As your wedding day approaches, you are putting the finishing touches on months of planning. Last month, we gave you some tips on filling out your Music Request List. This month, we want to provide you some guidance when filling out your Event Timeline.
When it comes to planning the timeline of your reception, most couples get overwhelmed and are not sure what time each event should take place. “This is my first (and hopefully) only wedding, and I have no idea what to do.” We hear this time and time again from brides. First of all, breath easy. Your DJ and your banquet captain are there to help. We do weddings every weekend and are very familiar with what needs to happen and when so that your event flows smoothly. Your wedding night should be a time for you to enjoy and not stress about the timing of each item on the list.
You will meet with the banquet captain and discuss your timeline with your DJ prior to your reception, but here is an example of a standard timeline to help point you in the right direction. Keep in mind, this is your event. The following is merely a suggestion based on our experience, but in no way is it set in stone. Your vendors are there to accommodate you and give you and your new spouse the best experience possible. Completing Your Event Timeline.
6:00 pm – Cocktail Hour Begins
6:50 pm – DJ announces that all guests should be seated and all members of the bridal party meet in foyer to lineup for introductions.
7:00 pm – Bridal party introductions
7:05 pm – Bride and groom cut cake
7:10 pm – Best man / maid of honor speeches
7:25 pm – Blessing
7:30 pm – First course served
8:45 pm – Bride and groom’s first dance
8:50 pm – Bride and father dance
8:55 pm – Groom and mother dance
9:00 pm – Dance floor opens to all guests
10:00 pm – Bouquet Toss
10:05 pm – Garter removal
11:15 pm – Last call for alcohol
11:25 pm – Last dance
11:30 pm – Reception ends
Again, the above is an example of a standard timeline, but you may have a few questions as to the timing of each event.
1) Why cut your cake immediately after being introduced? Cutting your cake immediately after being introduced is a good idea for several reasons. First, it allows the banquet hall to remove the cake early and begin slicing it for your guests in time for desert. Second, you already have the attention of everyone in the room immediately after being introduced. Therefore, none of your guests will miss that special moment. Third, the photographer has an opportunity to take your pictures before you begin eating. The groom may want to remove his jacket and roll up his sleeves for dinner. Taking the cake cutting pictures early ensures that you still look your best.
2) How many speeches should we have? It is traditional to have your maid/matron of honor and best man give a speech. We suggest that each speech be kept to a maximum of 5 minutes. By keeping speeches short and sweet, you retain the attention of your guests and assure that dinner is served on time and hot. It is recommended that all speeches be given before dinner is served. Having speeches given during food service can be distracting and draws attention away from the individual giving the speech. Your DJ and banquet hall will be flexible, just make sure you know in advance how many speeches will be given. Some family members may want to give “surprise” speeches. Unless previously scheduled or given the green light for surprise speeches from the bride and groom, your DJ will not give the microphone to guests that are not on the speaker schedule. This ensures that you reception stays on schedule and allows plenty of time for other formalities and dancing.
3) What if the bride and groom what to give a “welcome speech”? Oftentimes, the bride and groom are compelled to thank everyone for coming. Most couples feel that speaking immediately after the other speeches is appropriate, but we recommend waiting until desert to do so. Why wait? First of all, it makes for quicker dinner service. The less speeches given before dinner, the faster the food is served, which makes for happy guests and happy vendors. Second, and more importantly, it gives you time to soak it all in. During dinner, you have a chance to look around the room, see all the people that made it out for your special day and think of what you really want to say in your speech. These speeches are generally brief, but heartfelt. “We’d like to thank everyone for coming to our reception….thanks to the Smith family for traveling from overseas….thank you to (bride’s family) thank you to (groom’s family)….enjoy the reception….see you on the dance floor.”
4) We want to have a video montage. How long should it be and when should we show it? It has become popular so show a slideshow during the reception. A slideshow is a nice way to display your love story to your guests and is sure to draw laughter and tears from those who love you the most. However, a sideshow that is too long can have an adverse affect and cause your guests to lose attention and interest. We recommend keeping your slideshow between 7-8 minutes long using roughly 100 photos. A good rule of thumb is 30 pictures of the bride, 30 pictures of the groom and 15-20 pictures of the bride and groom as a couple. Selecting one song to be played over each segment provides theme music for each sequence and lends itself well to transitions. Plan on scheduling your slideshow immediately preceding the speeches or during desert. If you have a lot of speeches, definitely wait until desert. Spacing events out gives your guests things to look forward to. Your DJ will make an announcement prior to starting the slideshow that guests that cannot see the screen may want to move to a spot in the room where they can view the show more easily.
As you fill in your Event Timeline, remember to click “Save My List” as you continue to plan your evening and “Submit My List” when you are done. Your online forms should be submitted 14 days prior to your reception. Your Music By Design DJ will personally call you the week of your event to discuss all of the information you have submitted and answer any questions you may have. Our mission is to have a clear understanding of your expectations and work diligently to exceed them. Please visit our Ceremony Music Planning Guide.