What time should evening reception guests arrive to my wedding

Evening guests – what time should they arrive?

There’s a reason why most couples book their wedding at least 12 months in advance. Planning a wedding is one of the biggest organisational tasks you will ever undertake and requires months of meticulous planning and decision-making.  Our wedding co-ordinators are often asked what time should evening reception guests arrive to my wedding?

Once you have decided on your perfect wedding venue, you’ll face a mountain of options from guest numbers and menu choices through to drinks packages and table linen. One of the tricky tasks is deciding whether or not to separate your guests into day and evening reception, and establishing what time you would like the latter to arrive.

Many couples feel apologetic for inviting friends and acquaintances to an evening reception only. However, anyone who has ever been married understands that it’s not practical to expect everyone you know to attend all day and most will be pleased to have been invited in the first place.

Evening guests

What time should our evening guests arrive at our wedding Warley Park Wedding VenueThat said, you do want your night-time guests to feel important and valued and this can be accomplished by ensuring a smooth transition from day-time to party time.

Regardless of how well you planned your wedding, wedding breakfasts commonly run over which can be awkward for those arriving at night. This can be especially tricky if the wedding breakfast is held in the same room as the evening reception, leaving the night-time guests bar-bound or worse – loitering in corridors. This is not an ideal welcome.


Speeches are most commonly to blame for the overrun and one way of addressing this is to build in contingency time into your day so that if the worse happens, this doesn’t affect the transition time.

It’s important to draft a realistic timeline of your wedding day and allow sufficient time for your wedding breakfast, incorporating photos, speeches and cake cutting.

An ideal time to host an evening reception is from 7.30pm to 8pm but it depends on when you hold your marriage service. The earlier your service, the earlier your evening reception can commence.

It is advisable to plan ahead in case your wedding breakfast runs into the early evening. Do your wedding guests have somewhere comfortable to sit while waiting for the entertainment to begin and can they order a drink?

Is it worth serving canapés in a further effort to make them feel special and important and to relieve any pangs of hunger before the night-time buffet? This will give your venue staff time to get the function room ready for night time and avoid anyone witnessing a messy turnaround.


If you’re getting married late afternoon and have a narrow gap between day-time and evening activities, consider hiring a toastmaster. Toastmasters are a great way of ensuring everything runs smoothly and on time during the wedding breakfast and can really enhance the atmosphere. If it’s out of your budget, many venues now offer a member of staff to provide the same service.

I hope you found this article on ‘What time should evening reception guests arrive to my wedding?’ useful. Weddings are joyous occasions but they do require a lot of work. Thankfully meticulous planning usually pays off on the day.

If you wish to speak with one of our wedding planners then please call  01277 224891 or email.

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