The wedding reception is the part where the true celebration begins! All the dancing, toasting, charming speeches, mingling with guests, delicious food and of course, the cake. Having a set timeline to stick to will ensure that you and your guests get the best possible experience to make it a night you won’t forget! In this blog I will be explaining all about how to perfect your wedding reception run sheet and some other helpful tips to get the party started!
What exactly is a wedding reception run sheet and why is it important?
Simply put, it is a well-designed timeline that serves as a guideline on how long each event will take place during your reception. I have seen many Melbourne weddings where couples left this part until the last moment and while they rushed to have it sorted, there were loose ends that resulted in not everything going to plan. It is important to plan it a bit ahead with certain advice from your suppliers because they too will be guided by the timeline. For example, if you want everything to run smoothly, you must include the timing for every event on a sheet, follow it, and also present it to your vendors. In that way, not only will your guests have the time of your life, but more importantly, so will you!
Below I have rounded all of my recommendations in order to plan the wedding reception run sheet more easily and effectively.
Your suppliers’ opinion matters
Long story short, the experts will know best. So, when drafting a timeline, consult with your professionals and they will advise you on how long certain events are expected to last.
Create a well-planned seating chart
It doesn’t matter if your reception will be a buffet, plated meal, or family-style servings: A smart seating chart is vital to ensuring your guests have an enjoyable time. try and group people with similar interests and stage of life, so they have something in common to talk about even if they have never met.
Divide your speeches into two parts
You can hold the first part after entrees and the second after the main course. This will give your guests time to be refreshed if you have a long speeches planned. However, I would also recommend setting a time limit for each speaker and holding on to that plan. When the last one has been spoken, that is the cue for the dance floor!
Consider cutting the cake after the entrance
Why not go straight for it? Not only will this combination of happenings keep the cake safe, but as a wedding photographer, it definitely makes the whole experience smoother. The staff will properly remove it and have it stored so you may focus on your celebration!
First Dance – a prequel to get people on the dance floor!
This is one of my favourites when planning the wedding reception run sheet. You should plan the dancing after the opening one because it will serve as a signal that all the formalities have ended – it is time to party!
Sunset Photoshoot – a priority
Undoubtedly, the most beautiful time to capture photos of the newlyweds is the golden hour or the sunset period. For summer weddings where the sunset is late and during the reception time, I usually ask my couples to have all their formalities done before that period or to leave 15 minutes aside during the sunset time so we can have at least 15 minutes for the sunset photos. That is the magic that crowns the session of the entire day, believe me, you don’t want to miss it!
Keep your guests entertained by making sure they spend less time in their seats
The best way to achieve this is by having roaming dessert options and food stations! Make the food more accessible, meaning instead of them roaming around, do vice versa. In most cases, the plates of desserts got abandoned because the guests simply wanted to go back to dancing or maybe greet and chat with their favourite people. With this solution, they will easily help themselves, being recharged without having to sit and stand every 5 minutes. Food stations are usually a more casual way to get your attendees to eat without abandoning the mingling – which also makes the whole atmosphere cosier, right?
Make a Memorable Exit
No one wants your wedding to end, but since it has to, – go out on a high note. Do a fun and festive farewell, like a fireworks show, sparkler exit or confetti send-off. Your guests will love it, and it will make for some amazing photos.
Sample of Run Sheet
5:30 pm – Guest Arrive – Canapés
6:00 pm – Guests Seated
6:10 pm – MC Welcomes Guests, Introduction
6:20 pm – Bridal Entrance
6:45 pm – Entree is served
6:50pm- Sunset photoshoot
7:10pm – Entree is cleared
7:15 pm – First set of speeches
7:45 pm- Main is served
8:05 pm – Main is Cleared
8:10pm – Second set of speeches
8:45pm – Cake cutting and first dance
9:00pm – Dance floor open
9:15pm – Desert is served
10:30pm – Bouquet toss
10.50pm – Bride and Groom farewell
11.00pm- Guests Leave
I hope this guide will be handy for you when it comes to drafting the wedding reception run sheet! Do you have more questions about it or need advice? Simply reach out to me. If you need more wedding inspiration and tips, check out the rest of my portfolio!