A wedding reception is a party usually held after the completion of a marriage ceremony as hospitality for those who have attended the wedding, hence the name reception: the couple receive society, in the form of family and friends, for the first time as a married couple. Hosts provide their choice of food and drink, although a wedding cake is popular. Entertaining guests after a wedding ceremony is traditional in most societies, and can last anywhere from half an hour to many hours or even days. Most wedding receptions are made in the evening for dinner however, the couple may opt for a luncheon, brunch, or even afternoon tea. Ultimately the married couple chooses the details and location of the reception.
In some cultures, separate wedding celebrations are held for the bride’s and groom’s families.
Before receptions – a social event that is structured around a receiving line, and usually held in the afternoon, with only light refreshments – became popular, weddings were more typically celebrated with wedding breakfasts (for those whose religious traditions encouraged morning weddings) and wedding balls (for those who were married in the evening). The popularity of receptions, rather than breakfasts, dinners, and balls, during the 20th century led to the name reception being applied to any social event after a wedding, whether it is brunch, tea, dinner, or a dance.