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Planning Your Wedding Timeline

Your Timeline is important!

It determines whether or not the reception will flow with forward momentum, making guests feel engaged and having FUN, OR giving them the feeling they’re watching a slow-movie, waiting for the next scene. Guests who are not involved & having fun might leave early!

As a client, PLEASE don't hesitate to reach out about any timeline questions or concerns. I'm glad to sit down with you and go over the entire days timeline- offer pros & cons to doing things in different order, and help plan a day that unfolds with forward momentum.

Fun Fact:

In CNY the average wedding day is around $35,000. 4-5 hours of that is your reception. If your guests leave just an hour early because they're bored, how much money goes down the drain? Your DJ is like an "insurance policy" on your investment. This is a party! Your guests got dressed in nice clothes and sat through your boring ceremony (I'm so romantic lol!)... Show them a good time, not a rigid, structured wedding show! We can help you plan the events of your day in a way that is unobtrusive to the FUN!

Most of our couples are usually looking for a modern wedding, with a few of the traditional formalities that their parents will enjoy, and will make for great pictures... Done in a NON-cliché way. Once they're out of the way- it's a party!


A sample wedding reception format/time-line:

5:00 PM Cocktail Hour Your guests arrive at your reception. Upon entering, they are greeted by background music. This combination of the entrance, the decorated reception room, and music will set the first, and lasting, impression. They will mingle and await the arrival of the wedding party.

5:50 Introductions All wedding party members are introduced (by couple) in sequence, with the bride and groom entering last. The Bride and Groom’s grand entrance!

First Dance After introductions is a great time to go right into your First Dance. Your guests are seated with their attention already focused.

6:00 Toasts (+ any Blessing/Grace) After introductions, the bridal party and newlyweds take their seats. A toast to the Bride and Groom is offered, usually by the best man and/or Maid/Matron of Honor. This is often followed by a grace or a blessing from a family member or a member of the clergy. The bride or groom (or parents) may also have a few words. If a salad is part of the meal, it’s often served to guests during toasts to keep things flowing.

6:10 Dinner Dinner is served if this is a sit down affair, or the tables are invited in sequence for the buffet. In either scenario, the newlyweds and wedding party are first. *Consideration: In the case of a buffet style dinner, it's best that the catering or wait-staff invite tables to the buffet as needed. It's extremely tacky to have the DJ/MC announce this on the microphone, and it sets the tone more for a fast-food dining than a wedding.

7:00ish? (Depends on number of guests/length of dinner) Father/Daughter and Mother/Son, or other special dances Because many guests are finishing their meals, and are still at their tables, this is a great time for parent dances. Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances usually take under 10 minutes. The time for cake cutting and parent dances is often interchangeable. One popular philosophy on this is: Since open dancing will follow, it makes sense to have guests attention focused on the dance-floor and cutting cake first and ending with parent dances allows for this. One 'con' to that is, because Cake Cutting is a fun event, guests are usually out of their seats and eager to take pictures of the Cake Cutting... Regaining their attention, and asking them to be seated again to watch a couple slow dances somewhat takes the wind out of the sails, and reverses any forward momentum.

Open Dancing! I consider this the dance-floor “soft” open... The music is dance-able, more upbeat, and has a bump in volume from dinner music, but rarely do guests run out and dance immediately after eating a meal. This is the time for digesting, coffee, cocktails, mingling, and lighter dancing. Usually, this is when your older guests, parents, aunts & uncles etc dance more, so we may play to their tastes with a few oldies now. Usually, they'll poop-out fast with a few oldies while your younger guests are getting inebriated. The party is just getting started!

7:30? 8:00? Cake Cutting Cutting the cake only takes 5-10 minutes, and the time for cake cutting and parent dances is often interchangeable. That said, since guests are seated already after dinner, I think doing parent dances after dinner results in a more focused group and doesn't require clearing the dance-floor for them later.

*Also, because the cake cutting is a fun tradition, many guests will be out of their seats trying to take photos of the cake cutting. Asking them to return to their seats to watch parent dances for another 2 slow songs after cake cutting, from a guest’s perspective, can feel like it slows the momentum of the fun, just when it’s party time.

Open Dancing! This is when the party kicks into gear. The reception fun is in full swing, and will continue throughout the night. Whether your reception is 4 hours, or 5 hours, or more…

During this time period, we'd also work in any other events you wanted to include- throwing your bouquet for instance. It all depends on your preference.

9:55 or 10:55 (Depending on the length/hours of your reception)

Last Dance and any "send off" The last dance of the evening is announced. The bride and groom may choose to slip away at this point, or stay to say goodbye to their guests. if there is any special “send off”, it would be announced and coordinated at this time as well.

In Closing... It’s rare that everything happens right on schedule... And frankly, it's a party, so the less "structured" it feels, the more fun it is!

The important thing is, you can relax and enjoy the day as guests of honor, without concern for the time or events. Your staff of professionals should coordinate the details behind the scenes.

As always, don't hesitate to contact me for any reason.

Best Wishes!

-Kirk R. Select Receptions by CNY Select DJs Syracuse Wedding DJ Services

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