What is/was your reception timeline?!

posted 2 years ago in Reception
Post # 2
975 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2014 - Banff, Alberta

We are having an hor deurve reception, as in no sit down meal and no dancing. I like the idea of all the stereotypical wedding stuff, but I know a lot don’t want to do that. 

Our timeline is:

2:00 Entrance

Immediately after is our first dance

2:05 Toasts

2:25 father/daughter dance

2:30 mother/son dance

2:35-4:00 mingle – we try and talk to every guest. 

4:00 cake cutting

4:45 garter toss/bouquet toss

5:00 depart

Post # 3
2051 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

British weddings tend to be much longer than US weddings from what I have seen. Here is what we had if it helps:

12.30 ceremony

2pm guests arrive – drinks and canapés served

3.45 – 4.15 guests seated for dinner

4.20 dinner served (2 courses – we served extra canapés and had longer for reception drinks to replace a starter and to give our guests time to explore the gardens at our venue)

5.45 speeches

6.30 cake cutting

7pm first dance and disco

11.15 music ended

11.30 bride and groom departed


Post # 4
381 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: Royal Park Hotel

I have to start with ceremony or I won’t remember!  Haha

7pm-730 ceremony

730-745 dismissed, preparing room

745-815  Cocktail hour.  We did the cake cutting during this period

815-830. Seated dinner.  Salads served.

830-840 Two toasts

840-920 dinner and cake served

920-1am dancing.  Midnight snacks were brought out at midnight!

1am. Get out.  :p


Post # 5
1629 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2014 - Church

Engaged1026:  Here is ours

5 – 6:15 p.m.:    Cocktail hour (we will get there by 6 after photos are done)

6:20 p.m.:         Ballroom opens for guests to enter and find seats

6:30 p.m.:         Wedding party entrance, grace

6:45-8:45 p.m.: Dinner (ours is a four course sit down), speeches between courses

8:50-9:15 p.m.: Cake cutting, first dance, mother-son/father-daughter dance

9:15 p.m.:         Time to party!

10:30 p.m.:        Late night buffet

1:00 a.m.:         Time to depart

Post # 6
567 posts
Busy bee

630 cocktail hour begins

715 bridal party lineup

720 grand entrance

730 first dance

735 welcome toast 

740-9 dinner with toasts during

905-915 father daughter / mother son dances

920-925 cake cutting

930 open dancing

1015 bouquet / garter toss

1115 last call

1130 bar close

midnight reception ends

Post # 7
3623 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

Engaged1026:  Here is mine. It clocks stuff down to the minute, inlcuding who is responsible for what. Some (or many) people called me anal for it (the ceremony one and pictures one were worse), but my wedding day went off without a hitch. Everyone (photographer, caterer, DJ) was on the same page and no one had to bother me to ask annoying questions.


3:00     Flowers arrives

3:00      Cupcakes arrive

4:30     Babysitters arrive—Bridesmaid 2 calls to confirm

5:00     Cocktail hour beings

5:30     Bridal party arrives, Groomsmen 1 and 2 give flowers to Ballroom

5:55     Bride and Groom arrive

6:00     Curtains open

6:15     Introductions

–          Mother and Father of the Bride

–          Father and Mother of the Groom

–          Bridesmaid 2 and Groomsman 2

–          Bridesmaid 1 and Groomsman 1

–          MoH and Best Man

–          Bride and Groom

6:20     First Dance

6:25     Father of Bride welcomes

6:30     Bride and Groom thank everyone coming

6:35     Priest says grace

6:35     Salads served

6:40    Best Man speech

6:45    Maid of Honor speech

7:00     Dinner served

7:20     Father/Daughter dance

7:25     Mother/Son dance

8:15     Cupcakes

8:20     Anniversary dance

8:40     Bouquet toss/garter toss

9:00     Photographer leaves

9:30     Mother of the Groom tells people to take centerpieces

9:45     Lights on

9:45     All help with clean up

9:50     Groom and Bride ensure all is paid for

10:00   Leave

Post # 8
10876 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

We had a 6 p.m. ceremony followed by a four-hour reception.

Our hors d’oeuvres hour began immediately following the ceremony (about 7:15 p.m. in the same location — the terrace of a beautiful mansion.) Guests were ushered into the ballroom at about 8:15 p.m. Our bridal party and we were introduced, and my husband and I had our first dance.  The toasts took place after that (about 9 p.m.), followed by the serving of a plated dinner. After dinner, DH and I each danced with our opposite-gender parent and cut our cake. 

Afterward, DH and I, along with our families, went outside for family photos, and then the videographer shot video of DH and me outside. While we were having all of this photography and videography done, our guests were inside dancing and having fun.  Sadly, our reception ended at 11 p.m, while DH and I were still outside with the photographer and videographer. Because of this, and other factors that affected our timeline, I never had the oppotutnity to even greet or interact with the vast majority of our guests, many of whom I had never met (DH’s family — all from out of state) or seldom see (my extended family — also all from out of state, and some of my friends.)  So, as you can imagine, this was not NEARLY enough time.  

Post # 10
4581 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Following for timeline examples.

Right now, we have a social hour at 6, dinner at 7 and the dance starts at 8:45ish.

Post # 11
975 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2014 - Banff, Alberta

Engaged1026:  wedding hasn’t happened yet. Parents, man of honor, best man. 

Post # 12
627 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014 - Scottish Rite Cathedral (New Castle, PA)

Our wedding was in May, here’s our original timeline: 

4:30-5:15: Ceremony and Receiving Line

5:15-6:00: Cocktails and Hors D’ Oeuvres

6:00: Guests Seated, Wedding Party Entrance, Toasts, Blessing

6:30-7:30: Dinner (Buffet)

7:00ish: Cake Cutting (while guests were still seated but after we were finished eating)

7:30: First Dance

8:00: Father Daughter and Mother Son Dances

8:30: Anniversary Dance

10:30: Reception Ends<br /><br />

All the blank space was just dancing 🙂 The only change for us was that our ceremony took less time than we had thought so we bumped up our entrance and came in earlier than planned.

Post # 13
1244 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

Derp:  I really like your timeline, I think we’d like to do something similar. Did you find the timing of the midnight snack to be spot on? I’m wondering if a little earlier like 11 would be too close to dinner or not.

Post # 14
381 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: Royal Park Hotel

spiffanee:  The midnight snack was good and I’m glad we had it but, to be honest, most people were just too full to really eat (again) at 12midnight

They had apps and drinks and then a full dinner followed by cake all within an hour and a half by 9:30 and then just 2 & 1/2 hours later there are burgers, pizza and grilled cheese.  It was a little bit too much BUT my venue did provide little take out boxes so when people started leaving around 1am they could make up a to-go box.  Make sure your venue does this!  It’s a very nice sendoff.

  • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by  Derp.
Post # 15
8680 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

This is our very rough timeline, but I have to admit that we haven’t spent a whole lot of time on it yet.

4:00 ceremony

4:30/4:45 cocktail hour / pictures

5:30 dinner

6:00 bar opens

8:00 cake cutting

9:00 late night snack

11:00 last dance of the night


no toasts, we are opening the bar after dinner as we will have multiple types of wine & water on each table, as well as drinks for during dinner [tea, lemonade, ect], and our bartender will not be available until after dinner.

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