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Wedding Reception Traditions

9 Traditions for MA weddings
Credit : Debbie Segreve Photography

You have chosen the perfect wedding reception site! Now you need to finalize all the details: favors, decorations, seating, cocktails, and much more. We've put together many parts of your wedding reception that you may (or may not) need to plan. Here is a list of wedding traditions that you can incorporate into your wedding. Your families may also have special traditions that they follow or you may want to start a new family tradition for your wedding.

Bridal Portrait Display

A formal bridal portrait is displayed at the entrance to the wedding reception or on the guest book table.

Receiving Line

This is a nice way to greet all your guests and to introduce them to your parents and attendants. The receiving line typically includes: the couple, both sets of parents and the bridesmaids. The best man and ushers do not stand in the receiving line.

Guest Book

You may want your guests to sign a guest book. The book may be left on a table at the reception with a wedding pen, for guests to sign as they enter the reception. You may want to appoint a guest book attendant.


The wedding toast is given immediately before the meal is served and is usually given by the best man. The groom may also toast the bride and the bride and groom may toast their parents.

First Dance

The first dance takes place after the meal. You may decide to dance the entire dance alone or ask your bridal party to join in halfway through the song. The wedding band or DJ should be notified of the first dance song ahead of time.

Cutting the Wedding Cake

The couple cuts the first piece of wedding cake together with their wedding cake server. The bride then gives the groom the first bite, followed by the groom giving the bride the next bite. A server then cuts slices of the cake for guests. You may want to select a song to cut the cake to.

Tossing the Bouquet

All the single women are called to the dance floor to catch the bride's bouquet. It is "believed" that the person to catch the bouquet will be the next to marry. When tossing the bouquet, the bride's back should be towards the group and she should toss the bouquet over her shoulder.

Throwing the Garter

The groom takes the wedding garter off the leg of the bride. The groom then tosses the garter to the group of single men. Once again it is "believed" that the man who catches the garter will be the next to marry. The man who catches it may then put it on the leg of the woman who caught the bouquet.


The bride and groom make a grand exit. You may want to change clothes and/or have a final dance.