Some bride and grooms like to plan their wedding down to the exact minute of when things will happen. Others like to just wing it and go with the flow. For those who like to plan things out, the wedding timeline can be a very critical component of your big day. Not sticking to your desired timeline can mean an unorganized or unpleasant experience for you and your guests. But keep in mind that we aren’t suggesting that you must stick to the timeline, down to the exact second, but use The Wedding Timeline process below as a general guide to ensure your wedding flows smoothly, if you prefer to go by one.
The Wedding Timeline
Below, are some suggestions for the amount of time things will take, which are estimates, based on our experience of doing tons of weddings each year. We hope you find this helpful! Congrats and feel free to contact us, with any questions!
Prelude – Guests arrive and find seating. Allow 30-45 minutes before the ceremony start time. 30 minutes is ideal, but always plan for people to arrive late.
Ceremony: 30 minutes. Most ceremonies are between 15 – 30 minutes, depending upon what is happening. Keep in mind that some church ceremonies can take longer.
Cocktail Hour: One hour, or slightly more, if needed. This time will be for your guests to enjoy appetizers and drinks, while the bridal party and families take pictures. Save photos of very large groups for the reception, allowing the DJ/MC to announce for everyone to gather for the photos. This is much more efficient than trying to track down everyone, during the cocktail hour.
Reception: Ideal length 4-6 hours.
Introduction: 5-15 minutes. Wedding party, bride and groom introduction. Some couples introduced their bridal party, some do not. 5 minutes if only bride and groom introduction, more if wedding party is being introduced.
Welcome toast: 5-7 minutes. Given by the father of the bride or by the bride and groom.
Blessing: 2-5 minutes (if desired).
Dinner: Allow 1-2 hours for dinner, depending on the number of guests. 50-75 guests can usually eat in an hour. More than 75 guests will need 1.5 or 2 hours (maximum).
Toasts: 10 – 15 minutes, toward the end of dinner works best, since all your guests will still be present. Ladies first! Start with the maid of honor, followed by the best man, then anyone else.
Toasts: 5-10 minutes. The bride and groom can give a toast, thank their guests for coming, etc.
First dance: 3-5 minutes. The most common timing is immediately after the bride and groom enter the reception, but you can also do your first dance following the conclusion of dinner or right after dessert.
Father/daughter dance: 3-5 minutes. Immediately following the first dance.
Mother/son dance: 3-5 minutes. Immediately following the father/daughter dance. Sometimes, this dance is shared with the father/daughter dance.
Guests invited to dance: Open up the dance floor, and get the party started!
Cake cutting: 10 minutes. Some couples choose to cut the cake right after dinner, which ensures everyone is present. Other couples choose to cut the cake halfway through the night. We recommend earlier. The bride and groom should cut one slice of cake, take pictures, and move on. The staff or designated person should then cut the rest of the cake. The DJ can announce when the cake is ready to be served.
Bouquet and garter tosses: 10-15 minutes. Right after the cake cutting. Allow time for your guests to come to the dance floor, for both moments.
Farewell: If you’re doing a sparkler farewell, for example, have guests start lining up about 10 – 15 minutes before you plan to exit.
We hope these tips help you on your big day with The Wedding Timeline. Remember, this is only served as a helpful guide and in now way should be taken to an exact process. Some bride and grooms like to do things differently and won’t go by the above process. Kalifornia Entertainment can work with you in how you want to plan the day out and make sure it flows properly. Or we can just wing it and go by when ever you feel comfortable in doing each of the above things. Regardless, it’s YOUR day and should go the way you want. Congratulations and we hope you have a great, fun, memorable wedding day!