A well-crafted evening wedding reception timeline is a vital part of wedding reception planning. To allow enough time to include drinks, dinner, toasts, and dancing, how long should a wedding reception be? Read on to find out.
To ensure a fun-filled, smooth evening of celebrations for your guests, you should follow this wedding reception timeline. It is based on the average 4-5 hour wedding reception. To accommodate your venue, guests, and style, feel free to make the necessary adjustments. Once you’ve created your own personalized timeline, make sure you communicate it to all your wedding vendors so that everyone is on the same page.
0.00: Cocktail Hour
Your guests will enjoy appetizers and cocktails as they mingle with each other at the reception once the ceremony is over. During this time, the bride and groom will take formal photos with their family and bridal party. The newlyweds can also take some time to welcome guests arriving at the reception through a greeting line.
01:00: Seating And Bridal Party Announcement
The wedding coordinator will make sure everyone has their seat before introducing the newlyweds and the wedding party. The wedding party and the bride and groom can make an entrance once everyone is seated. At this point in the evening, the newlyweds can decide to have their first dance. It can also happen after dinner and toasts are done.
1:15: Welcome Guests
After the bridal party and the newlyweds have taken their seats, the bride's father will thank the guests for coming and welcome them to the reception. However, considering the average length of wedding reception isn't that long, he won't make any speeches. If you'd like to bless the meal, this is also the time to do so.
1:20: Time To Eat
If your dinner plan is a buffet, to avoid a traffic jam at the reception, the DJ, bandleader, or the wedding coordinator will call out tables in turns. The caterers' wait staff will serve all the tables at once if you're serving dinner family style or in courses.
If you didn't get the chance to greet your guests as they came into the reception, you might want to walk around and do it during this time.
The newlyweds might want to make a speech thanking the guests and their parents for attending once everyone has their food. Traditionally, the maid of honor, best man, or bride's father will take this time to give toasts. If you have the chance to give some input, you might encourage those giving toasts to keep them short to respect your guest's time (and their attention spans).
2:30: Couples First Dance
According to a traditional wedding reception timeline, the first people who should grace the dance floor with a romantic song and dance are the newlyweds. After this, it's time for the bride and her father to dance, followed by the groom and his mom.
3:00: Party Time
All the formal dances are done, and the band or DJ should prepare to keep the music steady. The guests should also prepare to have a good time and are now invited to the dance floor. If you'd like to incorporate any entertainment, garter, or bouquet toss, you should do it during this period of your wedding reception timeline.
4:00: Time For Some Cake
Take some time and cut the cake before the music goes on. After the cake is cut, some guests will choose to leave. Unless you want to have an empty dance floor or a shorter wedding reception timeline, don't cut it too early.
4:15: Get Back Into The Music
Once you've cut the cake, get back into the party mood. To get guests back onto the dance floor, ask the band or DJ to play an upbeat sound.
4:45: The Last Dance
The last dance should come 15 minutes before the end of the reception. Whether you want an upbeat, slow, or fun tune is up to you.
5:00: Time For The Grand Exit
By now, you know the answer to "How long should a wedding reception be?" Ask your wedding coordinator to direct guests to the send-off area if you plan to exit in style. You might want to provide your guests with bubbles or sparklers to sprinkle some fun at your exit.
Sparklers and bubbles are also an incredible aspect to add to a photo shoot. The day you've been dreaming about for years and planning for months is now over. Your non-stop preparations have paid off, and you've had a stress-free day. Make sure you treasure every moment.