Reception Ideas

Order of Reception Activities

Does anyone have an idea of the order of reception activities?  We are going to do some pictures before the wedding (my family and me, his family and his) but we are going to wait to do our together pictures until after the wedding, so there will be some lag before we get there, but not much.  What is the typical order of things at a reception?  Should there be a cocktail hour type thing after the reception before we eat, then eat when we get there? What comes after that?  I know we need to do all the dances and garter toss and bouquet toss, cake cutting and such but when is all this done?  Any help would be appreciated!

Re: Order of Reception Activities

  • There aren't any "rules" about this as far as I know.. just your personal preference.  I would suggest a cocktail hour while you are taking pictures that way your guests have a place to go and something to do.

    My reception went as follows:

    cocktail hour
    first dance
    bouquet toss
    garter toss
    cake cutting

    I put cutting the cake later in the night as I really considered the cake to be part of the decor and a focal point in the room.  Many brides choose to cut this much earlier in the reception.

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  • We had:

    -Cocktail hour with food for guests to munch on
    -B&G announced into the reception
    -Toast from BM, impromptu speech by DH, blessing of food
    -Hors d'oeuvres style lunch
    -Mingling, a little bit of dancing
    -Brought a cousin up to the bridal suite to give her a gift of the toss bouquet since it was included in our package, we didn't do a toss, and our family loves her bf
    -Cake cutting a little over an hour before the end
    -Last dance that became an impromptu first dance, I'm not sure who decided that but people came and told us we needed to have a dance so we did
    -Try to talk guests into leaving
    -Shuttle guests on over to the after party ages after they were supposed to have left

    Things like toasts, dances and garter tosses can be done whenever you like
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  • vsgalvsgal
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    We did a cocktail hour.  Yes, we kept it to an hour.

    Then we:

    Announcement of wedding party
    Announcement  of us.
    First dance
    Father/daughter and Mother/groom dance
    Toasts by parents and wedding party
    Buffett opened
    Table visits after we ate
    Cake cutting
    Continuation of table visits.

    We did not do a bouquet/garter toss.

    We did front load our reception.  We did all the photo ops early so we did not have to pay our photographer for extra hours. 

    I will tell you that the timeline we envisioned and the timeline that actually happened were two different things.  We planned to do the toasts before the first dance, but the band got twitchy and started our first dance music after we were announced.  Not a big deal.  Also, our cake started to tip, so we cut it about 30 minutes before the timeline.  Again, not a big deal.  Just be flexible with your day-of planning because things may get a little wacky on the wedding day.

  • The cocktail hour is for the guests while you are taking your post-ceremony pictures. 

    Ours went:

    Cocktail hour

    Announcement of bride and groom

    First dance

    Welcome by ILs


    Toasts (an hour after dinner)

    Cake cutting/serving (right after toasts)

    Dancing (other special dances could go here but we didn't do any)

    Bouquet/garter (about an hour after cake/2 hours after dinner)

    Last dance


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