You need some sort of agenda or wedding reception order to make sure that the party runs as smoothly as possible. You might even want to give your guests a program so that they know how the evening will unfold. This sample reception schedule is just a guideline to help you create your own reception timeline.
5:00 PM Cocktail Hour - the bridal party can take photos at this time if it was not done before the ceremony.
6:00 PM Introduction of bridal party, bride and groom
6:10 PM First dance
6:20 PM Table blessing
6:30 PM Begin food service. Having chat topics placed at each table is a good way to get your guests to mingle, socialize, and chat while they wait to be served.
7:00 PM Toast by the best man (and possibly the maid of honor or parents)
7:15 PM Mother/Son and Father/Daughter dances. By this time, the bridal party and family should have had enough time to eat since they are served first.
7:30 PM Music and entertainment.
7:45 PM Dance floor is open. Some buffet receptions have the food stations close to the dance floor so you may want to limit dancing while the food is served to avoid food accidents on the dance floor.
8:45 PM Garter and bouquet toss.
9:00 PM Cake cutting
9:20 PM Remarks by the bride and groom. Though not necessary some brides and grooms like to take time to thank their parents, guests, and anyone who helped make the day possible.
9:30 PM Exit. You may choose to have a grand exit from the reception before the party ends with some type of transportation, or something huge like a marching band or fireworks display. If so, you'll want to do it before all the guests leave. You may also choose to stay at the reception until it ends; it's all a matter of choice.
10:00 PM The reception ends. An after party is a great idea if you love to party and want to do something beyond the reception.
When you are creating the wedding reception order and timeline, you'll want to allow time for lateness since some weddings and receptions don't start on time.
You may also choose to add other elements to your schedule that you either think of or find in other sections of this site.
Make sure to break up the time in your event so that guests aren't just sitting with nothing to do.