As with the ceremony, there is a fairly standard sequence of events at most receptions. In personalizing your reception, feel free to exclude any of the following reception rituals that do not appeal to you.
As guests enter the reception area, they will sign the guest book and deposit your wedding gift in the designated area. The guests then mingle over appetizers and drinks as the soft music of your DJ or musicians plays in the background. During appetizers, your photographer will take formal photographs of the wedding party and immediate family. Once photographs are completed, your family enters the reception discretely and the master of ceremonies (MC) announces the grand entrance of the wedding party and you take your seats.
The meal is then served by wait staff or each table in turn moves through the buffet line. Once everyone is served, the best man presents a toast, which may be followed by additional toasts. At the planned time, the MC announces the cake cutting. You and your Groom complete the ceremonial cutting of the cake, then the rest of the cake is cut by the caterer. The MC will announce the Bride and Groom’s first dance. This dance may be followed by several additional special dances and then the floor is opened for everyone to dance. The final reception event is the bouquet toss and garter throw.
The Map. Create a site map, identifying where each key element of the reception should take place. Include the receiving line, buffet tables, drink table, bar, wedding cake, groom’s cake, DJ or musicians, head table, immediate family tables, guest tables, guest book table, and the gift table. Discuss logistic options with your Reception Site coordinator. This person has the experience of numerous receptions held at this very location – experience that will be a great help to you. Generally, you will want to locate key elements apart from each other to prevent congestion.
Grand Entrance Your MC will introduce each member of the wedding party as they enter the reception and make their way to the head table. The maid of honor and the best man are introduced just before the Bride and Groom, who are introduced last. Be sure to have a clear path planned between the banquet tables so that you can easily get to your table. Later, take time to walk around the reception visiting each table so you can be sure to greet each of your guests.
Receiving Line. If you plan to have a receiving line, place it at a location where guests enter the room. The gift table should be located before the receiving line so that guests are able to set down their gift prior to greeting the family. The guest book table may be located either before or after the receiving line. The receiving line is formal and time-consuming and has therefore lost some popularity in recent years; however, it is a good way to ensure that you greet each of your guests.
Head Table. With the exception of the children, all members of your wedding party will sit at the head table. Most head tables consist of long rectangular tables where the wedding party sits facing all of the guest tables. The Bride sits to the Groom’s right followed by the best man. The maid of honor sits to the Groom’s left and the remaining attendants alternate male/female seating. An alternative to this large head table is the Sweetheart Table, which is a small round table for only the Bride and Groom. This table allows the Bride and Groom a bit of privacy and makes it easier for guests to walk up and visit the couple without the barrier of the large table. It also allows wedding party members to join their spouses who may otherwise be at a table alone with a group of strangers.