Wedding Reception Timeline – A Guide To Help You In Wedding Planning

woman in white wedding gown standing on brown wooden floor

By Eivan’s Wedding Team  article author

Want to host a wedding party that will be memorable and flow smoothly? A basic wedding day timeline is the most important aspect in planning your celebration.

Wedding receptions are unique to each newlywed couple! They can choose to their own traditions, speeches, first dance, or dining styles as they wish.

Having a wedding ceremony timeline is a great way to make sure the event happen as planned. Check out our sample timeline of events and timing to use as your guide.

This is a four to five hour wedding reception timeline with a cocktail hour and seated dinner.

man and woman kissing on brown wooden table

Our Sample Timeline

Cocktail hour – 1 hour

Most couples use this time to formal family photos as well as the bridal party. While you take photos, your guests will enjoy the cocktail hour as they mingle.

You can take the last part of this hour to mingle with your guests or just spend a little alone time as husband and wife.

Dinner invitation – 15 minutes

The wedding planner invites the guests to their seats according to the seating plan. This is in preparation for dinner!

grayscale photo of bride and groom

Wedding party entrances – 15 minutes

The coordinator or the emcee will announce the wedding party entrances. This is a fun time for your bridesmaids and groomsmen to enter the reception venue in style.

Funny dances or actions are a good vibe to get your guests excited and ready for your big, grand entrance.

The Grand entrance – 10 minutes

It is your big awaited moment where you walk into the venue with a funny dance. A lot of cheering and fanfare from your guests welcomes you to your wedding party.

woman in white wedding gown

First dance – 10 minutes

Keep the energy high by transitioning into dance floor for your first dance with your groom or bride. You may choose to dance to a full song or fade outs that incorporate different songs.

Welcome toasts – 10 minutes

Following your first dance, take the opportunity to thank everyone for coming. The father of the bride or another family member may offer a welcome toast to the guests.

This also serves as a formal welcome to the wedding reception. This is a good time to say the blessing over the meal.

man in black suit kissing woman in white wedding dress on brown staircase

Dinner is served – 1 hour

Depending on the number of guests you have and the meal service style, one hour is ample time.

Starting with the appetizers before the main course, allow enough time to feed. If you have not had a chance to mingle with your guests it is an opportune time to do so table by table.

Wedding party toasts – 15 minutes

In between meals, it’s a good time for toasts. The maid of honor and best man are invited to say a few words and proceed to toast to the couple.

Encourage your toasters to keep their speeches short, about 2 – 4 minutes each.

man in black suit standing beside car during daytime

Parent dance time – 15 minutes

After mealtime, it’s time to open the dance floor. Most couples open the dance floor with their parents dance.

The father-daughter dance and mother-son dance are the most common. Or whatever style and arrangement you may choose as a couple.

Open dance floor – 45 minutes

Ask your DJ to switch the music to high energy songs that will get your guests from their seats to the dance floor.

Allow plenty of time for your guests to dance to your selected playlist.

Wedding cake cutting – 15 minutes

The emcee will announce the cake cutting which brings an end to the dancing.

After you cut the cake, serve it with coffee or champagne or according to your preferred style.

Bouquet and garter toss – 5 minutes

If you have included bouquet toss in your traditions, go ahead and toss it followed by the garter. If not, skip and move on to the next item.

Last song and Last dance – 10 minutes

This is the last call to shake a leg with the couple before the conclusion of the reception. Choose a fun dance set upbeat song that ends on a high note.

Grand exit – 5 minutes

And the final event in the wedding reception timeline, to culminate the event, the grand exit has to be special. You can use sparklers, ribbons, bells, bubbles to create the mood for your exit.

Grab each other’s hand and dash to the waiting getaway cay amid the cheers and well wishes.

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