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Wedding Reception Timeline

A Guide to What Happens During a Wedding Reception and When


You've done the hard work, now it is time to party! Here's a timeline guide to what typically happens at wedding receptions, including seated dinners, cocktails only, and brunches.

A 5 hour wedding reception with cocktail hour and seated dinner

5 pm: Cocktail Hour You can take pictures during this time, mingle with the guests, or just enjoy a little time to yourselves! Most people use this time to take formal photographs.

6 pm: Dinner An announcement should be made that dinner is starting. Guests move to the room where dinner will be served and are seated.

6:10 pm: Bridal Party Announced

Couple Announced

6:15 pm: Welcome Typically the bride's father welcomes everyone to the wedding reception and thanks them for coming. Some couples choose to do toasts here, but most wait until later in the wedding reception. You can also, if you wish say a blessing over the meal now.

6:20 pm: First Course is served

6:30 pm: Toasts Best Man makes his toast. If the Maid of Honor is making a toast, she follows. Best Man Speeches Samples of Wedding Toasts How to Write a Toast

6:45 pm: Main Course is served If other family members or members of the bridal party are making toasts, they do so now.

7:25 pm: First Dance The band leader or DJ announces the couple. They can dance the entire song by themselves, or have the DJ invite the rest of the bridal party up for the second half of the song. First Dance Songs

7:35 pm Dancing Begins

8:15 pm: Cake Cutting Cake served with coffee and/or champagne

8:30 pm: Bride and Groom Thanks Although not required, it is very nice for the couple to say thank you to everyone, and especially to their parents.

8:40 pm: Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dances

8:50 pm: Dancing Continues Some older guests will leave after cake is served so be sure that you've had a chance to visit with them beforehand.

9:30 pm: Bouquet Toss and/or Garter Toss Should You Have a Bouquet or Garter Toss? If you do both, typically the people who caught them dance together

9:45 pm: Last Dance The DJ should invite everyone to the floor for a last dance together. Choose a fun and upbeat song so that everything ends on a high note.

9:55 pm: Farewell Have the DJ ask everyone to the front steps so they can send you off in style!
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