A.Magill.Since.May
Master May 2018

Afternoon Reception Timeline Advice

A.Magill.Since.May, on April 21, 2018 at 4:25 PM Posted in Wedding Reception 0 12
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So my wedding is in less than a month (!!!!!!!) and I'm starting to get a rough sketch of my Day-Of timeline, I expect it'll undergo some edits as we nail down details with the photographer and who exactly is giving toasts and things, but I want some feedback on the order and spacing of the reception events.

Things to keep in mind: only 5 hours of photography; ceremony and reception at the same venue (our church); no formal cocktail hour; <50 people total; not doing tosses; not doing a grand exit.

Timeline Draft 1:

10:00 Flowers Delivered to Church

10:30 Photography starts

- (First Look, Couple Portraits, Bridal Party Portraits done before the ceremony)

11:00 Cake Delivered to Church

12:15 Invite Time

12:20-12:50 Ceremony

- (Family Formals Taken after the ceremony)

1:00 Reception Starts (Bar Opens; DJ starts; appetizers served)

1:30 Newlyweds Entrance followed by First Dance

1:35 FOB Welcome Toast (Buffet Opens/ Lunch begins)

1:40-2:20 Meal Time/ Bride & Groom greet each table

2:05-2:20 MOH/ BM/ POG Toasts (toward end of the meal)

2:25 Joint Parents dance followed by open dance floor

3:15 Couple’s Thank you toast and Cake Cutting

3:30 Photography ends

4:30 Bar Closes

5:00 Last Dance/Reception Ends

Edited to fix a time.

12 Comments

  • char
    Expert September 2018
    char ·
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    Following! That's pretty close to what i had envisioned.
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  • earias
    Champion December 2017
    earias ·
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    I don't think 40 minutes is long enough for your guests to get their food at the buffet and enjoy it without rushing. I would have at least 1 hour allotted for meal time.
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  • A.Magill.Since.May
    Master May 2018
    A.Magill.Since.May ·
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    Do you think it would be better to push back the Parents' dance and opening the dance floor? I wanted to leave a decent amount of time for dancing or socializing before cutting the cake and I can't push that back much further without it being outside the time of professional photography. But with it being a small group and a daytime wedding, there might not be a whole lot of dancing anyway so it might not be all that important.

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  • A.Magill.Since.May
    Master May 2018
    A.Magill.Since.May ·
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    Maybe I could flip the cake cutting and the parents' dance with opening the dance floor so dancing isn't awkwardly interrupted by the cake cutting, and then I could put them close together... I guess I'm concerned about cutting the cake earlier and the guests taking that as a sign to leave.


    The other option is to push the cake cutting later after the photographer leaves and just hope guests take a bunch of pictures and that some of them are usable in an album.

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  • earias
    Champion December 2017
    earias ·
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    We cut our cake immediately after dinner and before the dancing began so that our photographer could get the pictures before she left. We had it served later in the evening. Our dinner was 1.5 hour, plated, and this was plenty of time to enjoy the meal and for us to do our table visits with 40 guests. That's why I don't think 40 minutes is enough time because it takes time to do a buffet and it takes time for you to do your table visits. I would adjust the time to give more time for food and a little less time for dancing.
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  • C
    Dedicated April 2019
    Crystal ·
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    Your photographer doesn't have to be there for the entire day. Make sure that you schedule the things that are most important to you to have photos of for earlier and anything else for after. Tell me a lot of it seems rushed, like having an open bar from lunch to 4 just seems extremely early for your guests to want to be enjoying drinks. I mostly agree that the buffet time is definitely not going to be enough
    • Reply
  • C
    Dedicated April 2019
    Crystal ·
    • Flag
    If you can't find a way to spread it out I would suggest paying for the extra time with your photographer
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  • A.Magill.Since.May
    Master May 2018
    A.Magill.Since.May ·
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    This already paying for as much time with the photographer as we could squeeze out of the budget, we are also only having a 4 hour reception (1-5) based on what we could afford timewise with the DJ and bar. I know it's not as grand as the six or seven hour receptions that are typical on here, but we're doing everything we can with it.
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  • A.Magill.Since.May
    Master May 2018
    A.Magill.Since.May ·
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    Oh I like the idea of cutting the cake early for photography time but not having it served until later. That would help with my worry that everyone would think the reception is almost over after the cutting. Thank you!
    • Reply
  • A.Magill.Since.May
    Master May 2018
    A.Magill.Since.May ·
    • Flag

    How about this?

    Reception Timeline Draft 2:

    1:00 Reception Starts (Bar Opens; DJ starts; appetizers served)

    1:30 Newlyweds Entrance followed by First Dance

    1:35 FOB Welcome Toast (Buffet Opens/ Lunch begins)

    1:40-2:45 Meal Time/ Bride & Groom greet each table (expecting six tables of 8)

    2:45-3:00 MOH/ BM/ POG Toasts (toward end of the meal)

    3:05 Couple’s Thank you toast and Cake Cutting

    3:15 Joint Parents dance followed by open dance floor

    3:30 Photography ends

    4:00 Dessert Served

    4:30 Bar Closes

    5:00 Last Dance/Reception Ends

    • Reply
  • Toline
    Dedicated June 2019
    Toline ·
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    I like your second draft! Seems like things would flow better and there would be plenty of time for everything
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  • rica
    VIP September 2018
    rica ·
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    I think this draft looks great! It is totally fine the way it is, but here's another suggestion we are considering to save time. Someone suggested to me that with the amount of time it takes for everyone to get their food, the bride and groom are often done eating before the last tables even get their meals. You could do the first dance after your dinner while the others are still eating. Again, I don't think it's necessary, but might work if you're trying to save some more time.

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