When creating a wedding timeline, there are several things to consider to ensure that everything runs smoothly on your big day. Some of the key things to consider include:
- Prelude: This is the time prior to your ceremony beginning as your guests arrive and find a seat. Plan to allocate 15-30 minutes. This is also when your musicians or DJ would start with some light music.
- Ceremony: Time to walk down the aisle! A typical outdoor or venue ceremony takes from 15-30 minutes but church ceremonies can sometimes take a bit longer.
- Cocktail hour: Consider how much time is needed between ceremony and reception. Plan for a cocktail hour or other pre-reception activities to keep your guests entertained while you, the wedding party and family are away with the photographers. Also factor in any transportation time if the ceremony and reception are at different venues.
- Reception formalities: What is included in your wedding reception is completely up to you and could include introductions, first dance, welcome speech, toasts, cake cutting, parent dances and bouquet an garter toss to name a few. To keep things easy you can allocate 5 minutes to any of these activities as they often take less time but rarely more.
- Meal service: Allow enough time for guests to be seated, for the meal to be served and for speeches or toasts to be made. Assigned seating is a great idea to keep your reception moving along so guests have no question as where they need to be.
- Dancing and entertainment: A six hour wedding, including ceremony and cocktail, will leave around 2 solid hours for dancing after all the formalities and dinner are completed. Dancing is certainly not limited to after dinner though.
- End time: Remember to factor in any cleanup or breakdown time for your vendors based on the time allocated by your venue. Often 45 minutes to an hour is sufficient.
- Contingency time: Always plan for some extra time in the timeline for unexpected delays or for things to run longer than planned. Should everything run smoothly as planned that leaves more time for dancing!
- Coordination: Coordinate with all vendors involved and make sure everyone is aware of the timeline and when they are needed. This will ensure everyone is on the same page in order to work together in making your wedding day a huge success.
By considering all these things, you can create a detailed wedding timeline that will help ensure that your special day runs smoothly and that you have time to enjoy every moment. Below is an example of a typical timeline we help our clients plan which is completely customizable.
4:00 – Prelude as guests arrive
4:30 – Ceremony
5:00 – Cocktail
5:50 – Guests to Dinner seating
6:00 – Introductions
6:05 – First Dance
6:10 – Welcome or Blessing
6:15 – Dinner
7:00 – Toasts
7:15 – Cut the Cake
7:20 – Parent Dances
7:30 – Open Dancing
8:15 – Bouquet & Garter toss
9:55 – Last Dance
10:00 – Grand Exit