Wedding Reception Forum

Timing for NYE Wedding

Hi all!

I am working on our timeline for our New Year's Eve Wedding and wanted some input - I think I've gotten it figured out, but I'd love to know if anyone has insights from their own planning experience that may influence us to make further adjustments. Of course, these times are all flexible - if five minutes is needed here or there that's fine. It's more the order of events I'm looking at.

Right now there are only 3 things that are fixed and unchangeable - first, the time the wedding ceremony is scheduled, second, the timing of the cocktail hour, third, the end time of the event.

So, without further ado: 

  • 4:00-4:30 wedding
  • 4:30-4:50ish receiving line
  • 5:00-5:45 photos while guests get to venue
  • 6:00-7:00 cocktail hour with passed apps and a cheese spread
  • 7:00-7:10 bridal party entrance, bride and groom entrance
  • 7:10-7:20 first dance, father/daughter and mother/son dances
  • 7:20-7:30 bride and groom cut the cake (this way the cake can be cut for guests as they eat and then served after dinner)
  • 7:30 guests are seated, champagne passed out for toasts
  • 7:35 (as soon as champs has been handed out) Bride and groom thank the guests for coming
  • 7:40 salads and rolls served
  • 7:50 Best man toast
  • 7:55 MOH toast
  • 8:00 father of bride toast
  • 8:05 ish salad taken away, entree served
  • 8:30 ish entree cleared, cake served
  • 8:40 ish dancing begins
  • 9:30 Bouquet toss OR Anniversary Dance - no garter
  • 9:40 dancing resumes
  • 10:15 late night snack - mac and cheese bar! dancing continues through this
  • 11:45 champagne passed out for counting down the new year!
  • 11:59 countdown 
  • 12:05ish exit

So, thoughts?

Re: Timing for NYE Wedding

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited November 2016
    It takes an hour to get to your venue?

    Also 40 minutes from the time "cocktail" hour is finished till salads seems like a long time.  It shouldn't take you 10 minutes to cut a cake.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    InLoveInQueensernursejlevioosaPrettyGirlLost
  • I agree with the above that there seems to be a lot of time between the end of the ceremony and the start of dinner. Can you condense this? 

    However, it seems like I'm often the odd one out so I'd like to offer an alternative opinion on your end time. A friend had a NYE wedding with a similar ceremony time. There were many older people and families with small kids and it turned out that waiting until midnight was just too long of a day. By about 10:30 it was obvious that many people were fading and probably wished to leave earlier but felt obligated to stay because New Years. They decided to have a fake New Years at 11pm with the champagne toast, count down, fireworks, etc. so that more people could enjoy it and then leave when they actually wanted to. There were still some people left at actual midnight but not many so having a fake New Years worked well for that crowd of people. 

    So the above it just something to consider based on based on who you are inviting. Obviously if the people you are inviting are normally partiers who stay out later regularly, then this isn't applicable to you at all. Alternatively, if your ceremony was later in the day, it would help make the day seem not quite as long. 
  • edited November 2016
    Hi all!

    I am working on our timeline for our New Year's Eve Wedding and wanted some input - I think I've gotten it figured out, but I'd love to know if anyone has insights from their own planning experience that may influence us to make further adjustments. Of course, these times are all flexible - if five minutes is needed here or there that's fine. It's more the order of events I'm looking at.

    Right now there are only 3 things that are fixed and unchangeable - first, the time the wedding ceremony is scheduled, second, the timing of the cocktail hour, third, the end time of the event.

    So, without further ado: 

    • 4:00-4:30 wedding
    • 4:30-4:50ish receiving line
    • 5:00-5:45 photos while guests get to venue
    • 6:00-7:00 cocktail hour with passed apps and a cheese spread
    • 7:00-7:10 bridal party entrance, bride and groom entrance
    • 7:10-7:20 first dance, father/daughter and mother/son dances
    • 7:20-7:30 bride and groom cut the cake (this way the cake can be cut for guests as they eat and then served after dinner)
    • 7:30 guests are seated, champagne passed out for toasts
    • 7:35 (as soon as champs has been handed out) Bride and groom thank the guests for coming
    • 7:40 salads and rolls served
    • 7:50 Best man toast
    • 7:55 MOH toast
    • 8:00 father of bride toast
    • 8:05 ish salad taken away, entree served
    • 8:30 ish entree cleared, cake served
    • 8:40 ish dancing begins
    • 9:30 Bouquet toss OR Anniversary Dance - no garter
    • 9:40 dancing resumes
    • 10:15 late night snack - mac and cheese bar! dancing continues through this
    • 11:45 champagne passed out for counting down the new year!
    • 11:59 countdown 
    • 12:05ish exit

    So, thoughts?

    I know you say things can't be changed but parts of this timeline suck...

    1.  As soon as the first person through your receiving line reaches the venue cocktail hour should start...just because it will take YOU and YOUR H 20 minutes does not mean it will take EVERYONE 20 minutes.  
    Travel time to venue + 4:30pm = Cocktail start time.

