1. Cocktail hour and photos
The cocktail hour takes place between the ceremony and the reception, and is usually located at the reception venue. Most couples use this time to run off with their photographer to take beautiful shots of the two of them alone and with their wedding party.
2. Guests are escorted to the reception area
As soon as the couple is ready to come back from the photo shoot, which should take no longer than an hour and a half, the guests are asked to enter the reception area. The guests do not necessarily need to be escorted as they might know where to go, but they will still need to be told when to make their way to the reception area.
3. The wedding party is announced and introduced
Once all the guests are seated (this could take time), the MC will announce and introduce the wedding party into the reception area. Traditionally, the wedding party is announced and introduced in the following order: bride’s parents, groom’s parents, bridesmaids and groomsmen, maid of honour and best man, and the ring bearer and flower girl.
4. The bride and groom enter the reception area
Following the wedding party, the bride and groom will be announced and introduced as Mr & Mrs into the reception area. This is another one of my favorite moments at a wedding! So much love and excitement…
5. Father of the bride’s speech
Traditionally, the father of the bride should include the following in his speech:
• Welcomes the guests
• Thanks the guests for coming
• Talks about his daughter
• Talks about the groom
• Talks about the two families coming together
• Toasts the happy couple
6. The meal is served
Starters, mains and desserts (if applicable).
7. Groom’s speech
The groom’s speech should be very romantic, loving and special. As a guideline, the groom should include the following in his speech:
• Responds to the father of the bride
• Thanks the hosts
• Thanks everyone who helped with the wedding
• Thanks his best man and groomsmen
• Toasts the maid or matron of honour and bridesmaids
• Most importantly, says something about his wife
8. Best man’s speech
Generally the best man’s speech gets the crowd laughing which is great for a last speech before the party starts. The best man’s speech should include the following:
• Responds to the groom
• Talks about the groom
• Tells a few fun stories (nothing embarrassing)
• Talks about the bride
9. Cutting of the cake
The wedding cake stands as the centrepiece of the cake-cutting ceremony, which symbolises the couple’s sweet love and desire to provide for each other. The wedding cake can be served as dessert or can be simply used as décor, but should be cut after the meal. The groom places his hand over his bride’s hand, they cut the cake together, and then they feed each other a piece of the cake.
10. First dance
The first dance can be before or after the meal. It is more common for it to take place after the meal, but some couples choose to do their first dance as part of their introduction into the reception area right at the beginning. If you have the first dance beforehand, make sure you include the wedding party dances (or at least some of them) after the meal to help transition into the dancing portion of the evening. As for the song choice, you should keep your personalities in mind and choose a song that you both like. Choosing the song is very personal and should only involve you as a couple.
11. Other wedding party dances
Traditionally, the order of dances is as listed below. However, nowadays couples tend to reduce the number of formal dances, as it can all get a bit long. Think about it as an “old-fashioned ball”, and the idea behind it is for the bride and groom to open the dance floor.
• Bride and groom
• Mother/father of the bride and mother/father of the groom
• Father and bride
• Mother and groom
• Bride and new father-in-law
• Groom and new mother-in-law
• Bride and best man, as well as groom and maid or matron of honour
• The rest of the wedding party joins
12. Dance floor opens
The MC should announce when the dance floor is opened. Don’t keep the guests guessing, as it is considered impolite for guests to start dancing before the first dance.
13. Tossing of the bouquet
The bouquet is tossed by the bride. All unmarried women line up, and the bride tosses the bouquet over her head without looking. The lady who catches it may keep it. It is believed that she will be the next one to get married.
14. Tossing of the garter
The garter is tossed by the groom. All unmarried men line up, and the groom tosses the garter over his head without looking. The man who catches it is believed to be the next one to get married.
Let the party continue!