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Posted by Amanda

An important aspect of organizing a memorable celebration is knowing what's supposed to happen when so keep in mind the following timeline based on a traditional cocktail hour and a four-hour reception as a guide to your wedding day’s post-ceremony events.

00:00 The Cocktail Hour
After the "I dos" the bride and the groom usually leave the ceremony first, followed by the bridal party and the photographer. During the time you’re taking your first pictures as a husband and wife your guests head to the reception hall for a cocktail hour, which should begin as soon as they arrive. Arrange to have the bar open as they wait for you and some soft music playing in the background to help set the mood. At this time stationary or passed hor's d'oeuvres will be served, which will get people mingling.

01:00 The newlyweds arrive
The couple and the bridal party are announced and make their grand entrance. Typically the first dance begins as you set foot on the floor and into the spotlight. After that you can take the opportunity to thank everyone for being there. At this time the bride's father usually welcomes everyone to the wedding reception and invites the guests to enjoy their meals. Some couples choose to do toasts here, but most wait until later in the wedding reception to spread out all the high-emotion and keep guests in their seats.

01:20 First course is served

01:30 Toasts
The Best Man makes his toast, followed by the Maid of Honor if she is making a toast as well.

01:45 Main course is served
Time to enjoy your main course! If you're having a sit-down dinner, you should have quiet, conversation-friendly music in the background. If you're having a buffet, your coordinator will call each table when it's their turn to head to the front of the line. The bride and groom should try their best to take their seats and enjoy their meal.

02:45 Dancing begins
Once dinner is over, the bride and the groom should head to the dance floor so guests will know it's time for partying. Throughout the dancing you can have any other activities you've planned like the bouquet toss or centerpiece giveaways.

04:00 Cake Cutting
The cake is served with coffee or champagne. Since the cutting of the cake usually means that the event is towards its end, make sure not to do this too early or you could find yourself alone at an empty reception before the event is over.

04:15 Back to the party
Once the cake is cut, the band or DJ should kick right back into lively dance music. Some guests will leave after the cake is served so be sure to visit with them beforehand.

04:45 Last dance
At this time the DJ should invite everyone to the floor for one last dance together. It's a good idea to choose a fun and upbeat song so that everyone leaves on a high note and with a lasting impression.

05:00 Send-off
Have the DJ or your coordinator ask all guests to the front steps so they can send you off in style. Make your send-off the evening’s grand finale by having your guests blow bubbles or throw rose petals.

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