How to Schedule a Reception

How to Schedule a Reception

You have said I do…now you can relax and enjoy the party you have been planning for the past 12 months!

Although the ceremony is the most important part of the day the focus tends to be on the reception - with some couples planning the details down to the minute. Receptions are the most expensive part of the day so an efficient schedule will see you get the most out of the time and your dollar.

There is a tried and tested reception run schedule that ensures the guests and yourself have plenty of time to eat, catch up and of course dance! With most venues offering a five to six hour reception, the time can go quicker than expected, keeping on track means no stress and a great night for everyone.

The Schedule

The Cocktail Hour – time allocated 1 hour

Considered an essential for the modern formal dinner reception. It not only gives your guests somewhere to go whilst you and your bridal troop are out and about for photos, but it also provides a bit of elegance for those who might not normally enjoy a beautiful tray of serviced canapés. This time allows guests to mingle and catch up - which may not have occurred during the ceremony - and to ease into the party mode with a glass of bubbles or two. Don’t forget to check with your venue if they can serve a cocktail during this hour to make it extra memorable for your guests.

The Entrance – time allocated 10 minutes

This is an opportunity to really set the tone for the rest of the night. Choose something upbeat and energetic to elevate the party mood - plus makes for a great video!

The Dinner – 2 hours

A formal reception follows the traditional dinner service of entrée, main course and dessert (more commonly wedding cake than a prepared dessert). This can take up a good portion of the night, make it worthwhile and take your time to pick a delicious menu for your guests!

Cutting the cake and speeches– 30 minutes to one hour

Cutting the cake prior to speeches allows the kitchen time to prepare the dessert.
This is the only part of the night that can really drag out if the Master of Ceremonies is not on their game, so keep speeches short and to the key members of the bridal party and family. If you have a lot of people wishing to make a brief speech have the MC announce the opportunity during the food service period and give them one minute each.

The First Dance – 10 minutes and into the night!

The first dance often signals it’s time for everyone to get into full party mode and onto the dancefloor for the remaining 1-2 hours of the reception. Have the playlist ready to go straight after the formal dance and use the MC to get everyone up and moving.

The Departure – 15 minutes

Circle, arch or a big group photo use this time to thank all your guests and say goodbye for the night. This is a great way to help move everyone out of the venue on time to ensure you don’t get hit with any additional charges.

Don’t Forget!

Housekeeping and formalities

Although not the most exciting part of the reception, it is important to lay some ground rules down for the night. The role of your MC is to entertain, keep to schedule and present the house rules (generally smoking areas and emergency exits). Make sure they are familiar with the schedule and help to keep everyone on track.

Use your wedding coordinators experience and knowledge

Chances are your wedding coordinator has planned a few events in the past and is therefore a wealth of knowledge and experience that you have already paid for! Use this knowledge ask questions and work with them to plan the perfect reception for your wedding in your selected venue.


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Tags: Reception, Wedding, Organisation

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