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Wedding Reception Traditions: Are They Necessary?

Every wedding reception you have been to has probably been similar. You know the line up… the grand entrance,  the dancing, the cake, the send off… or something like that. After all you don’t have a lot of time during your reception as the bride and groom. People will pull you in every direction for photos, to tell the bride how pretty she looks, ask where you’re going on your honeymoon and such.. So how will you utilize the time at your reception and all the traditions that are involved?

What Are The Traditions?

Grand Entrance

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The purpose: With a grand entrance, usually comes introductions of the parents (sometimes the grandparents), and the bridal party followed by the bride and groom. The DJ, if you have one, will usually do the announcing and the introducing. This will take planning and thought prior to the reception on who you want involved.

Average time: 10-20 minutes give or take (depending on how many attendants you have involved in the grand entrance)

The Welcome

The purpose: The welcome usually consists of the, you guessed it, a welcome! And a thank you for joining and celebrating with the bride and groom and their families.

Average time: Usually no longer than five minutes as everyone is usually anxious for the events of the evening.

The First Dance

The purpose: The first dance for the new Mr. and Mrs. is usually an intimate moment for them to just be. It’s usually filled with smiles and laughed and soft whispers to each other with camera flashes and clicks in the background.

Average time: Depends on the song you choose, but usually, again,  no longer than five minutes.

Other Special Dances

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The purpose:  Special dances with those special people to involve them in your big day and to share a “quiet” moment with them. These dances can also be fun and set the mood for your evening of fun!


Average time: Five minutes


Average time: Five minutes

Dancing with the Grandparents

Average time: 10 minutes

Dollar Dance(s)

Average time: 10 to 15 minutes (Depending on the number of songs you wish to include)

Speeches and Prayer

The purpose: You’ve got the maid/matron of honor and the best man to give their funny, sometimes embarrassing and awkward speeches. They will bring up the stories from the past and show you much love.

Average time: 10 minutes

The purpose: The prayer is usually the blessing before the meal, to pray over the new bride and groom, for a lifetime of happiness and love.

Average time: two to three minutes.


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The purpose: Because everyone wants to eat! Depending on the time in the evening, you’ll feed your guests a full meal (unless you’ve made dessert and coffee bar your go to for a later reception) to allow them time to mingle with those around them and meet your new family.

Average time: 1 to 1.5 hours.

The Flowers Toss

Toss the bouquet to all the single girls.

Average time: Five minutes

The Garter

Retrieve the garter from the bride and toss it to all the single men!

Average time: Five minutes

The Application of the Garter

The lovely lady that caught the bouquet and the handsome man that caught the garter will be awkwardly placed in the center of the stage, where they will be stared at to place the garter that the handsome man caught on the lucky lady that caught the bouquet (Make sure that everyone involved is comfortable with this!).

The purpose: This was a tradition from as early as the 14th century. This was believed to be a match maker of sorts. Today is it just a form of showing tradition but really doesn’t have an solidarity to it (just fun!).

Average time: Five minutes

Actual Dancing

Dance the night away!

Average time: 1.5 to 2 hours


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Cutting the cake and smashing it in your grooms face! (Grooms, be cautious of makeup and hair! Be gentle with her!)

The purpose: Originally, it was thought to bring luck for fertility to the bride or to show dominance to the bride. The original “cake” was bread and the groom would take a bite from the loaf and then smash the rest of the loaf on the brides’ head. The guests would then eat the crumbs off the floor for luck for them and the happy couple. Today the smashing of the cake symbolizes trust and may symbolize that the couples love will flourish.

Average time: 10 minutes

Special Send Off

This is the time of the night when you have your send off. Your time to vacate the property by way of special vehicle (i.e. a limo, a town car, you own decorated car (Thank your bridal party for the decorated car, they probably had a blast with that too!))

The purpose: This lets your guests know that your ceremony is done and over with!

Total Time

Around FIVE hours.


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Be aware that the venue may rent by the hour. Have your reception planned out and ready to go so you know how much time you need to rent your venue!

The DJ

Also keep your DJ informed with your schedule of events that you wish to have at your reception, they will be the ones to keep things moving smoothly and making the announcements of each planned event (Thank goodness for this, that way you don’t have to keep track of everything!)


So.. Do you need five hours to complete your “traditional” wedding reception? Maybe more? Do you wish to incorporate all of these traditions at your reception? Which will you use and which will you leave out of your reception? Are there other tradition not listed here that you would like to have at your reception? Plan wisely and have a blast! Here is to the new Mr. and Mrs!

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