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3 Sample Wedding Timelines and Tips

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your entertainment timeline…

Think of your wedding DJ/Emcee as the maestro for your wedding. They work hard to keep all activities as close to on-time as possible. As any maestro will tell you, keeping a large group of people in-sync can be difficult at times. So it’s a good thing to think of the timeline as a guide. Activities on the day-of sometimes get extended, switched around or start later than expected. For example, the weather may slow down the outdoor photographs. The kitchen may be running behind or the speeches run short so dinner can be served early.

Just know that if everyone is having fun and you’re not that far off, it’ll still be a successful wedding day. Also, your guests will never know if you’re running a little late. 😉

Your DJ/Emcee is the hub of your entertainment and your timeline is at the heart of to all. From the “I do’s” to the last song of the night, your entertainment timeline is the most important tool of reference.

Most weddings these days start in the late afternoon to early evening. Morning and early afternoon weddings are just as much fun and are more kid-friendly. If you have a lot of young ones attending your wedding you may want to think about an earlier day. Whatever you decide, make it your own. It’s your day and there are no real rules. Our 3 sample wedding timelines below are a great starting point to your happy day!

Photo by Rosy and Shaun Wedding Photography

Tip 1.
Cutting the Cake

If you’re serving your wedding cake to your guests for dessert, cutting your cake before dinner gives the kitchen more preparation time and avoids delays for after dinner dessert service.

Tip 2. Do your toasts before dinner, rather than during dinner.

Try to keep your toasts to a 3-minute max. Long toasts can bring the kitchen to a halt causing dinner service issues. Also, avoid scheduling your toasts during dinner because it can become very distracting for the person performing the toast with all the noise from silverware, plates, talking, etc. When hungry people have food in front of them, they don’t pay attention to much else. You’ll have your guest’s full attention if you schedule toasts before dinner.

Tip 3. Let your DJ read the crowd.

Keep your “Must Play” song requests to a minimum. 15 songs take up about an hour and most weddings average 2-3 hours of open dancing. That’s 30-45 songs altogether. If you pick 30 songs it makes it harder for your DJ to read the crowd by having to pay more attention to your requests list rather than the dance floor. A great wedding DJ is always reading your crowd and anticipating what song will work next. Keeping most of the time open for your DJ ensures that they have time to bring their expertise to your dance floor.

Tip 4. Give yourself enough time to plan.

Give yourself plenty of time to plan. Don’t leave the details for your DJ and other vendors to the last minute. Spending time on your song lists, timeline, and overall details are crucial to a smooth running and successful wedding day.

Tip 5. Keep changes to a minimum.

Once you’ve submitted your timeline to your DJ, wedding planner and other vendors try not to make changes. This helps with continuity by keeping everyone on the same page.

3 Sample Wedding Timelines

6 & 7 hour entertainment timelines

1. With Ceremony

  • 5:00p  Pre-Ceremony Music
  • 5:30p  Ceremony
  • 6:00p  Cocktail Hour
  • 7:00p  Grand Entrance
  • 7:10p  Cake Cutting
  • 7:15p  Speeches
  • 7:30p  Dinner
  • 8:30p  Formal Dances
  • 8:55p  Open Dancing
  • 11:55p  Last Song

2. Without Ceremony

  • 6:00p Cocktail Hour
  • 7:15p Grand Entrance
  • 7:20p First Dance
  • 7:25p Cake Cutting
  • 7:30p Speeches
  • 7:45p Dinner
  • 9:00p Formal Dances
  • 9:15p Open Dancing
  • 11:55p Last Song

3. With Send-off

  • 6:00p  Cocktail Hour
  • 7:00p  Grand Entrance
  • 7:05p  Cake Cutting
  • 7:10p  Speeches
  • 7:25p  Dinner
  • 8:30p  Formal Dances
  • 8:45p  Open Dancing
  • 11:45p  Last Song
  • 11:50p  Newlywed Send-off

Keep these 3 sample wedding timelines in mind while you’re planning your order of events and don’t forget that there aren’t rules. These are just suggestions based on our experience. This is your wedding and your day. Now get planning and fun!