When Are You Actually Supposed to Leave Your Reception?

Whether a night spent on the dance floor has you spent or you can’t wait to kick off your honeymoon in the hotel suite, you might be wondering just how long you have to stay at your own reception. But before you say your goodbyes, you’ll have more to consider than your aching feet or sexual appetite, our experts say. There are important things you should make sure you do before your departure.

“When guests attend a wedding, they are doing so with the anticipation that they will be celebrating with the couple,” says Kelly Heyn, owner of SociaLife Event Planning in New Jersey. Alicia Matsumoto, owner of Bespoke Design, points out; many of your guests may have traveled for the occasion. So for starters, saying sayonara a second before you’ve spent time with each of your guests shouldn’t be an option, they both agree. “Attending a wedding is a financial and time commitment, so make the time to see everyone and acknowledge the effort they made to be there,” says Matsumoto. “Make a point of thanking everyone for coming to your big day.”

Beyond that, consider what comes after your grand exit: Is it an after party, where you’ll likely see most of your guests, or a face plant onto the hotel pillow? “If you are hosting an after party or a post wedding day brunch and you plan on seeing most of your guests again, it is absolutely acceptable to leave a little early,” says Heyn. “Just make a point to say goodbye to anyone you know that you will not being seeing or elderly guests who may take offense to not being able to say goodbye.”

If you’re making a grand exit, such as leaving through a tunnel of sparklers, Heyn recommends you wait until the last half hour or even 15 minutes of your fete. “If you leave any earlier, likely your guests will follow suit, which could put a quick end to your party,” she points out. Matsumoto agrees “At some weddings, few people will want to stay and party once you’ve gone, so keep that in mind as you plan your departure,” she says.

Lastly, listen to your own bodies. “Once the dance floor is open, if you’re totally exhausted, it’s perfectly acceptable to begin saying your goodbyes,” says Matsumoto. “That being said, you might be surprised at just how much energy you have: You’ve just committed to spend your life with someone, and all those closest to you are there to celebrate your union! It’s a once in a lifetime experience, so just make sure you’ve enjoyed yourself and won’t regret an early departure.”


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