How to time your Wedding Reception
OK you have everything set, now how do you figure out the timing for the reception. How long should the cocktail hour be? How long should I plan for everyone to eat? Should I start the first dance when they are eating desert…HELP! Do not despair it is not as difficult as you think. You want your reception to flow as smoothly as possible so here is some advice. Talk with your reception coordinator and get their timeline, then talk with your DJ or MC and get their timeline, now merge the two then go back to both of them and show them your time line and make sure the two are one! Now everyone is on the same page, YEAH!
Here are some basics:
The Cocktail hour should be an hour to an hour and a half long. It will depend on if you have to turn the room around, often the ceremony is held in the same place as the reception, and so therefore, you may need more than an hour for turn around time. If it is a simple event, an hour should do. If you have a larger event, you may want to give yourself an extra half an hour. Always plan to serve a variety of foods during cocktail receptions. Provide one bartender for every 75-100 people. Offer nonalcoholic beverages in addition to beer, wine and liquor.
How do I plan the food?
•You should allow enough time for guests to eat leisurely and socialize with friends and family.
•Depending on your meal type here are some guidelines:
- Brunch Reception 30 to 40 minutes
- Luncheon Reception 45 to 60 minutes
- Dinner Receptions 20 minutes per course for dinner. If you are having a Buffet Dinner than allow 60 minutes for dinner. If you have lines that can go along both sides that will help with the flow.
- Just a thought consider donating leftover food to homeless shelters or distribution organizations for the needy. You will have to ask your venue for their policy.
- Consider requesting one server for the head table and two family tables.
Most facilities allow one server for every two tables, for standard, three- or four-course meals. Check with the facility to determine if there will be additional labor charges for the extra servers.
When do I cut the cake?
We have found that it is best to cut the cake after your entrance introduction. You are introduced, walk to the center of the room, the DJ or MC welcomes your guests on your behalf, cut the cake….waiters take the cake to the back and prepare it to be served. This saves time and the cake is ready immediately after dinner to be served.
Yes, you can have the cake or desert served as you begin the Bridal Party dances. People are seated and all eyes are on the new couple, The Bride and Dad, the Groom and Mom and the Bridal Party. They can eat their desert and enjoy the moment then be ready to dance the night away.