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Should You Shorten Your Wedding Reception? And How?

Some couples want to dance away the night at their wedding reception. However, others would rather call it a shorter night after what was likely a long and stressful day. Do you want to—or should you—shorten your reception timeline? If you are not sure, explore a few reasons to end early and how to do it without guests noticing.

Why Shorten Your Reception?

Wedding planning is a big job, and not everyone is thrilled to take it on. One easy way to make less work is to reduce the complexity of the event. Trimming back the reception is a great way to do that without sacrificing the most important elements. You can also save hundreds or thousands of dollars when you opt for a reception of four hours or less.

Think about yourself and your guests on the big day. Are your guests likely to want to dance all night or will most of them head home early? Do they have to work the next day, or have they worked the day of your wedding? What about how you will feel by the end of the evening? Less time commitment at the reception frees up your and your guests’ time and gives options.

How Can You Shorten the Reception?

So, how do you actually shorten a reception without losing all the fun? You have a number of subtle methods.

Consider moving your wedding from a late afternoon or early evening event to earlier in the day. Brunch and early afternoon receptions are generally inherently shorter. There is less dancing, less alcohol consumed, quicker and lighter meals, and an organic ending before the next mealtime arrives. But you can still do all the traditions and activities you love.

Perhaps reconsider cocktail hour. While this period of time can be very useful if you need to turnover the venue, take group photos, or change clothing, it is not mandatory. You might, for instance, rearrange your schedule to take pre-ceremony photos, skip the outfit change, and use one venue. This automatically reduces your whole timeline by at least an hour or more.

Take a page out of the playbook of prior generations and plan a cake-and-punch reception. This simplified reception includes all the standard features—including cocktails, a cake, appetizers, meet-and-greets, a first dance, toasts, and more—but in a shorter time period. Cake-and-punch (or cake and champagne) receptions generally happen at the wedding venue and can be as short as an hour or two.

What if you and your new spouse do not want to party all night, but your friends do? Arrange for an after party instead of a long reception. The after party may or may not involve you, and it can be anywhere the group decides. This allows you to move the festivities to a private home, pub, nightclub, or even an outdoor location while your rented wedding venue is cleaned up early and others can head home.

Finally, you have the cocktail reception. Cocktail-style receptions dispense with complicated meal service, assigned table seating, and long waits. Guests can mingle, eat finger foods, and enjoy beverages. Keeping things light and airy also keeps things moving. With fewer chairs and tables (although with sufficient options for comfort), guests are likely to spend less time lounging around.

Where Can You Get More Help?

Want more ideas for organically shrinking the length of your reception? Meet with the pros at Pristine Chapel . Our experienced staff and customizable facilities will help you design the right timeline for your big day—whether that includes partying like it’s 1999 or heading home early. Call today to make an appointment.

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