Reception timelines are a big deal – and really control the feel of the wedding celebration and the flow of events. It’s all about keeping the reception at a good pace, not too rushed and definitely not moving too slow. Many of you I’m sure turn to the web to look at sample wedding reception timelines. Just remember these are just a guide to help you get organized – not a set of rules to abide by! While there is flexibility as to how a reception can be organized and ordered, it’s important to be practical. Her are 10 helpful reception timeline tips that will help make your day flow just as you want it to!
1. Decide if you want to have a traditional timeline or a trendy one.
First things first, decide if you’ll want the usual reception customs like cake cutting, the dollar dance, bouquet and garter toss, etc. or if you’d rather take a spin and go for a more trendy approach.
2. Make sure everyone involved knows what’s going on.
One of my biggest reception timeline tips: Everything should be planned and scheduled with your DJ, photographer, caterer, coordinator and other key vendors well in advance of your big day. Make sure every vendor has the same grand entrance time, first dance and cake cutting time, as well as dinner start time. Doing this ensures a smooth wedding reception from start to finish.
Photo Credit: Ben Pancoast Photography
3. Do your formal photos right away!
Have an organized list to give to the photographer about who you’d like in what photos. Inform your family and friends in these formal pictures where to meet and when. This will keep the movement from one set of photos to the next.
4. Don’t keep guests waiting!
Try and stick to a 45 minute cocktail hour (1.25 hour MAX). Keeping your guests waiting too long will have them wondering about the timeline of events and when things are going to get underway.
5. Allow time to get ready for the grand entrance.
Plan to bustle your dress before you get announced? Have a large bridal party to round up? Allow a few extra minutes between arriving at the reception venue and getting announced so you can stick to your timeline as much as possible.
6. Consider doing toasts between dinner courses.
This is a newly popular piece to reception timelines. Consider having dinner right away and starting the toasts in between the salad and dinner course. It allows guests to finish up their first course while toasts begin and time for caterers to clear the tables of salad plates to prepare for the dinner entree.
7. Tame your talkers.
It’ll be impossible to predict how long someone can ramble for when they’re under the spotlight but inform your toasters to keep it to a minimum of a few minutes. You’ll want to keep your guests attention and taming your talkers is the way to go.
8. Have a buffer of time for every activity
As mentioned in our #7, you’ll never know how much time your toasters may talk for when under the spotlight. Also, if doing other activities like a grand sparkler sendoff, make sure you build in time to prepare the sparklers, get them lit, and have your guests lined up.
9. Don’t cut the cake too late!
A lot of couples are turning to cutting their cake upon arrival. If you’ve decided this is a little early for you, consider cutting the cake as soon as dinner is over. This will allow catering enough time to get the cake cut before guests begin to leave the reception.10. Once you start open dancing, keep it that way!
Enough said! Once people find their way to the dance floor, don’t give them a reason to leave! Be sure to get all of the formalities taken care of before open dancing begins.
Be okay with changes and don’t get too caught up in the timeline – enjoy your day (it’s going to go too fast regardless!) Keep in mind that you’re not orchestrating the wedding reception alone – you’ve got us to help guide you; just one of the many things we’re here for!
Contact us with questions! Happy planning!
1928 Planning Co. is a full-service Southwest Michigan wedding planning company, helping couples plan, create and experience their dream wedding! We offer guidance with wedding planning for amazing destination weddings and Michigan beach weddings, wedding rentals, decor and more. Our priority is creating a perfectly unique wedding that represents YOU, and making your big day that much more relaxing and memorable. Contact us to see how we can be a part of your celebration!