How To Create A Wedding Reception Timeline

    So you’ve booked the venue, DJ, sent out your invitations, finished seating chart, and just got off the phone with catering–you’re all set right? Well, not quite.

    If you want your wedding night to be unforgettable, a wedding reception timeline should be established. Usually the DJ is in charge of also being the master of ceremonies (but it can also be the wedding planner, family member or close friend), so chatting it out with them should help alleviate some of the stress of having any mishaps during your reception.

    Here are some traditional events that usually take place in a wedding along with their duration. A wedding reception is usually no longer than five hours:

    • Cocktail Hour: 1 hour

    This is where guests mingle before the happy couple arrives

    • Seated: 20 minutes

    The guests are ushered into the reception hall and get settled.

    • Newlywed arrival: 10 minutes

    The happy couple enters the venue along with bridesmaids and groomsmen.

    • First dance: 5 minutes

    The newlyweds take the dance floor for their magical moment.

    • The welcome speech: 15 minutes

    Dinner is being served while the couple’s parents welcome and thank their guests.

    • Dinner: 1 hour

    Everyone enjoys their meal.

    • Toasts: 10 minutes

    Maid of honor and best man give their speeches. Have your tissues ready!

    • Family Dances: 10 minutes

    At this time, the newlyweds dance with their parents/important family members.

    • Dance floor: 45 minutes

    Time to party! Everyone shows their best moves on the dance floor. The newlyweds may decide to do their garter belt/bouquet toss during this time as well.

    • Cake Cutting: 15 minutes

    The cake cutting begins and all other dessert is served.

    • Dance floor: 45 minutes

    Everyone is back on the dance floor while the DJ plays his greatest hits.

    • Farewell: 10 minutes

    The couple says their farewell and usually signifies the party is coming to an end.

    Of course every wedding is different and duration can depend on the venue and budget. But having a sample timeline will give you an idea of how to schedule and keep your guests entertained.

    Some couples prefer more dancing and less talking, while others may prefer to omit the cake cutting. It just depends on what kind of theme and setting you want for your special day. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure everyone in your wedding party and vendors are prepared and most of all, that you have a fun time. Happy planning!

    wedding reception timeline



    Cali Pitchel

    Cali Pitchel is Joy’s Director of Marketing. She lives in San Francisco with her soon-to-be-husband and three houseplants. She was born in Boston, raised in Arizona, is a voracious reader, a lover of the great outdoors, and a photography junkie.




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