Wedvice: Creating a Timeline

Garden-inspired tabletop. Scroll to the bottom for details and descriptions!

The most difficult part about making a timeline is figuring out what you want to do and don’t want to do- and then guessing how long each thing will take. To be real with you… just make your best guess. If you have a Day-Of coordinator, this will be a huge asset to you at this point in the game. My best advice for a timeline is to make it make SENSE- for you, and for your guests. The rule of thumb is this, and any DJ will agree: try not to make your guests feel like they’re at a football game [stand up, sit down- FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!]. They’ll hestitate to participate if you start asking too much. So, focus on the flow.

Here’s a mini break-down for you of a typical reception timeline with great flow:

6:00pm Guests enter reception room
6:15pm Grand Entrance [Bridal Party] 6:20pm Bride and Groom Entrance

6:25pm **Activity #1** [this can be first dance, toasts from dad or bridal party, blessing of meal- knocking something out ASAP is always, always a great idea for the guests].
6:40pm Dinner is served
7:10pm **Activity #2 [toasts, slideshow, first dance… this is typically between salads and main course- which is why our couple of honor is traditionally served all up front, immediately… you have about 20 minutes to get some chow down!] 7:25pm **Activity #3 and 4 [table visits, father-daughter dance, mother-son… try to get ALL of the items you want their “full attention” for out of the way while they’re seated and eating]

7:45pm Open Dancing time for guests [PLEASE leave enough time for the guests to get “into the dancing”- as at first nearly all parties are a bit shy of the dance floor! This time should be no less than 30 minutes].
8:20pm Cake Cutting [please note that this DOES in fact signify the “end of the night” for many wedding guests. No, there is nothing you can do to “make” someone stay longer at your wedding… just be a gracious host and ensure that up until the cake, they’ve had a great time and a smooth-flowing day. This is also why we do so many of the formalities before and during dinner. Don’t make your guests STAY to see you dance with dad, because they just won’t end up staying or if they do, they’ll be grouchy! Yuck!] 8:30pm Toast from Groom [this is a traditional element] 8:40pm Bouquet/Garter Toss

9:00pm Open Dancing to the end of the evening!
10:50pm Last Call
10:55pm Last Dance/Grand Exit
11:00pm Event Close!

Truly, all wedding timelines are best when they’re personalized to the couple, their crowd, and the elements they’re set to include in their big day. Many cultures have traditional table visits, in traditional attire- this will require a scheduled time for the bride and/or groom to change. Some couples are totally set against a bouquet/garter toss. Other families want to have 10 speeches. There are weddings with “entertainment” during dinner [be it hula dancers, belly dancers, Chinese lion dancers… anything]- this will need to be scheduled. The best thing you can do is analyze YOUR preferences and think about when you’ve been a guest. That extra hour-and-a-half of pictures between the ceremony and reception is GREAT- but being “guest conscious” may be the key between your guests having amazing memories of your day, and your day being talked about for years to come… and NOT in the good way! [After all, who likes to wait for 3 hours for a bride and groom to show up to their own reception, let alone waiting that long to EAT!]. All in all, as long as when you’re creating your timeline, you allow yourself to think of all the angles and elements, you should be just fine! And don’t be afraid to create your timeline, print it up, and hand it to your nearest and dearest. The more people who have seen it, the more on time you’re likely to stay!

Whew! You made it through. Eye candy time!

A collection of random clear glass vases [and glasses] made up this centerpiece for a long table. The vases were filled with fluffy, garden-y white and green flowers and plants.

The simple favors were a bottled sparkling juice beverage, perfect for kids, in the color scheme and wrapped with a ribbon.

The concept for linens was to use the “updated silk gingham” pattern as an elongated place mat, of sorts, for two guests across from one another to “share”. It also added depth to our table and was the perfect mix of country garden and modern romance. You can also see our scalloped menu cards, sandwiched between the two round clear glass plates at each place setting.

Alternate angle.

Funky olive glass tealight holders. Adds color and warmth to this tabletop!

Thanks again to all of the vendors involved!

Jonilyn Photography

The Treasured Petal

Elegant Design Specialty Linens

Signature Party Rentals

Hope you’re inspired!


A. Auer