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Planning Your Evening Wedding Reception

So this is third part in the three part wedding planning series on your wedding reception. If you missed the other 2 blogs, or you've hopped here first, you can check out the Drinks Reception HERE and the Evening Reception HERE.

Let's start at the beginning.......


After your wedding breakfast ends your wedding day moves into the evening reception. It would usually begin with all your guests leaving the room where they have eaten and making their way to the bar. They will then be met by your evening guests, who will hopefully be arriving at the bar at the same time..... providing your timings have gone to plan!

This kind of initiates the beginning of the evening reception.

In terms of structure and order of events, the first thing to usually happen during the evening reception is the cake cutting. This is then quickly followed by the first dance. After the first dance there is likely to be a dance with the bride and her father. The groom and his mother may have a dance following on from the bride and her father, along with the bridesmaids. The rest of the guests then swiftly follow and that's when the party really gets started.

Photo By Ross Hurley Photo

Photo By Ross Hurley Photo

If you have had an earlier ceremony, say 12pm and therfore your meal was earlier, you may want to have a cocktail hour before going into the evening reception part of your day. If you're evening guests are arriving at 7pm but you finish your meal at say 5.30/6pm, this could be your cocktail hour. you could offer his and hers cocktails and have a slightly different vibe, whilst perhaps your wedding breakfast room is being turned around (if this is part of your venue set up).

The final part of your day you need to consider in terms of structure, is your evening food. Guests will start to get peckish again and your evening guests will expect to be fed. A good time to serve food is around 9pm depending on what time you served the wedding breakfast. There are sooo many different options out there nowadays, but I really love all the querky food truck options. It adds a fun buzz to the evening!

Photo By Ross Hurley


What about timings of the evening reception. Now this is obviously up to you, but typically evening guests will be invited to arrive between 7-7.30pm. Carriages can be anytime between 11pm-1am. This is completely down to your venue and their licence. So make sure you are aware of these timings when looking at venues, because if you and your guests know how to party, you may not want to book a venue with an earlier curfew!


Personalisation can be the difference between having a memorable wedding day and one that was perhaps lovely to attend, but doesn't stand out. By adding a few touches that are specifically you, it adds to the day and you'd actually be surprised what leaves a lasting impression with your guests.

Different ideas for creating something memorable in the evening might be:

- A S'mores Station

- Chill-out Area

- Kids Area

- Dessert Tables

- Cocktail Hour with personalised drinks

- Flower Walls

- Photobooths / boomerang photos

- Personalised, styled guest book tables

- Entertainment (magicians and so on)

Photo By Ross Hurley

Photo By Juliet McKee


Choosing you music and evening entertainment is possibly the biggest choice of this part of the day. Most people will host their evening reception as a party and want everyone up dancing on the dance floor. This obviously isn't always the case, but I would say it is 90% of the time. So choosing the right music for not only you, but your guests as well is key. You may want a band, or perhaps a DJ is your thing? Perhaps you want both. Just make sure you check if there is a sound limiter (if there is I advice going for a D over a band!).If you are into a certain style of music, perhaps consider playing it for an hour and then choosing something that your guests will all like as well. So really have a think about the format and style that works best for the part of the day.

Lauren xx

Photo By Sophie Duckworth


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