Wedding Reception Timeline Template
Wedding Reception Timeline Template
00:00 | The Cocktail Hour
After being pronounced husband and wife, the newlyweds are often the first to leave the wedding
ceremony, heading off (with photographer in tow) for pictures together before the partying gets under
way. Your guests will head to the reception site for cocktails. Depending on the logistics of the event,
your cocktail hour will begin immediately (if the ceremony and reception are held at the same venue), or
it might start more than half an hour later (if there's travel involved). Cocktails will kick off your
reception and will last for at least an hour. During this time the staff will serve stationary or passed
appetizers and drinks, which will get people mingling and in the mood. Don't forget: Greeting your
guests is essential! It's customary for the couple, along with their parents and the wedding party, to
form a receiving line outside the ceremony site to greet guests before the escape. Many couples these
days are opting for this post ceremony receiving line, rather than going from table to table during
dinner. But if you haven't done so, you should form one now.
01:00 | Newlyweds' Arrival/First Dance
Here's the part where the bride and groom make their grand entrance. The coordinator will usually
make sure guests are seated before the emcee alerts them to your imminent arrival. Generally, both
sets of parents and the wedding party are introduced, followed by the announcement of the couple for
the first time as husband and wife. In many cases, your newlywed first dance will begin as you step out
onto the floor and into the spotlight after being announced. Find your first dance music. Alternately, you
can wait until after the first course of the meal is served, but since everyone is already cheering you as
you enter the reception, use the applause as encouragement enough to skim away any shyness and step
01:20 | Cheers & Toasts
Following your first dance, you might want to take the opportunity -- while all eyes are still on you, since
hopefully no one yet has had too much to drink -- to thank everyone en masse for taking part in your
wedding. A family member, often a parent of the bride, will say a blessing (depending on the families'
faiths). Then, since toasting signifies a transition in the course of an event, the mother and father of the
bride will thank guests for attending and invite everyone to enjoy the celebratory meal. Keep in mind
that the toasts given by the best man and the maid of honor should occur between courses, to spread
out all the high-emotion, much-anticipated moments and keep guests in their seats.
01:30 | Mangia, Mangia
Time to dig into the main course. Get wedding reception food ideas. If you're having a seated meal, the
band or DJ will play subdued, conversation-friendly background music as the wait staff makes the
rounds. If you're having a buffet, your coordinator, DJ, or bandleader will dictate how the rotation will
work by calling each table when it's time to head to the front of the line. Just remember: The bride and
groom need to do everything possible to take their seats and eat!
02:45 | Party Time
Monkey-see, monkey-do is how this game is played. Guests are going to follow the lead of the bride and
groom. Once dinner dishes are cleared, the newlyweds should be the first ones on the dance floor so
people know it's time to start partying. Find wedding music suggestions. Throughout the jammin', the
music will stop for any extracurricular activities you've planned (also known as the bouquet toss, the
garter toss, the centerpiece giveaways, and whatever else you've dreamed up). If you do choose to toss
the bouquet, make sure to get a tossing bouquet from the florist so you can keep your original one as a
04:00 | Cake Cutting
About one hour before the conclusion of the reception, when the party starts getting a little too rowdy
and the bar starts getting a little too empty, your wait staff should start preparing tables for coffee and
dessert. Since the cake cutting generally signals guests that it's okay to leave soon thereafter, be sure
not to do this too early or things could start wrapping up before you're ready.
04:15 | Shake a Leg
Once the cake is cut, the band or DJ should start right back into swing and rock music for those wanting
to trade in their slices for another turn on the dance floor.
04:45 | Last Dance
End your wedding on a high note and choose a dance song that will leave a lasting impression. You'll
want everyone to have a chance for one last twirl, so select something fast and festive.
05:00 | Final Farewell
Now the time has come to say good-bye. Your coordinator will usher everyone into the foyer or onto the
steps outdoors so that as you make your grand exit from the reception, friends and family can blow
bubbles, light sparklers, or toss rose petals -- and cheer to your successful celebration and future