Planning a wedding reception can be a difficult task.  You must stay within your budget, find good, reputable vendors, and must create a wedding that is fitting for your and your fiancée.  Read on to help prepare a schedule for your wedding reception including everything from the grand entrance to the exit of the bride and groom.  The elements described below are optional but are included in most traditional wedding receptions. 

At The Beginning Of The Reception

Grand Entrance

At the beginning of the reception, the wedding DJ will usually introduce the entire wedding party starting with the parents with the flower girl and ring bearer to follow.  The bridesmaids and groomsmen will then come down in pairs until the bride and groom are introduced.  Your DJ should ask how you would like to be introduced.  The “traditional” method usually states, “Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Groom’s first and last name.”  Choose whatever is most fitting for your and your new spouse. 

During Dinner – The Speeches

The speeches are traditionally towards the end of dinner but are often given in the middle of the reception dance.  The speeches should generally be no more than a few minutes in length so as not to lose the interest of the wedding guests.  Again, choose whatever is most fitting for you and your schedule.  There is no set template for your wedding. 

Best Man and Maid of Honor

Both the best man and maid of honor’s speeches tend to be funny and contain personal anecdotes from the past.  The stories given are usually a testament to the friendship and character of the bride and groom.  Of course, these speeches are often touching and look forward to the future with the newly wedded couple.  At the end of both speeches, glasses will be raised in a toast to the bride and groom. 

Bride’s Father

Traditionally, the bride’s father will give a speech thanking all the wedding guests for their presence.  This speech is generally given since the bride’s father traditionally funds most of the wedding. 


The groom’s speech is usually just a quick and heartfelt thank you to all the guests.  If the groom is exceedingly shy, the bride can give this short speech, but it is generally expected that either the bride or the groom take the microphone for at least a minute or two during the reception. 

After Dinner – Traditional and Optional Dances

The following is a list of all the traditional and optional dances included in many wedding reception dances.  When choosing the songs, be mindful of their length.  Anything over three minutes long will more than likely cause your guests to lose interest in dancing. 

Also, it is very important that the bride and groom are out on the dance floor for much of the night.  The newly wedded couple sets the tone for the entire reception.  If they are not partying out on the dance floor, then more often than not most of the wedding guests will not join in on the festivities. 

First Dance

The first dance between the new husband and wife usually happens at the beginning of the dance, but it can often be performed before dinner is served.  Most couples will choose a love song that has significant meaning to their relationship together. 

In recent years, it has become increasingly popular for the bride and groom to perform a choreographed dance to an upbeat song.  Oftentimes, these can be quite funny and will help set up a party-like atmosphere for the remainder of the reception.  Dance studios offer open dance classes to couples who wish to professionally choreograph this fun dance.  Keep in mind that this dance must be choreographed and rehearsed many times for it to actually look good (unless the bride and groom are exceptionally good dancers).  Also, this dance could cause large amounts of stress prior to the performance.  During your wedding ceremony, you should concentrate on your new spouse and not the first dance. 

Father Daughter and Mother Son Dances

These two dances are often heartfelt and teary-eyed.  The respective parents should pick a song that speaks of the relationship with their child. 

Wedding Party Dance

An optional wedding party dance is often immediately after the parent dances.  Songs chosen usually speak to friendships and “fun.”  The song should usually set much of the tone for the rest of the reception, and it should get the wedding guests excited to get out on the dance floor. 

Married Couples Dance

This dance, which is also optional, usually occurs in the middle of the reception.  Before the song begins to play, the DJ will invite all married couples onto the dance floor.  As the song progresses, the DJ will ask couples to leave the dance floor according to how long they have been married.  For example, the DJ usually first asks who has been married more than a day can stay on the dance floor.  The newly married couple will then leave the dance floor.  Eventually, the couple married the longest will be the only ones left standing.  These two should then be honored at the end of the song. 

Honeymoon Dance or Dollar Dance

For the honeymoon dance, wedding guests will line up to either dance one-on-one with the bride or groom.  The guests must “pay” one dollar or more for the dance.  This money will then be used on the couple’s honeymoon.  This can be a good way to get extra time with guests who you may otherwise not visit with throughout the night.  However, this dance can often be perceived as tacky.  The honeymoon dance usually lasts for a few songs. 

Bride and Groom’s Last Dance

The oncoming exit of the bride and groom should be made known to all the wedding guests.  This should usually happen before the reception is over so the bride and groom do not feel obliged to stay and visit with guests after the reception. 

Other Reception Events

Bouquet Toss

The bouquet toss usually happens about halfway through the reception.  All single women are eligible to catch the bouquet, and yes, this includes everyone who is not married, even if she has a boyfriend.  The bouquet thrown is usually different than the one the bride holds throughout the day.  It is tradition that the guest who catches the bouquet will be the next woman to get married. 

Garter Throw

The garter throw is the male version of the bouquet toss.  The groom will have the option to retrieve the garter with either their hands or teeth.  If the bride does not want the groom to use their teeth, this should be communicated before the wedding. 

Bride and Groom’s Exit

Before the dance is finished, the bride and groom should make a grand exit to their wedding car.  The remaining wedding guests will usually line their exit path and will greet the newly married couple with raucous applauds and in some cases bubbles.  And thus, the wedding day is finished!

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