I know that this part of event planning doesn’t seem exciting, but planning the schedule and flow of your event has a huge impact on you and your guests’ experience! And, one of the most important vendors at your event, your DJ and MC, can be a huge help in keeping your party on point, on the day of your party! Not only can they help you brainstorm how to optimize the timing and transitions for your day in advance, they can do so in a way that adds excitement and life-of-the-party vibes to your celebration!
Chances are, your venue, planner or caterers will at least have some sort of standard “backbone” timeline hinged around your meal. We always recommend asking for this upfront, so we can come up with a plan that incorporates all of the other elements you’re planning on including, from Parent Dances to Cake Cutting to Sparkler Exit/Photos and more!
Here is a sample timeline that you can use to give you a rough idea of how much time you should allot for various segments of your event. The below should give everyone plenty of time to mix & mingle, enjoy dinner, while still leaving enough time to sprinkle in all of the toasts and formalities, while still saving a healthy amount of time for dancing and partying!
– Guest Arrival: 30 Minutes (sometimes it’s beneficial to invite guests for a wedding at noon, but tell your officiant 12:15, depending on the punctuality of your guests)
– Ceremony: 30 Minutes (add another 15-30 minutes if you have a lot of readings or if you’re having wedding mass)
– Cocktail Hour: 60 Minutes (You can make this 90 minutes if you think you and your pals will have a ton of catching up to do, but if this is the case, we suggest offering hors devours or charcuterie to go along with the cocktails.)
– Dinner + Formalities: ~ 90 Minutes
– Dancing: ~ 2.5 Hours (or more depending on your venue and your guestlist)
Total Run-Time: 6 Hours
Side note: This timing will generally work for a guest count of approximately 75-150 guests. So, you are expecting a smaller or larger event, you may want to tweak the timeline accordingly. (For example:. A 300 person plated dinner will likely take closer to 2 hours).
In that case, definitely express that to your planner, and vendors, as most are all about rethinking the rules to make the celebration fit you, not the other way around! So, whether you’re a bride who wants to do her Parent Dance with her Mother, Grandmother or Step- Mother, or you just want to skip the fanfare of having a grand entrance, make sure you speak up and so that you’re wedding, like your marriage, will be a true reflection of who you are as individuals and as a couple!
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