What is the order of events at a wedding reception and the Basic Timeline? 

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By Eivan’s Wedding Team

The order of events at a traditional wedding reception can be a reflection of your unique style and preferences. While there’s a typical timeline, it’s important to tailor it to suit your vision for the big day. Here’s a basic outline of a traditional wedding day from start to finish, featuring various wedding party members, special dances, and customary elements:

If you are not comfortable with the basic wedding ceremony outline for wedding planning, you can change it to suit your style and personalized timeline.  Here, we lay down a basic traditional wedding ceremony from beginning to end.

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Procession (10 minutes) – The ceremony begins with a beautiful procession, as the bridal party, including bridesmaids, groomsmen, the ring bearer, and the flower girl, makes their way down the aisle, setting the stage for the entrance of the bride and her father.

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Recessional (5 minutes) –After the joyous exchange of I do, vows, wedding rings, and the first kiss as a married couple, the newlyweds will lead the joyful recessional, walking hand in hand down the aisle, followed by their bridal party, immediate family, and loved ones, marking the start of their life’s journey together.

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Opening Remarks (5 minutes) –To kick off your reception, the officiant or wedding planner may offer heartfelt opening remarks, setting a warm and welcoming tone for the celebration.

Cocktail hour – (45 minutes) – After the wedding ceremony, guests will head to the reception area as they mingle with each other.  Cocktails and appetizers are served at this point creating a fun filled atmosphere. Most newlyweds do not attend the cocktail hour as they choose to sneak away for their wedding photo shoot or to catch some air before the wedding reception begins.  Others choose to take formal photos with the bridal party and family and line up to welcome their wedding guests to the reception.

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Guests Seated and Ready for Food and Entertainment (15 minutes) – The MC/DJ welcomes your guests, ensuring they are comfortably seated, and ready to kick off the celebration. Depending on your guest count, this step may vary in duration.

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Wedding Party Entrance (10 minutes) – The MC/DJ announces the arrival of the bridal party and the couple. This is a fun moment for the bridal team and immediate family members to enter the reception hall, often with a joyful dance, setting the mood for the couple’s grand entrance.

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Bride and Groom Grand Entrance (10 minutes) – The newlyweds make their grand entrance to the reception, dancing to their favorite song and showcasing their newlywed bliss.

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First Dance (10 minutes) – Following their grand entrance, the couple takes the spotlight for their first dance as a married couple, whether it’s a slow and intimate waltz or an upbeat dance to remember.

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Welcome Speech (10 minutes) – The opening speech, typically given by the father of the groom, sets the tone for the evening. Other planned speeches may follow, and this moment may also include a grace before the meal.

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Dinner (1 hour) – Enjoy a delicious meal with your guests. Most couples take a moment to savor their meal at the head table before mingling with their loved ones, taking around 3 minutes per table to engage with all the guests.

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Toasts (15 minutes) – As guests finish their meals, it’s the perfect time for toasts. The best man and maid of honor often start the toasting, followed by bridesmaids and groomsmen alongside close friends and family who wish to share their well-wishes. This moment can also include the couple thanking their guests before the dancing commences.

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Family Dances (15 minutes) – Open the dance floor with special dances involving the parents of the bride and groom, and the newlyweds. For some, the dance floor opens with the father and daughter dance. The MC/DJ directs this portion, calling upon family members one by one, creating an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation among the guests.

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Dance Floor Opened to Guests (25 minutes) – Finally, the groove is on! Your DJ will start off the dance session with some upbeat songs that will get everyone moving. You will have chosen your songs well in advance to allow the DJ to classify them between the high energy and slow jams to keep the guests well entertained. You may also do other fun activities you may have planned as a surprise to your guests.

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Wedding Cake, Cake Cutting, Dessert Sharing, Garter, and Bouquet Toss (20 minutes) – The cake cutting ceremony is the epitome of every wedding ceremony. You will cut your cake as the DJ plays some slow to mid-tempo songs. It is also the best time for your guests to enjoy dessert. Cake cutting is followed by garter toss and bouquet toss – if you are keeping to the wedding traditions.

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Last Song (5 minutes) – Share a final dance as you prepare for your closing remarks.

Grand Exit (10 minutes) – After the last dance, it’s time to make your grand exit to your getaway car. Have your DJ play your favorite exit song alongside sparkler send-offs from your guests that will usher you into the honeymoon mood.

After-Party (varies in duration) – For those who want the celebration to continue, the after-party is the perfect way to keep the festivities going. You can choose to host a separate gathering with close friends and loved ones, dancing the night away and creating lasting memories beyond the traditional reception.

Your wedding reception timeline is complete!

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