Inspiration and Advice for the Practical Bride
The dreaded wedding day timeline. More often than not questions about the flow of the wedding day come up as soon as we start working with our couples and while most understand the basics of their ceremony and reception start times, it becomes a bit murkier when diving into dinner service, toasts and shuttle pick-ups. Of course, it’s always going to be easier to have the help of an experienced planner to help you navigate these details however we’ve compiled our top five tips to help anyone taking up the task on their own.
1. Give yourself a Buffer and a Bathroom Break
So you’ve got your entire day timed out in five minute increments and are dead set on sticking to the schedule. First, relax and remember that not only are your bridal party and members of your family human but so are you. You shouldn’t plan to jump on your shuttle the second after you get into your dress because you are just setting yourself up to be rushed! Wedding days are very social days in nature and so please leave yourself time to relax, look in the mirror, chat with your ladies and for goodness sakes, feel like you have enough time for a bathroom break.
2. It's Going to Be a Wonderful Day - Don't Rush It!
While we completely understand the desire to kick of those heels and get on the dance floor, try not to rush the rest of your day to get to that point. Every year we hear from a few couples who want to race through dinner to leave as much time for dancing as possible to the point where the timeline is unrealistic in terms of how much time is needed to serve, enjoy and clear plates. Trust me when I tell you that most people really love sitting down to a nice meal and enjoying the time off of their feet. Also, if you chat with an experienced DJ they will tell you that you really don’t want to get the dancing started at 7:30 pm. Even with the most lively of crowds, it’s hard to keep people dancing for four hours and wouldn’t you rather end the night with a bang than with a fizzle?
3. Let Your Vendor Team weigh In
Once you have a timeline in place be sure to check-in with the vendor dream team that you have hired to confirm that not only do they know the plan, but give them a chance to offer advice if they foresee any issues in what you have put together. Then most importantly, and I can’t stress this point enough, if they do voice concerns be sure to take these comments to heart! Us vendors have seen a few weddings in our day and if the caterer tells you that a three course meal is going to take longer than forty five minutes (which it absolutely will) make sure to adjust your expectations accordingly.
4. Please Raise Your Glass
While you are checking in with people, another group to chat with is anyone planning to give a toast. (Notice how I call it a toast and not a speech which is my subtle hint to keep it short!) Family and bridal party toasts should definitely be factored into your timeline and be slotted in for reasonable amounts of time. As a planner, this is the area of the wedding day where I have the least amount of control and also the most likely party of the day to run behind. Unfortunately we can’t control when the best man tells us his toast will be five minutes and he keeps chatting for ten, meanwhile the steaks are getting cold and the children are getting restless. As a bride or groom, it is essential for you to politely give some guidelines to anyone toasting and then when they tell you that their toast is only three minutes, plan for five in your timeline.
5. It's Not About the Clock
And finally, after all of your hard work putting together your timeline you know what I want you to do with it? Give it to your planner, photographer, caterer, etc. and forget about it. Don’t bring it with you and don’t wear a watch. If I could confiscate cell phones and cover clocks at every wedding I definitely would because ultimately once we get into the reception it’s no longer about the time you wrote on the timeline or the minutes on the clock. Hiring knowledgeable, experienced vendors is key at this point in the day because we understand the wedding flow best and will make your day move seamlessly. Have you ever been to a wedding where there was a huge gap between dinner and dancing and no one knew what to do with themselves? That’s probably because the couple forced a timeline on their vendors and stressed the importance of sticking to the times they had written after which the dinner proceeded to wrap up earlier than expected and instead of naturally transitioning into the next part of the evening, the vendors were frozen in time waiting for the clock to strike that magical minute on the timeline when they were allowed to start the first dances. Wedding day timelines are essential to get everyone on the same page before the wedding day but when you look back on your day, you should remember the moments not the minutes.
With almost a decade of experience in the wedding industry, we've been around long enough where we feel like we have a few things to share. Hopefully, some of this is helpful! Or at least we can help you take a five minute break from staring at Pinterest.