Ask Andrea ~ What is the typical order of events during a wedding reception?
After we enter the ballroom for our wedding reception what do we do? When do we do a first dance? And speeches? I'm not sure what order we should do things in...KB
The order of events during a reception changes from culture to culture, and also varies from the east coast to the west. Traditions, religious blessing, speeches and personal preferences all come into play, making the development of a wedding timeline of the utmost importance.
Assuming a five-hour wedding reception, plus cocktail hour, many couples choose to follow the following order:
06:00 PM Cocktail Hour begins
07:00 PM Guests move into the Reception space
07:10 PM Wedding Party is announced
08:20 PM First Dance
08:25 PM Father-Daughter Dance and / or Mother-Son Dance
08:35 PM Welcome Speech or a Blessing; followed by Toasts
08:45 PM Dinner Begins. Keep music low enough to allow for conversation
09:40 PM The music volume starts to increase, the DJ or emcee may call guests to the dance floor
09:45 PM Dance Party begins. Slow songs will be played intermittently
10:30 PM The cake cutting
10:35 PM Music resumes; cake is served to the tables
11:00 PM Bouquet & Garter (should you choose to do them)
11:10 PM Dancing and music resume.
11:15 PM Late night sweets and snacks served
11:55 PM Last Call and the Last Dance
Couples who wish to break up the traditional family dances will often times begin toasts and dinner service immediately after the first dance, and then have the DJ or Emcee call for the father-daughter and mother-son dances towards the end of the entrée service.
Others, will have the DJ call all guests to the center of the dance floor for a "group photo" and then break into a high energy song such as "We are Family" or "Celebration". When the song begins everyone is already on the dance floor and the party starts with a bang!
What you choose to do at your wedding reception and when is a personal decision. Consider multiple timelines and all of your options before settling on a schedule. And remember, weddings are living, breathing organisms that will change and morph as the night goes on. Be flexible and open to surprises, and above all else remember to enjoy!