But what is the reality and the time frame I need to expect?
Most Christian or civil wedding ceremonies last 15-20 minutes unless there are special readings, music, etc.
If there are pictures taken after the ceremony, then the reception and party begins about 30 minutes later.
Most musicians will play for a maximum of 4 hours and photographers and videographers leave 3-4 hours after your ceremony.
You begin to lose a good number of guests after the 2 1/2-3 hour time frame, leaving you with mostly wedding party and a few of your closest friends after that.
While some couples choose a “fake” departure before the photographer leaves. this signals to guests that the party is finished. They tend to leave even if you go back in to continue your party.
Planning your departure about 3 1/2-4 hours after the ceremony helps you to depart on an upbeat note and leaves your guests with the lingering impression that the celebration was special and fun, and they get to see the joy of you happily leaving to begin your new life as husband and wife. And that, along with a beautiful bride, a handsome groom and a great party will be the long remembered take away from your beautiful day!