You do not need to have a minute by minute schedule for your reception but you do need a basic plan. Your catering manager and or your DJ should work with you to design a schedule that is comfortable for you and includes your formalities. Here we will break down the reception and give you some ideas, but keep in mind nowadays there are many variables and nothing is set in stone.
Following the wedding while you are wishing off to get pictures with your bridal party your guests are going to the cocktail hour. Guests will mingle while enjoying a beverage, getting their place cards and snacking on some hors-deourves.
After approximately three quarters of an hour you should be arriving at the venue to get freshened up and get your gown bustled. Guests will be asked to make their way to their seats while listening to some adult contemporary upbeat music. Your DJ will get the parents, bridal party and you and your new husband lined up for introductions. After details being reviewed your introduction will take place.
introductions.jpgWhether you head straight to the toast and blessing, choose to have your first dance or cut your wedding cake is up to you but a few thoughts on this moment.
You have a captive audience. If time allows consider having your first dance at this time. No other time will you have as many folks in their seats and their full attention upon you.
If you are serving your wedding cake for dessert you may need to cut it at this time. It takes time to cut, plate and serve to all of your guests. Once folks begin drinking following dinner seldom will anyone dig into a sweet treat. If you have a small number of guests or have extra cake in the kitchen then you may be able to cut your cake when you finish your meal. Either way talk this over with your caterer.
The toast and blessing take place just prior to dinner. The toast should be kept short so as to not delay dinner or especially wander into embarrassing stories about the happy couple.
With the first hour or hour and half behind you dinner can be served. Take time to enjoy your meal. Allow your guests to do the same. When you are finished you may get freshened up again or begin to mingle with some of your guests. This is an area you need to realize that 5 minutes per table is not enough to speak in length to everyone, yet is too long. Five minutes per table times 18 table for example will take an hour and half.
Your DJ will most likely be picking up the tempo for some after dinner music so that your guests will now be getting into the dance mode. You and your husband should be the first to start off dancing or having some of your formal dances (father/daughter/mother/son). Turning dinner into a 2 hour period will slow the pace and your invitees will now be getting restless.
Nowadays people realize how difficult it is for you to see everyone at this time. Consider seeing those who have come a great distance and those you haven't seen in some time. Once dinner is officially over (approx. 1 1/2 hour) it's time to dim the lights and get the show on the road. Wherever you two are you will be a magnet to all of your guests. If you enjoy dancing your presence will pack the dance floor. Head to the bar and the same will occur. Do what you would like to do but allow the entertaining portion of the night to begin.
Three hours, give or take have passed by since the beginning of the reception, the alcohol has started to kick in and the fun heightens. The lights in the venue will be dimmed and the dance floor will be filled with many folks dancing. Some guests will mingle, dance, head to the rest room or perhaps enjoy a cigar outside. Either way they are enjoying your well planned event. You need to enjoy it as well. Allow your DJ or band to entertain with a variety of music and fun.
Certain dances such as a father and daughter dance if not completed by now can be mixed in after a bit. This gives your guests a chance to refresh their drinks, catch their breath and prepare for further dancing shortly. Should you choose to toss your bouquet it can occur during this time. Care must be taken to not lose the energy your entertainer has created so immediately following the last formalities it's party time again.
Some of your guests will undoubtedly be saying their thanks and good night. No need to be alarmed as this is a long day for them as well. The dancing and fun continues until the last song. Whether you have 5 or 6 hours for a reception it is just never long enough. Everyone wants the party to go on but their comes a point in time when you should wish all a farewell. It's best to say goodnight to a hundred than to 8 people.
Send your guests out the door singing the last song fully satisfied with their evening of celebration. If you like you may ask those remaining to join you in another area such as a bar, or conference room to share another drink and wind down.
Make sure you enjoy and take in the entire evening and allow your professionals to handle all the details. Attempting to micro manage will leave you with missing all the fun and enjoyment of the day.
Your specific itinerary can vary a little or a lot from this but always discuss these events with your photographer/videographer, DJ and venue coordinator to get their input and plan yourself a grand evening to be remembered for years to come.
Recapping cocktail hour can be from 1 hour to 1 1/2
Introductions, toast and blessing approx. 15 minutes.
Cake cutting and first dance will be about 5 minutes each.
Dinner varies due to the specific way dinner is served, sit down, buffet or stations. The number of guests and courses will also influence this period.
Estimate an hour to 90 minutes.
Other formalities can take from 15 to 30 minutes depending upon how many and what they are (money dance, bouquet toss etc.).
Remaining time is devoted to fun and dancing.
Remember, bring your dancing shoes.