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Wedding Reception Timeline
Traditional Dinner Wedding Reception
This wedding reception timeline is the one with the longest duration. Since there is plenty of time as the night goes on, large blocks of time have been left open as padding. For this timeline we are assuming the wedding dinner reception lasts from 20:00 to 00:00.
20:00 The reception area is opened to the guests and they take their seats.
20:15 Now it’s time for you and your groom to enter. After you’re in, you need to start greeting guests and thanking them for attending.
20:20 It’s time for the bride and groom’s first dance.
20:25 The toasts and speeches need to be made at this point.
20:30 Main course is served.
21:30 Now it’s time to move on to the father-daughter dance and the mother-son dance.
22:30 Now it’s time for dessert, which means wedding cake! The bride and groom will cut the cake and servers will pass the cake around.
23:00 If you’re going to have a bouquet toss and a garter toss, now would be the time to do it.
23:55 The ceremony is wrapped up with a last dance.
Afternoon Tea/Champagne and Cake/Cocktail Wedding Reception
This wedding reception timeline listed below is versatile and can be used for any of the events listed above. All three of these can make use of the same timeline as they last roughly the same amount of time and the only difference between them is at what point in the day they take place. For this timeline we are assuming the reception lasts from 21:00 to 23:00 and will be using the example of a cocktail reception. For an afternoon tea or champagne and cake reception, simply move the schedule to an earlier time.
21:00 Time for the party to start! The doors to the reception area are opened and the guests begin to arrive. Consider a welcoming cocktail for the guests as they enter.
21:05 After any cocktails or other beverages have been served to the guests, it’s time for them to take their seats and settle down. Now the bride and groom make their grand entrance. Allow some time for them to thank the guests for attending.
21:10 Starters are served.
21:30 If there is going to be dancing at this reception, it has to start off with the bride and groom’s first dance.
21:40 Main course is served.
22:10 The best man and the maid of honor need to prepare speeches beforehand for this timeslot.
22:15 The cutting of the cake is a tradition and it also signals the start of dessert! After the bride and groom cut the first piece, servers will cut and distribute the rest of the cake.
22:55 The evening is wrapped up with a last dance or a quick thank you speech if there is no dancing.
This wedding reception timeline can be used for both a brunch or a lunch reception. For this timeline we are assuming the reception lasts from 11:00 to 14:00.
11:00 After all of the guests have arrived from the wedding venue, you can open the doors and let them into the reception.
11:10 Now it’s time for you and your groom to enter. After you’re in, you need to start greeting guests and thanking them for attending.
11:15 The toasts and speeches need to be made at this point.
11:20 Brunch is served.
11:55 Now it’s time to move on to the father-daughter dance and the mother-son dance.
12:40 After the bride and groom do the ceremonial cake cutting, servers can cut the rest of the cake and start to serve it to the guests.
13:15 If you’re going to have a bouquet toss, now would be the time to do it.
13:55 If there is dancing, you can end the event with a last dance.
Once again, it’s important to remember that all of these wedding reception timelines are just examples of what could be used. They are by no means set in stone and unforeseen events tend to happen, which is why the padding space we have left are invaluable. Try not to be too strict with yourself either, of course it’s a good idea to have a schedule, but not at the expense of forgetting to enjoy your own wedding.