Reception Timelines

Read this tip to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Wedding Receptions and other Wedding topics.

What is order of events at a wedding reception?

Reception Timelines

Looking for some ideas on how to plan the timeline for your wedding reception? Here is a sample timeline that works for a 4-hour planned reception. You can adjust it as needed to mesh with your own timeframes. The average wedding reception lasts about three hours when a served meal is included. A buffet wedding reception may last a little less than that.

Sample Wedding Reception Timeline:

  • 0-30 Minutes - Pictures take of the wedding party; guests begin arriving at the wedding reception location. Drinks are available and music should be playing as a part of the backdrop for the guests to mingle and enjoy.
  • 30-90 Minutes – Guests are invited to sign the guest book and are shown to their seats if seating chart is dictated. The wedding party arrives at the reception and if a receiving line is planned for, that also begins
  • 60-120 Minutes – Guests will be seated for the dinner or the buffet is opened. The wedding party is served first, traditionally they must also go through the buffet line first as well. Wine and champagne may be served and the toasts begin, traditionally beginning with the best man
  • 120-180 Minutes – The first dance begins and the cutting of the cake. If food courses are being served, they should be winding down. Other traditional dances are done including father/daughter and mother/son dances
  • 180-240 Minutes – The last hour of the reception, the meal is wound down and the bouquet is tossed along with the garter. The bride and groom are sent off to their honeymoon.
  • 240- 270 Minutes - The reception wines down with the parents of the bride and the groom seeing guests off before the reception ends formally



Nobody has commented on this tip yet. Be the first.


URL: (optional)


Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Wedding Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!

Guru Spotlight
Shirley Tan