Wedding day timelines can be confusing and overwhelming if you have never created one before —even if you are a “career bridesmaid,” you probably paid little attention to the length of time it takes for a ceremony or dinner service. And, I swear that every couple believes they need 4+ hours for dancing, and that simply isn’t the case for most weddings. So, I have listed below 5 key things to know when creating a schedule for your wedding day.
1. Check with the Pros First. Before you begin the process of creating the wedding day timeline, consult with each wedding vendor regarding the amount of time they need and gather as much information as possible. Have an in-depth discussion with them about your expected flow of the day. If you are like me and you LOVE cocktail receptions, you may want to schedule a “first look” before your ceremony so you can enjoy time with your family and friends during cocktails. If you want to have more time for dancing and fun, discuss this with your planner, caterer and deejay — They may come up with ideas such as trimming time off the cocktail reception and/or presetting your first course to trim some time off of the dinner service.
2. Padding is Your Friend. Whenever you can pad your timeline an extra 5-10 minutes. It may seem small, but that time can add up and be available if you need the “space” in your schedule to allow for traffic jams, bad weather, long-winded toasts and/or tardy bridesmaids.
3. Don’t Let Your Attire Leave Your Guests Hanging. When our brides inform us that their wedding gowns have a bustle, we set aside approximately 10 minutes before the start of the reception to allow an honor attendant the time to bustle her gown properly. By doing this, you avoid that awkward time period when guests have been seated for dinner, but nothing is happening. The same goes for attire changes — If a couple tells me they are changing their attire for the reception, I set time aside for them to change their clothes, hair and make-up touch ups.
4. Include Everything in Your Schedule. Do you intend to have numerous toasts? How about a bouquet and/or garter toss? Do you want to include special dances and ceremonies during your reception? While lovely, all of these wedding day ceremonies take time and should be included in your schedule. And, remember to account for dinner service time — If your wedding reception dinner consists of two courses served to the dinner guests American style, allow 30 minutes for each course. If the dinner includes wine service, add 5-10 additional minutes to the dinnertime.
5. “Herding Goldfish” Takes Time. The more people involved in a scenario, the longer it takes to move them from one place to another. So, remember to account for the time it takes to move your wedding guests from the cocktail reception to their seats for dinner. If you have 150 guests or less, you may want to start encouraging the guests at 6:45 p.m. to take their seats for a 7:00 p.m. dinner. If your guest count is more than 200 wedding guests, you may need 20 – 30 minutes to get everyone in their seats.
Remember this — When it comes to weddings, time truly is money. So remember to 1.) Consult with your professional vendors to gather information; 2.) Pad your schedule; 3.) Set time aside for your outfit changes and beauty touch-up; 4.) Schedule time for EVERYTHING; line; and 5.) Moving people takes time! So, plan accordingly!
Love and Soul Always, Kay
Photos by Anne Lord Photography