Sample (suggested) Timeline for how to plan your wedding day.
There are different ways to approach a timeline of how to plan your wedding day and everybody has their own opinions on what works best… I am not a “my way or the highway” kind of guy… just more of a …”I’ve been doing this for 25 years and have seen things done many ways and from my experience, this is the best way”. At the end of the day though, you are paying me… so we will do it however you want. We will meet about a week before the wedding to finalize times and details … if at any time you have questions about coming up with a schedule, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Using generic times obviously, just adjust accordingly to your timeline.
3:00- DJ starts playing
(if involved with the ceremony… if it’s in a different location, than DJ would start at Cocktail hour)
3:30- Wedding Ceremony starts
4:00- Ceremony ends/ Wedding party departs for pictures
4:00-5:00 Cocktail hour
5:15- Blessing (if you’re doing one)/Dinner Starts
(In the event you are doing a champagne toast that needs to be poured beforehand, you can do speeches before dinner but honestly one of the biggest wastes of money I see every weekend is champagne. Not many people enjoy it and a lot is wasted, most people I think would rather just toast with the beverage of their choice.)
Dinner times will vary depending on if it is a buffet or sit-down meal … but for a buffet meal, plan on 30 -45 minutes or so for every 100 people. Many factors play into this… is it a single file line or double sided… single file, caterer serving the food… going to take twice as long as a double-sided line etc.… is it a complicated meal like pasta with many toppings to choose from, or something simple like grabbing a piece of chicken, then a spoon full of veggies?
6:00- Maid of Honor and Best Man Toasts
(There are a couple schools of thought when it comes to this… some like to do toasts and first dance and things right after introductions because “you have everybody’s attention” … I tend to recommend doing it after dinner because it is less stuff to have to “sit through” while waiting to eat. Once the meal is over… doing the toasts is a way to regain everybody’s attention and a nice way to transition to the first dance)
6:15- First Dance
Transitioning from toasts to first dance is a natural way to have things flow. In my opinion, doing this allows for a much smoother transition to the crowd dancing than doing it after introductions and then just having to sit down for dinner. It’s very anti-climactic to me… building excitement with the introductions… building excitement with your first dance…. Then…. You “deflate the balloon” so to speak by going to sit down for dinner or to listen to speeches… a MUCH better flow in my opinion is after dinner.
6:30- Mother Son/Father daughter dances
There should be a naturally occurring valley (Peak is when the dance floor is full… a valley when it empties) for the dance floor around this time and a perfect time to showcase these dances. The DJ should be able to gauge the dancefloor and see when to fit it in… just have to make sure you don’t wait to long…
7:00 – Cake cutting.
This is about an hour after dinner ended … a nice balance of not to early to have it, and not so late that your stuck with a ton of cake. A giant 3 tiered cake looks super nice and fancy… but a small cake to cut for the ceremonial part of things and then a cupcake display so people can just take one and go… saves a LOT of time and effort. If you do decide to go with a full-sized cake you will have to know who is going to cut it once you have your slice out. In my experience if the caterer is responsible for cutting it…. Then they will tend to want to push it up and do it directly after dinner because they don’t want to have to wait an hour… (understandable)… if you designate an aunt or cousin or somebody that wants to be a part of your special day, it takes that pressure off and often makes the person feel included.
7:30- Garter/Bouquet Toss
This is an event that is kind of disappearing more and more each year. Check out why you do this… Maybe about 5% of the weddings I do participate in this anymore. Even just 10 years ago this was a MUST at every wedding… now, not so much. If you decide to do this… a Half an hour is usually enough time for older relatives to have left (they will stay for the cake) so you run less of a risk of offending people.
There are other things to consider too when coming up with your timeline…
What wedding date would be complete without amazing pictures at sunset. You are going to want to plan for that in your timeline… summertime you could be as late as 8:45-9pm…. Spring or fall it could be as early as 5… Here is an easy resource to find the average time for sunset on your date… plan on about 15-20 minutes before the sunset for pictures… Talk to your photographer for what they would like to do and give yourself a half an hour in the schedule for pictures… your photographer should be able to take those pictures in less time than that if you plan it out.
Been to a wedding and saw an activity that you thought was fun…
Talk to your DJ and see what he says about a good time to incorporate it into the schedule.
This is tricky. When planning your day you can say… We are going to get married at this time, sunset is at this time and it will be PERFECT to do a sparkler send off at 9pm… It’s going to be magical!!! But what happens if you are having an amazing time and don’t want to leave at 9… fake it… Line up like your leaving, get pictures at dusk with sparklers ablaze with the maximum amount of guests but make sure the DJ reiterates to the crowd that it’s just for pictures and that everybody sticks around afterwards. Lack of communication for something like this can lead to a mass exodus before you’re ready. When you hire Prestige Worldwide your guests aren’t going to want to leave.
Good luck with your planning…. just remember one thing…. it’s YOUR day… do it how YOU want to. The vendors work for you… your family and friends and even random strangers might give you input… but at the end of the day… it’s YOUR DAY 🙂 I just hope I get to be a part of it.