Category Archives: reception dance tips

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How long is a wedding reception?

“How long is a wedding reception?” is one of the most common wedding planning questions couples ask. Typically, a wedding reception (with meal included) lasts between 4-6 hours. The length of your wedding reception is an important part of setting a wedding reception timeline and coordinating key wedding vendors.

This guide to planning a wedding reception can help you plan an awesome 4-6 hour reception. (Plus, use our wedding reception planning checklist to organize all those details.)

Wedding Reception Timeline

Cocktail hour

Dinner (Requires serving and background music)

Wedding Cake and Cutting

Reception Dance

  • Bridal party announcement
  • First dance
  • Song for any reception surprises
  • Bouquet and garter toss
  • Mother-son dance
  • Father-daughter dance

Wedding Reception Planning Tips

8 Tips That’ll Keep Your Wedding Guests on the Dance Floor

bride and guests having fun on dance floor with wedding guestsA friend of ours recently attended a wedding (that we didn’t deejay!).  She came back with a sad report: the activity on the dance floor was way less than stellar, and the bride was in a corner in tears because no one was dancing.  If you want to avoid the same wedding reception fate (and tears) use these tips to keep your guests going until their dancing shoes wear out:

Hire the best

In addition to reporting on a crying bride, our friend also gave a full report of an “okay wedding DJ” who wasn’t able to keep the guests dancing at the wedding reception.  If you want the best results, hire the best DJ for the job (one that doesn’t regard every wedding as the same); we’ve given you tips on how to select a top-notch wedding DJ for your big day in this blog post.  Don’t wait; the best DJ’s calendars fill up quickly.

Create a dance floor that’s not too big and not too small

Be like the fairytale character Goldilocks: a small cramped dance floor is going to repel your wedding guests and so is a huge dance floor that always looks empty.  The right dance floor size is dependent upon the amount of guests you are expecting; every guest should need 3-4 square feet for dancing.  Remember, not every guest is going to be on your dance floor.  Make sure your dance floor is close to drinks so your guests stay hydrated and ready to go.

Give your guests the chance to interact

As appealing as it may be to skip the cost of a DJ or band, don’t underestimate your guests’ need—and the success of the night—on the amount of interaction.  As such, hire a professional to create an interactive evening where the guests can request and take an active part in the fun.  Give them that chance early; ask your guests for song requests on your invitations—and choose a DJ that can honor those requests.

Get the dancing started

One the best ways to get everyone out on the floor: lead by example.  As the bride, groom, or member of the wedding party, head out onto the dance floor—and bring others with you!

Don’t stop the momentum

Schedule accordingly.  Once you’ve got your guests dancing, keep them dancing.  Try not to interrupt the flow of the evening by doing a cake cutting or other activity that takes them away from the fun.

Be careful what you put on your ‘Do Not Play’ list

Another friend of ours told us about a bride with a looooong list of songs she didn’t want played at her wedding.  Her list included some of the most common local dancing songs.  When it comes to drafting a play list for your wedding, listen to your DJ.  Hire an experienced DJ who can use their experience to draft a play list that gets—and keeps— guests on the dance floor.  You don’t want your lengthy ‘do not play’ list to keep everyone from having fun.

Feed them

If you want to keep your guests on the dance floor, give them the fuel to do so.  Talk to your caterer about a late night course (including drinks-you don’t want your guests to get dehydrated), order pizzas, or have a food truck pull up for a fun and delicious surprise.  If your wedding has a theme, continue your theme by selecting late night food that fits with the theme (i.e. quesadillas for a Mexican-themed night, snow cones for a summer picnic, etc.)

Have fun!

Fun is contagious.  Do everything you can to get your guests out on the dance floor, and have fun!