Updated: Oct 6, 2019
I was browsing through the website for a photographer who worked at Willow Ridge Manor recently, Courtland Photography and came across the following blog post: Wedding Timeline Tips and Insights (The embedded link will take you to this blog page.) His observations are from a photographers P.O.V. But all of your wedding venders should be working together, making your day smooth and seamless.
The blog author has some very good points about incorporating a “first look” into your wedding schedule. I totally agree with this; “[d]oing a first-look before the ceremony starts allows the bridal couple more time to enjoy their day because we get the romantic photos and wedding party photos, (and sometimes family photos) knocked out before the majority of the guests arrive.” Taking advantage of ways to save time allows for more time with your guests enjoying the party you have planned.
The author then writes about the reception and some of the traditional rituals done during the reception proper. The blog writer states, "There’s no right or wrong order to place the moments listed below". In my 35+ years of overseeing wedding celebrations, I feel that there IS a logical and proper time for the ceremonial details that usually take place in a wedding reception. (And yes, I am looking at this from the P.O.V. of the caterer. I really have no choice, having been a caterer for most of my working life.)
Grand Entrance - The party doesn’t get started without the presence of the Bridal Couple.
Greeting Speech - By one of the fathers or the couple, (optional).
Prayer, Blessing or Invocation - If it is a family tradition, (optional).
Wedding Toasts - I recommend that the Toasts be scheduled AFTER the meal.
If toasts are done during the meal the guests will stop eating to listen and pay attention to the person speaking. While this happens, their food will go cold and it will not be as tasty when they get back to it.
Toasts can be incorporated into the meal in a served dinner if they are scheduled between courses. Just make sure that your caterer is aware so they can plan the service of the food accordingly.
Cutting of the cake - Directly after the toasts, while the attention of the guests is still on the bridal couple.
(The timing of the cake cutting seems to be a regional/cultural norm. In the east, the cutting of the cake is done later in the celebration, sometimes as late as the end of the reception to signal that the party is over. But in the west, it is usually done directly after the meal and then the cake is the dessert of the meal.)
After the cutting of the cake by the couple, the cake can be taken into the back to be cut by the catering staff.
The Couple’s First Dance
Followed by the Father-Daughter Dance
And the Mother-Son Dance
The couple’s first dance CAN be done immediately after the grand entrance. But leave the Father and Mother dances till later in the reception.
I totally agree with the Blog Author’s suggestion about combining the Father and Mother dances. A great way to minimize nervousness.
The ceremonial dances are the signal that the dance floor is open and the party is to begin.
One of the main things to remember, once you have the audience's attention, keep it! If you lose the focus it can be VERY hard to get find it again. Not to mention that most couples that I have talked to over the years, they want to get through the meal service, through the traditional acts to get to the fun of the evening, the PARTY!!
As the blog writer says, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the schedule for a wedding reception. But the order of events can be smooth and seamless, and then there are the unfortunate events that seem to be clunky and disjointed. Rely on the experience that your wedding professionals bring to the table.