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Creating A Wedding Timeline Part Two

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Wedding_Timeline_parttwoI am back with some more tips on creating a day-of wedding timeline. Last week, I talked about how to create a timeline from the beginning of the wedding day until the ceremony, you can find that here. Today I am sharing some tips on everything after the guests arrive.

Ceremony Start

When planning your timeline, remember to include a few extra minutes for late arrivals. Typically 15 minutes after the start time on the invitation is good. Example: if your invitation said 5 o’clock, put a 5:15 ceremony start time on your timeline. If you happen to start earlier- that is great!

Ceremony End

Note how long you expect your ceremony to last, and include a few extra minutes towards the end. If you plan on doing a receiving line directly after the ceremony, include that in this time as well.

Cocktail Hour & Formals

The cocktail hour time should be listed for the guests, and the formal photos will be a time for the newlyweds, bridal party and their families. Even if you were able to get most of these done prior to the wedding, it’s always nice to take some more after you really are married.

Guests Seated

Even though it’s called cocktail “hour”, you only need to block out about 50 minutes. 10 minutes before that hour were to end, have the emcee (or DJ) announce that guests should begin taking their seats. This will leave 10 minutes for everyone to find their chair and for the bridal party to get ready for introductions.

Grand Entrance

Introductions for the bridal party and couples entrance normally will only take a few minutes. Leave about 5 minutes in the schedule.

First Dance

The first dance does not always have to be as soon as the couple arrives. You can do this after dinner and toasts if you wanted. Whenever you decide to have it, block out about 10 minutes for the first dance, it will leave some extra time before and after to get ready.


This depends on the type of dinner- formal sit-down will take much longer than a buffet. The best way to schedule this is to ask your caterer.


While you are still in the planning stages, decide who will be making toasts during the reception. It is normally the Best Man, Maid of Honor and father of the Bride. 15 minutes should be a good amount of time for all three of these toasts. Adjust based on number you will have.

Family Dances

If you plan on including a mother/son or father/daughter dance, these normally take place after the toasts. 10 minutes for both is a perfect amount of time.

After the family dances, the dance floor can be opened to everyone until the next big event….

Cake Cutting

After everyone has worked off their dinner, it’s time for dessert. 2 hours after the dinner is served is a good time for the cake.

More Dancing & Last Dance

Start the music again as soon as the couple is finished cutting the cake. Most guests will want to grab a piece and get back out there. The last dance should be scheduled 10 minutes before the ceremony is set to end.

Couples Exit

The grand exit should take place 5 minutes before the reception end time. This will leave a few minutes for goodbyes, and then a grand sendoff for the newlyweds.

Other things to keep in mind when creating a timeline are the traditions. Many are replacing these with other things, but be sure to include them if you plan on taking part:

  • Bouquet and Garter Toss

  • Apron Dance

  • Anniversary Dance

There is no right or wrong order because it is your day! This is simply a guide to creating your own timeline. It’s fine to replace, leave out, ignore or double the time for any of these items listed. Just have fun!

Are you creating your own wedding timeline?

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is an Event Manager turned Lifestyle, Wedding, and Travel blogger who got married in 2015. You can read her wedding planning posts here.