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A Sample Wedding Reception Timeline

Pace Your Wedding Reception Perfectly


Traditionally, for a Saturday evening wedding reception, you will book your catering location from six to eleven in the evening. The first hour will typically be devoted to the cocktail hour before the next four hours are for the fun festivities - dinner, dancing, drinks and cake!

Whether you are having an evening or afternoon reception, here is a wonderful timeline you can adapt for any time of the day.

Here is how to time an evening weddingg reception to ensure everyone has a blast! This is based on a 5 p.m. ceremony and a full seated dinner.

5 p.m. to 6 p.m. - Ceremony occurs.

6 p.m to 6:45 p.m. - Cocktail hour. At 6:45 p.m. Guests should begin to move into the area where dinner will be served. During this time you will be taking some of your wedding photographs.

7 p.m. the DJ or Band leader announces the bridal party and the couple.

7:10 p.m. Host welcomes everyone and the first course of the meal is served.

7:25 p.m. The Best Man and Maid of Honor make toasts to the couple.

7:35 p.m. The main course is served

8 p.m. The bride and groom have their first dance, then father/daughter and mother/son dances.

8:15 p.m. Dancing begins!

9:30 p.m. The wedding cake is cut, champagne and/or coffee is served.

9:45 p.m. The bouquet and garter toss

10:30 p.m. The last dances are announced

10:45 p.m. The newlyweds make their grand exit.

11 p.m. The festivities wind down, the rest of the guests leave.

These are just general guidelines to make your wedding reception go as smoothly as possible. Depending on your wishes, you may choose to have your first dance and father/daughter / mother/son dances when you first arrive. Feel free to make your own timeline and tweak it so that your wedding reception is exactly as you wish it to be!

Little Things Favors carries a complete line of wedding favors, reception decorations, reception accessories, and wedding essentials to make your wedding perfect and unique!


2009 Erica Tevis, Little Things Favors

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