Wedding timeline

Wedding reception timeline

To ensure that the reception goes as planned it’s a good idea to create an itinerary.
Mar. 3, 2014 | By: The staff

The wedding day is probably the most important day in your life so far. You’ve probably been planning your wedding for months or maybe even for longer than a year. It’s important to make sure that all that planning doesn’t fall by the wayside on the big day. To ensure that the reception goes as planned it’s a good idea to create an itinerary. Actually print out the itinerary or timeline and provide it to everyone involved in the wedding on the day before. You’ll also want to provide a copy of the timeline to the service providers so they are all aware of when they are needed during the reception.


Prepare the reception hall

  • Place centerpieces on tables (allow 1 to 3 hours)
  • Set up place cards (allow 1 hour)
  • Organize tables for gifts, sweets, etc. (allow 1 hour)
  • Put up wall decorations (allow 1 to 2 hours)

Before Dinner Drinks

  • Open bar or paid bar (cocktail hour – 1 hour before dinner starts)
  • Specialty drinks served (provide bartender with recipe ahead of time)
  • Ensemble music is played (if desired)

Introduction of Bridal Party

  • DJ introduces bridal party and bride and groom (during cocktail hour)
  • Reception line (If desired – sets up before cocktail hour begins)


  • Champagne toast (toasts by best man, maid of honour)
  • Decide whether bar closes during dinner
  • Waiters provide pre-determined dinner courses (allow 1 to 2 hours for dinner)
  • Dessert is served


  • DJ Introduces married couple for first dance
  • Dance with parents
  • Other special songs and dances are played throughout the evening

Cake Cutting

  • Cake should be set up by bakery or by reception hall.
  • Couple cuts the cake and guests are served or can take cake slices (DJ needs to announce this event)
  • Photos taken of cake cutting ceremony

Garter and Bouquet Toss

  • Sometime after cake cutting – DJ should officiate these events
  • Photos taken before, during and after the event


  • Group photos should be taken as requested (provide a list to photographer)
  • Guest photos taken from table to table
  • Candid shots of wedding couple, wedding party, and guests throughout the evening.
  • Photo booth set up and take down (provided by photographer if required)


  • Bride and Groom leave the reception
  • Photos are taken of the departure


  • Payment should be made to vendors (place in envelopes and have a parent provide to each vendor at the end of the event)
  • Collect envelopes and envelope box
  • Load gifts into car (assign to a parent or sibling)
  • Take down decorations (have a group of people do this – some reception halls will allow you to come back the next day)
  • Remove centrepieces, tablecloths, and anything else that you provided

Reception Hall Clean-up

Establish a “clean-up” committee, typically the parents or siblings can be in charge.

  • Remove extra decorations and flowers
  • Take down decorations
  • Ensure that the room is clean
  • Discard any unnecessary items
  • Make sure that the gift box is removed and secure

The staff.