Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Family dances reception timeline help

I need help about timeline and dancing etiquette because I honestly don’t know and I don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable. Questions numbered below, extra info in case it’s needed (you can skip to numbered questions if you want). Thank you so much for your help! 

My fiancé’s mom is really excited about their mother/son dance, but she is nervous as well. My fiancé suggested having the dances before eating so she won’t be anxious during the meal. She is shy and just says “whatever you guys want”, but he knows her well enough to think she is being polite and doesn’t want to make special requests. I wasn’t sure about maybe if it’s some etiquette thing within western style (American) weddings. Below is the reception timeline we originally sketched out. Details: We are having a very small wedding of 70 guests. Only one groomsman and bridesmaid in our wedding party. Ceremony 4:30, cocktail hour 5 and reception 6-10. 

1) Would it be ok to have the family dances right after ours? Before the meal? They are each no longer than 2 minutes. I just want his mother to enjoy the meal and not have her tummy all twisted. 

2) Is it weird to have my uncle dance with me for father-daughter dance? My uncles discussed it and said one of my father’s brothers would walk me down the aisle and the other wanted to dance. My father died and my fiance’s parents know, but I don’t want to bring attention to that by having certain father of the bride traditions marked out. 

3) Should I change parts of the timeline? We are not having bouquet/garter toss. 

6pm- Guests come in
6:10- bride & groom entrance, first dance
6:15- welcome/thank you & dinner blessing 
6:20- appetizers course
6:35- main course
7- desserts and champagne for toasts brought out
7:15- bestman & maid of honor toasts 
7:30-8 table visits (8 tables)
~8/8:15 family dances* need help with this 
~8:15-9 dancing
9-9:15 cake cutting (mid tempo music)
9:15-9:45 more dancing
9:45-10 exit 

Thank you so much for your help. 

Re: Family dances reception timeline help

  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited July 2018
    Consider having only your first dance with your FI as a spotlight dance. Any dances you do with your family members would be less conspicuous if they are not spotlight dances, and you would not owe any explanations as to why you did or didn't dance with whomever.

    Also, guests often become impatient with too much scheduled "business" like spotlight dances or planned moments on the agenda, where they're supposed to watch but not actively participate. By minimizing the one spotlight dance to just you and your FI, you reduce this as well and your guests will be grateful.
    InLoveInQueens[Deleted User]ernursejahoywedding
  • banana468 thank you. There will be lots of appetizers prior so they won’t be too hungry. Would it be good to do toasts as appetizers come out and then table visits during main meal? Or toasts and then table visits during appetizers and perhaps leading into main meal? Thank you for your input. 
  • All the weddings I've been to in the last 2+ years, including my own, the first dance was right after the intros, then the family dances were right after that. I think that's the best time to do them - gets them out of the way for anyone who might be nervous about it and avoids disrupting the flow of the party later on. 

    I agree with @banana468 that you need to do table visits while your guests are eating dinner. For the size wedding you are having I don't think it'll be too difficult. We had about 80 guests at our wedding. We started the table visits during the salad course, then ate our dinner, and then did the rest of our table visits while the guests were still eating, and we didn't feel at all rushed. Remember that each table visit does not have to be terribly long, but you do need to do them when your guests are most likely to be there, and that's during dinner. 
    image
    [Deleted User]short+sassyahoyweddingSTARMOON44
  • @downtondiva @banana468 perfect! Thanks. I love the idea of getting all the formal stuff out of the way. Less stress for everyone it seems. @Jen4948 thanks, thinking about having them without MC announcing it. Future MIL wants her own dance even though she is shy. I originally wasn’t going to do any but I thought his other family members may ask if he had one and I didn’t. Making some changes and then send it to my planner later this week in case I need to make more changes. 

    6- guests enter
    6:10-6:20 first dance, family dance, welcome & blessing (aiming for 8 mins tops)
    6:20- 1st course & champagne brought to tables, toasts (begin table visits after toast)
    6:35-7 main course (finish visits)
    7-9 dessert and dancing
    9- cake 
    9:45-10 exit

  • MRDCleMRDCle member
    500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper
    megs_tx said:
    @downtondiva @banana468 perfect! Thanks. I love the idea of getting all the formal stuff out of the way. Less stress for everyone it seems. @Jen4948 thanks, thinking about having them without MC announcing it. Future MIL wants her own dance even though she is shy. I originally wasn’t going to do any but I thought his other family members may ask if he had one and I didn’t. Making some changes and then send it to my planner later this week in case I need to make more changes. 

    6- guests enter
    6:10-6:20 first dance, family dance, welcome & blessing (aiming for 8 mins tops)
    6:20- 1st course & champagne brought to tables, toasts (begin table visits after toast)
    6:35-7 main course (finish visits)
    7-9 dessert and dancing
    9- cake 
    9:45-10 exit

    Can I ask why cake is at 9? As a guest I would be be bummed to stop dancing close to the end of the night for cake cutting, especially if we already had dessert. 
    ernursejcharlotte989875
  • @MRDCle I googled 4 hour reception timeline and pretty much went off of that. I have no idea what I’m doing haha. The explanation said something about cake cutting means it’s almost time to leave. Should we do it at beginning so they can prepare the cake to be passed out or should we cut the cake right after the main course? What’s normally done? We aren’t saving any part of the cake. Thanks. 
  • MRDCleMRDCle member
    500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper
    megs_tx said:
    @MRDCle I googled 4 hour reception timeline and pretty much went off of that. I have no idea what I’m doing haha. The explanation said something about cake cutting means it’s almost time to leave. Should we do it at beginning so they can prepare the cake to be passed out or should we cut the cake right after the main course? What’s normally done? We aren’t saving any part of the cake. Thanks. 
    Yeah, personally I would try to squeeze it in around the blessing so that dancing isn't interrupted, plus it gives the kitchen time to cut it and plate it. Your DJ should be able to indicate to people that it's almost time to leave. 
    ahoywedding[Deleted User]
  • At BIL and SIL's wedding, they cut the cake while we at our salad course.   It basically got it out of the way and was perfect. 
    [Deleted User]
  • at my SIL's recent wedding, the cake was in the middle of the dance floor and they cut immediately after being announced at the reception then they immediately had their first dance.

    plenty of time for it to be cut and passed or put on a dessert table.

    [Deleted User]
  • Awesome. I will add that to the beginning as well. Then start dancing for everyone 7:15ish-10. 
  • Thank you guys!
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