When it comes to planning a wedding, one of the most important aspects is the event timeline. This is necessary to keep everybody on schedule and make sure nothing gets lost in the shuffle. Here at DJ Cutt Entertainment, we understand the importance of preparation. That’s why we have our own online planning form for you to use with the specific times that we need to know. On your wedding day we will try our hardest to hit these specific events at the specific times. However, we approach the entire day with a commitment to flexibility, because we know many things can run late (or early) during the actual event. Often times, you won’t know what time the day should start but you have a hard out when the event must end. Our approach is to plan the timeline in reverse so that way you know exactly what time to start your event versus just trying to guess. Many venues have a hard cut off time that you have to be out by and a time that the vendors have to be out by as well. What time do weddings typically end? After DJing weddings the past 15 years in Oregon and Portland, the average end time is somewhere between 9:30 and 10. We have had weddings go till at least 3 in the morning but 90 to 95% of weddings and at this time.
A standard wedding is going to last about 5 to 6 hours. Some run longer, and a few are on the shorter side, with the difference usually depending on the number of people that you have at your wedding. The more guests, the harder it can be to get them through all the events, such as dinner, toasts, cocktail hour, and more.
For most couples I tell them to plan for somewhere between 1 to 2 and 1/2 hours of open dancing. On the actual day of the wedding, this can greatly fluctuate depending on how all the other events line up with your original timeline, with the time that is left over devoted to the dance party.
I tell my couples to usually plan for about 10 minutes to 20 minutes for the special dances. This will include the first dance, the father-daughter dance, the mother-son dance, and the first song to kick off the dance party. We often do a game called the rabbit dance. This is a great ice-breaker to get everybody up on the dance floor.
At some of our weddings, our clients like to play wedding games. The two most popular are the shoe game, which you can see an example of here [LINK], along with a game called the anniversary dance. These are fun interactive games to get all your guests engaged and usually take about 10 minutes to complete. This time also allows the catering staff to flip a room or get ready for the dance party or finish cutting the cake.
While wedding cakes have long been a tradition, modern weddings may instead have cupcakes or a dessert bar. This means the cutting of the cake is mostly for the pictures now. This will usually take about five minutes but it can take up to 15 minutes depending on how fast you guys do the cutting and the time that it takes to get you to the dance floor. Many people add more time because they need to actually cut the cake in order to serve all the guests. At our company, as soon as the cutting of the cake is done, we bring you on the dance floor and the catering company can finish dishing out your desserts and we’ll make an announcement on the microphone that they can grab some cake once all the special dances are done.
Wedding speeches and toasts can take anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour. It just depends on how many people will give toasts and speeches and how long each person is going to speak for. I’ve seen the father of the bride give a speech for 45 minutes all by himself. It’s a good idea at your dinner rehearsal to ask who is giving a speech because we will ask for the order of speeches in our forms. When you ask who’s giving a speech you should probably give them a set time limit of how long to take. Some couples like to open the floor for speeches which is totally acceptable but it can either be a really long time or nobody giving speeches at all, it really just depends on the wedding and the guests.
Dinner should be scheduled for about 45 minutes to an hour and a half. The start time for dinner will be highly dependent on if the catering company is ready on time along with the number of guests that you have. Whether you are having a sit-down dinner or buffet style will also impact on how much time the the catering company will need to get everyone served.
When it comes to the grand entrance, this can take anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes depending on how many moving parts and people are incorporated. Prior to the grand entrance, I will meet with the couple to make sure that we have the correct pronunciation of the names and ask how they want to be introduced. If everything lines up we’ll usually go directly into dinner after this. But we also need to know if the DJ’s will be announcing when individual tables should get in line for dinner or if this is going to be left up to the wedding coordinator. This is one of the things that will be listed on our planning forms.
Don’t get hung up on the word cocktail. We’ve done many cocktail hours without any drinks or alcohol at all. Essentially this is a buffer time from the end of the ceremony to the grand entrance. This can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half long. It really just depends on how long it will take the wedding party to sign the marriage license, finish getting family photos, and then go have some down time before we move on to the dinner hour. As a general rule I tell people to plan at least an hour but we can always move things up if needed.
I tell my clients to plan at least an hour for the ceremony. Many ceremonies will not last this long, unless it’s a religious ceremony with lots of different events happening. We find the ceremony usually starts about 15 minutes behind and will run around 20 minutes on average. The rest of the time you can add to the cocktail hour if needed. But I always tell my clients to have more time for an event versus trying to play catch-up at the end. The start of the ceremony is usually the time the bride is planning on walking down the aisle. In our planning forms you will get to pick a song for the family walking down the aisle, the wedding party walking down the aisle, the bride’s entrance song, and the exit song as you leave the wedding. If you are doing a candle lighting, knot tying, or any type of traditional service, you can pick a song for that as well.