Wedding Reception Timelines

When it comes to planning the timeline of your reception, you may not be sure how to organize your timeline.  “This is my first wedding and I have no idea what to do.” We hear this time and time again. Please remember, hiring “high-end” wedding vendors will make your planning so much easier.  Music By Design is a wedding expert and is will help your event flow smoothly – your wedding reception should be a stress free time of enjoyment.

You will meet with the banquet captain and discuss your timeline with your DJ prior to your reception. Below is an example of a standard timeline. Please keep in mind, it is your event.  The following is merely a suggestion based on experience, and is in no way set in stone.  Your vendors are there to accommodate you provide the best experience possible.

Traditional Timeline

6:00 pm – Cocktail Hour Begins

6:50 pm – Guest seating

7:00 pm – Bridal party introductions

7:05 pm – Bride and groom cut cake

7:10 pm – Speeches & Toasts

7:25 pm – Blessing

7:30 pm – First course served

8:45 pm – Bride and groom’s first dance

8:50 pm – Bride and father dance

8:55 pm – Groom and mother dance

9:00 pm – Dance floor opens to all guests

10:00 pm – Bouquet Toss

10:05 pm – Garter removal

11:55 pm – Last dance

12:00 pm – Reception ends


Why cut your cake immediately after being introduced?

Cutting your cake immediately after being introduced is a good idea for several reasons. First, it allows the banquet hall to remove the cake early and begin slicing it for your guests in time for desert. Second, you already have the attention of everyone in the room immediately after being introduced. Third, the photographer has an opportunity to take your pictures before you begin eating. The groom may want to remove his jacket and roll up his sleeves for dinner. Taking the cake cutting pictures early ensures that you still look your best.

How many speeches should we have?

It is traditional to have two speakers, your maid/matron of honor and best man. We suggest that each speech be kept to a maximum of 5 minutes. By keeping speeches short and sweet, you retain the attention of your guests and assure that dinner is served on time and hot. It is recommended that all speeches be given before dinner is served. Having speeches given during food service can be distracting and draws attention away from the individual giving the speech. Your vendors will be flexible, just make sure you know in advance how many speeches will be given. Some family members may want to give “surprise” speeches.  Unless previously scheduled or given the green light by the bride and groom, your DJ will not give the microphone to guests that are not on the schedule. This ensures that your reception flows nicely and allows plenty of time for dinner service and all your other formalities.

What if the bride and groom wants to give a welcome speech?

Oftentimes, the bride and groom are compelled to thank everyone for coming. We recommend waiting until desert to do so.  Why wait?  First of all, it makes for quicker dinner service. The less speeches given before dinner, the faster the food is served, which makes for happy guests and happy vendors. Second, and more importantly, it gives you time to “soak it all in”. During dinner, you have a chance to look around the room and see all the people that made it out for your special day and think of what you really want to say in your speech. These speeches are generally brief, but heartfelt. “We’d like to thank everyone for coming to our reception….thanks to the Smith family for traveling from overseas….thank you to (bride’s family) thank you to (groom’s family)….enjoy the reception….see you on the dance floor.”

We want a video montage.  How long should it be and when should we play it?

It has become very popular to include a slideshow during wedding receptions. A slideshow is a nice way to display your love story to your guests and is sure to draw laughter and tears from those who love you the most. However, a sideshow that is too long can have an adverse affect and cause your guests to lose attention and interest. We recommend keeping your slideshow between 6-7 minutes long using roughly 100 photos. A good rule of thumb is 33 pictures of the bride, 33 pictures of the groom, and 15 to 20 pictures of the bride and groom as a couple. Selecting one song to be played over each segment provides theme music for each sequence and lends itself well to transitions. Plan on scheduling your slideshow immediately preceding the speeches or during desert. If you have a lot of speeches, definitely wait until desert.

We hope this information was helpful. If you have any questions or concerns, please consult Music By Design at 630.262.0432.

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