The religious or civil ceremony that makes people legally a married couple is just one part of the actual wedding. After the wedding comes the reception. A wedding reception is a party held immediately after the marriage ceremony. Usually there is a little bit of time, about an hour, between the ceremony and the reception to give people enough time to travel from the ceremony location to the reception location. Most wedding receptions are held at a catering hall, which is a place that specializes in hosting big parties. However, wedding receptions can be held in restaurants, parks, and even in museums or zoos. A wedding reception is usually not held at the same place as the ceremony, but sometimes they do.
When guests arrive at the reception, the bride and groom are usually not there to meet them. Right after the ceremony the newly married couple, the bridesmaids, and the groomsmen will go somewhere to have photographs taken. While this is happening, guests are usually treated to a cocktail hour at the reception site. During this time appetizers and drinks are served. This also gives guests a chance to socialize. After the cocktail hour, the main dining hall is opened. At a wedding reception the seating is usually prearranged. Each guest will receive a card telling him or her where they are expected to sit. Tables are arranged by numbers. In front of the reception hall, there is a special table for the bride and groom.
Once everyone is seated, waiters begin to serve salad or bread and drinks. Some receptions have an open bar, meaning the alcohol is free. Other receptions have a case bar, meaning non-alcoholic beverages are free; guests are expected to pay for their own alcoholic drinks.