For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the term “reception” can mean a lot of things when it comes to weddings. Most are likely imagining a blend of both a reception and open house, where guests come and go as they please and a few important traditions are used to conclude the evening.
If you’re a couple looking for a more structured LDS wedding reception timeline, we created a simple breakdown of possible events to help you create a more traditional and formal atmosphere for your wedding reception. Feel free to adapt the suggested time length and order of events to suit your personal needs.
Pre-Party – 30 Minutes (Suggested Start Time – 6:00)
We suggest starting off the evening off with a pre-party. This will give your guests time to arrive at the reception, sign the guestbook, and get seated. It will also help guests expecting an open house to settle in. The bride and groom should NOT be at the pre-party event.
If you’re planning on serving dinner, the pre-party is a great time to put out some appetizers and drinks.
The Couple’s Entrance & First Dance – 10 Minutes (Suggested Start Time – 6:30)
Have a member of the bridal party or your MC for the night announce the couple’s entrance. Go to the center of the room so everyone can see you and give each other a kiss. We suggest holding your first dance now. When the dancing is completed, take a seat at your table or head over to your receiving line. Have the MC announce the start of dinner if you’re serving one.
Receiving Line – 30 Minutes (Suggested Start Time – 6:40)
A receiving line is a great way to thank your guests and celebrate with loved ones and friends. However, receiving lines are often omitted for a seated, formal dinner. Since it is common at so many LDS open houses, couples often want to include it. Do not feel you have to! If you’d like to do a reception line, here is our suggestion to ensure it runs smoothly:
Once your first dance is over, walk with the wedding party to the reception line area. Let guests know how long the wedding party will remain there. For more formal evenings, definitely limit it in time. Allow guests to eat whatever refreshments you are serving during this time period.
A great way to keep things moving is to have your reception line act as a photo booth. Pose with your wedding party and have each guest in line come up for a picture. It is a great way to say a quick hello and grab a lasting memory.
If you’d like to allow more time for a receiving line, eliminate the pre-party and go straight from your receiving line into your first dance.
Toasts & Slideshow – 15 Minutes (Suggested Start Time – 7:10)
Toasts from members of the wedding party can be a special way to invite the spirit to your wedding reception. Invite those closest to you to give short toasts as the wedding party returns to their table and gets the chance to eat something. If you’d like to share more of your love story with your guests, play a slideshow or have your photographer record a small video ahead of time of the couple answer questions about the first time they met and other milestones.
This is an important time for the bride and groom to get a much-needed break and to provide some entertainment for your guests.
If omitting the receiving line, start the toasts about 15 minutes after guests have started eating and the first dance has been completed.
Cut the Cake – 5 Minutes (Suggested Start Time – 7:25)
Your guests want to eat your delicious cake! After toasts are done and you’ve had time to rest, go and cut the cake. Give the kitchen a heads up to ensure anything that needs to be prepared and served is ready.
Other Wedding Traditions & Games – 40 Minutes (Suggested Start Time – 7:30)
Hold the traditional father/daughter and mother/son dances. If you’d like to keep the party going, invite everyone else onto the dance floor as well. If you want to skip the dancing, now is a great time to include any other wedding games and traditions. This includes throwing the bouquet and/or garter, other dances, and games. At this point, you can keep the party going for as long as you’d like!
Couple Prepares to Leave – 20 Minutes (Suggested Start Time – 8:10)
While the festivities are going on, make sure to have your bridal party helping to pack up everything you need, including a goody bag with some cake in it. Before you leave to get ready for your exit, take a moment to say thank you to your guests. Preparing for your exit can include changing into a traveling dress, gathering up the gifts, and getting the car ready. While you’re getting ready to leave, prepare the guests for your exit by lining them up and handing out any sparklers or confetti.
Couple Exits (Suggested Start Time – 8:30)
You’ve finished your wedding reception and now it’s time to head off into the future!
We hope this LDS wedding reception timeline for a more formal event helps you plan your big night! We designed it to help cross the bridge between informal open houses and more traditional receptions. Did you have a more formal reception? If so, what would you have spent more time on or done differently? Let us know in the comments!