What Is the Order of a Wedding Reception Program?

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Aside from using decorations and other personal touches to create a unique wedding, a couple can customize their wedding reception program to reflect their personalities. Receptions typically involve three main parts: a cocktail hour, meal and dancing. You have a lot of flexibility when choosing and scheduling activities for each to make your day memorable.

Reception Kick-Off

  • Offering cocktails and hors d'oeuvres after the ceremony transitions your wedding atmosphere from solemn to festive. Lasting 30 minutes to an hour, this gathering lets invitees sign your guest book, find their table assignment and mingle.

Table Time

  • The meal segment traditionally begins with the bridal party and newlyweds making their grand entrance after all guests have been seated. Sometimes, though, just the bride and groom get formally introduced before enjoying their first dance. Toasting usually takes place before eating begins. After the main course, the newlyweds dance with their parents, after which everyone takes to the floor.

Dancing and Fun

  • During the dance segment, bride and groom circulate to greet their guests, especially at no-receiving-line receptions. They normally cut the cake before the traditional garter and bouquet tosses take place. Other activities scheduled in this final part of the reception include the centerpiece giveaway, special entertainment such as a salsa dancer and the money dance. The couple's send-off signals the end of the party.

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