As with the ceremony, the time goes by quickly, and it's a good idea to
make a timetable for yourself, your caterer, musicians and photographer. Of course, this
will be just a guideline to help maintain a smooth flow of events, but is especially
necessary when you have a time limit on the location. Most receptions last from
three to five hours. Adjust your schedule accordingly. Below is a sample schedule:
First Half-hour: Wedding pictures are taken, if they weren't before the
ceremony. Guests start arriving, mingling, and getting something to drink. Music has
Second Half-hour to Hour-and-a-half: Receiving line is formed, guests
pass through. Guest book is signed, and table cards picked up, if any. Hors d'oeuvres or
finger food are passed.
Second Hour: Buffet is announced or guests seated, if you are having a
sit down meal. Wedding party is seated and served. Food is served to guests. Best man
proposes the first toast.
Third Hour: Any speeches are made by the bride, groom or family. First
course is cleared from head table. Bride and groom have the first dance. Guests may follow
on the dance floor.
Three-and-a-half Hours: Tables are cleared. Guests may mingle or dance.
Musicians announce cake-cutting ceremony. Cake is cut and served. Dance music resumes.
Last Half-hour: Bride throws bouquet. Groom throws the garter. Bride and
groom change into going away clothes. Rice, birdseed or dried rose petals are given to
guests, if not placed on the table earlier, then tossed on the bride and groom as they run
to their car. The bar closes, music stops, and guests start to leave. Parents gather
personal belongings and gifts before leaving