Wedding Dance Timeline


This is just one suggested version of many possible outlines. You might compare a few versions to come up with your preferred timeline. This version has new and modern twists and intentionally strays from the very traditional type of timeline to maximize the energy of the event rather than creating lulls.

Wedding Day Timeline

  • Set up – 1 hour
  • Wedding Party Arrival – 1 or 2 hours prior
  • Guest Arrival – up to 30 min prior
  • Ceremony – 10min – 1 hour
  • Guest recessional – 15 minutes
  • Formal pictures – 1 hour
  • Cocktail Hour overlaps with Pictures – 1 hour
  • *Optional Warm up first dance in bridal chambers for 5 minutes
  • Formal Introduction of Bridal Party – 10 mins
  • Introduction of Bride and Groom – First Dance music plays as they enter (if song is more than 4:30) or when they approach dance floor (if song is between 2:15 and 4:15)
  • First Dance (dance entire length) – 3:30 – 4:30 minutes
  • Speeches or Toasts by Fathers, Mothers – 5-10minutes
  • Blessing over food offered by family elder or religious clergy. (wheel in bread/wine to avoid interrupting and silencing everyone later and avoid people accidentally starting to eat before prayers are offered.) 3mins
  • Dining – minimal speeches to encourage dinner table conversations/reunions. Based on 100 guests. Buffet -1 hour and 20 mins. Plated – 1 hour
  • Father Daughter Dance/Mother Son Dance – include step-parents, separate dances or option to combine both dances – 30-40 minutes up to and includeing Garter Toss(see below)
  • Anniversary Dance
  • Bouquet Toss
  • Garter Removal
  • Garter Toss
  • Ethnic Traditions
  • Cake cutting – speeches by Bride and Groom or members of bridal party, optional photo or video op with bridal party near cake during speeches – 5-10miins
  • More general dancing – Bridal party and Married couple should invite guests to dance with them. All variations of pairings with in-laws, Bridal Party should invite seniors who are alone to dance, combine both and encourage cut- ins. 1.5 – 2 hrs
  • Last Dance
  • Couple’s Last Dance (if two special songs with two prepared dances)

In summary, an elegant demonstration of family unity and proper etiquette would include all of the following dance partner combinations:
First Dance with Bridal Couple
Bride/Best Man
Groom/Maid of Honor
Bride/Father and Step-Father
Groom/Mother and Step-Mother
Bride’s Father/Groom’s Mother
Bridal party with all single attendees – dance hosts

Reasons to do the First Dance before Dinner:

  • Maximizes the climactic moment of introducing the wedding couple for the first time.
  • Kick off to the reception –sets an exciting tone and creates conversation icebreaker for dinner guests.
  • It is proper etiquette for wedding couple to dance before guests thereby officially opening the dance floor for general dancing
  • Reduce nervousness by accomplishing it at the onset.
  • Allows for the free flow of alcohol during the meal.
  • Eliminates the risk of food soilage to the tuxedo or gown before the first dance.
  • Allows food to digest after dinner without being obligated to dance on a full stomach.
  • Does not create an unnatural interruption or lull because it takes advantage of a natural lull in the energy of the party where guests are already gathered and standing during cocktail hour.
  • The wedding couple already has the full attention of the guests.
  • Guests are quiet, attentive and gathered for the speeches that may follow.
  • General dancing is not held up by the other obligations of the wedding couple during and after dinner which may include extended ceremonies or greeting guests and circulating among the dinner tables.

Reasons to do First Dance after Dinner:

  • The Ceremony or Cocktails room doubles as the dance venue so it needs to be set up and have transition time.

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