Updated: Nov 27, 2020
Having an unforgettable and dare I say perfect wedding reception is not as hard as people think, nothing will contribute to the success of your reception more than the having the proper wedding reception format. The venue is important, the menu is important, and the entertainment (the DJ/host) is important. However, How your reception is structured (format) is the glue that binds the venue, menu and entertainment together, it keeps your guests engaged and entertained. With that said, below is my recommended wedding reception format.
Introductions and First Dance: In my opinion wedding party Introductions set the tone for the reception, a good wedding DJ will get the crowd energized and in the mood to celebrate your special day with you. I also believe the couple should take advantage of this energy and go directly into the first dance and immediately followed up by the parent dance(s).
First Dance Set (30 to 45 minutes): At this point in time your guest have been sitting from an hour or more (Wedding reception & Cocktail hour) so I recommend opening up the dance floor to get your guests up and moving. This will get them energized and engaged.
Now its time for dinner: After cocktails, Intros, formal dances, and a half hour of open dancing, your guests are probably hungry, this also allows your guests to socialize. Dinner should be no longer than an hour and 15 minutes, that "should" be more than enough time for the venue to get people fed. Since your guests are seated, this is a great time for any speeches and/or remarks from member of the wedding party or family.
Open the dance floor (again): Now that dinner is complete and your guests have had a couple more cocktails, it's a good idea to re-open the dance floor. This gets people up and re-engaged in the celebration. It doesn't hurt if the newly weds lead this dance set and it should last at least an hour.
Cake cutting & desert: This is the perfect time for a built in break in the form of cutting the Wedding cake. This gives your guests a small break, allows older guests to leave, and resets the dance floor for the last dance set of the reception. Speaking of the last dance set, This is where your DJ should do their best wedding mixing and pull out all the stops. This is a great time to have Hora Loca (Crazy Hour) to top off you wedding celebration and send your remaining guests home with a fond memory.