Your wedding reception should flow right along at a good pace, but it certainly should not be rushed. We strongly recommend following a format and timeline that varies slightly from the norm. Why? Because it works very well, improves flow and helps keep your guests around so everyone has fun. Plus it guarantees no lengthy break in the music once it starts. Dragging out the ceremonial activities combined with starting and stopping the music will frequently result in the early departure of some (or many) guests. Everything should be planned and scheduled with your DJ, photographer, caterer and other key vendors well in advance of your big day.
Here’s the sequence to follow for a successful wedding reception:
Arrival: The Wedding Party should strive to arrive at the reception hall within an hour of the end of the wedding ceremony. This means you must gather family and move right to your photo session. If the wedding and reception are at different locations, someone in the party should keep the DJ posted by cell phone as to the party’s whereabouts and estimated time of arrival so the DJ can keep guests informed.
Introduction: The DJ joins the wedding party just outside entrance to hall and makes sure everyone is properly lined up and ready to go. The introduction should be limited to the wedding party; however it is perfectly OK to include parents, grandparents and others close to the bride and groom. Note: If your DJ has access to a studio, you might consider having him or her produce an awesome announcement mixed with music pre-chosen by the bride and groom. Pulled off correctly – it requires a true pro – this can really make your entrance “big time!”
If you will play a video-slideshow of the bride and groom through the years, a good time to do it is after all members of the wedding party have been announced, except the bride and groom who wait outside the hall during the video. Another good choice is just before dinner when everyone is seated. Your video-slideshow show should be three to four minutes with special music mixed under the photos and graphics.
Cake Cutting: As introduced, members of the wedding party should proceed immediately to the dinner table and be seated. The bride & groom upon introduction should walk straight to the cake and proceed with the cutting. It’s a good photo-op and guests are already centered on the bride and groom. The newlyweds then take their seat for dinner.
Toast: This should take place just a few minutes after the bride and groom are seated but before any food is served and certainly not while servers are moving about the area.
Blessing: The microphone will be handed off to the person who will do your blessing. The toasters and DJ must know where this person is sitting.
Dinner: If banquet style, bride and groom go first followed by the rest of wedding party. Then tables are released one at a time by staff, friends or your DJ. Arrange it in advance.
Greeting Guests: If the bride and groom wish to “work the room”, they should do so immediately upon completion of their dinner while guests are still at their tables. They’ll be “honored” to have you stop by, even if you interrupt their dinner conversation.
Bouquet Toss: This should take place as soon as possible after dinner.
Garter Toss: This should immediately follow the toss.
First Dance: Bride and groom dance to their special song.
Father/Daughter Dance: The bride’s father joins her for a special dance.
Mother/Groom Dance: (optional)
(We suggest no Dollar dance or other special dances except for the entire wedding party. Dollar dances tend to drag on, slow things down and are considered a bit “cheesy” these days)
Wedding Party Dance: Your DJ invites all members of the wedding party to hit the floor.
Anniversary Dance: Your DJ will invite all married couples to the dance floor and play about thirty seconds of a pre-selected song, then ask anyone married less than a day to take a seat. Obviously, the bride and groom are first to leave with everyone’s focus still on them. After a few more seconds of the song, everyone married less than a year will sit down, and so forth. You get the idea. Eventually a few couples married 50 years or more will remain. This special dance is a great way to get people involved and a neat way to lead into open dancing for all.
Open Dance Floor: This continues with no interruptions until the end of the reception.
Treat your wedding reception as a “production” and pay attention to detail when meeting with your service providers and constructing your timeline.