Timeline for Reception that ends at 10pm

posted 3 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
3280 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Could you do your ceremony a little later, like 3:30 or 4?

Here’s my tenative ceremony/reception timeline, ours ends at 10:30. We are also doing first look before


4:00-4:40        Ceremony
4:40-5:10        Receiving Line
5:10-5:30        Change & Drive to Reception
5:35-5:45        Wedding Party Introductions, Bar open
5:45-6:00        Toasts
6:00-7:00        Buffet Open
7:00-7:10        Cake Cutting
7:10-7:30        First Dance, F/D & M/S dances
7:30                Dancing Opens
8:00-8:15        Bouquet & Garter Toss
8:30-8:50       Bride & Groom Pics Outside w/ Sparklers
10:30             Sparkler Exit
10:45             Drive to Hotel

Post # 5
11772 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

I would be THRILLED to go to a wedding with that much dancing! That is, assuming the bar is open (or was open earlier), and the DJ is AWESOME!

Post # 6
9949 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

I think dinner is too early.  Could you ceremony be at 4?   

Ours went like this:

2:30 – first look, pictures pre-ceremony of bridesmaids, etc.

4:00 – ceremony.  Having that much time before the ceremony was really nice — there was no rushing, it was calm.  

4:15 – 5:45 – cocktail “hour”, family pictures, going around and talking to people

5:45 – people were asked to be seated for dinner

6:00 – my grandfather gave a little speech, we ate dinner

7:00 – 9:00 – dancing and more drinking


After the reception, we invited everyone to go to a bar downtown, and about twenty people came.  I changed before I went!  It was nice because we were no longer in charge of hosting.  

Post # 7
3280 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@xkrsa:  10pm will probably feel really early despite what time you start. Just give them a map or something with a few bars or places to go. It could depend on your guests though. My guests will undoubtedly go out after but aren’t huge dancers so 4 hours of just dancing would be way too much.

Post # 8
843 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014


are you doing food with your bar opening? We have apps, but I’m thinking about cutting those out as I’m trying to figure out our timeline. We too are doing a first look with photos before the ceremony, but the ceremony is at 6:30 and we end at 10:30.

Post # 9
3280 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@meke:  We aren’t doing any apps. Guest will arrive at the reception at 5:30, go to the bar, then sit down for dinner/toasts at 6:00. Are you doing dinner too or just apps? If you’re not doing dinner, which you wouldn’t have to with a 6:30 ceremony, I would just keep the apps. 

Post # 10
278 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

We had to be done at 10 pm too..did not bouquet/garter toss but an anniversary dance. I would start your ceremony at 4:00  or 4:30 pm.

We decided to start at 4:30 just because it was outdoors and we were hoping the sun wouldn’t be directly overhead.

This was our timeline:
2:45 pm: First look
3:10 – 4:00 pm: Bridal party/family portraits
4:00: bridal party relaxes
4:30: ceremony
5:00 – 6:00: cocktail hour/finish last of photos
6:00 – 6:10: guests seated for dinner
6:15: grand entrance
6:20: first dance
6:30: dinner service begins
7:00: FOB speech
7:30: MOH speech and BM speech
7:45 – 8:00 pm: dancing!!
9:00 pm: cake cutting/cake service
10:00 pm: guests depart


Post # 11
843 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014


We are doing a bbq buffet dinner. Just looking at timing I don’t think they are needed. Our ceremony will be very short, my brother is a notary, so he is doing the states suggested ceremony, it took me a few minutes to read it! Ceremony and reception are at the same place. After the ceremony we just want to do a big family photo, then I’m fine with just going into first dance and dinner.

Post # 12
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

@xkrsa:  Give yourself more than 30 minutes for post-ceremony photos.  If you want an idea of how long to expect the post-ceremony photos to last, write down each and every combination of people you want photos of and multiple by 2 because each one will take an average of tw minutes to set up and take extra shots for blinked eyes or awkward positions.

Also, don’t expect to attend the cocktail hour, it’s really to entertain your guests while you’re taking photos.  That means you most likely won’t get introduced before 5pm.  You need to give more time for guests to finish eating unless you want clanking of knives and forks during your first dance.

Here is the timeline with my changes:

5:00 – 5:15pm –  Seat Guests for Dinner

5:15 – 5:30 – Introduction and Quick Toast

5:30 – 7:00pm Dinner (Toasts at 6:45 by Best Man/MOH)

7:00pm to 7:10pm – First Dance, Father/Daughter & Mother/Son Dances; open dance floor to guests following F/D & M/S

8:30 or 9pm Cake Cutting and Dessert; dance floor to reopen after cake cutting and run until 10pm

Post # 14
917 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

@xkrsa:  One wedding I attended cut the cake between dinner courses (between the salad and the main course, to be precise). That way, the cake was plated while everyone ate the main course and was served before anyone got up. That way, the dancing wasn’t interrupted! Perhaps you could do that in order to keep the dancing going strong?

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