Having a designated reception plan isn’t exactly a romantic idea, but it’s absolutely necessary if you want your wedding to go smoothly. Having a timeline means less stress for the bride and groom on the day of. 


Everyone involved in your bridal party should understand the wedding reception timeline to help transition from one event to another. 


A typical wedding reception includes a cocktail hour and a dinner during the reception, which typically lasts four hours. 


That being said, there’s still a lot of room to personalize your wedding based on the two people who are being married and the culture, location, and wedding size. Customize this event exactly how you want, but ensure there is a plan. 


Here is the ultimate wedding reception timeline you can follow when planning your reception.


After Your Reception Focus on Cocktails

Even if you’re doing an alcohol-free wedding, have an hour for the two families to mingle. You can serve mocktails and snacks. 


This is when the bride and groom will pull close family and friends aside to take pictures of the joining families. 


It can be fun to introduce new family members to each other and get the formal introductions out of the way. 

During the First Hour of Your Wedding Reception

Focus on the main events that may not be much fun for other people. This is when you want to get the bulk of things done, especially if your photographer is on a strict timeline. 

Make Your Grand Entrance

The parents, the bridal party, and the newlyweds are introduced at the beginning of the reception. Depending on the size of the gathering, this may take anywhere from five to ten minutes in a classic American wedding.

First Dance As a Couple

Once you’ve been introduced to both families, start your first dance. Some couples opt to skip this portion of their wedding, but it gives the families something to do and witness. It can also create heartwarming photos. 

Welcoming Speech for Families

You can have anyone do a welcome speech. Some families will also join in prayer if they are hosting a religious wedding and ceremony. 

Start Lunch or Dinner

The first dish should be going out at this point. As soon as the welcoming formalities are finished, it’s time to start the main meal so that visitors are busy before the dance floor is ready to open.

Hour Two of Your Wedding Reception

This is the time you can do an outfit change. While everyone is busy eating, the bride and groom can slip out to change into something more comfortable. Once that is complete, you can come back down and continue your celebration. 

Formal Toasts

After the bride and groom wrap up the meal service, the bridal party and parents may want to make a toast. This is the best time to do it. 

Family Dances and Traditional Dances

Before the dance floor opens to everyone, get your formal dances out of the way. You may have had your first dance as husband and wife, but this is the time for the parents to join in as well. This can take longer than you think!

Cake Cutting

After all other key moments in a wedding have been done, it’s time to cut the cake. Wedding etiquette says the couple can leave once this portion of the wedding is done, so it should be done later in the evening. 

Hour Three of Your Wedding Reception

There are a variety of games and activities that may be included into the reception, including the garter and bouquet throws.

Hour Four of Your Wedding Reception

This is when your late-night snacks should start entering the picture, and the bar should close down. If the bride and groom have stayed the whole time, this is when they should make their grand exit. 

Planning your Georgia wedding doesn’t have to be hard. You can stick to this ultimate wedding reception timeline when you have no idea how to start planning. Our venue is meant for couples who want to truly customize their event.