A few weeks ago I blogged about Pre-Ceremony Timeline busters and today’s blog is going to cover the areas of the evening that get snagged once the ceremony is over.
Transitioning to the Reception from Cocktail Hour
Getting the guests seated after cocktail hour is pretty tricky, and for a guest count of 150 guests, I estimate that it takes a full 10 minutes to get everyone in the ballroom and seated once the doors are opened. If the bride and groom are joining cocktail hour, the first thing that has to be done is to remove the couple from the guest’s line of sight or the guests won’t leave the cocktail area. Guests won’t go anywhere if there is booze or a bride in the vicinity, so I close the bar and hide the couple to get the traffic moving. If the couple did not join cocktail hour, it is a bit easier to get the guests seated as they really are ready to start the rest of the evening.
As long as all escort cards are correct and guests know where to find their table the MC just has to make a few announcements for guests to take their seats before the doors swing open to announce “FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER MAY I PRESENT TO YOU THE NEW MR. AND MRS. JOHN AND JANE DOE!!!!!!!” Once the Grand Entrance has happened, the evening starts to flow.
I’ve devoted an entire blog to wedding toasts. I always recommend keeping the number of people speaking to a minimum as guests have the attention spans of 3 year olds and will start talking amongst themselves if the speeches get too long winded. It’s embarrassing for everyone. If you are going to have your Dad give a welcome speech at the beginning of the evening, really spell it out that this should be UNDER three minutes. Long speeches should be reserved for the rehearsal dinner. Same instructions should be given to the Best Man and Maid of Honor: under three minutes.
If the timing starts to get off before dinner service begins because of a late Grand Entrance or the welcome speech running long, the food starts to suffer as the kitchen has timed the food to the Timeline that was given to them. You’re spending so much money on this wedding that the food should taste good, right? In order for that to happen, you have to stay on time.
Dancing between courses
There are definite pros and cons to dancing between courses. The biggest pros being it keeps the energy level up the entire evening, the biggest con being it is hell for the serving staff as the food gets cold on the table while the guests are getting their Thriller on. If you are having a buffet, there is no need to dance during dinner as things move fairly quickly. If your reception is at a high end venue known for restaurant style service, you’ll want to dance between courses so that the 1.5 hour dinner doesn’t kill the energy in the room.
Once dinner is over the evening can finally start to unfold organically as most of the big formalities are out of the way and it’s not a big deal if the cake is cut at 10:00 PM or 10:30 PM.
In my opinion, this is the best Timeline for a reception with the invitation time of 5:00 PM. Guest have a hard time lasting more than 6 hours at an event, so I had this wedding end at 11:00 PM:
6:00-6:50 PM Cocktail hour
6:50-7:00 PM Transition into Reception
7:00 PM Grand Entrance into First Dance
7:10- 7:30 PM High Energy dance set
7:40 PM Welcome by Father of Bride or both sets of parents
7:45-8:45 PM Dinner service (if dancing between courses, dinner would take 1.5 hrs)
8:45 PM Best Man & Maid of Honor Toasts (I also like these toasts to be done after Salad)
9:00 PM Father/Daughter & Mother/Son Dance
9:10-10:00PM Dance Set
10:00ish Cake Cutting/Garter & Bouquet Toss
10:15-11:00PM Dance Set with last song called at 10:55 PM