Wedding Ceremony Timeline
The wedding timeline is a very critical component of your big day. Take the time to ensure that your timeline is filled out, completely. Not sticking to the timeline can mean a very unorganized, unpleasant experience for you and your guests. We aren’t suggesting that you must stick to the wedding timeline, down to the exact minute, but use it as a general guide, to ensure your wedding flows smoothly.
Below, are some suggestions for the amount of time things will take, which are estimates, based on our experience of doing hundreds of weddings, each year, in the Austin and central Texas area. We hope you find this helpful!
Prelude – 15-30 minutes. The wedding prelude is the time when guests arrive and find seating. Allow 15- 30 minutes before the ceremony start time. Fifteen to thirty minutes is ideal, but always plan for people to arrive late.
Ceremony: 20-30 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.
Wedding Timeline – Reception
Reception & Dance: 2-4 hours. How long your reception/dance lasts, depends on how long you booked your DJ/band for.
Introduction: 5-15 minutes. Wedding party, the bride and groom introduction. Some couples introduced their bridal party, some do not. 5 minutes if you’re only doing the bride and groom introduction, more if the wedding party is being introduced.
Welcome toast: 5-7 minutes. Given by the father of the bride or by the bride and groom.
Blessing: 1-2 minutes (if applicable).
Dinner: 1-2 hours for dinner, depending on the number of guests. 50-75 guests can usually eat in an hour. More than 75-150 guests will need about 1.5 hours, depending on whether your dinner is plated or buffet style. Plated always takes longer. More than 150 guests usually need 2 hours or more.
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 parents, and anyone else. This is often the time where the wedding timeline can go off course.
If you know you have long-winded speakers, be sure to tell them, ahead of time, of their time limit. They can always do their longer toast at the wedding rehearsal!
Bride/Groom Toasts: 3-5 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 cake/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, the mother son dance is shared with the father/daughter dance.
Guests invited to dance: Open up the dance floor, and get the party started!
Cake cutting: 10-15 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 it 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.
Send-off: 15 minutes. 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 wedding timeline tips help you on your wedding day. Remember, wedding rehearsals are also the perfect time to work out all of the timeline kinks, ask questions, and make sure everything goes smoothly!
Check out our Top Austin Wedding Rehearsal Places article, for great places to have your wedding rehearsal dinner! Congratulations, and we hope you have a great, fun, memorable wedding day! As always, email us with questions and we’ll be happy to help, even if you’re not our client!
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