10 Tips for Planning a Wedding Reception Timeline


Getting married or know someone who is?

Perhaps the venue is now booked, the invitations have been sent, you’ve registered for your honeymoon (did you know you can group fund your honeymoon?) and you’re now ready to build the perfect wedding reception timeline. After working over 400+ weddings as a special event DJ, there are a few tricks that really help a wedding reception flow.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when planning a wedding schedule:

1) Speeches – It’s better to schedule speeches in-between courses. It’s a natural lull that could easily be filled by a quick 5-minute speech (try not to let them go longer). Guests generally prefer this format as opposed to listening to 20 minutes of back-to-back speeches at the end of dinner.




2) Speech Timing – I like to cue the MC when the last table has been served their food. He or she will then quickly introduce the next speaker, encourage people to keep eating and get the show on the road. I would also advise the banquet hall not to clear any dishes until the speech has been finished so there’s no competing noise.


3) The Best Man Speech – Slot this one in as early as possible. I’ve seen too many Best Men get super nervous and knock back way too many drinks to compensate. Get this speech in early on in the night; same goes for anyone else who is very nervous about speaking.




4) Start With Your First Dance – I suggest starting the night off with your Bridal Party Introductions and then going right into your first dance. That way, you don’t have to worry about doing this later on in the night and all eyes and the audience focus will already be on you.


5) Cake Cutting – Right after your first dance is done, I would suggest going right over to your wedding cake and doing your cake cutting ceremony as well. This is a great idea if your photographer is not staying for dinner or is leaving early. He or she will get all the pictures done right off the bat.




6) The Parent Dances – After dinner and speeches are complete, formally open the dance floor with the mother/son dance and the father/daughter dance. This could be your choice of either one or two songs.


7) Slow Dances – The first song to go on after the parent dances should be a classic slow song to encourage everyone to join you on the dance floor. Make sure your wedding party is ready to join you for the first slow dance and to grab others onto the dance floor. Do have a couple slow dances spread out throughout the night. I’ve been to many weddings where couples wait only for a slow song in order to dance; it also gives everyone a break.




8) Late Night Buffet – Depending on when your dinner ends, I suggest scheduling this for around 10:30 or 11 PM, so your guests can properly work up an appetite. If your wedding cake is not being served as dessert, consider having it as part of the late night buffet table.


9) Bouquet & Garter Toss – If you’re planning on doing the tosses, schedule them for around 10 PM, so you don’t have to think about doing them later – and you can kick back and enjoy yourself.




10) Get a Wedding Planner – I recommend at least hiring a day-of wedding coordinator if you’re not hiring a wedding planner. You want someone to keep everything on schedule, so he or she can cue your MC, DJ, photographer, catering staff and speakers, so you can relax and not have to put out any fires or worry about anything on your big day.

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This post is sponsored by Tilt, the easiest way to collect money with your group, however the opinions expressed in this post remain my own.