The events and procedures at the reception are matters of your preference and choice. There are no hard and fast rules. Usually, following the ceremony a receiving line is set up at the reception site, at which time the bride and groom are allowed an opportunity to meet and speak with their wedding guests. The newlyweds are commonly joined in the reception line by their parents, the best man and maid of honor, and any special guests who attended the proceedings. Either before or after the wedding guests are received, the bride and groom should retire to an adjoining room, together with the wedding party, family members and special guests, for the formal wedding portraits. Plan on 15 minutes to an hour for the formal portraits and approximately 20 to 30 minutes for the reception line introductions.
Typical proceedings thereafter include, in order:
1. Introduction of the new couple by the entertainer or best man;
2. Informal visits by the bride and groom to the guests tables, if they are seated, or intermingling with the guests, if they are not;
3. Service of the buffet or sit down lunch or dinner:
a.) If a sit down, the bridal partys table is situated where it can best be viewed by the guests with the bridal couple in the middle, maid of honor to the grooms left, best man to the brides right, and the other attendants alternating man/woman as space permits. Tapping of a crystal glass announces that the bride and groom should kiss;
b.) If a buffet, the food line should start with the bride, followed by the groom, the maid of honor, best man, attendants, parents and guests.
4. Toast by the best man shortly before the wedding party is served [or before the cake cutting];
5. Reply by the groom and bride, if they so choose;
6. Any other toasts by persons present;
7. Service of the meal [background music during meal];
8. First dance by bride and groom alone followed by dance of bride with grooms father and groom with brides mother, later joined by wedding party, later joined by guests.
9. Cake cutting;
10. More dancing if time allows;
11. Bouquet toss followed by garter toss.
12. More dancing if time allows; and
13. Departure of the bride and groom under hail of rose petals or birdseed [rice should not be used].