Sample wedding day timelines

While no two wedding receptions are ever alike, there are some basic elements at every wedding that are similar.  Below find a couple samples of how you may want to plan your wedding reception timeline.  Our main recommendation when planning your timeline, is to think of the evening as two parts. The first part is going to be the cocktail dinner hours and the second is the dance party.  We strongly recommend organizing the flow of your wedding reception so that we take care of all the traditional moments and activities during the cocktail and dinner hours.  That means the cake cutting, toasts, speeches, etc, are finished by the time we start the dance party portion of the night.  It is essential to keep the energy going when the dance party starts, so we do not want to start and stop the dancing portion of the evening, except for maybe doing the bouquet and garter toss.  During the planning process, your DJ will work with you on the timeline and give you any advice as to the flow and timing of events. 

Below is the typical flow of events at a five hour reception where the bride and groom's wedding ceremony is at another location:

4:15-4:45- Wedding ceremony at the Church or other location
5:00-Guests begin to arrive from church for the cocktail hour (Bridal Party is off taking photos)
6:00-Bridal Party arrives and I will make the announced Grand Entrance of Bridal Party
6:05-Bride and Groom make grand entrance and go directly to center of floor and have their first dance
6:10- Small speech/welcome by host (FOB) or Bride and Groom
6:15-Blessing by officiant
6:17-7:45-Dinner served
7:45-Toasts by best man & maid of honor after dinner ( can also happen after first course is served)
7:50-Cake Cutting
8:00-Father Daughter Dance
8:05-Mother Son Dance Dance
8:10-Kick Off Dance
8:15-9:40 Open dancing
9:40- Bouquet and garter activities
9:45-Announced last dance
9:50-DJ prompts everyone to line up outside in parallel lines for Sparkler send off
10:00-End of  event

Below is the typical flow of events at a six hour ceremony/reception with an on-site wedding ceremony

4:00-Guests begin to arrive for the ceremony-light prelude music in background
4:30-Ceremony begins
5:00-Ceremony ends- wedding party heads directly from ceremony site to take pictures, guests move to cocktail area
5:00-6:00-Guests mingle and snack during cocktail hour (Bridal Party is off taking photos)
6:00-Bridal Party arrives, guests are seated, and DJ makes announced Grand Entrance of Bridal Party
6:05-Bride and Groom make grand entrance and go directly to cake table and cut the cake

                (or you can do the first dance at this time)
6:10- Small speech/welcome by host or bridal couple
6:15 Blessing by officiant, first course of dinner served

6:20 Toasts by best man & maid of honor, after first course is served to everyone
6:30-7:00-Dinner entrees served
7:05-First Dance (or cake cutting if not done prior)
7:08-Father Daughter Dance
7:11- Mother Son Dance Dance

7:15-Kick Off Dance
7:15-9:30 Open dancing
9:30-Bouquet and garter activities
9:45-Announced last dance
9:55-DJ prompts everyone to line up outside in parallel for bubble send off
10:00-End of  event

Tips for planning your wedding day timeline

There is no right or wrong flow of events when it comes to your timeline.  You can walk into your reception and immediately cut the cake or do your first dance.  Or you can save all the formalities for after dinner.  It is completely up to you and we suggest finding a flow that feel right to you.  We do have a few tips to help make things flow smoothly:

  • Group your activities and special moments together. Spreading out individual moments and activities through out the night creates a lot of interruptions and just isn't good event flow.  Try to create 2 to 3 "breaks" in the night where you would have your activities take place. For example after dinner do your cake cutting, toasts, and then special dances all right after one another. 
  • Get all the formalities finished up before the dance party starts.  Your DJ will work hard to cultivate and build the energy on the dance floor. Stoping the action in the middle of the dance party to cut the cake is just going to kill the momentum of the party.
  • Do a first look if seeing the bride before the wedding is not a problem for you.  That way you can get a lot of your photos finished before guests arrive and then you can spend cocktail hour with your guests instead of with your photographer.
  • Save enough time for the dance party!  With a five hour reception the dance party is usually 2 hours.  If things get delayed or fall behind, that dance party starts to shrink and may end up only being an hour.  In that case the party will be over before it really gets popping!