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 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. Guests arrive and find seating. Allow 30 minutes (ore more) 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.
Reception: 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, bride and groom introduction. Some couples introduced their bridal party, some do not. 5 minutes if only bride and groom introduction, more if wedding party is being introduced.
Welcome toast: 5-7 minutes. Given by the father of the bride or by the bride and groom.
Blessing: 2-5 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.
Toasts: 5-10 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, this 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 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 tips help you on your wedding day. Congratulations and we hope you have a great, fun, memorable wedding day! As always, email us for questions and we'll be happy to help, even if you're not our client!
- Austin's Best DJs & Photo Booths
One of the most forgotten moments that we see, when we provide our DJ services for weddings in the Austin and central Texas area, is the wedding prelude or pre-ceremony songs. The prelude is the time before the actual start time of the ceremony. It's usually 15-30 minutes long, but can be shorter or longer, if needed. Most couples will pick some of their favorite songs that perhaps may be too slow to play during the dance. Song choices vary from classical, to Top 40, to Country. Whatever songs you choose, choose the songs that you and your significant other truly love!
Also, when you're planning your wedding day timeline, remember that the prelude is when the DJ, band, or live musician will start playing, and charging for service time. Many people will purchase 4, 5, or 6 hours, and start the time from when the actual ceremony starts, which is when the parents and/or bridal party begin to walk down the aisle. So if it's a 5 hour wedding, and the ceremony starts at 4 pm, the 5 hours will begin at 4 pm and end at 9 pm.
For DJs, musicians and bands, who charge by the hour, the prelude is not included. Many people will include a 30 minute prelude, to start at 3:30 pm (if the wedding ceremony starts at 4 pm). This additional 30 minutes changes the service time, so be sure to plan accordingly, and purchase the additional 30 minutes, if needed. We see couples every month, add a prelude and not realize that it will add the extra time. There are many DJs and musicians who charge a flat rate, for all day service, but this rate is often much higher than those who charge hourly rates. We know of a DJ service who offers flat rate, all day pricing, but that all day rate is $2000! Yikes! We are very fair with our clients and charge only for the time you will actually need. We will not charge you extra, such as a flat rate, for time you may need. So be aware and be sure to not forget the prelude!
- Austin's Best DJs Team
As veterans in the wedding business, we've provided DJs and photo booths for hundreds of weddings, quinceaneras, parties, and events, in Austin and Central Texas. Every event we do has a general timeline that we try to follow, but we noticed that most of the time, the timeline gets off track, for various reasons. Here are 7 time-saving tips to help you stay on track and save time, on your big day!
1. Take Pictures Early - Usually, after the ceremony, cocktail hour begins, and couples will take pictures with their bridal party and families. A great way to save time is to have your bridal party and immediate family show up early to the wedding, and take lots of great pictures before the ceremony, early during the day! You won't be rushed and can take as many photos as time allows. You can still take some pictures immediately after the ceremony, but you won't need to take as many pictures, which saves valuable time!
2. Plan a Faster Plated Dinner Set-up - We often see weddings get off track during dinner, since people eat at different paces. If you're having a smaller wedding, with less than 75 people, dinner should take an hour or so. If it's more than 75, plan for longer. For plated dinners, have the staff put out all the salads and drinks, as early as possible. If dinner starts at 6 PM, have the staff put out the salads and drinks at 5:50 PM, so when dinner officially starts, it will start right on time, and there's no waiting for plates to be served.
3. Save Time in the Buffet Line - With any wedding, saving time is always a great thing. Whether you have 50 guests or 250, saving time at dinner is a must! We've seen some wedding dinners take 3 hours, due to poor planning. A great way to save time is to have two buffet lines. Even if there is only one area for food, a line on both sides will help people get their food, faster! Ideally, have your vendors have two different set ups, so your guests can have 2-4 separate lines. This saves a lot of time!