    2. Why not have your pictures during cocktail hour instead of a gap...that is THE WHOLE POINT of a cocktail hour.

    3. Guests should be seated before the entrances...just have the salad/bread on the table.

    4.  All of the "toasts" should only take 5 minutes or so, and can be done during the main course.  If the salad is already out you can just move this course up a bit in the timeline.

    5.  I prefer the anniversary dance to a bouquet toss! (I always hated being at the wedding and then be singled out as the "not married" one especially if you are one of only a few women up there?  I always "have to use the ladies room" when the bouquet toss comes around.)  ALSO, why break up all the dancing to do this?? Just put the anniversary dance at the beginning of the open dancing portion and then let everyone party.

    6.  The end time...it is right after the ball drops...that is super awkward to be like "Happy New Year, now Get the F*ck Out!"  I would try to push this back to 12:30, 1:00 idealy.

    OP, you are asking people to give up their New Years Eve to come and celebrate your marriage.  Don't be a jerk and waste their time.  Find a way to move the ceremony back and close that gap between ceremony end and the time the guests will arrive at the venue for cocktails.  (Is travel going to be 1:20?).  Also don't kick people out as soon as the ball drops.  I know you said you can't change these things, but I really think you need to.  If I went to your wedding I would side-eye the gap and the fact that we had to GTFO right after the ball dropped.

    Everything you said is spot on. I'd be so disappointed if I went to a NYE wedding and found out I both had to twiddle my thumbs for an hour (or travel an hour between the ceremony and reception venue) and then as soon as it hits midnight hit the road. I'd expect to at least stay and celebrate until 1am for a NYE wedding, otherwise what's even the point?

    OP saying those things are set in stone shows that the couple really didn't put any thought into how their guests are going to feel. Everything else is minor but having such an early ceremony with a huge gap and then getting kicked out asap after midnight are such major issues.
    cowgirl8238SwissMscharlotte989875
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I love when poster never returns.

     :'(   :'(:'(:'(






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    PrettyGirlLostei34
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Hi all!

    I am working on our timeline for our New Year's Eve Wedding and wanted some input - I think I've gotten it figured out, but I'd love to know if anyone has insights from their own planning experience that may influence us to make further adjustments. Of course, these times are all flexible - if five minutes is needed here or there that's fine. It's more the order of events I'm looking at.

    Right now there are only 3 things that are fixed and unchangeable - first, the time the wedding ceremony is scheduled, second, the timing of the cocktail hour, third, the end time of the event.

    So, without further ado: 

    • 4:00-4:30 wedding
    • 4:30-4:50ish receiving line
    • 5:00-5:45 photos while guests get to venue
    • 6:00-7:00 cocktail hour with passed apps and a cheese spread
    • 7:00-7:10 bridal party entrance, bride and groom entrance
    • 7:10-7:20 first dance, father/daughter and mother/son dances
    • 7:20-7:30 bride and groom cut the cake (this way the cake can be cut for guests as they eat and then served after dinner)
    • 7:30 guests are seated, champagne passed out for toasts
    • 7:35 (as soon as champs has been handed out) Bride and groom thank the guests for coming
    • 7:40 salads and rolls served
    • 7:50 Best man toast
    • 7:55 MOH toast
    • 8:00 father of bride toast
    • 8:05 ish salad taken away, entree served
    • 8:30 ish entree cleared, cake served
    • 8:40 ish dancing begins
    • 9:30 Bouquet toss OR Anniversary Dance - no garter
    • 9:40 dancing resumes
    • 10:15 late night snack - mac and cheese bar! dancing continues through this
    • 11:45 champagne passed out for counting down the new year!
    • 11:59 countdown 
    • 12:05ish exit

    So, thoughts?
    Agree with PPs.

    The cocktail hour needs to start as soon as the 1st guests arrive at your reception venue.

    BP entrance and cake cutting shouldn't take 10mins a piece.

    15mins of toasts is too long- these are toasts, not speeches.  Each should be 2mins max.

    The ball drops, everyone sings Auld Land Syne, and then you kick everyone out?  For a NYE wedding?  Newp, not cool.  Reception should go to at least 1am if you're having an NYE wedding.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • Ditto PP.  If the ceremony time and cocktail hour time can't change (define "can't" btw) and the end time can't be moved to 1 or so, I'd condense the reception and end it by 10, so that at least guests can get home or to their hotel and be where they're going to be for the ball drop and the celebration that follows.
    InLoveInQueensmollybarker11
  • From 7-7:30, you've got your guests standing around while you enter the dining room, have your spotlight dances and then cut the cake? That doesn't make any sense. Your guests should be seated BEFORE you and your BP enter. 

    I agree they should already either be seated to salads or have them brought out as soon as your dances are over. Champagne should also already be on the tale ready for toasts. 

    I don't really feel that 10:15 is a late night snack when you ate dinner at 8:30. When is the cake being served?  After the snack??

    Also, I would be super disappointed if I went to a NYE wedding and it was over at 12:05. You need to host some kind of after party if your venue is making you leave. 
    I didn't even think of this, but that could be a great alternative for OP to host an after party...at least that why I wouldn't feel so damned rushed to stop partying.  I still think extending the reception would make a hell of a lot more sense, but hey at least this fixes one of the issues!
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