The Perfect Wedding Reception Timeline!

December 24, 2019

Cocktail Hour

When your ceremony finishes, your loved ones will make way into the Cocktail hour. If you’ve booked your ceremony and reception at the same place, on average, a Cocktail hour should directly follow, if not, it may be spaced by 30 min to an hour-ish afterward. You’ll have full advantage of this time, wind down for a bit, capture some romantic formal photos, and those with, and without your bridal party, trust me – all of the partiers can have a blast snacking and grabbing drinks from the bar! In a standard wedding reception, this is the ideal timeframe to sneak off and take sweet snapshots plus romantic photos and even extra wedding party photos! Feel free to request a member of the wait staff to bring you drinks and snacks!


Romantic Sunset Photoshoot

You don’t want to lose out on a chance to get sunset shots, as long as the timeframe of your big day permits it! You/Your photographer may google the right moment that the sun will set at the location of your wedding, and it will be very accurate! This is a crucial moment to time correctly, so hopefully, your photographer already has a location set up to capture your photos so it’s not interfering with the wedding reception! If you’ve booked a videographer, this could be a stunning shot for your video as well! These will be a few of the most breathtaking, dramatic shots that can be captured on your wedding day.


wedding reception timeline template


Grand Entrance

You’re married! It is now time to be shown off to your loved ones as a newly wedded couple! How exciting! At this moment, your friends and family should move into your Reception room (if it’s in a different section) while they await your arrival! Your bridal party goes shimmying in first; then you two, the loving spouses will come in. Add it to your wedding day checklist to make sure you have a hairspray for touch-ups! You want to look put together for your stunning first dance photos, plus keep all of your hair in place! Energy will be high, this is a flawless time to sway right into the initial dance as a unit! All eyes will be on you both and the excitement is peaked! Common questions are, Does the first dance come before dinner? Typically yes, because it flows in perfectly


Welcome Speeches

Welcome speeches can occur when you and your hubby/wife are sitting at the head table, and your guests have been seated. This is done to appreciate all the guests in attendance, it is common for the welcome speech to be given from the Bride & Groom, or parents of. This is an exciting moment in your wedding reception timeline! A highlight segment if you’ve booked a cinematographer, whoever gives the toast usually stating a happy wish for the new couple, and welcoming all your guests to the bash!


Dinner Seating + MOH and Best Man Toasts

In a good wedding day timeline, the meal will last between 45 minutes – an hour, depending on what kind of service you’ve booked for the reception. In a buffet dinner for your wedding reception, the toasts typically will be after everyone has been seated. In a formal dinner, they will take place in between meal courses, there is a perfect window for toasts because everyone will be seated and hanging out ready to listen to your MOH and best man show you some love! It’s recommended that Best Man/Maid of Honor speeches last about 2-4 minutes, to avoid taking up too much time in between eating!


standard wedding reception


Mother/Son & Dad/Daughter Dances

This is the time where you spare a few moments for your other loved ones – the parents! To them, the best part of the timeline is the dances! Luckily you two create the rules, so you can choose to have both the Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances take place to the same song, or you could do two separately! At the finale of the last dance, aim to have the DJ or Band play a high energy song to get your crowd ready to party the night away!


Cutting the Cake!

It’s best to time to plan the big slice of the cake, coffee, and dessert about an hour before the closure of the reception. This is key in creating a detailed wedding reception timeline! This will be one of the sweetest and silliest parts of your wedding, there are cake, kisses + laughs! It’s a common ritual to keep the top layer of your cake to freeze it for your first anniversary! Also, a great time to show gratitude to your guests once again for joining you both on this day!


modern wedding reception


Throwing of the Bouquet and The Garter Toss

If this doesn’t seem like your style, feel free to skip it. It’s becoming more common in modern wedding receptions these days to opt-out, although they make for an amazing photo op! The bride usually goes first, tosses the bouquet into the crowd of single ladies, then the groom tosses the garter into a crowd of eligible bachelors!


Last & Final Call

The last call is the final opportunity for guests to grab their drinks from the bar and show off the rest of their moves on the floor! Let your DJ know a good time to pronounce the ‘last call’. A good time would be about 45 minutes before the grand ending of your Reception! This is a sign that your wedding celebration is coming to an end, so make sure the playlist for this portion of the night is upbeat and high energy! Your wedding deserves to go out with a bang after months of planning!


wedding reception events


Grand Exit

This moment is the final act of your wedding day, the moment you’ve been waiting to get to, for so long. Your DJ will call everyone that’s still partying to head outside and see you off! Here is where you’d say your goodbyes, give hugs and end the party! Now is the moment to utilize the sparklers, bubbles, whatever you can think of! This is your final moment as you head off into life as a unit! But this is not the end. Continue to honor your spouse + marriage as often as you both can.


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