Creating the order of events for your wedding day is no easy task but, we’re here to help! While we believe that everyone should tailor their wedding timeline to best fit their needs, these tips should help you create the perfect timeline for YOUR wedding.
Ceremony – Approximately 30 minutes: From processional to recessional, it’s very rare that a wedding ceremony would take more than thirty minutes. Exceptions include traditional religious ceremonies, which can take 45 minutes to an hour. Talk to whoever is performing your ceremony to get a more finite time frame.
Above: Dustin Lewis Images
Cocktail Hour – Approximately 45 minutes: Immediately following your ceremony, if you are hosting your ceremony & reception in the same place, will be your cocktail hour. This is where guests will have the opportunity to mingle, have some tasty hors d’oeuvres, and enjoy cocktails if they are being served at your wedding. During this time, the newlyweds are typically taking staged photos with their families and wedding party. We recommend your cocktail hour to be 45 minutes to an hour long.
Announcements – Approximately 15 minutes: When cocktail hour dies down and you are transitioning to the party, most couples will make the switch with announcements. This is where the wedding party and newlyweds are introduced to join the reception, while friends and family are at their seats hyping up the party. Some couples introduce their families as well, but it is most common to only include the wedding party. Announcements typically only take 15 minutes when you include having your guests be seated, lining up the wedding party, and introducing everyone by name.
First Dances – Approximately 5 – 10 minutes: After announcements, you have the choice to jump into your first dances (i.e. newlyweds & parent’s dances) or to sit down and begin meal service. In most cases, couples choose to get their first dance done immediately after announcements, while they still have their guest’s attention. If you don’t want to have the parent’s dances right away, then having them right after meal service creates a great opportunity to open up the dance floor.
Above: Kelly Stinson Photography
Meal Service – Approximately 20 – 40 minutes: Determining the duration of meal service depends on your guest count and type of meal. However, most meal services don’t take more than 20 – 40 minutes for all guests to be served. During this time, the couple is usually going from table to table thanking their guests for coming.
Toasts – Approximately 5 to 20 minutes: Toasts are the most difficult event to set a time for, but I have never seen toasts run longer than 20 minutes. There is no way of telling how long speeches will take, unless you ask those giving a speech to keep it under a certain amount of time. Regardless of how long their speeches are though, we recommend having toasts towards the end of meal service. This ensures that you have everyone’s attention and doesn’t require you to gather everyone up from different areas of the venue. We also recommend that you do the traditional cake cutting immediately after toasts so dessert can be served as soon as possible.
After these main events, the rest of your wedding should be filled with dancing, catching up with old friends and family, tossing your bouquet, or taking photos at your photo booth! If you plan your timeline accordingly, and have a wedding coordinator to keep you on schedule, you should have plenty of time to really ENJOY your wedding day!