expression, we do want to remind you that the introductions are all about you and your spouse. Be careful that you do not let your bridal party get too carried away. This is your moment, don't be afraid to put your foot down and remind your wedding party of that.

When in doubt, keep it classic—the introduction of you and your spouse is exciting enough on its own. While it may feel like you need to add flare, the simple act of hearing your names announced as a married couple will give you enough adrenaline to last the rest of the night.

The Dinner Service

If you’re having an evening reception, dinner service is the staple of the event and, as a result, typically takes up the largest block of time. As dinner service will include activities aside from eating, the dinner portion of your reception will last between one-and-a-half to two hours.

While the food is obviously the centerpiece of this reception event, it’s by no means the most important part of the dinner service. One of the most crucial parts of dinner service is the ceremonial pomp and circumstance of toasts and speeches.

Typically, toasts and speeches happen once everyone has been served their food, or, if you opt for a buffet, once everyone has had a chance to help themselves. It’s a tradition that the maid of honor, best man, and bride's father all give toasts (yes, in that order). Let us be very clear, a toast is not a speech. Too many people make the mistake of believing they need to be grandiose and overly eloquent when making a toast to the bride and groom.

All too often, these toasts become a disjointed exhibition in rambling that is all about the person giving the toast. If there’s one thing to remember about these toasts, it’s this—the toast should be directed toward, and centered around, the newlyweds. Additionally, whether you’re from the bride's side of the aisle or the groom's, the reception is a celebration of these two people as a couple. Your welcome toast should reflect that.

No one needs a background about the relationship between the married couple and the person giving the speech. Everyone in attendance knows who you are and why you're up there speaking, so skip the whole "I knew Molly and I would be best friends from the moment I met her in kindergarten." Keep it short and sweet, and always end with a phrase such as, "Raise your glasses and let's toast the health and happiness of the new couple. Cheers."

After the toasts are finished, the floor is usually open for anyone to make a speech or say some kind words. This is an understood condition and, by no means, needs to be advertised. Some additional toasts that can take place include a toast from the groom's parents, a toast from siblings, or even a toast from grandparents.

There’s no right or wrong way for someone to invoke a toast on your behalf. However, for those who will perform their ceremonial duties, make sure to remind them ahead of time what the guidelines are for toasting to the bride and groom.

The Fun Stuff

Once the speeches have been given, and dinner has ended, it's time for dancing. The dance floor will be opened in one of two ways, depending on whether you did your first dance upon arrival. Either the dance floor will be opened after the ceremonial dances or the DJ will simply offer a generalized invitation to everyone to begin dancing.

Most couples choose to have the ceremonial dances like the mother and son dance and the father and daughter dance after dinner is over. Including the formal dances right before the dance floor opens up encourages people to hit the dance floor by seeing that others are dancing.

Believe it or not, most people are shy about being the first to do something, so our advice is to save the ceremonial dances until right before you're ready to open up the dance floor.

Dancing should last anywhere between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half hours. There will be a natural ebb and flow to the dance floor for the remainder of the evening, but believe us when we tell you that an hour is way too short and anything past two hours starts to get a little tiresome. Better to leave people wanting more than to have your reception fizzle out.

During dancing there will be some interruptions for some of the more fun reception traditions like cake cutting and the bouquet toss. The wedding coordinator will work with your MC or DJ to announce these events, so there’s no need to worry about when they have to happen. Typically, cake cutting happens about an hour into dancing, and the bouquet toss comes shortly after cake.

The After-Party

Many wedding venues have a curfew of 10 p.m., and some are even earlier, depending on zoning restrictions. For most couples, 10 p.m. is not nearly late enough to stop the party. Thus, the inclusion of an after-party has become a widely endorsed practice within the greater wedding community.

If you do plan on having an after-party, actually plan to have one. Don't just show up to a nearby bar or club with the expectation that they will be accommodating. Call around and get a feel for who will be the most welcoming of your continued wedding celebration. Some bars may even offer you and your guests discounts on drinks or food.

Even if you do plan on having an after-party, don't stay out too late. You only get one wedding night, and you’ll want to have some energy to spend time with your new spouse. Take a page out of Cinderella's book and head home once the clock strikes 12 a.m. You’re not going to miss anything amazing by leaving at midnight; in fact, you run the risk of missing something amazing if you don't.

You more than likely did a grand exit when leaving your reception, so an Irish goodbye will do just fine for the after-party. For those unfamiliar with this practice, that's when you simply leave without saying goodbye to anyone. Believe us when we say no one will be mad at you for exiting quietly. At this point in the evening, many people will not remember the goodbye you give them anyway.

