Part 3 in a series:
One of the more important decisions to make in planning your “Seamless Wedding Reception” is to determine the start and stop time of your event. Many couples are surprised to find out that something as simple as the duration of the event can make the difference between a so-so reception and an unforgettable party!
The amount of time that the reception venue will allow you to use their facility will obviously come into play. Many have a set time (usually 6 hours) available for your event regardless of the starting time. Others simply state that guests must be out of the room by a particular time.
Another factor to consider is the starting time of your ceremony. For example, in many churches you must have your ceremony completed early in the afternoon to allow for afternoon or early evening Mass. This poses logistical and timing issues if you are planning an evening reception. In a case like this it is important to provide out of town guests with a list of local activities to keep them occupied from the time the ceremony concludes until the reception hall opens. That way they will arrive at your reception with renewed interest and energy.
Some brides have stated at the beginning of the booking process “we will have the reception hall from 4:00 PM until 1:00 AM” or something similar. That may be a generous reception hall bargain, but in terms of a great party it may not necessarily be a good idea to utilize all of that time for your wedding reception.
This doesn’t mean cutting the evening short. It simply means relying on the expertise of your entertainer in deciding how long your event should be. A good wedding DJ / Emcee will know how to time the event appropriately for the very best conclusion possible.
The most memorable event will end with the guests still wanting more, with a large number of guests still on the dance floor and with enough energy left in the room to give the couple a wonderful sendoff. This is far more preferable to a party that drags on, concluding with just a few of the die-hard partiers trundling off with the tired bridal couple and family.
Here are two options to consider on an impromptu basis if the event nears conclusion and the energy level is still very high. Many entertainers offer the option of adding time to the event on-site if appropriate and if the banquet venue allows it. Some banquet venues also offer additional late night options for those guests who wish to continue partying into the wee hours, such as close proximity to bars, casinos and other nightlife.
Be cautious when hiring DJ companies who work on an “unlimited time” basis. Without a predetermined conclusion time for the event it may be more difficult for the DJ to time the event properly for a fantastic ending.
A general rule of thumb for determining the length of a wedding reception could go like this:
1 hour for cocktails (if having a cocktail hour).
1 to 2 hours for dinner (this could vary depending on the number of guests to be served, whether buffet or plated, and the efficiency of the serving staff).
A minimum of 2 hours of dancing and formalities (for smaller groups of 100 or less).
2 1/2 hours of dancing (for guest counts of 100 to 200).
3 hours of dancing (for larger crowds).
A good decision on the duration of your event will help your Emcee / DJ to do their job well, that is, to properly manage the energy level in the room. That energy level should gradually increase and be timed to peak just shortly before the event ends. A high energy conclusion will dramatically etch your event into the memories of your guests for years to come!
Next month, in part 4, we’ll take a look at the use of incorporating themes to make your reception more memorable. Happy planning!