Do You Want To Build A Wedding Timeline? - Kendall Point

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Do You Want To Build A Wedding Timeline?

Wedding Reception Timelines Are A Must

Wedding timelines can be confusing when you’ve never done one—even if you’ve attended a lot of weddings, you probably haven’t paid much attention to the actual timeline. But as someone who’s hosted over 1,000 weddings, I will tell you— Six hours is about the most weddings guests have in them. Any wedding over 6 hours can be dreadful for guests.

Most wedding vendors that you hire will also start their packages at 5 hours. After that, it is overtime or added extra hours for an additional cost. We always suggest leaving the guests wanting more.

Once you settle on how long you want the wedding to be, it’s time to start working on your timeline!

Guests having fun on the dance floor during a wedding at Kendall Point.

What Goes Into A Wedding Timeline?

Throughout your wedding planning, you’ll be thinking of all the things you want to do that will make your wedding day special. A special dance with the wedding party, the toast from the father of the bride, the grand entrance of the bride and groom to the reception, and of course, the grand exit at the end of the night.

Creating a wedding timeline is a must if you want to achieve all of those special moments on your big day.

There’s so much happening on your wedding day that it’s very easy to fall behind. And once you do that, those special moments that you’ve been planning for months (and in some cases years) now are in jeopardy.

It’s best to think of it, not as a timeline for the wedding ceremony and reception, but rather something for the entire wedding. A complete wedding day timeline can even be as detailed as noting when the bride and groom need to wake up to start their days. Some timelines can even include the rehearsal dinner from the night before.

What you put on your wedding timeline is between you and your wedding planner, but in most cases, the more details you include, the better.

Here are some examples of what a wedding timeline could look like.

bride and groom standing and locking arms with their guests and singing along to a song during their wedding reception at Kendall Point.

Wedding Timeline Example #1

In this example, we have a 6-hour wedding that takes place in the winter or early spring (think January-March or late October-December). The ceremony starts at 4pm because the sun sets early in the evening. You can see the timeline includes everything from when the bride and wedding party first arrive at our San Antonio venue in the morning through the sparkler send off at the end of the reception.

  • 10:00am—Bride and bridesmaids arrive at KP for hair and makeup
  • Wedding Planner arrives and makes sure everything is perfect for you
  • LOTS OF THINGS WILL HAPPEN BEFORE THE CEREMONY START TIME
  • 4:00pm—Ceremony starts
  • 4:25pm—Ceremony concludes
  • 4:30pm—Cocktail hour on the porch begins for guests/family photos
  • 5:25pm—Guests are invited inside to take seats. Bride & Groom line up for introductions
  • 5:30pm—Introduction of Bride & Groom; blessing
  • ***Option: First Dance, welcome speech (by dad or Bride and groom), or just go sit down for dinner
  • 5:45pm—Dinner
  • 6:30pm—Champagne poured for bridal party; stage for toasts
  • 6:45pm—Toasts offered (MOH, BM, FOB or FOG, Bride and Groom) and Cake cutting
  • 7:00pm—Father Daughter Dance, Mother Son Dance
  • 7:10pm—OPEN DANCE FLOOR DANCE DANCE DANCE
  • DANCE DANCE DANCE
  • Still dancing and celebrating!
  • 9:55pm—Last Dance
  • 10:00pm—Big send off with sparklers!

Bride laughing and dancing in the middle of a packed dance floor during wedding reception at Kendall Point.

Wedding Timeline Example #2

Now let’s look at a 5-hour wedding. In this example, the wedding is taking place in the late spring or early summer and will start right at 5pm. You can see that with a 5-hour reception, there’s just enough time to get all the major milestones in, but it can be tight, and if there are any delays, it can throw off the timeline.

  • 10:00am—Bride and bridesmaids arrive at KP for hair and make up
  • The Wedding Planner arrives and makes sure everything is perfect for you
  • LOTS OF THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN THIS TIME FRAME 
  • 5:00pm—Ceremony starts
  • 5:25pm—Ceremony concludes
  • 5:30pm—Cocktail hour on the porch begins for guests/family photos
  • 6:15pm—Guests are invited inside to take seats. Bride & Groom line up for introductions
  • 6:30pm—Introduction of Bride & Groom; blessing
  • ***Option: First Dance, welcome speech (by dad or Bride and groom), or just go sit down for dinner
  • 6:35pm—Dinner
  • 7:25pm—Toast and cake
  • 7:45pm—Father Daughter Dance, Mother Son Dance
  • 8:00pm—OPEN DANCE FLOOR DANCE DANCE DANCE
  • DANCE DANCE DANCE
  • 9:45pm—Last dance
  • 10:00pm—Big send off with sparklers!

Bride and groom enjoying their first dance while friends and family watch from their seats during wedding reception at Kendall Point.

Wedding Timeline Example #3

Let’s look at another 6-hour wedding reception timeline. In this example, the wedding is taking place during the summer. That allows the ceremony start time to begin later in the evening, thanks to the longer daylight.

  • 10:00am—Bride and bridesmaids arrive at KP for hair and makeup
  • The Wedding Planner arrives and makes sure everything is perfect for you
  • LOTS OF THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN THIS TIME FRAME 
  • 6:30pm—Ceremony starts
  • 6:55pm—Ceremony concludes
  • 7:00pm—Cocktail hour on the porch begins for guests/family photos
  • 7:45pm—Guests are invited inside to take seats. Bride & Groom line up for introductions
  • 8:00pm—Introduction of Bride & Groom; blessing
  • ***Option: First Dance, welcome speech (by dad or Bride and groom), or just go sit down for dinner
  • 8:05pm—Plated dinner is served (45 minutes) OR Buffet 20 min per 150 people.
  • 9:00pm—Toast and cake
  • 9:15pm—Father Daughter Dance, Mother Son Dance
  • 9:30pm—OPEN DANCE FLOOR DANCE DANCE DANCE
  • DANCE DANCE DANCE
  • Still dancing and celebrating 
  • 11:45pm—Last dance
  • 12:00am—Big send off with sparklers!

Leave Your Guests Wanting More

And there you have it! A 6-hour wedding with all wedding activities included, plus 3 hours of solid open dance floor time, wedding celebrations, AND a 5-hour bar (whoa).

Now, this may seem long to some, but really, 6 hours is a sweet spot. Nothing is crammed and slammed together. It is a relaxed pace but still keeps the guests entertained.

You will save hundreds if not thousands of precious dollars on overtime wages from the DJ, Bar, Photographer, Video guy/gal, and security. Most vendor packages start at 5 hours, with tons of logic behind them! Always leave guests wanting more, not wanting to find a secret exit.

Your wedding planner will guide you through this process a lot prettier than I. A timeline is very fluid and built upon your vision. Nothing is set in stone other than the ceremony start time—but be sure to consider the timing of each event and the length of each event.

Some weddings won’t have a toast or garter toss/bouquet toss—saving time. Some won’t want cutting the cake to be such a huge ordeal, just cut it, pass it around and keep the party going. Once you sit down and play out your wedding in your head, jot down your ideas, wants, and needs.

A timeline is totally custom to you and built for you. Add in things like late-night snacks, fireworks, dollar dance, and all sorts of activities that will change things up a bit, keeping guests entertained.

It doesn’t matter if you change a bit—say 5pm start time, or 6pm start time, just consider the 6-hour rule of thumb for the event time.

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