The Order of Events at Wedding Receptions | A Perfect Wedding Reception Timeline


Wedding reception timeline Los Angeles CAYour wedding reception is a special celebration of the union of two people. There are several activities that take place at a wedding reception, from cocktail hour to first dance and the party. To ensure that everything goes as planned, we’ve put together the perfect wedding reception timeline and order of events.

The key to a successful wedding party is to plan ahead and ensure that the order of events is well defined. Your emcee or wedding planner will be responsible for ensuring that everything goes as planned, but you’ll want to provide them with an ideal timeline.

Wedding Reception Timeline

The following wedding reception timeline sample is meant to help you structure your wedding reception and ensure that everything flows well.

1. Cocktail Hour and Hors d’oeuvres

Cocktail hour Los Angeles CAThe cocktail hour is the time between the ceremony and the reception where guests can relax and have a drink or two, enjoy some hors d’oeuvres, and engage in conversation.

This is particularly essential if the wedding ceremony and reception are at different places since it gives your guests enough time to travel. In addition, if you are using the same venue to host your ceremony and reception, cocktail hour provides guests with time to greet one another and the staff with enough time to set up for the reception.

Many couples also choose to take their pictures during cocktail hour, ensuring that their guests are taken care of while they are away.

2. Guests Enter The Reception Area and Are Seated

wedding guests Los Angeles CAAs cocktail hour comes to an end, your guests will be ushered towards the reception venue. If there is a seating arrangement, allow enough time for people to find their seats. Once everyone is seated, the reception can begin.

3. Immediate Family And Friends Walk Down The Aisle

The wedding party, which consists of the groomsmen, bridesmaids, ring bearers, flower girls, and immediate family members, will assemble at the entrance to the reception site to make their grand entrance while guests are finding their seats.

Once everyone has found there seats, the ceremony will begin and the wedding party will walk down the aisle (typically in groups of 1-3).  

Here’s typically the order by which wedding party members walk down the aisle:

  1. Grandparents
  2. Cousins
  3. Friends
  4. Sisters & Brothers (walk individually or together)
  5. Father and Mother of the Groom
  6. The Groom
  7. Ring Bearer
  8. Father and Mother of the Bride
  9. Flower Girls
  10. The Bride

The DJ or live band will provide music of your choice during each walk. 

4. Starting The Party – The First Dance

Once the ceremony is complete, guests will find their seats in the ballroom (if they haven’t already) and prepare for the bride and grooms grand entrance.

The bridal couple’s entrance has a few unique parts in the wedding reception timeline.

First dance – bride and groom only (typically rehearsed prior)

Wedding first dance Los AngelesFirst dances are a special time where guests get to see the love and affection the bride and groom have for each other. It is customary for the guests of honor to open the dance at any event. Since this party is a celebration of the union of two people, they are the guests of honor, and their first dance signals the start of the festivities.

While most bridal couples choose to perform their first dance at the beginning of the event to signal its start, many prefer to have it at the end of the reception before the meals are served.

Second dance – Father of the bride and the bride

father and daughter dance Los AngelesThe father-daughter dance is a wonderful time between a woman and her father that represents her gratitude for her father’s constant support and guidance throughout her life. 

After she is married, headship passes from her father to her husband, and this dance is an appreciation for the relationship they share.

Third dance – Mother of the groom and the groom

mother and son dance Los AngelesA groom’s dance with his mother is a symbol of his love for her. It is a special dance that shows his appreciation for her and serves as a reminder that she will always hold a special place in his heart.

5. Party Time!

bride and groom dance Los AngelesThe truth is that this is the time of the night everyone has been waiting for. It’s time for your guests to join you on the dance floor as you celebrate your wedding day. 

This is where your live band or professional DJ will set the tone for the party. Your entertainment should come prepared with your desired music and be able read the crowd, playing the kind of music that would appeal to them. If you are looking for a wedding band or DJ to make your wedding party a night to remember, contact Liv Entertainment Group today!

6. The Wedding Dinner

wedding dinner Los AngelesAfter a bit of dancing and drinks with your guests, dinner should be served. The wedding dinner offer a nice break in the wedding reception activities where the bridal couple can get something to eat, relax for a while, and greet their guests. You can serve an intimate family-style meal, a buffet-style dinner, or plated meals. 

Allowing your guests to eat at this point in the reception ensures that they are fueled and ready to go for the dance party that will continue!

7. Speeches & Toasts

wedding toast Los AngelesOnce the newlyweds have taken their place at the head table, and the guests are enjoying their dinners, it’s time to move on to the next event on the wedding reception timeline. This involves expressing gratitude to everyone who has turned out to celebrate this special day with you.

The welcome speech is typically done by the bride and groom or their parents. Alternatively, you can pick a member of your bridal party or a family member to convey your gratitude. 

This is also the perfect time to say blessing or prayer from a member of the family!

Speeches and toasts can be made while the guests enjoy their meal because they are already seated and more likely to pay attention during this time. Here is a typical order of events for speeches and toasts:

  1. Best man’s toast

  2. Speech by the maid of honor

  3. Speeches from parents of the couple, friends, or other family members

Ideally, speeches should be about two or three minutes long, or guests can get bored. This is also a great time to play any wedding games, such as the shoe game.

8. Back to The Party!

Once the dinner and speeches our over, your emcee can invite everyone back to the dance floor for another round of dancing, drinking and enjoying the event.  This is typically the best part of the night – everyone’s taken a nice break, had a few drinks at this point, and are ready to rock for a few more hours.

9. Wedding Cake Cutting

wedding cake cutting Los Angeles CAThe wedding cake cutting ceremony signals to your friends and family that the wedding reception is about to end. It is often done roughly an hour before you make your grand exit, or the wedding reception ends.

Ask your DJ to offer slow or mid-tempo music as everyone enjoys their dessert together. This is also a good time to do the wedding bouquet toss and ask your wedding photographer to capture some photos of you with your guests.

10. The Last Dance

Last dance Los Angeles CAAfter your guests have eaten their dessert, it’s time to keep the celebration going by inviting your guests back onto the dance floor! On the wedding reception timeline, this final dance set signals the end of the party. 

Allow the DJ to mention when the last song is being played so that your guests know that this is the last chance to get onto the dance floor before the wedding party ends. Select an upbeat, major hit song that will get everybody moving to close the celebration.

11. Grand Exit

Wedding grand exit Los Angeles CAAfter the last song has played, it’s time for you to leave. You can ask your DJ or emcee to usher everyone outside to see you and your partner ride off into the sunset as you travel on your honeymoon.

Need a Professional DJ or Live Band for Your Wedding Reception?

From the first dance to the cake cutting and toasts, a DJ or live band will set the tone and ensure that everything flows smoothly. Whether you prefer the professional services of a DJ or the thrill of a live band, LIV Entertainment Group has just what you need.

To find out more or request a free quotation, contact us today!


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