South Asian Weddings

Advice on Reception Timeline

Hi ladies -- I'm a little unsure of how I want the Reception timeline to go so thought I would run my concerns by you. Here is what I was thinking: 6-7: Cocktail Hour 7:30: Hopefully get everyone seated by this time Announce Wedding Party and the new couple First Dance Cake Cutting Speeches (3-4 max) Dance Performance (just having 1) Video DINNER w/Picture Slideshow Bride/Groom Thank you Speech Father/Daughter Dance Open Dancing I guess my question is about the beginning -- is it weird to have our first dance right away, followed by the cake cutting? Or should we cut the cake first and then have our first dance? Should we cut the cake some other time? Would love to get your thoughts ladies...

Re: Advice on Reception Timeline

  • edited December 2011
    We'll probably do our first dance right away, but I'm waiting on the cake cutting until after the meal. It seems weird to me to cut the cake before people even eat "real" food. I know some people do that, but I just prefer it later in the evening.
  • Meghana55Meghana55
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    edited December 2011
    I think that sounds pretty good!  We did our first dance after wedding party/couple entrances.  We also did our parent dances at that time to get those dances out of the way.  I thought it was nice because we got the formal stuff out of the way early on, so the rest of the night could just be a big party.  We did our cake cutting later in the evening, but if I had to do it again I would have done it earlier, so I think the way that you have it is good.  If you don't like the positioning of the cake cutting as you have it now, maybe you could cut it right before dinner, so that while dinner is being served/everyone is eating, cake will also be put out around that time.
  • katie978katie978
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    edited December 2011
    Thanks for posting, Megha, this is helpful.  I'm working on the same thing.  May I ask what time you're finishing?  We have to wrap up at 11:30 and I'm a bit worried the reception will seem short.  How long did most peoples' last?I too was leaning toward doing the first dance right after introductions.  It seems natural or something to do it right when you arrive.  But everyone else involved seems to think it should go after dinner (right before you have father/daughter dance).  Definitely interested in others' opinions!  I would probably move the cake cutting to right after dinner.  You could incorporate your thank you speech into that time ... cut cake, clean faces :) then say thanks.  Though I definitely think its different and potentially interesting to have it early.  I generally think its way too late in the evening.  But then I always want dessert ASAP!
  • edited December 2011
    Another thought - not sure about your guests, but a lot of folks view the cake cutting as the time when they can leave. So if you do it too early you may lose a bunch of guests early in the reception. Which may be nice, I don't know. Here (in the South) I know that some of the older guests don't like to stay for long and they leave right after the cake. I think I've read this on other more "nationwide" sites like The Knot, but you know your guests better.
  • Meghana55Meghana55
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    edited December 2011
    This was our timeline - not sure if this will help6:30-approx 7:45 - Cocktail hour7:45-8 - everyone ushered into ballroomThen - entrances, first dance, parent dances, speeches (we had 4), toast, dance floor opened.while the dance floor was opened, dinner was also being served.  But depending on your crowd this can be good or bad.  We had everyone out on the dance floor for a long time...slowly people went to eat.  After dinner we did cake cutting and our thank you speech and then dancing for the rest of the night.Our reception was supposed to end at 11:30, but we actually ended up going a little past 12 cause everyone was dancing up a storm.   DJ and venue didn't charge us for the extra time
  • edited December 2011
    I personally prefer to have less stuff up front because I think people are grouchy when they are waiting for their food and so less likely to appreciate everything.  I just picture people getting really antsy during the speeches so that they'll be annoyed by the time the dancing and video come around.  Here's how we did ours:6-7 Cocktail Hour7:00 Begin dinner seating, tables pre-set with salads and bread7:15: Intro of couple and first danceWelcome speeches from two fathersFather-Daughter dance7:30: Entree ServedThen at some point in the evening we did the MOH/BM speeches and the cake cutting together.If you want the first dance after the intro (which is how we did it), maybe you could do the dance performance after dinner to "open" the dance floor back up.
  • edited December 2011
