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  • Writer's pictureSTP Weddings

Wedding Reception Details

There are a lot of details that go into your reception, but we are going to focus this article on the formalities that occur throughout your evening. In a way, these shape the flow of your reception so it is important to figure out which you plan to do as well as the order in which you will do them. [Photo by Suess Moments]

The Introduction

The introduction is the first thing that happens at your reception. You and your partner are introduced into the ballroom or main space as a married couple. You can choose to also introduce parents and your wedding party into the reception as well. This can be a fun but time consuming process. Sometimes it can take a while to get your wedding party lined up if you have a large group (especially after cocktail hour alcohol consumption). You can consider having the whole wedding party enter together if you want to cut down time or just have the DJ or band acknowledge them before you enter.

The First Dance

Typically, you go right into your first dance once you are introduced into the reception. Most people choose to have this completely solo, however, if you wanted to towards the end of your song you can invite others to join you. Talk to your Band or DJ about what makes the most sense though, especially if you go right into parent dances.

Parent Dances

Sometimes these are done right after the first dance, but they can occur at a different time during your reception. We always recommend doing these dances immediately following your first dance.


After the parents dances, many couples choose to have speeches next. This is where you'll really want to work with your venue and DJ/Band to figure out the best plan. We typically recommend doing speeches right after parents dancing because we like getting through the formalities in the beginning so that the dancing isn't so broken up throughout the reception. If you have a lot of speeches though, you can always break them up with the welcome speeches now and the wedding party speeches later, during dinner. Speeches often come from the MOH and Best Man, while some couples also opt to have a Father of The Bride speech or welcome speech/toast.

Dance Sets

Depending on how long your formalities take, there will likely be time for a short dance set before dinner. Your DJ/Band will know just the first music to play for this portion of the evening.

Dinner Service

Make sure that you eat at some point, it's been quite a long day! While it has been long hour wise, it has probably already flown by and so will the reception, so make sure that you take time to sit with your partner for a minute and take it all in! This is also a good time to walk around the room and have short conversations with your guests since they are all seated.

Cake, Bouquet and Garter

Your cake cutting can be done off to the side with your partner and your photographer or it can be done in front of all of your guests in a more ceremonial way. That is up to you! You can also choose to have a bouquet and/or garter toss, which occur after your cake cutting. These formalities usually happen about an hour and a half before the conclusion of your reception.

Other considerations

There are a few other things that will get worked into your timeline and likely occur during your reception, such as sunset photos, casual photos with groups of friends, sparkler sendoff, etc. You'll want to work closely with your planner, photographer, DJ/Band and venue coordinator to get the timing down. Like we said before, it's going to fly by so make sure you take the time when you can to soak it all in and enjoy how much fun your friends and family are having.


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