What Is the Order of a Wedding Reception Program?

by Trudy Brunot ; Updated September 28, 2017

Bride and groom dancing at a wedding reception.

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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.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Trudy Brunot began writing in 1992. Her work has appeared in "Quarterly," "Pennsylvania Health & You," "Constructor" and the "Tribune-Review" newspaper. Her domestic and international experience includes human resources, advertising, marketing, product and retail management positions. She holds a master's degree in international business administration from the University of South Carolina.