Order of Events at a Wedding ReceptionGetting the order of events at a wedding reception right is important. It is one of the most fun and memorable parts of any wedding celebration, and it is likely the part that most of your guests are looking forward to. Everything in the reception is a whole load of fun from the drinks to the dancing and especially the food. However, it is important that you have a really great plan of action put together. You need to fit all of your events into place and still leave plenty of time for mingling, so preparation is very crucial.

Below, you will find a very complete list of the order of events at your wedding reception along with some tips and descriptions to help you understand everything. Though many couples choose to modify their wedding reception to meet their own personal taste, this list should help get you on the right track and ensure you have an unforgettable day.

An Outline of the Order of Events at a Wedding Reception

Though your wedding timeline will vary, here is a good basic order of events a wedding reception. It should serve as a good outline for your real plan.

The First Dance

Many couples choose to do their first dance right after they are announced and make their entrance into the reception hall, but some couples choose to wait until after the dinner and speeches have concluded.

Father/Daughter Dance

This is typically the first dance to follow the first dance and consists of the bride dancing with her own father.

Mother/Son Dance

This dance typically follows the father/daughter dance and consists of the groom dancing with his own mother. Optionally, you can do it at the same time as the father/daughter dance, but this is less common.

The “Welcome” Toast

The toast that welcomes all the guests and thanks them for coming to the wedding. Typically, this toast is given by the father of the bride or by the bride and groom; but sometimes it’s both or a series of short toasts.

First Course

The first portion of the meal is served, typically a salad or an appetizer.

Bridal Party Toasts

The maid of honor gives her toast, followed by a toast from the best man. Other bridal party members may choose to give toasts as well, but it’s a good idea to keep things short.

Main Course

The second portion of the meal is served, which is almost always the main course. Unless you are planning an exotic wedding menu, this always comes second.

Newlywed Toast

The bride and groom give a toast to each, their parent, or whoever they choose. This is optional, but it is traditionally included.


This is when the guests are all invited to dance and the dance floor is officially opened up for the main party to start.

Cake Cutting Ceremony

This is where the couple cuts their wedding cake together, and usually both the bride and groom end up with cake mashed into their faces. Sometimes couples use wedding cake sparklers to make this part more exciting. The rest of the cake is usually cut by the catering team and passed out about two hours from the end of the reception. Some couples serve their cake immediately after the main course, but it is best to let everyone digest for a bit while dancing.

Bouquet Toss

This is where the bride throws her bouquet to all the unmarried female guests. Whoever catches the bouquet is said to have romance in the near future.

Garter Toss

This is where the groom removes the bride’s garter belt, typically with his teeth, and tosses it to all the unmarried male guests. This is a similar tradition to the bouquet toss except it’s for the guys.

Evening Snacks

Though completely optional, offering a late night snack to your guests has recently become a very popular trend. Usually these are just bite-sized appetizers meant to satisfy the hunger generated by “busting a move” on the dance floor.

Farewell Line

This is where everyone lines up alongside the main exit and the bride and groom make their way to the limousine or other getaway car. Usually, the guests will have sparklers, ribbons, bubbles, or some other type of favor to make the experience more memorable. Guests should get into place five or ten minutes before the couple says “farewell” and heads off to their honeymoon.