Typical Wedding Reception Program

Written by bronwyn timmons
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Typical Wedding Reception Program
Guests can mingle during the meal or entertainment. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

While your ceremony is the most important part of your wedding, you're likely to spend the greatest amount of time planning your wedding reception. The reception is a party typically held after the ceremony that enables guests to celebrate your marriage with you and your spouse. It's during this time that you and your spouse will make your first public appearance together as a married couple. Compiling a reception program will make it easier for you to plan the timeline of events.

Guest Arrival

Guests will begin arriving at the reception venue shortly after the ceremony ends, or immediately after if the reception is being held at the same place. Vendors should have everything set up and in order for the reception before the guests arrive. Consider hosting a cocktail hour at the start of your reception to keep guests occupied until your arrival with the wedding party. This is especially important if you're taking photographs after the ceremony and will arrive late to the reception.

Bridal Party Introduction

The DJ, MC or bandleader should host a formal introduction for members of your wedding party upon arrival at the reception venue. During this time, bridal party members will enter the reception hall, often in the same order as they did during the ceremony, although you can change things up as you see fit.

Bride and Groom Introduction

This is the one of the most important parts of the wedding reception. After the wedding party has been introduced, you and your spouse will enter the reception hall and be introduced by the DJ, MC or band leader. The DJ, MC or band leader needs to be instructed as to how you want to be introduced (i.e., Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mr. Smith and Mrs. Jones, Jim and Jane Smith, etc.).


The meal is the centrepiece of the wedding reception, and food is often one of the most expensive elements as well. Allow plenty of time for you and your guests to enjoy the meal.

Cake Cutting

Before dessert can be served, the bride and groom typically cut the wedding cake together. After dinner, have your MC, DJ or band leader announce that the cake cutting will occur.


Toasts typically are done with champagne, though any beverage of your choosing is appropriate. The bride and groom usually toast each other, followed by a toast by the best man, the maid-of-honour, and the bride and groom's parents. Anyone is allowed to make a toast, and there's no set rule on who has to toast or how many toasts there has to be.

First Dance

The bride and groom dance together for the first time to a song of their choosing. At this time, no one else is dancing.

Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance

The bride and her father dance together to a song of their choosing. Afterward, the groom and his mother dance together to a song of their choosing. In both cases, no one else is dancing.

Bouquet/Garter Toss

This is a traditional part of the reception, but is not required. The bride tosses her bouquet to a crowd of single women. The groom removes the bride's garter and tosses it to a crowd of single men. Superstition states that whoever catches either will be the next to wed.


Dancing, games or any other entertainment you have booked for your reception occur until the end of the party.

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