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Suggested Sample Wedding Reception Format

Each wedding reception is unique. Like people, there are no two receptions totally alike. Each event represents the singular personalities and tastes of the person who is hosting -- you! The format you follow is not etched in stone! You can be traditional -- or deviate from the norm -- whatever best follows your taste. When planning your special day, keep in mind what you want -- or don't want. Remember, there is plenty of advice to be had, but in the end, this is your day. Decide on what makes you most comfortable -- and what your guests might enjoy too! Below, you will see a suggested wedding reception format and sample timeline. This model is based upon a four hour time allotment for an evening affair:

6 p.m. - Your guests arrive at the hall. Upon entering, they are greeted by background music. This combination of the entrance, the decorated reception room, and music will set the first, and lasting, impression. They will mingle and await the arrival of the wedding party;(This is also the Cocktail hour for most events while the bride and groom are taking photos after the ceremony)

7pm - The bridal party arrives at the hall. Following last minute arrangements, the wedding entourage assembles into a procession line outside the room and they are introduced (by couple) in sequence, with the bride and groom entering last;

7:15 - The bridal party is seated at the head table. Perhaps at this juncture, the bride and groom will have their first dance. This may then be followed by a dance with the bride and her father and the groom and his mother. Lastly, the entire bridal party will join in. Guests may also be invited; 7:30 - All are seated again. A toast to the bridal couple is offered, usually by the best man/matron of honor. This may be directly followed by a prayer from a member of the clergy. The bride or groom (or parents) may have a few words;

7:30 to 8:15
- Dinner is served if this is a sit down affair, or the tables are called in sequence for the line at the buffet. Naturally, the bridal table is first, in either scenario. Usually, too, during this time, the bride and groom will visit the tables and greet their guests. Much depends upon when -- and in which manner -- the meal is being coordinated. If this is a sit down affair, the guests may be invited to the dance floor until the entrees are brought out. This is a time where flexibility and patience are both a virtue!;

8:15 to 9:00 - The main meal is finished. Again, the guests are invited to dance. During this time period, there may be a dollar dance, the garter toss, the throwing of the bouquet, etc.;

9:00 to 9:30 - This may be the opportunity for the cutting of the cake. Picture taking continues. Dessert and coffee are served. The dancing really kicks into high gear; (Also great time to do the garter and bouquet toss is after the cake- Personal Preference)

9:15 to 10 - The reception is in full swing by now, and will continue until the end. The bride and groom may choose to slip away at this point, or stay to say goodbye to their guests

10 - The last dance of the evening.


Weddings, Corporate Events, Clubs, School Dances, Anniversaries, Birthdays, College Parties, and Fund-raisers

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