Creating your Wedding Timeline

The stage is set, all your decorations and center pieces have been picked out and designed. More importantly, you have found that perfect dress. Now it is time to work out what will happen at your Wedding Reception, in other words create the timeline for a magical night.

To help us with some Timeline planning tips we sat down with the professional wedding DJ, Brian Davis in Brisbane to draw on his experience.

wedding timeline

1. Determine Your Critical Timing Points

The first step is to determine the critical timing points of your reception. These are timing points that must happen as close to the set time as possible and have little to no flexibility. Most of these timings will be set by your venue manager or caterer. These timing points include:

  • When the room opens;
  • When the Bar package starts;
  • When cocktail food will be served;
  • When Entrée is served;
  • When Mains is served; and
  • When the room closes.

These timing points create the framework for your wedding reception. In addition to these points, you may wish to add your own if they are important to your plans. For example; dancing start time, if dancing is a focus and Bride and Groom leaving time, if you have transport arranged.

Now that these critical timing points are set the next type of timing point can be put in the timeline.

2. Put In Your Set Timing Points

Set timing points are elements of your reception that have a set time but their timing is flexible. That is, they will have no major impact on the remainder of the night if they are 10 minutes in front or behind. Examples of set timing points are:

  • Cocktail hour start time;
  • When guests are seated;
  • MC's welcome;
  • Bridal Party Introductions;
  • Speeches; and
  • Cake Cutting.

These set timing points are placed in the Timeline based on critical timing points. For example, if entrée service is at 6:20pm and both the MC Welcome and Bridal Party Introductions take 5 minutes each, your timeline might look like this:

  • 6:05pm - MC Welcome
  • 6:10pm - Bridal Party Introductions
  • 6:20pm - Entrée Service

Tips to consider when determining Set timing point placement:

  1. Time buffers - As in the quick example above, a 5-min buffer has been made before the Entrée Service to allow for settling down in the room. You don't want to be rushed off your feet at your reception, you want to enjoy the celebration. So create time buffers even if just for bathroom or smoking breaks.
  2. Speeches - Make sure you check with your caterers how much time it will take to serve and clear the plates for all your guests. Also factor in pouring of champagne if that applies. The last thing you want is wait staff walking around banging plates while the speeches are happening. (If you have a large number of speeches to get through then you may not be able to avoid this.)
  3. Cake Cutting – If your cake is served as part of your dessert then the timing of the cake cutting will have to take into account the time required to cut and plate it in the kitchen.

Once you have placed these Set Timing points it is important to run your timeline by your venue, caterer, and any other relevant vendor.

3. Set Your Flexible Timing Points

Brian DJ Davis also being a Professional Brisbane Wedding DJ calls these ‘by feel' timing points. That is because the timings of these elements have no real set time and is best made when the ‘feel' of the room is right. Examples of these are:

  • First Dance;
  • Other special dances;
  • Bouquet Toss; and
  • Garter Toss.

The timing of these should be at an approximate time. The biggest tip here is to not forget about them on the night, but that would mean you're having loads of fun and that's not a bad thing.

Setting the timeline for your Wedding Reception may seem like a difficult task especially if you have been to very few weddings. But your Wedding vendors are there to help you. Even your photographer has some input in the timeline as s/he has seen what works from past events. Happy planning.

At last want to say thanks to the following people and resource which help me to develop the article: Dj Brian from Brisbane Wedding MC

If you have any questions, please ask below!