Creating a Balanced Wedding Reception Timeline

A well balanced timeline is critical to a smooth flowing reception. In fact, how you space out the traditions at your wedding reception will play a big part in overall success of your celebration.

The first thing you need to do is lock in how many hours your reception will run for and from experience a 5 to 6 hour reception is just right. Not too short where you don’t have enough time to soak up the venue, service (& fine wine) and not too long so your guests don’t fall asleep (Especially the Oldies!)

But keeping in mind you want to share as much as your time with the guests you have at your wedding reception. Now is your opportunity to have all of your family in one room!

DJ Decks near dancefloor

Generally speaking, allow a little more time for a sit down (x Course) main meal. Being served entrée’, then mains, then dessert will cut into the time of your wedding reception.

Buffet’s are a little different as a Buffet can be served to your guests very quickly. Each table usually makes their way up one at a time to serve themselves from the buffet.

The amount of guests you have whether its 30 or 200 should not affect the length you choose for your reception.

Once your the length of your wedding reception is locked in now you can fill it up with “things to do”. These things to do include watching the first dance, speeches and cutting of the cake, interaction with the entertainment and enjoying fine food and beverages.

The main traditions in order include…

  • Bridal Party Introduction
  • Main Meal
  • Toasts & Speeches
  • Cake Cutting
  • First Dance
  • Dancing & Fun
  • Bouquet / Garter Toss
  • Farewells Extra Traditions & Activities may include…
  • Father & Daughter Dance
  • Mother and Son Dance
  • Anniversary Dance
  • Wedding Activities / Games

The following time line is what I have seen work well for a 5-6 hour wedding receptions with times below to give you an idea. The below timeline is what is common at an Australian or United States wedding reception…

6:00pm – Guests Arrive

6:30pm – MC Seats Guests

6:35pm – Bridal Party Introduction

6:45pm – Entrée Served

7:30pm – Main Meal Served

8:15pm – Speeches

8:45pm – Cake Cutting

9:00pm – First Dance

9:00pm – Dancing & Activities

11:00pm – Bouquet and Garter

11:30pm – Bride and Groom Farewells

12:00am – Reception Concludes

This order of events creates an even balance whilst leaving a little room for flexibility on timings. It’s important not to feel rushed at your wedding reception and to relax, celebrate and be merry with your friends and family.

The Secret to a Fun & Memorable Wedding Reception is a Balanced Timeline. Have a think about how much time you would like to dedicate to each tradition. You want to keep your guests engaged yet relaxed.. that is the fine balance for success.

Just remember the memories that you and your guests create is the most important thing to keep in mind when planning and incorporating each tradition!

Wishing you easy planning and a great wedding day,

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