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Time to party

It's the party of your life so follow our guide to make sure it goes without a hitch

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Wedding Party – Shoe Biscuits

The key to a smooth reception is a carefully planned timetable. This sample evening reception rundown is a guide to your own wedding celebration. Once you’ve finalised your own sequence of events, make sure that your caterer, photographer and entertainers have a copy of it too. Your chief bridesmaid, best man and other members of the wedding party can help everyone stick to the schedule while your guests – and most important of all, you and your new husband – simply have a great time and let everything fall into place.

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5pm Arrivals The wedding party arrives at the reception venue before the guests if possible. The best man is in charge of wedding party transport arrangements.

5pm-5.30pm Receiving The bride and groom and the main wedding party form a receiving line. If you’re not having one, this is a good time for photos of the bride and groom alone. Just make sure your guests are welcomed with a glass of champagne.

5.15pm-6.15pm Cocktails Welcome drinks are typically held away from the main dining room or ballroom. Plenty of drinks and hors d’oeuvres are essential as this sets the tone for the rest of the evening. Guests can check the table plan and the newlyweds can circulate.

6.15pm-6.30pm Announcements Dinner is announced by the band, DJ or head waiter. The wedding party and guests enter the dining area and find their tables. If the bride and groom choose to be announced, they make their grand entrance once everyone is seated.

6.30pm Welcome Once the bride and groom are seated and the room has calmed down, the father-of-the-bride, or another person chosen by the couple, welcomes the guests. A minister or parent may say a blessing.

6.40pm Dinner The first course is served to the wedding party and then to all the guests along with the wine.

7.00pm Courses The first course is cleared from the top table first, then from the guests’ tables. Other courses follow in good, but not rushed, time.

8.30pm Toasts After dessert, guests’ flutes are topped up with champagne. The bride’s father toasts the health of the bride and groom.

8.35pm Speeches The father-of-the-bride makes the first speech and is followed by the groom, who responds for himself and his wife and proposes a toast to the bridesmaids. The best man replies on behalf of the bridesmaids and his speech follows.

9.30pm Cake The newlyweds cut the cake, which is then served along with coffee. The top layer may be put aside to celebrate the first anniversary or the christening of the first child.

10.00pm First dance The bride and groom take to the floor for their chosen first dance. The next dance is reserved for the bride and her father and the groom and his mother. Then the guests take to the dance floor.

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And finally All the single women gather for the bride to toss her bouquet. The couple then slip away to change before the grand exit.