    i dont think its weird, i think its natural b/c you're already out on the dance floor and all eyes are on you.  if you want to move cake cutting i personally would do it closer to dinner time, but i think its also fine that way it is.
  • edited December 2011
    So the only reason to do the cake cutting early is because we are actually serving the cake right after dinner with the other desserts at the table itself so I wanted to make sure they had time to cut it, etc. Dinner is family style too so folks will just be at the table. We are planning on ending around Midnight -- I didn't put times above because I'm still working on it. But we want to start dinner by 8:30 pm or so. We might just start serving dinner even if the program is going on to make sure people get food. We want the father/daughter dance before open dancing because my dad and I are planning on doing a surprise choreographed number thing that will start off the dancing for the night. And I like the idea of spacing out the first dance and father/daughter dance. Also the one dance performance actually involves like 10 couples so we wanted to get it done early so everyone can relax and enjoy dinner and not worry about it! The other option is to split up the speeches -- do 2, then the performance, then 2 more. We'll have to see. Also, did anyone do a late night snack? We were thinking of getting pizzas around 11:00-11:30 or so. Did anyone do this? If so, what time?
  • edited December 2011
    I stressed about this but everything turned out fine.  I have been to weddings where the cake is cut immediately after the first dance and to weddings were the cake is cut after dinner (I've definitely been to more weddings where the latter is done).  Check with your caterer to see what they prefer.  Anyway, here was our rough outline:5-6: cocktail hour6-7:30: buffet dinner starts7:15: toasts (people were eating during the dinner; we had a LOT of toasts)7:30: dancing (I'm sure we didn't finish the toasts by 7:30, though)8:15: cake cutting, coffee and tea is served8:15-10: dancing10 p.m. to the wee hours of the morn: after party!
  • jessiegirl_98jessiegirl_98
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    edited December 2011
    I'm a little late here, but you have a TON going on and will likely not have the dance floor open until really late (e.g., boring to guests). I would recommend: 6-7: Cocktail Hour 7:30: Hopefully get everyone seated by this time Announce Wedding Party and the new couple Dinner-- during dinner do the: speeches (BTW, I know 3-4 isn't a ton for a SA wedding, but it's a lot), dance performance, video, slideshow (again, that's a lot going on). At the very end of dinner, cut the cake and then do the dances. JMO, but you should really have the speeches, performace, etc during dinner. Also, will your cake be on the dance floor? If so, make sure to do that before the first dance.
  • jessiegirl_98jessiegirl_98
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    edited December 2011
    We did pizza's at 11. Everyone flipped (and it was only Pizza Hut- BTW, they gave me a 20% discount, so I'd ask). All of this being said, if you are looking at a 7:30 start time with dinner, with all of your performances, full dinner, etc, you will probably look more at a starting dance time after 10. That's very late and very long for your guests. My DH's sister had a similar layout as you and we ended up not eating until about 9pm and danced around 10:30. Totally boring. Not trying to be mean, just something to think about!! Guests have short attention spans.
  • edited December 2011
    Thanks for the tips! We will start dinner at 8:30 pm and for Indian weddings that is totally normal from the weddings I have attended. We'll have appetizers at the cocktail hour. I actually thought we didn't have a lot going on because we are only doing one dance and the speeches are at a minimum -- one is my friend, one is FI's friend, one is the parents mostly saying thanks. We are going to move the video to post dinner but I think otherwise, this works well. Thanks for all the advice ladies!
  • katie978katie978
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    edited December 2011
    Megha, I was at a wedding this past weekend where they did the cake cutting early and it totally worked.  Clearly made sense in terms of getting the cake cut during dinner to be passed immediately thereafter.  And seemed to eliminate the whole "ok they're cutting the cake let's leave" phenomenon since obviously nobody was going to roll out before dinner!  Made me think your schedule will work well.
  • SmithaandMikeSmithaandMike
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    edited December 2011
    We are doing our first dance right away. I think that will help us as well so we dont forget all the steps (we took lessons lol). Then we are doing the cake cutting later in the evening. I will post my timeline later this week when my coordinator sends the final one to me.
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