While every wedding reception is a little different, each having its own atmosphere, as the bride and groom, it is important that regardless of what you have planned that you have it organized. This means knowing what will be served, who was invited, who is working, how much you are paying, the time the reception will start and end, what band is playing, the type of music being played and every aspect of this event.
You will need to determine a schedule for your specific reception based on the number of guests, whether it is a sit-down meal, buffet, or simply desserts, if there will be live music, and so on. However, to give you an idea of what you might expect, we have put together a mock schedule for you. Keep in mind that there will be variances between this example and your own reception but this is a good guideline. Additionally, for a reception including music and food, it will last about four hours. For this example, we will say the event will start at 4:00 p.m.
From 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., you can use this hour as a cocktail hour. During this time, your guests will enjoy a couple of drinks, snack on appetizers, and visit with other guests. Setting the cocktail hour up can be done in a separate room or included in the main reception hall. Additionally, you can choose to include music at this time if you like.
At 5:00 p.m., the bride and groom will enter the reception after having the photographs done. At this time, they are officially announced as husband and wife. Additionally, they will enjoy their first dance together as a married couple, many times walking straight onto the dance floor.
From 5:15 to 5:30 p.m., the couple will enjoy a drink, becoming settled into their place at the wedding table.
5:45 to 6:00 p.m., the toasts will occur for the newly married couple. The Best Man always starts, followed by the Maid of Honor and then responded to by the bride and groom. Other people offering a toast might include the parents and other members of the wedding party.
6:00 to 8:00 p.m., everyone will enjoy time on the dance floor, eating, and mingling. Also included in this time slot is the tossing of the garter and bridal bouquet, cake cutting, and any other special traditions you want included.
8:10 p.m., the guests are now all served their slice of wedding cake or other desserts chosen for the reception. During this time, dancing is still available and people are visiting with one another.
8:50 p.m., the band or DJ plays the last song and guests begin to leave the reception.
9:00 to 9:15 p.m., the bride and groom say their goodbyes and head out the door to the limo, on the way to their honeymoon, the remaining guests leave, the parents or designated person loads up the wedding gifts for safe keeping, the caterers clean up, and the minister or designated person turns off the lights and locks up.