Wedding Reception Timeline
Example \ Sample of a wedding reception timeline for weddings with a live wedding band or a DJ
Below is an example of a typical wedding reception timeline that involves a live wedding band or a DJ. Feel free to print this out and make your own personal touches and alterations. From your friends at Adam Blue Productions.
6pm - Guest arrival
When your guests arrive to your wedding reception after the ceremony is over, it is always a good idea to have some nice background music already playing in the room when they enter. If you have a live wedding band, have them DJ some background music that is light but upbeat, and a low enough volume so that your guests can talk. If you have a DJ have them do the same, the background music should be something along the lines of Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, Harry Connick, Jr., nice, classy music.
6pm - Cocktail Hour
Most wedding receptions begin with a cocktail hour. As guests arrive and the nice background music is playing, your guests will head to the the bar(s) and meet and greet each other and talk. If you have a live wedding band, it is not a good idea to have them performing live music during cocktail hour as people are trying to talk.
6:30pm - Grand Entrance
Some couples prefer to be introduced to the wedding reception, being announced by the wedding band's MC or the wedding DJ. It is a nice touch to choose a special song to enter the room to, something really upbeat and fun. "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night" by Black Eyed Peas is always good, or if you prefer something more classy you could use something like "This Will Be" by Natalie Cole. You can also choose to introduce your entire wedding party. The best way to do this is to have the live wedding band's MC or your DJ to introduce the wedding party in couples, then introduce the wedding couple last. Some couples prefer to use two different songs, one for the wedding party and then a different song for the wedding couple. Wedding Timeline Example Tip: Use the time between 6pm and 6:30pm to go to a few locations and take photos.
7pm - Dinner
After the cocktail hour, dinner is usually served. Either a buffet style dinner or a sit down dinner, it all depends on how you plan your wedding reception timeline. Sometimes the father of the bride gets on the mic and does a welcome speech and then announces that dinner is served. Again, like the wedding timeline example for the cocktail hour, you want your live wedding band to DJ background music so that your guests can talk. If you have a wedding DJ have them keep the music at a reasonable volume and classy (like outlined above).
7:30pm - Cake Cutting
Be sure that the wedding couple and wedding party are served first for dinner. That way, while everyone else is still eating, the couple can go over and do the cake cutting. It is best to have your live wedding band or DJ announce the cake cutting. A classy way to announce this is to say something like "ok, get out your cameras, the couple is about to cut the cake". Not everyone will pay attention to the cake cutting and that's ok, anyone who wants to gather around and get a picture will come over when they hear that announcement. The rest of the guests will just continue eating. Some couples prefer to choose a special song to be DJ'd while they cut the cake, for instance "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, etc. Wedding Timeline Example Tip: If your cake is positioned in the middle of the dance floor, be sure that after you cut the cake the venue staff is in place to move the cake off of the dance floor immediately.
8pm - Toasts
As your guests are finishing up their dinner, it is a good time to bring on the toasts. Have the music turned off during the toasts. The typical order of toasts is best man, and then the best man introduces the maid of honor. Sometimes the couple likes to do a toast as well, thanking everyone for coming, etc.
8:20pm - First Dance
Immediately after the toasts, have your wedding band's MC or your DJ begin playing your first dance song. It is best not to have any down time between the toasts and the first dance, have them start playing your first dance song right away and then the couple can go straight to the dance floor and begin.
Father of the Bride / Bride Dance
Following the couple's first dance is usually the father of the bride and bride dance. Have the live wedding band or DJ begin playing the father of the bride dance song immediately so that there is no "dead air" between dances, have dad walk out to the dance floor and join the bride.
Mother of the Groom Dance
After the father of the bride dance, immediately begin playing the song for the mother of groom dance so that there is no "dead air" between songs. Have mom come out and join the groom.
Wedding Timeline Example Tip: If you need help finding good songs, see our List of Great First Dance Songs
8:40pm - Open Dancing!
It's time to let the guests loose on the dance floor. Have your live wedding band or DJ kick it in with something really upbeat and fun, and announce that it's time for everyone to get up and dance! Wedding Timeline Example Tip: It's a good idea to have someone in place to dim the lights down in the room at this time.
9:30pm - Bouquet / Garter Toss
Have your live wedding band's MC or your DJ announce that it's time to do the bouquet toss. Have all of the single ladies get on the dance floor and get ready to catch the bouquet. A good song to play during this time is "Single Ladies" by Beyonce. Have the MC or DJ count to three and then let the bouquet fly! Some couple like to do the garter toss and some do not, but the garter toss would follow the bouquet toss. Have the DJ or live wedding band play something sexy like "American Woman" by Lenny Kravitz and get a chair for the bride to sit in so that the groom can take off the garter. Then, just as the bouquet toss, have the MC count to three and then let it rip.
9:40pm - Open Dancing
Get that dance floor packed again immediately after the toss and invite everyone to get up and dance.
End of the Night
Some couples like to do a send off. The most common way to send off the bride and groom is with a sparkler goodbye.
Have your guests line up near or just outside the door to the venue and distribute sparklers. Wedding Timeline Example Tip: Be sure and have a few buckets full of water for your guests to deposit their spent sparklers.
We hope that this sample wedding timeline will help thousands of couples. Here at Adam Blue Productions, we have produced over 1000 wedding receptions, and love sharing our experience with you. Have a great wedding, Cheers!