Wedding Reception Order Of Service

There are many different aspects to remember when planning your wedding reception order of service. When scheduling the events for a wedding reception, there are some traditional practices that can be followed when arranging the wedding reception order of service. However, it's important to remember that weddings and receptions are very personal, so the bride and groom should feel free to arrange the events as well as the entire day to best suit their wishes.

Photo by soundfromwayout .


Your wedding reception order of service usually begins with a cocktail period. This generally occurs in the first half-hour of the reception, where guests mingle in a less formal atmosphere. It is usually held right outside the reception venue. Bar/drink service starts and some hors d'oeuvres could be served. There should also be some background music. Pictures of the wedding party are often taken during this time or the bridal party are arriving at the reception venue after their photos and relaxing in a separate area. If there is a guest book at the reception, guests can sign at this time. If there is assigned seating, guests can be shown to their seats, or they can choose their own seating as they talk and mingle with the other guests.

The Receiving Line

You and your groom can choose to open up the reception hall with a receiving line, which ensures that you will be able to greet your guests one at a time. The receiving line includes you and your groom, your parents, the best man, the maid of honour, and any special guests. Greeting guests with a receiving line, however, can take a long time (depending on the number of guests) so not all bridal couples choose to have them in their wedding reception order of the evening.

Introduction of the Wedding Party

When all guests have been seated at their tables, the MC introduces the wedding party, which march inside. The order is: the groomsmen and the bridesmaids (including the best man and the maid of honour); the flower girls and the ring bearer; the parents; and, finally, the bridal couple.


Approximately after the first hour, the MC announces that lunch or dinner is to be served. It might be a buffet or a sit-down meal, depending on what you have chosen. Bridal couples often walk around the room and mingle with their guests at this time. They may have photos taken at each table. Depending on the type of wedding, at this point there may be a prayer or invocation. Then the reception meal is served or the buffet line is opened. The bride, groom and bridal party will be seated at the front or centre table, although everyone will generally mingle a bit during the meal to talk and greet each other. The bridal party is also either served first, or allowed to go through the buffet line before the other guests. Other than the bridal party, the venue will general decide the wedding reception order of dinner service; usually they work to a plan serving closest to the kitchen first or last. If there are any other needs, such as parents or children being served next, you should organise this with the venue prior.

Speeches and Toasts

Around the end of the second hour, champagne is served and the best man proposes the first toast. Then the father of the groom, the father of the bride, the groom, and the maid of honour make their speeches. Although traditionally it is outside the norm for the bride to make a speech; many modern day brides are choosing to say their own thank-you than have their husband talk for them.


Around the beginning of the third hour the main course is cleared from the head table, and the bride and groom have their first dance. Other dances that are generally planned during the reception include a dance for the bride and her father as well as the groom and his mother. There might also be a money dance, dances for the parents, and of course there will be plenty of open dancing, visiting and mingling among all the wedding reception guests.

Cake Cutting Ceremony

After about three-and-a-half hours the first course is cleared from the other tables and the cake cutting ceremony commences. The cake is cut and served, as well as tea and coffee. Other desserts may also be served. If there is any type of presentation or entertainment planned, such as a video presentation featuring the bride and groom or a photo slide show, it also takes place during this timeframe. This is generally the last formal part of the wedding reception order of events, leaving the bridal party and guests free to dance the night away.

Bouquet and Garter Toss

This is performed in the last half-hour. Dancing continues for a while.

Departure of the Bridal Couple

The couple leaves the reception hall amid an optional shower of rice, confetti, birdseed, bubbles, or flower petals. There can be the optional good-bye circle where guests form a circle around the bridal party and the bride and groom work their way around the circle to say goodbye to each guest. This can take a while but can ensure that you say goodbye to everyone.

Departure of the Guests

After the bridal couple has left, the guests start to leave as well. The wedding party gather the gifts from the table where the guests had previously deposited them. The festivities wind down a bit, and the bride and groom generally leave for their honeymoon. After the bride and groom leave, the parents of the bride and groom will finish visiting with the guests, offer their thanks, and then see them off at the end of the reception.

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