4. Cake Cutting - Many people schedule cake cutting halfway through the night, and though this is fine, you have to stop everything, turn on the lights, and completely change the mood. If everyone is dancing, this means you'll have to stop the party! We recommend doing cake cutting towards the end of dinner. This gives your guests some dessert, and also saves time. Often times, the cake cutting takes 10 minutes, to get all the pictures, etc. Then, many couples will want the cake cut and served to everyone, which is understandable. See the next tip to save time with cake cutting.
5. Designate a Cake Cutter - After the first slice of cake has been cut by the couple, save some time by designated a staff member or family member/friend, to cut the rest of the cake. Often times couples will take the time to cut the entire cake, which wastes a lot of time, since people usually will form a line to get cake. This can take 30 minutes, or more of precious time. Simply have the DJ announce that the cake will be cut and we'll announce when it's ready. Right after the couple cuts the cake, move on to the toast/speeches.
6. Toasts/Speeches - Toasts and speeches are a must, for any wedding! We've found that the best time to do these, is during dinner, right after the cake cutting. Many people wait until later in the night, but it's best to do earlier, since all your guests are there. During dinner, you'll have your audience captive and sitting down, and you won't have to find anyone who may be somewhere else, try to ask people to stop dancing, turn on the lights, etc. Do your toasts and speeches right after the cake cutting. Be sure your vendors or family/friends are serving the champagne or drinks, as cake is being cut. While the cake is being cut, the toasts are happening, and once the speeches are done, the cake is usually ready, which saves a lot of time!
7. Bouquet/Garter Toss - This last tip can save a lot of time, too! Often times, couples will wait until halfway through the night or later, to do the bouquet and garter tosses. We recommend doing these right after dinner, or within the first hour of the dance. This way, everyone is there to witness these and you'll have more people participating! Both of these should take about 5 minutes, each. The DJ will have to call everyone to the dance floor, and ideally, after dinner, everyone is right there, so no time trying to find everyone!
An important thing to keep in mind is that many older family members will leave shortly after the dance begins, depending on where they drove from, what time the ceremony started, and how long they've been there. It happens at every wedding, especially the weddings where there is a large gap in time from the ceremony to the reception. Keep this in mind when planning your wedding. This is also a great reason why we recommend all of the above tips. These key moments are important in every wedding, so getting these done early, will ensure all your guests will be there to share your moments!
As always, please contact us if you have any additional questions, and we'll be happy to help!
-Austin's Best DJs Team
So your wedding is coming up and you have so much to plan and not enough time to do it all! After you've hired all your vendors, secured your wedding venue, and finally decided on the right food menu, now comes the actual wedding ceremony and reception planning. If you have a good wedding coordinator, this will be a breeze, since they will most likely have a general wedding timeline template for your to use and begin to plan with. If you don't have a wedding coordinator, this is where it gets tricky! Luckily, you have us here to help!
Not every DJ company is the same. Actually most are very different and what you get for your money will vary greatly, so be sure to ask lots of questions about what is included with the service. If you have a wedding planner, ideally, he/she will also serve as the day-of coordinator, but this is not always the case. Some planners will do all the planning and then charge an extra fee to also serve as the day-of coordinator. This is surprising, but true. So be sure to clarify with your coordinator if this is included. If it is not included, there are some options.
Option 1: Your DJ can also serve as the day-of coordinator for your wedding ceremony and reception. You'll need to work with your DJ and write every detail down, so he/she can be sure to follow your planning. Luckily, we have a very detailed wedding timeline document (and Quinceanera timeline document) that makes this planning process much easier. You'll need to identify every key moment of the night (ceremony start time, bridal procession time, cocktail hour, dinner, first dance, etc). You'll need to be specific about what time each event will occur and what songs should be played, too. Read our blog post on examples of popular songs for weddings, if you're having trouble getting started.
Once you have all the details written out, send a copy to your DJ (if he/she is willing to do this) and they should be able to coordinate everything according to your wishes. Oh, and be sure to ask if this is something your DJ will do. Not all DJ companies will do this. Many will charge extra, to do this, too. We include this service, free!
