August 11, 2023

How Long Do I Need For My Drinks Reception?

It’s that time of the year when couples are starting to finalise their timings for the big day and one major question we get asked is “‘How long do I need for my drinks reception?’ And the answer we give…  Longer than you think!

What we find is our couples are more worried about their guests being bored or feeling that they need to sit them down asap for dinner. When the truth is as long as your guests have enough canapes and a refill of pimms they are more than happy, and actually all the want to do relax, chat with you, and enjoy your wedding!

More importantly YOU need to make sure that you’re enjoying yourself and that you have plenty of time to do everything you need to want to do. And actually so do we as photographers. The drinks reception is probably one of the busiest parts of our day, there is a lot to photograph and a lot of people to organise, so giving us enough time to do everything well gives you the photographs you want whilst giving you time to enjoy hanging out with your family and friends.

So most couples think an hour to an hour and half is plenty of time. But we suggest to every couple that 2 hours minimum is what you should be aiming for. Let us give you a breakdown of timings on an average wedding day…

Your married hurrah!

Time for confetti (getting everyone out of the service and lined up) 5 minutes

Hugs and kisses from all your loved ones (Gorgeous and important impromptu moments to photograph, but it is then hard to get couples away from over excitable Aunts!) 15 minutes

Traveling to your Reception venue (Very dependent on the wedding ) 0-30 minutes.

Arrival and welcome drinks (everyone arrives at different times, so we spend time shooting candids of people.) 15 minutes

(This is the time couples would normally arrive if travelling from the ceremony)

Exteriors, Interiors, Reception room, Cake and Details, (All those amazing details you’ve put thought into, photographed before guests put their bags on the table.) 15 minutes

Getting yourselves ready for photos (Often we find couples want to make a quick toilet stop, or makeup touch up before photos start.) 15 minutes.

Group Shots (Very important to please Mum & Dad. We suggest no more then 8 different shots. We allow 5 minutes for each shot, because someone is always lost or in the bathroom.) 30-40 minutes.

Couple shots (The best part! But trying to prize you away from family an friends isn’t always easy!) 15-25 minutes.

Calling Everyone into dinner 10 minutes.

You’re Welcomed into Your Wedding Breakfast! 


So as you can see this is already adding up to between an 1.5 hours and 2 hours, and we haven’t included a receiving line (20 mins), a whole group shot (15 mins) extra group shots (15 mins) or the fact that your whole day may just be running a little late anyway.

Most importantly, where is the scheduled champagne drinking, hugging, quality family time? This is important, not only because this makes for great candid photos- the ones you’ll treasure forever. But for you to actually enjoy your day and not only spend it with your photographers ( I know, we said it!) Remember, you have invited all these people to the most important day of your life and they have said “Yes! We want to see you on this day!”

So when you’re planning your wedding spend time thinking about what is most important to you, where is best to give your time and what photos are most important to you on the day. Ask your photographer for help and plan the day you have always dreamt of.