The End of the Evening

When it comes to the overall scope of weddings, the wedding reception is what most people tend to think of as the main event. We at Zola believe the most important part of your wedding day is the ceremony. Still, there’s certainly no arguing that the reception is a critical component of your big day. Many couples add an additional hour on the front end of the reception for the purpose of a cocktail hour, but this extra hour is not considered part of the reception as a whole. There are many fun wedding cocktail hour ideas, but it shouldn’t be the main event on your big day.

Should you feel like allowing the party to continue past the originally agreed upon end time, there may be an option to purchase an extra hour on the day-of. This option is usually only available when a venue doesn't have a hard curfew and if the option to invoke the choice has been agreed upon ahead of time.

While five or six hours may feel like a lot of time, your wedding reception will fly by. There’s a lot to do in such a small window of time, but rest assured that the five to six hour window for a reception is a perfect fit.

Your wedding day is going to be one of the best days of your life, and planning it should be a fun experience. Details like dates and times can all get a bit overwhelming, but Zola is here to help you plan your big day.

How Long Should the Dance Floor be Open at a Wedding? | Full Scope Entertainment

A question wedding planners get often when helping couples create their event timeline is “how much time should be put towards the open dance floor?” Many couples may think they want it to be as long as possible but that’s not always the best approach. We typically recommend 1.5 to 2 hours. Here’s why:


Too Much of a Good Thing Isn’t Always a Good Thing

Yes, a lot of us love an awesome dance party. But one thing to keep in mind when considering making the open dance floor longer than 2 hours is that is a looooong day for some people. The complete day is typically 5 hours in total. When you think of your older guests, and everyone, in general, some of them are going to be exhausted with the thought of a 3-hour dance party.

Your Grand Exit

Typically you want a lot of people for your Grand Exit, however if you have a dance party longer than 2 hours the crowd could be a fraction of what it was by the time you leave. This could lead guests to duck out before your exit or drift to other areas of your venue leaving your reception feeling a bit empty.


DJ’s are typically $100 an hour, however, you may have to also pay bartenders, event planners, and other vendors extra as well.


Know Your Family and Friend Group, and be Flexible

I’m not saying every wedding I’ve personally DJ’ed struggled with doing more than a two hour dance party. Some groups are extra rambunctious, party animals and dancing machines. So in that sense, adding extra time can be somewhat of a gamble on you knowing them, and guessing if a group of people will party to the very end. So a middle option you can do is to be flexible. You can choose to add an extra hour but know that if people start leaving early you can do something called a ‘fake exit’. Where you take the grand exit picture when you have a huge group, and then for those who want to stay till the end can come back afterward.

Hopefully this advice was helpful, and you learned something about calculating the open dance floor time. If you are interested in learning more or getting free guidance contact us today.

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How long does it take to prepare a wedding dance? — Wedding portal Marry

As a rule, young people want to perform a waltz at their wedding. However, other options are also possible. In any case, in order to quickly learn how to dance beautifully, you should most likely turn to experienced choreographers. They will come up with a wonderful production, select the right melody and combine it all into a single complex. The first wedding dance should become a whole picture that will unfold before the audience the whole love story of two young hearts.

How long does it take for a wedding dance?

It's hard to say for sure. Various factors can influence the preparation time of a couple for the main dance of their life. It is very important that at least one of the partners has at least some kind of dance training. A lot depends on the chosen dance. Waltz can be learned to dance even in five lessons. More complex dances may require ten or even fifteen sessions with a trainer. It is better to contact the choreographers a few months before the wedding. Unless, of course, you have such a desire: to make a real sensation with your beautiful dance in the best sense of the word.

The first dance of a newly married husband and wife is an integral part of the wedding celebration. Of course, any couple would like all the guests at the wedding to gasp in amazement when they see how beautifully they dance. It is necessary to prepare for the first dance together, and this joint preparation should further unite and unite the future spouses in their desire to go through life together. In order for the dance to really turn out to be the envy of everyone, then, of course, the help of a highly qualified choreographer is needed. It is best to contact a dance studio. After all, not everyone was engaged in dancing at school or institute. And therefore, the help of a specialist here is simply necessary.

The classical waltz is most often chosen from dances. In theory, almost everyone knows how to dance it. However, in reality, everything turns out to be far from being so simple.

In order to really make a worthy impression on guests, you need to spend several hours of your precious time on classes under the supervision of real professionals.

In addition to the actual dance training, such classes will contribute to the rapprochement of the couple and will provide an opportunity to better know each other's preferences and wishes.