Option 2: Additionally, if you don't feel comfortable leaving the wedding details and coordination with your DJ, ask a member of your wedding party, or one of the parents. Most often, the maid of honor will have this duty. Give her your document and she'll need to check in with the vendors and DJ, as often as needed, to be sure everything is flowing smoothly. Be sure to send a copy to the DJ, too, just in case she gets busy and loses track of time. Make enough copies of your timeline to give to the vendors that may need it. Don't forget to have the designated coordinator introduce him/herself to all the vendors, as soon as they arrive, just so they know who to check-in with.
Option 3: The last option, is to go ahead and hire a day-of coordinator. Know that this can get expensive, though. The cost can be anywhere from $500 - $1500, for their services. If you have the money in your budget, then you should certainly consider this. If not, then try the above-mentioned options.
No matter which option you choose, be sure to have your wedding timeline thoroughly planned out and written. Every hour should be planned! It's better to over-plan, then to under-plan. Lastly, as always, if you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact us and we'll be happy to help!
Wedding planning can be quite challenging, since there’s so many details to consider. Luckily, we’re here to help you and save some time, too! Wedding ceremonies typically last about 15-25 minutes, depending upon the officiant and what will be included in the ceremony. Remember, your guests will be arriving before the ceremony begins, so you’ll need your DJ or live performer to begin approximately 10-15 minutes before the ceremony starts, to play the prelude music. Choose 5-7 songs to be played for the prelude, which will help in the event that not everyone has arrived on time, dressing time is taking longer than expected, etc. Most songs typically last about 3-4 minutes, so this will give you 15- 30 minutes of prelude music, if needed.
Next, choose the wedding party entrance song(s). One to three songs should be sufficient, depending on the song length and the number of people in the wedding party. Prelude and wedding party entrance songs are typically classical music, but feel free to make your wedding unique and choose songs that you love. Next, is the bridal party entrance song! Choose the traditional bridal procession song, or choose your own favorite song. There are dozens of different versions of the bridal procession and recession song, so be sure to research the options to choose which song/version you like best.
If you’re doing a candle or sand ceremony, feel free to choose a background song for this moment, too. Finally, we have the couple recession song! Most couples like to choose their favorite “couple song” which also makes your wedding unique. This is a great, memorable moment, so choose a song that defines the moment for you!
After the ceremony is complete, Cocktail Hour begins, to allow the couple and wedding party to take pictures. Most couples choose soft, background music to be played for the hour (sometimes 1.5 hours). Once Cocktail Hour is complete, the wedding party will make their entrance. Some couples choose to announce their parents and the entire wedding party, while others choose to introduce the bride and groom only. A song can be chosen for the wedding party and usually, a different song is chosen for the couple’s introduction.
After the couple has been introduced, dinner usually begins. Most couples play a mix of soft, background music, but any music/genre can be played, depending upon the couple’s taste and preferences. Some couples choose to be introduced and then do the first dances (bride and groom, bride and father, groom and mother dances) immediately after. Most couples choose to eat dinner, first, then after dinner, do the first dances. There are many song choices for these dances (examples of common song choices are listed on another post on our blog). Toasts are also done, during dinner.
After dinner concludes, the dance floor will open. Couples should choose the genres of music they wish to hear, along with other genres that their family and friends may enjoy. A good mixture of music works best, to ensure everyone will have an enjoyable evening. Other moments where songs will need to be chosen are: cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss, and the last dance/send-off song. Please see our blog for common examples of songs used for these moments.
This is the basic timeline of how most weddings are done, but of course every wedding can be changed, according to the couple’s needs and wishes. We hope to have provided you with some helpful advice. Please feel free to email us, if you have any additional planning questions and we’ll be happy to help, congratulations!
Austin's Best DJs
We've taken our decades of experience and compiled it into a few helpful articles, to help you plan your wedding or event!