Wedding Reception Timelines to Follow
No two wedding receptions flow the exact same way—especially if you're doing a brunch as opposed to a seated dinner. To give you an idea of a timeline to follow, check out three samples below to help structure your day.
Two-Hour Cocktail Party
9:05 p.m. The emcee introduces you and your partner. Once you're in, start greeting guests!
9:10 p.m. open, and passed hors d'oeuvres start rolling out.
9:30 p.m. The first dance commences.
9:35 p.m. The father-daughter and mother-son dances commence.
9:40 p.m. Food service resumes. If there will be dancing, an upbeat song to get the party going would start now.
10:10 p.m. The toasts commence.
10:15 p.m. The cake cutting commences.
10:20 p.m. or plays a couple of slow songs as the staff cuts and plates the cake.
10:25 p.m. Cake is passed around.
10:40 p.m. The final dance set plays.
10:55 p.m. The last dance commences.
11:00 a.m. Guests head into the reception area and make their way to their seats.
11:10 a.m. The emcee introduces you and your partner and you do your first dance right away.
11:15 a.m. A welcome speech, a blessing or just the toasts commence, starting with the best man.
11:20 a.m. Brunch is served.
11:55 a.m. As guests are finishing their food, have the father-daughter dance, followed by the mother-son dance.
12:00 p.m. A 40-minute dance set commences.
12:40 p.m. The cake cutting commences.
12:45 p.m. plays some slow songs while the staff plates and serves the cake.
1:00 p.m. Guests are seated for cake.
1:15 p.m. The final dance set plays.
1:55 p.m. The last dance commences.
Four-Hour Seated Dinner
8:00 p.m. Guests head from the cocktail hour into the reception and find their seats.
8:15 p.m. Your emcee begins introducing the wedding party, starting with your parents.
8:20 p.m. The first dance commences, followed by the father-daughter and mother-son dances.
8:25 p.m. A welcome speech or a blessing is said. If you're not having either, begin the toasts now—best man followed by maid of honor.
8:30 p.m. Dinner is served, and the emcee asks guests to take their seats. Music should be low enough so guests can talk at their tables.
9:00 p.m. The music volume starts to increase gradually to get people who finished their meals out onto the dance floor.
9:35 p.m. A dance set begins with more upbeat songs to entice most guests out of their seats.
9:45 p.m. The DJ or band plays a couple of slow songs.
9:50 p.m. Back to more upbeat songs.
10:30 p.m. The cake cutting commences.
10:35 p.m. Some mid-paced songs play as cake is served so guests can dance if they want.
11:00 p.m. The bouquet toss, followed by the garter toss, commence—if you're doing them.
11:10 p.m. The final dance set commences.
11:55 p.m. The last dance, followed by your grand exit if you're making one.
See a traditional wedding reception timeline, here.
Check out points for your reception venue contract, here.