If desired, good dance teachers can even teach a bear to dance. Don't worry if you have hearing or rhythm problems. You just need to try a little and everything will definitely work out. But what a pleasure it will be! Spin your beloved soul mate in a divinely unearthly dance, and not sadly stagnate in one place. The choreography specialists from the agency will prepare you so that none of the guests will even suspect that this can be learned in just a couple of weeks.

Choosing the tune for the wedding dance

A very responsible and painful choice for most young couples is choosing the tune they are going to dance to.

Why does this happen? After all, it should be a pleasant process that gives pleasure, not torment. Where to look for the reason for such a misunderstanding? You might think that this comes from a lack of time. The newlyweds are torn between different melodies and torment their souls with doubts. Yes, lack of time can cause a stressful situation, but still this is not the reason for doubts. The main reason for the pain of choosing a melody for a wedding dance is the fact that the bride and groom are constantly trying to understand whether the melody they have chosen is a wedding melody or not. What if such melodies are not put on a wedding dance? There is only one answer to this: there are no special wedding melodies for dancing. True, there are such melodies that are used more often than others at dances, and therefore they are called wedding melodies. If young people want to dance to the music that most other wedding couples dance to, then in this case it is enough to look through the catalog of wedding melodies and choose something most suitable for yourself. If the newlyweds want music not the same as everyone else's to play at their wedding, then when choosing such a melody, one should be guided by some rules for choosing the most suitable music.

For example, if there is some kind of melody that evokes some pleasant memories in the soul, or it is a symbol of some event. Maybe this melody was playing at the moment when the young people first met each other. Or, to this tune, a young man offered his girlfriend to become his wife. Thus, it will turn out that during your first wedding dance, the melody of personal relationships will play. Probably, this will be the best choice for the music to which the first wedding dance will be performed. It will be doubly pleasant, because in addition to the joy of the dance itself, pleasant romantic memories will also come flooding in. But there is another option for choosing a wedding dance. For example, you can hear your favorite tune somewhere on the radio. Imagine how you dance to it and immediately go to a dance specialist.

The main thing is that you like the melody. This is quite enough for the right choice of melody. And already the choreographer, starting from the given melody, will build the dance in such a way as to make the best possible impression on the wedding audience.

Organization of a wedding banquet - timing

Duration of a wedding banquet

When planning your dream holiday, pay special attention to the timing of the wedding banquet. The gala dinner is the biggest part of the event. It is better for newlyweds to know in advance how long the wedding banquet lasts. This information is useful for booking a venue for a wedding, notifying guests, and planning the day.

The duration of the banquet depends on several factors:

  • the number of guests — the more people invited to the wedding, the more time is required for organizational moments;
  • entertainment list - such entertainment for guests as interactive host, performances of musical groups and dances take time, so the duration of the banquet depends on the number of such entertainment;
  • working hours of the selected site - do not forget that a restaurant, tent or rented premises may have restrictions on working hours, you should know in advance by what time the site will need to be vacated.

Recommendations for the timing of the banquet

The main recommendation for planning the timing of the wedding banquet is to keep the measure in everything. At the banquet, guests should have time to congratulate the newlyweds, get to know and communicate with each other, take part in the wedding dinner and the proposed entertainment. Usually 5-7 hours is enough for this.

How long does each part of the wedding banquet take? It will take about 20-40 minutes to welcome and seat guests. Among the treats are appetizers, salads. After 40 minutes, it is appropriate to announce the first musical break with the dance of the newlyweds. It is better not to make the first pause too long, as the guests are not yet ready for active entertainment. Then it is served hot, the guests make toasts.

Too short a banquet at a wedding is not entirely appropriate, the format is wrong. If you don't like long feasts, give preference to a wedding reception - it does not require hours of partying. And on the contrary, a protracted banquet leads to a glut of the holiday. Perhaps you have been to weddings that are too long, where the guests begin to get bored, yawn and would be happy to leave, but the rules of decency do not allow it.

Let's add more specifics. If you are not planning a very active wedding and invited artists, five hours will be enough for a wedding banquet. During this time, you will have time to have a gala dinner and several traditional activities - the dance of the newlyweds, throwing the bride's bouquet, cutting the cake. However, if there are more activities planned and you invite artists, it is better to schedule a banquet for seven hours.

Break the toast into short 10-15 minute chunks throughout the holiday. A couple of hours will be needed for dancing and performances of artists. Cutting the cake and drinking tea will take about 40 minutes.

Do you find it difficult to plan your own wedding banquet? Experienced caterers of the Ministry company will tell you how to create a wedding menu and calculate the timing of the gala dinner so that you don’t have to worry about it.

Learn more