The Wedding Timeline: The Reception | Business

The Wedding Timeline: The Reception

Congratulations - you've gotten through the major parts of your day, you've taken some beautiful pictures, and even family portrait time is finished. Now it's time to party at the reception! This is absolutely the most laid back part of the wedding for everyone. Family and friends can relax and you can trade in those heels for some more comfortable shoes before you dance the night away.

There are so many different events that can happen in a reception and so many different ways to schedule them. Here is a general order of events and why I recommend they happen in this order - or something close to it!

Grand Entrance - this one is have to enter into your wedding! The bridal party will line up with you as the DJ announces that you're finally Mr. and Mrs.
First Dance(s) - most couples go straight into the first dance. All eyes are already on you, and everyone is excited, so why not enjoy a few moments as husband and wife while your guests watch? It's only natural to have the father/daughter and mother/son dances during this time since the dance floor is already open.

The Wedding Timeline: The Reception

Prayer/Welcome - make sure to choose someone in advance to welcome guests and/or say a prayer before dinner.
Dinner - now it's time to eat! Make sure you at least get one plate of food. Nathan and I had random bites of our meal here and there, but we never got to sit down and eat. It's absolutely not selfish to take some time to eat the meal you have been waiting for!
Dancing - as guests finish their meal and you greet the tables, let the DJ get the music started with some dancing. This will loosen everyone up after dinner and start in on the fun.
Sunset Pictures - depending on the time of year, we will go out for a few minutes right at sunset to get that pretty golden light and to take one final breather before the rest of the reception unfolds.
Cake Cutting - I recommend no more than 45-60 minutes of dancing before the cake cutting. This will ensure that all of your friends and family are there to enjoy this time and any speeches that will follow.

The Wedding Timeline: The Reception

Bouquet Toss/Garter Throw/Wedding Games - it might seem early to follow the cake cutting directly with the next wedding events, but the longer you wait the more guests will leave! If you want all the single ladies and guys vying for the ultimate prize, you will want to make sure this is early enough in the program that they will still be around.
Dancing - of course! My one note here is to be flexible. At most weddings Nathan and I photograph, the timeline overestimates how many people will stay through the end. You want more than just a handful at your grand exit, so don't be afraid to talk with your coordinator about ending a few minutes early or even staging an exit if your guests start to leave. It will not take away from the fun, I promise!
Grand Exit - from sparklers to confetti to everything in between, this is the perfect way to end your night.

While there are small variances from one wedding reception to the next, this is absolutely one of the best ways to flow from one event to the other. Work with a coordinator to ensure everything goes smoothly, stay flexible, and have fun dancing with your new spouse!

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View more from The Wedding Timeline series...
Getting Ready
The First Look
Bridal Party Portraits
The Ceremony
Family Portraits

The Wedding Timeline: The Reception

Maria Grace Photography

My name is Maria, and I am a wedding and family photographer based out of Hampton Roads, Virginia, but I am always excited about traveling. I love families who truly enjoy spending time with each other and living life together. I love couples that are looking forward to their wedding day because they are so excited to finally be married to.