What to Consider When Making Your Wedding TimelineI have been to a lot of weddings, each with their own unique flavor, but one thing I always notice is what the timeline feels like.  Is cocktail hour too short?  Are guests waiting too long for their dinners?  Is there enough time for dancing?  In my opinion, a well-planned timeline can completely enhance, or sour, a guest’s experience.  Here are some things to consider when making your wedding timeline so that you and your guests can enjoy yourselves to the fullest:

1) Wait time during cocktail hour

If you plan on having a cocktail hour immediately after your ceremony (which is a great idea because it gives you a chance to sneak away for some pictures while guests mingle and snack), make sure that the cocktails and appetizers and ready to be served right from the beginning, and that you keep it under an hour long.  After the ceremony, everyone is ready for a drink and some delicious food – you don’t want guests to be standing around waiting in a long drink line while the caterers are still working on getting the food out.  Give guests enough time to enjoy themselves, but not so much time that it starts to take away from the actual reception.  With prompt service and a 60 minute max time frame, your cocktail hour will be perfect.

2) Wait time between dinner and dancing.

So your guests have enjoyed cocktail hour, you’ve moved everyone to the reception, and it is time for toasts, dinner, and dancing.  You really want to think the timing of this through: try to cram too much into a short period of time and it will feel rushed, but give too much time for dinner for example and by the time dancing comes around, not everyone will be in the mood anymore (which I have seen happen many times).  As the bride, the night is going to fly by and feel like a whirlwind for you, but make sure to think about what timing would be comfortable for your guests as well.  Serve dinner within 30 minutes of guests being seated, and use the downtime for your first dance.  Do the speeches while everyone is eating and end dinner within an hour of being seated; this way, you’ve covered your important events, your guests have been fed without having to wait too long or being rushed, and everyone will be ready for dancing.

3) Timing of songs.

Generally speaking, you will have a variety of guests at your wedding: family, friends, young, and not-so-young.  With this variety comes different tastes in music.  Now, for my wedding I actually put all traditional old school party songs (YMCA, Brick House, I Will Survive, etc.) on the do-not-play list and stuck to fun contemporary songs, favorites of me and my groom, and a few special requests from family members.  This worked great for us and guests of all ages rocked out the entire time.  However, you might consider playing a variety of music to cater to everyone; just make sure that you don’t stay in one genre for too long.  Yes, if you play 1 hour of your parents’ favorite 60’s songs your parents and their friends will be on the dance floor, but some of your younger guests could get bored.  Alternatively, if you play your favorite rap artist the entire time you might exclude Grandma.  A safe bet is to play a little bit of everything at first, but spend most of the night listening to music that YOU want to dance to.  If the bride and groom are tearing up the dance floor, your guests are more likely to do the same.
When creating your timeline, think about all the events you want to include in the evening, find ways to kill two birds with one stone (speeches during dinner, father bride dance immediately before cutting the cake, etc.), and don’t make your guests wait too long for anything.  With these tips, your guests will remember your wedding as a flawless, enjoyable time that they were able to share in your love, and you will remember it as the best day of your life!
-Happy Planning.