Order of Events at the Reception

Cocktail Hour

By beginning with a cocktail hour, you will give your guests a chance to gather at the reception facility, deposit their gifts, and meet and mingle with other guests. It will also provide time for lost guests to find their way to the reception. Meanwhile backstage, this time can be used by the photographer to take portraits of the wedding party. If desired, the bridal couple can arrange to eat at this time, ensuring that they will indeed get to eat, thus freeing up their time to mix and mingle with guests later on during the lunch/dinner portion of the reception. The cocktail hour usually takes place at the reception hall.

Receiving Line

The bridal couple can open up the reception hall with a receiving line and invite everyone inside. This will ensure that the bridal couple will have the opportunity to greet each guest at least once during the festivities. The reception line traditionally includes the bridal couple, the couples’ parents, the best man, the maid-of-honor, and any special guests.

Introduction of the Wedding Party

Once the guests are inside the reception hall, the wedding party is then introduced by the emcee as they parade inside. First comes the
groomsmen and bridesmaids, then the flower girls and ring bearer, the parents, and the bridal couple.

Dancing (Option #1)

The First Dance, Father and Daughter Dance, etc. can occur before dinner immediately upon the Bride & Groom’s introduction to the reception area. This will allow the dancing to begin much earlier in the reception thereby eliminating a lull in activities that so often happens. Once the bride and groom have danced, and then the parents and attendants, then the guests will feel comfortable dancing while others may be eating or in a buffet line. This will allow many of the guests who know how to ballroom or maybe Latin dance to do so on a non-congested dance floor.


The best man will then make the first toast, followed by the maid-of-honor, the father-of-the-groom and the father-of-the-bride. If they so choose, the bridal couple can make a speech thanking the guests for coming, the parents for paying, and anything else
they may wish to say.

Lunch/Dinner is Served

During this time, the bride and groom (if they have already eaten) can mingle and make informal visits to each table, or even have table pictures taken by the photographer. If guests wish to make speeches, sing songs, tell jokes, do a skit, this would be the ideal time.

Dancing (Option #2)

If the bride and groom haven’t danced their first dance yet, they may now take the opportunity to open up the dance floor with their first dance. Then the father/daughter dance, then the mother/son dance. The attendants then join in the dancing and then the guests are invited to dance as well.

Cake Cutting

The bride and groom cut the cake for dessert. Additional toasts may be made at this point.

Bouquet and Garter Toss

More Dancing, if time allows

Departure of the Bridal Couple

Amid sparklers, confetti, bubbles, birdseed, or rice.

Departure of the Guests

In structuring your reception timeline, make sure to consult with your photographer, your disc jockey or musicians, your reception facility representative and/or caterer, and your bridal consultant if you have one. Also make sure your master of ceremonies is familiar with the scheduling of events.

Learning to Dance Can Make Your Wedding Truly Unforgettable

by Linda and Chester Freeman
Got2Lindy Dance Studios

The location. The cake. The dress. The invitations. The honeymoon. The vows. The photographs. The food. The music. There’s so much to think about when getting married that most couples forget one of the most important elements of all: their wedding dance.

The wedding dance is your first step forward as man and wife. It is your opportunity to show everyone how beautifully you move together.

“My fiancee and I started taking swing dance lessons to prepare for our wedding,” reports Hudson Valley resident Emma Stokes. “We had no idea what we were getting into, and had no previous experience dancing together. Wednesday nights quickly became our favorite night of the week. The instructors, Chester and Linda Freeman of Got2Lindy Dance Studios, create a comfortable atmosphere for learning. We spent most of our time laughing, and we actually ended up being pretty good! We never thought we would swing dance at our wedding, but by the time we were done with the classes, we had so much fun that we signed up for private lessons. Chester and Linda designed a series of swing moves for our song, and we swing danced as our grand entrance! Dancing was a wonderful way for us to take the time to connect as a couple during the stressful planning periods, and we will certainly be back for more!”

There is nothing more beautiful than watching a couple in love dancing together. “My sister watched us practice our dance a few nights before the wedding,” adds Emma. “She was moved to tears and rewrote her speech to say how touched she was by the obvious connection we had, and the joy and pride we had in each other while dancing.”

At our Got2Lindy Dance studios, we’ve helped hundreds of couples like Emma make their dance dreams come true. But any skilled instructor should be able to work with you and your song, or help you select a song and appropriate dance style. The earlier you can begin lessons the better since you’ll be able to feel completely comfortable by the time you get to the wedding if you’ve had sufficient time to gain skills and confidence. But even if you can only squeeze in one or two lessons, they will help you look more at ease and not succumb to the stand-and-sway of most couples.

Learning to dance together is not only a great way to look fantastic on your wedding day, it’s a great way to bring a new hobby into your married lives. And don’t forget lessons for the father daughter dance, mother son dance and for the entire wedding party!

Linda and Chester Freeman of Got2Lindy Dance Studios have taught all over the world and on cruises. They specialize in providing private dance lessons to wedding couples. They also teach swing and ballroom in Kingston, Highland, Gardiner and Marlboro and run monthly dances in Port Ewen. Visit www.got2lindy.com for more information.

Choosing Your First Dance

By DJ Bri Swatek
Spinning with Style

For a bride and groom, selecting your First Dance is an important aspect of your wedding, in terms of expressing the overall style of your event to your friends and family. Naturally, you want to choose a song that speaks to your taste in music. Lyrics that reflect your feelings toward each other are equally important.

However, as the owner of Spinning with Style, a full-time professional disc jockey company in the Hudson Valley specializing in weddings, I, DJ Bri Swatek, feel that “dance-ability” is often overlooked and deserves serious consideration. Some songs are best described as “listening music” as opposed to “dancing music.” These are songs that sound great in your car or on your iPod or mp3 player, but don’t translate well to the dancefloor. If you truly love a song that is not easy to dance to, consider using it during another moment in your wedding, such as during the ceremony, during your reception’s grand entrance, after a special toast, or even during cake cutting.

How do you determine what songs will work best for a First Dance? Professional dance lessons can be very helpful in narrowing down choices. However, if you want to make a more casual choice, simply put together a CD or mp3 playlist of your first dance possibilities, and then try dancing to them together. It may seem a little silly at first to try out a First Dance in, say, your living room. However, fairly quickly, you will both get an idea of which songs are too slow, too fast, have too many changes, or may be just plain awkward (what do we do during that guitar solo or rap break, anyway!?) Keep in mind as well that you may be asking your wedding party or all of your guests to join you on the floor during the First Dance. This option may further influence your song choice, including possibly selecting two songs–one for yourselves and a second song to share with your guests.

Over the past few years, Standards from the Great American Songbook and Contemporary Country Ballads in particular have seen a resurgence in First Dance choices at weddings. This is mainly due to their dance-ability and the fact that they appeal to a wide range of audiences. However, contemporary pop ballads, 80’s rock ballads, and R&B selections from the 80’s to today continue to remain popular as well. In the end, selecting a First Dance is all about finding the rig ht song to fit your unique style as a couple.

Choosing a special First Dance is just one of the many ways you can customize your wedding to share your unique style with your friends and family on your wedding day. For more ideas, visit Spinning with Style at www.djbriswatek.com.