Groom 101

Wedding Reception Timeline: Keeping Things on Track

Chris Easter

Years after your wedding day, you’ll look back on the day and be amazed at how fast it all went by. There’s so much that goes on during the big day that time seems to go by at warp speed. This is especially true during the wedding reception.

To help prep you for the wedding reception, here’s a short checklist that will help give you a clear idea of everything you’ll need to do. Keep in mind that this is just a suggested timeline — the order of events is completely up to you. We recommend reviewing this list with your fiancée to set up some sort of timeline for the night. If you’ve hired a wedding coordinator, he or she will most likely have a similar schedule for you.

  • Entrance or Introduction — It’s tradition for the newly married couple and sometimes also the wedding party to be introduced to the guests at the beginning of the reception upon their arrival. This introduction is usually given by an MC, DJ, or band. Some couples even like to plan elaborate entrances such as dancing in or possibly parachuting out of an airplane (outdoor reception only).
  • The First Dance — This one’s obvious. Be sure to pick out a song that means a lot to both of you.
  • Father-Daughter and Mother-Son Dance — Another time-honored tradition. Be sure the DJ or band is organized and knows which song to play for which dance. You wouldn’t want the wrong song playing for the father-daughter dance.
  • The meal – Make sure that you and your bride take the time to eat something. We can’t underestimate the importance of getting some food in your body. Chances are you’ll be starving after all of the activities of the day. Also, you’ll want to replenish your body for events to come later on in the night.
  • Toasts — Usually given by the best man, maid of honor, father of the bride, etc. Remember, while there’s no limit to how many toasts can be given, there is a limit to your guests’ patience. So make sure to plan accordingly. Maybe have some of the toasts given at the rehearsal dinner. (Some couples prefer to have all of the toasts delivered at the rehearsal dinner instead.)
  • Cake Cutting — Pretty self-explanatory. Really, the best advice we can give you is to be careful of sharp knives and try not to get any cake on your bride’s wedding dress.
  • Visit With Guests — Make an effort to visit with every table and thank your friends and family for coming. Try to catch the older guests before they make a dash for the door.
  • Bouquet and Garter Toss — Time to see who the next lucky couple to get married will be. You can try aiming for your best man or one of your good buddies who are overdue to get hitched. On the other hand, children often love these activities as well — you might want to help them out by aiming for the ring bearer or flower girl or the child of a close relative or friend.
  • The Exit — Be sure to let everyone know to stick around until the end of the reception for the send-off. And here’s a tip, make sure your friends don’t know where you’ll be staying. You definitely wouldn’t want any pranks or unexpected guests showing up in the middle of the night.

TMR Recommendation: Take a minute with your bride to take it all in. Don’t get so caught up in the stress of the day that you forget to enjoy it. This is the best day of your life and you’ll remember it for years to come. Cheers!


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