Wedding Day Running Order – Typical Ceremony and Reception Schedule

Running order schedulePreparing a schedule that lists the order of events of your ceremony and reception as how you want them to occur on your wedding day is not only a good idea but essential to assure that the celebration goes as planned. An added benefit of mapping out the running order is to reduce, if not eliminate, unwanted stress on a very important day of your life. A typical wedding day schedule occurs as follows.

Order of Ceremony

  • Traditionally, your appointed ushers will seat arriving guests prior to the processional, directing the groom’s family and guests to the right side of the church or ceremony facility, whereas the bride’s side is seated to the left. Once the majority of guests have been seated, the groomsmen will escort the parents of the bride and groom to their seats, signifying that the ceremony is about to begin.
  • If it is not planned for the groomsmen to escort the bridesmaids down the aisle, they will normally enter from the right side of the room with the groom leading the way. They will all walk to the area where the groom receives his bride.
  • Once the groom and groomsmen are positioned, the next part of the processional begins with the bridesmaids walk down the aisle. The maid of honor follows the last bridesmaid, and the ring bearer and the flower girl proceed afterwards.
  • When the entire wedding party is situated, the bride’s father, or close family member, escorts the bride down the aisle and gives her away. During the walk down the aisle, the bride will be to the left of her escort.
  • After the father of the bride takes his seat, the minister begins the ceremonial rite. After pronouncement, the recessional begins and the newlyweds proceed down the aisle followed by the bridal party, exiting in the same order in which they arrived. Parents will exit after the last person of the bridal party walks past them.
  • Formal photography traditionally occurs immediately after the recessional.

Order of Reception

  • At the reception facility, the ushers from the ceremony customarily will offer assistance to arriving guests, directing them to available parking areas and to the reception hall. While the formal photography is taking place, appetizers and cocktails are offered to those who were not part of the photo session.
  • Once the photo session is complete, the bride and groom proceed to the reception hall to make a grand entrance as husband and wife. The bridal party usually precedes them, and as they enter the room, the DJ will announce their names in succession.
  • After the entrance and the announcements have concluded, the newlyweds and bridal part are seated at the head table. Typically, this is when speeches occur, followed by champagne toasts. As custom dictates, either the best man or the father of the bride will speak first, and then members of the wedding party follow. The bride and groom will always give the concluding speech.
  • The banquet generally occurs after the speeches and champagne toasts are completed. Alternately, you can switch the order of speeches and toasting, saving that part of the celebration until after the meal.
  • Depending on how you ordered the feast and speeches, the cake cutting will follow either of these events.
  • Immediately after the cake cut – or shortly after the cake cut if the bride and groom need time to clean the smashed cake off their faces – the bouquet toss ensues.
  • Once the bouquet is given away, the groom will remove the garter from his bride, which is followed by the garter toss.
  • After garter removal and toss, the first dance traditionally takes place at this time. When the bride and groom end their first dance together, the father of the bride joins his daughter in a dance. Subsequently, the mother of the groom will join her son.
  • At conclusion of the parents’ dance, the bridal party usually joins in at the invitation of the DJ.
  • If part of the plan, this would be a good time for the money dance to occur.
  • At conclusion of the bridal party dance and the money dance, the major components of the festivity have been completed and the next phase of the celebration begins. The dance floor opens to all guests and the DJ normally elevates the music decibels.

A running order schedule of your wedding day is not complicated to assimilate, and taking the time to create one will certainly help to assure the day’s procession to unfold as planned. Though tradition influences the ordering of events, it does not have to be rigidly adhered to, and you can adjust it accordingly to suit your needs. After all, it’s your special day, and with a little extra planning, it should proceed exactly as you envisioned.


Planning a wedding is an exciting but sometimes overwhelming task as there is a proliferation of decisions to be made. For help with planning your upcoming Tahoe wedding or if you simply want additional ideas or information, visit our website or give us a call.

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