What is a typical reception timeline? Help please!

posted 3 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
1504 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

@labradorlover:  Here’s a general timeline. Just plug in the actual start and end time of your wedding.




5pm: Cocktail Hour


After the wedding ceremony, the newlyweds will leave first followed by the bridal party and photographer. Most people use this time to take formal photographs. Your guests will start arriving at the reception for cocktails and the cocktail hour should begin as soon as the first guests arrive.


6pm: Newlywed’s Arrival


This is your grand entrance where you will arrive officially as husband and wife. The event coordinator will make sure your guests are seated before the emcee announces your arrival. Generally, the bridal party and both sets of parents are introduced first, followed by the entrance of the newlyweds.


6:10pm: First Dance


Since the spotlight is on you, this is the perfect time to step onto the dance floor and begin your first dance. Alternatively, you could also have the first dance after the first course is served or after the cake cutting.


6:20pm: Welcome and Blessing


Typically, the father of the bride welcomes everyone to the wedding reception and says table blessings.


6:30pm: Food service begins


The bride and groom and their parents are served first, this will allow them enough time to make table visits after their meals. The band will play light, conversation-friendly music to allow guests to socialize while they wait to be served.


7:00pm: Cheers & Toasts


The best man and maid of honor make their toasts at this time.


7:15pm: Father/Daughter, Mother/Son Dance


The groom and bride should have finished eating by now.


7:45pm: Dance floor open


The dance floor is open and now the party begins.


8:30pm: Bouquet Toss / Garter Toss


Any extra activities planned such as bouquet/garter toss and centerpiece giveaways can be done now.


9:00: Cake cutting


Cake served with coffee or tea


9:45pm: Last Dance


10:00: Final Farewell


Post # 4
11772 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

@Sweetescape1976:  I love your timeline! I was just at a wedding with 8793 dances and 87347 speeches, and one buffet for 250 people… We arrived at 3:30 and didn’t get to eat until 6:30, and the dance floor didn’t open until 7:30! And it was all over by 9!

Post # 6
313 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

great post! need to reference it later

Post # 7
239 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

Will DEF need this later 🙂 Thanks!

Post # 8
1653 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Here was our General Timeline 🙂


6:30-7:30-Cocktail Hour

7:30-Reception Starts

11:00 Reception Ends


Parents/Bridal Party/Bride and Groom Entrance

First Dance

Father’s Welcome

Best Man/Maid of Honor Toasts


Father Daughter/Mother Son Dance

Cake Cutting

Bouqet Toss

Open Dancing!

Bride and Groom Sparkler Exit

End of Reception-11 p.m.


*I wanted to get all of the traditional things out of the way since I didn’t want to start/stop during the reception.  It worked out well to save the dancing and have it be uninterrupted!




Post # 9
1670 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I’m fussing about what to do for this as well. I’m not going to bouquet toss or throw a garter, but I sort of want to eat dinner first, then have the dances (bride/groom, father/daughter) and then just open the dance floor directly. I’m on the fence about when to cut the cake. Before dinner so it can be sliced and served?  Ugh.

Post # 10
1466 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

@Sweetescape1976:  LOVE THIS! Thank you! I will be holding onto this!

Post # 11
527 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

We did the following:

6pm: Cocktails

7pm: Entrance of Bridal Party + Bride&Groom to Reception

7:10pm: Dinner is served. During this we had a kissing game going on, and the shoe game. We also were getting up and visiting tables as soon as we ate our meal.

8:20pm-ish: Dessert finishes and champagne is served

8:25pm: Speeches and toasts

8:45pm: Bride goes and bustles dress and changes shoes (oh and uses bathroom lol)

9:00pm: First dance, Father Daughter dance, Mother Son dance

After that we had dancing until about 1am. In there we cut the cake around 10pm, and I tossed the bouquet sometime after that before midnight. Once we cut the cake, people snacked on the mini cupcakes, and that became our “midnight snack”.

We left our venue at 1:30am and called a cab to take us to the hotel 🙂


Post # 12
1662 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013


Post # 13
187 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

bump too!!

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