How to Plan your Wedding Reception Entertainment

Planning your wedding reception entertainment may seem like a huge task to tackle.

What goes first, what goes next, who does what, when do you cut the cake what do you need for the cake cutting. Etc…

Wedding reception entertainment has stomped most of  my clients.

My approach to accomplish this is very simple.

Start at the beginning and work your way throughout the day.

The Ceremony

Will your DJ provide sound and Mics for the Ceremony? Will you only have live musicians for your Ceremony? String Quartet, Violinist.. etc..?

For the ceremony, you typically need the following (in this order):

  1. Music as the guests arrive
  2. Song(s) for the seating of the mothers
  3. Song for the bridal party
  4. Song for the entrance of the bride
  5. Optional: Song for lighting of the candles, song for optional ceremonies, extra microphone for speeches.
  6. Song after the bride and groom say their “I Do’s”

Filling out the blanks for these items will have your wedding ceremony halfway planned.

Will there be cocktails or appetizers while guests wait for their dinner?

After the ceremony, guests will usually head towards the reception area, if the reception area while the bride and groom and close family and friends take a few pictures.

If there will be cocktails and appetizers, are they going to be inside the reception room, will they be in a separate room, will you need an additional sound system for music as the guests wait to enter the reception area? These are the question you need to answer in order to get an understanding of what you need from your entertainment or production company.

Venue: The Carriage House

The Reception:

After the doors open to the reception here is a suggested order of events that I believe works best:

  1. Bridal Party Introductions (Optional) and what song will they come into
    1. Can play one song for the entire bridal party
    2. Can play a song for each couple as they come in
  2. Bride and Groom’s Grand Introductions – Song for the Bride and Groom to come into
  3. First Dance of the bride and groom (Here is one that I suggest you do right away, however, a lot of couples want to wait util after dinner to do, either way is fine but my suggestion is to do it before)
  4. Welcoming Speech and/or Dinner Blessing (Both are optional)
  5. Dinner. Dinner music can be more romantic and intimate with those songs that your family loves and enjoys to hear.  Is your dinner going to be seated or buffet style? If buffet style will your Master of Ceremonies dismiss the tables or will the caterer/coordinator be dismissing them individually?
  6. Toasts are typically next, about an hour into dinner. Traditionally at the reception only the Best man and Maid/Matron of honor do the toasts. You may have others do a toast as well. I also find out beforehand if the bride and groom will be saying a few words at this time.
  7. Cake Cutting. This can be placed anywhere, however, my suggestion is to do it during the toasts since you will already have everyone’s attention and since you will have your wine glasses filled with wine. Great photo opp with your wine glasses at the cake table. Also here you can select one or two songs as background music during the cake cutting.
  8. Father and Daughter Dance. Select your favorite song, I also suggest to cut it in half as dancing out there all by yourself will seem like an eternity.
  9. Mother and Song Dance. I also suggest to cut this one short.
  10. Anniversary Dance (Optional)
  11. Open Dancing for 30 minutes to an Hour
  12. Bouquet Toss (Song?)
  13. Garter removal and Toss (Songs?)
  14. Dollar Dance (Song genres)
  15. Back to Dancing
  16. Insert at any time special entertainment here: La Hora Loca, college fight song, party props, etc..
  17. Final Dance of the night
  18. Send off

The times on these fluctuate a lot but this is a typical order I suggest to my clients and honestly about 60-70% of my wedding run this exact same timeline. The rest do their own order and that is perfectly fine.

The most important thing is to figure out what you want to do and your dj or wedding coordinator will help you fill in the times that best fit your wedding reception time.

Happy Planning!

Francisco Perez

P.S. if you need help or would like to see some of our actual wedding reception timelines used in the past email me at planning at fhpentertainment dot com replace the at with @ and the dot with an actual dot(.) and no spaces between. 

About the author: Simply Frank

Francisco Perez has been a Professional Wedding DJ in the Houston Area Since 1999 which has allowed him to grow into a leader in the community. Now he is sharing his wisdom with informative posts about the industry. Weddings are his passion because they are centered around LOVE and commitment that two people make to each other for the rest of their lives. The name Simply Frank describes his style perfectly, Simple and Frank or Simply Frank

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