Post # 1
I know I want the ceremony to start at 5:30, so basically I need to figure out my timeline from 5:30-11:00.
This is what I have so far:
6:00-6:05 guests travel to the reception site
6:05-7:10 cocktail hour while the bridal party takes pictures
7:05-7:10 bridal party travels to the reception site
7:12-7:18 Welcome and prayer
8:20-8:30 toasts (cake cutting?)
8:30-8:40 first dance, father daughter dance, mother son dance
8:40-9:15 dance time
9:15-9:25 bouquet toss, garter toss (cake cutting?)
10:30-10:35 bride and groom exit
10:45 alcohol stops being served
11:00 all guests out
11:00-12:00 clean up crew and vendors out
When should I have my cake cutting? How long does dinner typically last? Ugh! This is soooooo hard to figure out! UGH! I need help! 🙁
Post # 3
Is your ceremony actually 30 minutes long? Or is that allowing time for people to chit chat and congratulate afterwards?
How many people are you planning on?
Post # 4
@Westwood: Yeah, the ceremony will be about 30 minutes long from the time my grandma is seated to the time that we walk down the aisle as husband and wife. It is a church ceremony so we’ve got to do kind of their timeline. I don’t have control over that (other than to make it longer with more scriptures and readings and prayers).
200 guests is what we’re planning on, so anywhere from 175-225 I guess. I’d like it if all 300 could show up though! But likely we’ll have the same turn out as any other family wedding.
Post # 5
@GamersBride: Our vendor recommended cake later in the night and also having the toasts during/before dinner, but if you go with your timeline, I think you’re fine, but just be ok with getting a little off the schedule.
Post # 6
@swisea01: I’m just worried I’ve alloted TOO much time for some things and not enough for others. It is better to run BEHIND than it is to run ahead I think… but I don’t want to run TOO far ahead. (Meaning, if I tell the DJ we’re starting toasts at 8:20, but dinner wraps up around 8:05, and the DJ is still on his “45 minute dinner” then my guests will sit around for 15 minutes and get bored. We’re having cookies, brownies, and fruit for dessert (available immediately after you finish dinner) so I figure people can munch on that while they wait… but I just don’t want my guests getting bored.
I’m fine with running late (in fact, I hope we run late and get about 10-15 minutes behind schedule… is that bad?)
Post # 7
@GamersBride: I think that’s fine. your dJ is taking a 45 minute dinner? sounds like that’s too long.
Post # 8
@swisea01: Yeah, he gets a 45 minute dinner while pre-set music is played. We’re providing his food, but the contract said 45 minutes. It felt long, but really our other DJ screwed us, and this guy was pretty freaking awesome so we’re compromising there. It isn’t ideal, but he is working for us from 4:00-12:00 (including set up and take down) so I didn’t figure a 45 minute dinner was too outragious. I don’t know if his “dinner” is during our dinner or during cocktail hour (which is what I’d prefer since we don’t really need a DJ at that time) so my earlier statement was just an example of how times could conflict not an exact time.
Post # 9
I would ask him when specifically he will take his dinner and if he will be close by in case of some unforseen complication
Post # 10
@swisea01: That is actually a pretty good idea… and relatively obvious now that you’ve said it. Herpa derpa. =/
Post # 11
Agreed with make sure you know when the DJ is taking their dinner. Regarding toasts, we had the DJ announce to take a seat for tables, we did toasts, then went to the buffet for our Food. Then everyone was subsequently dismissed to go to the buffet a few tables at a time.
Cake cutting hmmm… I THINK we did dinner then cake cutting then family dances (we did our upon being announced). Then my dad and I finished our dance with “the twist” so dancing started then.
are people traveling to your reception or is it down the hall in the same venue?
Post # 12
If your ceremony is a full 30 minutes, I would maybe give more time for photos. People are going to stop and congratulate you, hug you, hang around and chat with family, etc. I think it will be hard for you to get away for photos right away.
We did a first look, had a short ceremony at 5:00 with cocktail hour and photos immediately following, then dinner at 7:00. It worked out perfect for us. Dinner took about and hour, maybe an hour and 20 minutes, but we only had 90ish people. I would plan on at least about 1.5 hours to be safe.
