The Ultimate Step-By-Step Wedding Reception Timeline

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To guarantee a seamless wedding day, establish a thorough, step-by-step wedding day reception timeline. Doing so will help you stay organized, stress-free, and on schedule. Once you’ve created your wedding day timetable, share it with your wedding coordinator, photographer, caterer, florist, and other providers, so they are all on the same page.

Even while most wedding receptions follow a similar format, you can alter the sequence in which these events take place to suit the bride and groom’s tastes. To assist you in creating the ideal wedding reception schedule, we’ve provided guidelines on how much time to devote to various activities.

What is a Wedding Reception?

A wedding reception is a party held after a wedding ceremony. This party is conducted to welcome guests who came to the wedding. Although various rituals and traditions are associated with this, food and wedding reception programs with music and dancing are frequently featured.

Banquet halls, hotel ballrooms, wedding venues, churches, and community centers are frequently used for wedding receptions. Smaller wedding celebrations could take place in a restaurant or a backyard. Furthermore, couples frequently streamline the day by combining the ceremony and reception in the same location rather than having the ceremony in a religious institution like a church.

How Long is a Wedding Reception?

Before we get into the wedding reception timeline, let’s talk about how long a wedding reception should take. A wedding reception typically lasts four to seven hours, including cocktail hour. Before putting together the schedule for your wedding reception, talk to the venue provider about the reservation duration. Once more, this all relies on the terms of your venue agreement.

Step-by-Step Wedding Reception Timeline

Cocktail Hour – (Time allotted: 1 hour)

The wedding cocktail reception timeline is the reception’s kickoff and should last at least an hour. During this time, the bar will be open so visitors can line up for a drink, and the catering team will often serve appetizers and pour drinks to get guests interacting and in a joyful mood.

Dinner Invitation – (Time allotted: 15 minutes)

Guests are encouraged to take their seats for dinner in the main dining room after cocktail hour.

The Grand Entrance – (Time allotted: 10 minutes)

Before introducing the wedding party and newlyweds, your wedding organizer will ensure that everyone is seated. The couple can make their grand entrance once everyone has found their seats. At this time in the evening, the bride and groom may want to have their first dance. Alternately, the first dance could follow the toasts and dinner.

First Dance – (Time: 5 minutes)

Maintain the momentum by shifting directly into the bride and groom’s first dance. You may opt to dance for a song or ask your band or DJ to fade out after two minutes. If you believe your guests would be eager to get on the dance floor after the first dance, you may also schedule a dancing set of three to five songs to get the celebration started.

Welcome Toasts – (Time: 5 minutes)

While all eyes are still on you after your first dance, you and your new spouse may choose to express gratitude to those who attended the celebration. Generally, a family member, typically the parents or a relative of the couple, gives a welcome toast at a wedding reception, greeting attendees and urging everyone to enjoy their meals and drinks.

Dinner – (Time: 45 minutes)

Depending on the meal-service type you select for your reception, dinner can run anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.

Toast For the Wedding Party – (Time: 10 minutes)

Wedding party members, specifically the maid of honor and best man, are frequently invited to give a few words between meal courses. In this manner, the emotional, much-anticipated moments are spread out over the meal, which helps keep people interested.

Parent Dances – (Time: 10-15 minutes)

As a general rule, we advise having the father-daughter and mother-son dance immediately following toasts and before moving on to open dancing. Your band or DJ should play a high-energy song after the last parent dance to get guests out of their seats and dancing.

Bouquet and Garter Toss – (Time: 10 minutes)

The bouquet and garter throw follow immediately after the parent dance, according to the wedding reception schedule. The bouquet and garter tosses are becoming increasingly prevalent, so if you don’t want to include them in your reception schedule, you don’t have to.

Cake Cutting – (Time: 10 minutes)

The food servers should begin setting up dessert and coffee tables about an hour before the reception ends. You don’t want your guests to start leaving before you’re ready because the cutting of the wedding cake is a signal that it’s okay to do so. If the couple hasn’t already done so, now is a perfect moment for them to say a few words and thank everyone for coming.

Last Song – (Time: 5 minutes)

Before the end of the reception, the dance floor will be open for another round of open dancing.

Grand Exit – (Time: 5 minutes)

Organize a spectacular exit as your final farewell if you intend to leave the reception in style. Some couples send off their guests with fireworks, while others use joyous bells or noisemakers. Grab each other’s hands and race for your waiting getaway vehicle, surrounded by applause and well wishes.


Your wedding reception is a fun time to celebrate with your family and friends. Following a wedding reception timeline allows your guests to eat, drink, dance, and interact and experience particular dances and traditions that people expect at a celebration. Remember that with a wedding schedule template customized in place, everything will run smoothly and successfully.

Celebrate Love and Unity With New Denver Lodge

Whether you’re the bride or a guest at the wedding, knowing a wedding reception timeline will help you plan. The New Denver Lodge is a great venue to make unforgettable memories when celebrating occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and family reunions. With their complete amenities, ideal for many guests, this destination venue is worth every penny. Celebrate your life with us. Call now.

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