Wedding Reception Entertainment & Time Line
Once the ceremony and cocktail hour are over it is time for feasting and celebration. This is not a time when you should worry about details or complications. Hiring experienced wedding reception musicians will assure your wedding reception will run smoothly so you can simply enjoy it.
Your wedding band is responsible for making or breaking a wedding reception; make sure you ask the right questions before you hire the band.
Your wedding band leader should know all the in's and outs of wedding reception protocol and iron out the details with you prior to your wedding day. Hiring a seasoned professional assures you that if unforeseen complications do come up, they will know how to handle the situation without disrupting your party.
As your MC, the band leader should work out with you, in advance, the time line for your reception so all will run smoothly.
Your band leader / Master of Ceremony should coordinate with your caterer and arrange the line up of your wedding party for introductions. If there is no one available to set up your bridal party line up - your band leader / MC or his assistant should be available to make sure everyone is lined up as set out in the call sheet which has been made out in advance.
From our experience, a typical time line for wedding reception protocol that we feel works best is as follows:
Lite music: will be played as your guest move from the cocktail hour into the reception area. This is the time your guest will be finding their tables and their table mates, the volume and content of the music should be low and mellow.
Bridal Party Introductions: Once all of your guests have found their tables it is time for the wedding party to be introduced. Your band leader / MC will ask everyone for their attention and the bridal party is introduced, last but not least are the New Mr. & Mrs.!
First Dance: The first dance is just that, not just First Dance as husband and wife, but first dance at your reception. It is important for many reasons for the First Dance to take place after you make your entrance. For one, it opens up the dance floor for your guest. Many brides make the mistake of waiting to do their first dance after dinner … and they can't figure out why none of their guest are dancing before then. Secondly, everyone that should be there for your first dance is present, sadly we have seen brides mothers in tears because they missed the first dance because they didn't hear the first dance announcement.
Toast(s) and Blessing(s),: If any, should be done after the first dance. Again, this is a time when everyone is present and there is no need to go hunting for your speakers.
Salad Course: Band will play swing, light dance music before and while the salad course is served. While light music during this portion of a reception is the norm., livelier music may be played if requested.
Entrees served: The band will take a break while dinner is served, which in many cases is a requirement set by reception halls while hot food is being served. It is proper to feed your band and all your other vendors at this time. Just because the band is on a break doesn't mean the music stops, your band should provide you with music (cd's) played through their PA system.
Party Time: Now that dinner is over, it's time to PARTY! The band should play music that entices your guest to get up on the floor and enjoy the festivities. Some where in the dance set, the band should be told by the caterer when the band should announce the cutting of the cake.
Cake Cutting: The band leader will call for your guest to take their seats and announce the cutting of the cake. You may request a special song to be played or have the band play the traditional cake cutting song. While the traditional song is a little hokey, other songs may leave you wondering what you should be doing next. Your photographer will help you through the process.
Father/Daughter dance - Mother/Son dance: The band will play songs you have pre determined. You may want the song to be played by the original artist (CD), this is not unusual and the band will not be insulted if that is something that you want.
Bouquet/Garter Tosses (if any)
Cake and Coffee / Venetian hour: Band will take a short break, CD music will be played.
More Party Music: The band will play dance music for the remainder of your wedding reception.
Last Dance: Bride and Groom are asked to the dance floor for the last dance, then, your guest will be asked to join the bride and groom. You may choose your first dance song, make a special request or let the band decide which song is best.
For ethnic dances, they work best when fit into the dance set after dinner.
Of course, this is just a guild line - while we find this outline to work best it's your party!
Written by Karen Landy for The Seville Orchestra