(Closed) Reception timeline

posted 10 years ago in Logistics
Post # 3
22 posts
  • Wedding: October 2008

I ditto this. I’m looking for the same thing.

Post # 4
159 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

I found this a la about.com


<h3>A 5 hour wedding reception with cocktail hour and seated dinner</h3> 5 pm: Cocktail Hour You can take pictures during this time, mingle with the guests, or just enjoy a little time to yourselves! Most people use this time to take formal photographs.

6 pm: Dinner An announcement should be made that dinner is starting. Guests move to the room where dinner will be served and are seated.

6:10 pm: Bridal Party Announced

Couple Announced

6:15 pm: Welcome Typically the bride’s father welcomes everyone to the wedding reception and thanks them for coming. Some couples choose to do toasts here, but most wait until later in the wedding reception. You can also, if you wish say a blessing over the meal now.

6:20 pm: First Course is served

6:30 pm: Toasts Best Man makes his toast. If the Maid of Honor is making a toast, she follows. Best Man Speeches Samples of Wedding Toasts How to Write a Toast

6:45 pm: Main Course is served If other family members or members of the bridal party are making toasts, they do so now.

7:25 pm: First DanceThe band leader or DJ announces the couple. They can dance the entire song by themselves, or have the DJ invite the rest of the bridal party up for the second half of the song. First Dance Songs

7:35 pm Dancing Begins

8:15 pm: Cake Cutting Cake served with coffee and/or champagne

8:30 pm: Bride and Groom ThanksAlthough not required, it is very nice for the couple to say thank you to everyone, and especially to their parents.

8:40 pm: Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dances

8:50 pm: Dancing Continues Some older guests will leave after cake is served so be sure that you’ve had a chance to visit with them beforehand.

9:30 pm: Bouquet Toss and/or Garter Toss Should You Have a Bouquet or Garter Toss? If you do both, typically the people who caught them dance together

9:45 pm: Last DanceThe DJ should invite everyone to the floor for a last dance together. Choose a fun and upbeat song so that everything ends on a high note.

9:55 pm: Farewell Have the DJ ask everyone to the front steps so they can send you off in style!


Post # 6
193 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

My reception timeline is based on About.com’s, but I tweaked it a bit due to personal preferences:

5:00p– guests are sat for ceremony

5:15p to 5:45p– ceremony

5:45p to 6:45p– cocktail hour

6:45p– announcement of dinner


7:00p– dinner starts, everyone is sat

7:10p– Bridal Party Announced, Couple announced

7:15p– First Dance (we want to do this right after we’re announced so everyone can watch us dance and not having clinking knvies/forks in the background) 

7:20p– Welcome, dragon/lion dance maybe?

7:30p– First course is served

7:45p– Toasts

8:00p– Main course is served

8:45p– Cake Cutting (we’re doing this right after dinner to serve it as a dessert, and people will probably still be eating when we do the cake cutting.  That way, cake isn’t left on the tables while people are dancing and then cleared away before people get to even eat it!  We’re going to ask the caterer to serve cake only to those who are at their seats and leave the extras on the cake table so people who are dancing can get their own… and so it doesn’t get thrown away before it gets eaten!)

9:00p– Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dances

9:15p– Dancing Continues

10:00p–Bouquet Toss and Garter Toss

10:45p– Last Dance

10:55p– Sparkler farewell

Post # 7
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

Hmmmm.  These all seem to assume that dinner is actually served.  We are having a buffet.  Does anybody have suggestions on how this might change for a buffet?  Also, we are having the reception immediately following the ceremony at the same location.  So while we will probably duck out during the cocktail portion for a few more pictures, is it silly to "announce" us when we were just in the room?

Post # 8
134 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2008

There is a really good article in the Fall 2007 issue of Martha Stewart weddings that outlines the reception.  I found it online here: 50 Tips for the Perfect Reception. The actual timeline is on page 6.

I personally would still announce your arrival at the reception, because to me that kind of signifies it has officially begun and dinner will be served shortly.

Are you having a buffet where people just go or one where a waiter/hostess person is coming to the table to let them know when to eat?  Also, if your salad is to be a part of the buffet, not served separtely, I would just put the whole buffet process where first course is on all of the timelines.  If it is already on the tables, then I would put the salad as first course and the actual everyone go to the buffet to the second course. 

Then again, I am not expert on this!!  To be honest all of the possibilities are kind of freaking me out for my own wedding now.  So much to think of!   Hope that helps!

Post # 9
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

Hmmmm, now I have more questions to ask my caterer.  I just don’t know about the salad.  There will be appetizers during the cocktail portion, to keep the guests busy while we are elsewhere.  I kind of like the idea of being announced…

Post # 10
134 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2008

I know, the questions just keep piling up and I just booked my reception site today!  Haha!  Good luck!  Let us know what you find out!

Post # 11
1246 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2009

I’m worried about my timeline – my venue wont’ let my ceremony start til 7 p.m. and we have to be out at 10:30. We’re going to do pictures beforehand so that we can go from the (short) ceremony straight into a buffet dinner and dancing…hopefully that will be enough time. Is anybody else faced with a short evening like this?

Post # 12
193 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

amysue– That is a really short evening!  Is there any way you can pay for overtime hours?  Why is your venue only letting you have the site for 3 1/2 hours?

If your ceremony starts at 7:00pm, it should be over by 7:30pm.  Dinner will start at 8:00pm and go through 9:00pm (more or less depending on the number of people you have and the way the buffet line moves).  Maybe during the meal, you can have your toasts and then cut the cake at the very end of the meal?  If you’re not doing the garter/bouquet toss, then that gives you more time for open dancing.  Father/daughter and mother/son dance could be around 9;15pm.  Last dance at 10:15pm.  It would be a tight squeeze, but I think it’ll work out perfectly 🙂

Post # 14
665 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2012


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