Reception Formalities

During the wedding reception there are a few formalities that every reception has and some that are optional. Here is a breakdown of some of the formalities for your reception timeline. 

Introductions: Typically the parents of the bride and groom, the bridal party, and the newly married couple are introduced as they enter the reception. You may opt to just have the bride and groom announced as they enter the reception. Some examples of newlywed introductions can include "Mr. and Mrs. Smith", "Bride & Groom's first names", "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith", etc. 

Once introductions of the newlyweds are announced, the bride and groom typically begin their first dance.

First Dance: The first dance is a dance that the bride and groom share together during the reception. Sometimes guests are encouraged to join the dance halfway through the song. 
Latda and Troy's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Rob Korb Photography
Hora: The Hora is a Jewish circle dance. This usually happens after the first dance. However, sometimes it can happen after the welcome toast/blessing. All family and guests join the couple in the Hora. A few minutes into the dancing, the couple is lifted on chairs. Typically the couple holds onto a napkin to stay connected to each other. 
Lonni and Josh's Wedding
Photo courtesy of 217 Photography
Blessing: This can be done by the priest or clergy person who performed the wedding ceremony or someone close to the bride and groom. The Blessing can consist of a blessing of the couple and their life together. It can also be a blessing of the meal and reception. 

Welcome Toast: This is usually a toast by the Father of the Bride (or parents of the bride) welcoming everyone to the reception. 

Toasts: This is the time when the Maid/Matron of Honor and Best Man give a short toast in honor of the bride and groom.
Joanne and Matt's Wedding 
Photo courtesy of Alison Conklin Photography
Once the first course is served, usually the parent dances begin. 

Parent Dances: The most common are Father/Daughter dance and Mother/Son dance. However, you are free to change this according to your family structure. These dances can be done individually or done together at the same time. 
Carolyn and Brian's Wedding
Photo courtesy of 217 Photography
During this time, the DJ or band may play some music while entrees are served or the buffet is opened for dinner. After dinner, the music starts up and dancing begins. 

Cake Cutting:
The bride and groom cut the wedding cake together. This symbolizes the first task in the couple's life together. This usually starts the dessert portion of the reception. 
Emily and Joe's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Shari DeAngelo Photography
Surprise Groom's Cake: Originally a Southern tradition, the groom's cake is becoming a new trend. A groom's cake is usually a fun design or different flavor than the wedding cake. This is usually done after cutting the wedding cake. 

Bouquet Toss: All the single ladies at the reception are called to the dance floor. The bride "tosses" her bouquet to the group. The winner waits with the bride for the garter toss. 

Garter Toss: The groom removes the garter from the bride. Then all the single men at the reception are called to the dance floor. The groom "tosses" the garter to the group. The winner then puts the garter on the winner of the bouquet toss. 

Anniversary Dance: All married couples are called to the dance floor. They begin dancing and the DJ/Band Leader starts announcing years of marriage. For example, "1 year", "5 years", "10 years", etc. He keeps announcing years until the last couple dancing, has been the longest married couple and they are announced the winners! Sometimes they are given a prize (bouquet or bottle of champagne) and sometimes they are asked to give marriage advice for the newly married couple. 

Money Dance/Dollar Dance: At some weddings the Money Dance or Dollar Dance is tradition. Guests are invited to dance with the bride and groom. Guests give cash to the bride and groom for a spin on the dance floor. Sometimes the couple has an apron to collect the money or they have their Maid/Matron of Honor and Best Man do it. 

After all the formalities, the rest of the evening is meant for dancing and fun. Enjoy!


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