We cut our cake before dinner so that it could be served right afterwards.
Post # 13
@MsJ2theZ: The reception is about 5 minutes down the street. Our church doesn’t allow alcohol, save for communion wine, to be served on the premises (which I can completely understand and respect). I figure if they catch every.single.light they might make it there in 10 minutes, after finding parking and walking in. On google maps the travel time is 2 minutes.
@Westwood: So should I move up my time to 5:00? I’m also trying to plan around sunset, as one of the walls in our venue is a large set of windows (looking out into the beautiful landscape) but I’m afraid that guests will have sun in their eyes during dinner (and of course this window has to be west facing…) I just want to make sure people have enough time for everything – dinner, drinks, and dancing!
5:30-5:45 talking with guests/start taking pictures when we can
7:10-8:25 dinner (1 hour 15 minutes – we’ll have 4 buffet lines and table side drink service – so 50 per line should move quickly)
8:45-9:20 dancing part
9:20-9:30 Bouquet, garter, and cake cutting (I want people to eat the other desserts as well, I think)
9:30-10:30 bride and groom exit
10:45 last call
11:00 last of the guests leave
Does that sound better?
Post # 14
I would leave pockets of “buffer” time that will come in handy if anything runs late, particularly between photography and the reception. Photography may take longer than expected, or you could hit traffic while traveling.
When it comes to your reception timeline, my guess would be to get an order for events and a rough idea of when dinner or champagne need to be served, then hire a good DJ. A good DJ will sort of “direct” your reception based on his/her knowledge of wedding receptions, good timing, and flow.
Here is our late afternoon wedding timeline:
4:30 to 5:00: Ceremony
5:00 to 5:20: Photos of bride/groom with family and wedding party
5:20 to 5:50: Bride and groom photos
6:00 to 6:40: Cocktails and hor d’oeuvres for guests at reception venue
5:50 to 6:10: Transit for bride and groom to reception venue (+5 minutes for traffic)
6:35 to 6:45: Guests to take their seats and champagne served (Note the extra half hour for us…it was buffer time in case we ran late, but we were on time and used it to sign our license and have a minute to sit down together and relax.)
6:45: Grand entrance with wedding party
~6:50: First dance
~7:00: Dinner service (bar closed for an hour)
~8:00: Cake cutting and cake served
~8:30: Bouquet toss
Post # 15
The only thing I can recommend is assigning a 5 or 10 minute minimum to each of those tasks, just to be safe. It’s difficult to pin point that something will take specifically 2 minutes.
- 5:00-5:30 ceremony
- 5:30-6:00 Family Photos
- 5:30-6:15 guests travel to the reception site (200 guests is still a lot of people moving even if it is still down the street, plus depending on whether your family takes pictures with you before or after the ceremony they will leave later than everyone else)
- 6:15-7:10 cocktail hour
- 6:00-7:00 bridal party takes pictures
- 7:00-7:10 bridal party travels to the reception site
- 7:20-7:25 introductions
- 7:25-7:30 Welcome and prayer
- 7:30-???? dinner (usually with buffets they don’t have a super short cut off time but I don’t know what yours is)
- 8:20-8:30 toasts, and cake cutting
- 8:30-9:00 first dance, father daughter dance, mother son dance
- 9:00-??? dance time
- 9:15-9:25 bouquet toss, garter toss This you can be a lot more lax about. It will depend on the mood of the room, I guess. I moved the cake cutting up so you could go ahead and get it out of the way. That way people will be ready for cake as soon as they are done eating. But I’m not sure what you’d prefer. Cake and this stuff is luckily super moveable.
- 9:25-10:30 dancing
- 10:30-10:35 bride and groom exit
- 10:45 alcohol stops being served
- 11:00 all guests out
- 11:00-12:00 clean up crew and vendors out
I had fun doing this. You totally don’t have to use it . I mostly just took out a bunch of stuff that was under 5 minutes because trust me with all those peole they will take up your sweet time longer than you think.
Post # 16
Mrs. Daffodil created a giant wedding package that included timelines for all of her weekend events. I’ve downloaded it and used it as a template for my own wedding:
Check it out – it might help you decide how long to allocate for certain events.