It is said that well planned is half done. In this case a well planned, yet not rigid, schedule allows you to have a relaxed and fun party that flows forward on its own course. The best scenario is that the wedded couple does not have to take care of any details regarding the timetable or schedule, but someone from the wedding party or wedding planner takes care that the wedding roughly follows the planned schedule.
As a wedding photographer I have noticed that the “stumbling blocks” are the same for all the weddings I’ve worked, hence I thought that I should share the most common pitfalls and how to overcome them.
Things that need to happen “on time”
If you are to be wedded in a church or you are going to have your ceremony at the same place where you have your reception, and have booked an official to perform the ceremony, it is important that you are on time. On the other hand, if the wedding reception starts with an unofficial program – like reading of vows or other unofficial ceremony – it is not that important that it happens exactly on time.
If your schedule is free and you have planned to have your photos taken before the ceremony, it is smart to organize a cocktail hour or other program for the guests for that time they must wait. Same applies when you have your photos taken after the ceremony.
Food and Coffee
Balanced blood sugar levels keep people happy and content. This is something to remember when planning the wedding couple’s morning and preparation schedule. A good, healthy breakfast and hearty lunch – especially if your wedding starts in the afternoon or early evening – are vital for a successful wedding day. I recommend that you should plan what to eat, when to eat it and who takes care of the food. If your nerves tend to have an effect on your appetite, I recommend to gather some easy snacks, like nutritious smoothies, nuts or chocolate, to eat when blood sugar levels drop.
One place where there is no room for flexibility, is the dinner schedule – especially if you have catering. At this point of your wedding day, you most definitely do not want to oversee “food distribution” or communicate with the catering, so this responsibility should be given to someone from your wedding party, for example best man or bridesmaid. You should also be quite realistic about time when scheduling the dinner. A large number of guests tend to eat rather long.
If you wish to have a group photoshoot with your family or friends after the dinner, you should take this into account when planning in which order people go to buffet or they have their dinner served. First in, first out for those with whom you wish to have group photos taken.
If you wish to have some beautiful sunset wedding portraits, you should reserve a separate time slot for that photoshoot. It is important to plan this with your photographer so they can follow the changes in light and remind you about this photoshoot. A very handy tool that helps you plan this is Google the exact time for sunset in your location (sunset + place/town/city + date) and then schedule a photoshoot approximately on that given time. Remember to check the surroundings too – buildings and trees cast shadows. For example if the reception is held in a place where the last rays of sun touch at 9 p.m., you should schedule a sunset photoshoot between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. or from 8:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. Make sure that all those people who are in charge of program know that this time is sacred – no speeches or other program should be scheduled to that time slot. This short peaceful portrait shoot moment is also a perfect pause for the wedding couple to catch up and concentrate on each other without interference from guests.
Not everything goes as planned
No matter how well the wedding is planned, there will be small hick-ups during the day. If people are enjoying the discussions or the atmosphere is relaxed, it might not be a bad idea to reschedule the program. The most important thing is to sense the atmosphere. If someone gives a half an hour speech instead of the scheduled five-minute speech, breathe. It does not matter if the schedule is shifted – trust the wedding day. It goes as it is supposed to go.
The most optimal situation is, if the schedule is merely a guideline rather than rigid and inflexible timetable. Actually there are only a few things that have to happen when planned – everything else can happen more loosely. As long as the wedded couple are enjoying their time, and they feel relaxed and happy, everything is fine. It really does not matter if some of the planned programs do not happen at all.
Three tips for stress-free wedding day
Never share the schedule with people who do not need it
Your wedding party as well as the professionals you have booked need the timetable, but the guests are more than happy if they have only a broad understanding about what is going to happen and when. If there is a longish period of time between the ceremony and the beginning of the wedding festivities, the guests most certainly like to know that, but the exact time for wedding dance, coffee or other program is “need to know basis” and only for those who have some responsibilities regarding those. This leaves some room for those hick-ups and other little hardships concerning the schedule (fun fact: usually schedule breaks for the first time already before the actual reception or ceremony).
Delegate, delegate, delegate
If possible, do not be in charge of anything on your wedding day. If you don’t have a wedding party, or you feel uncomfortable asking people to do things, it is not a bad idea to pay a professional to take care of your wedding. A huge part of the day and the party will be missed, if you use all your energy managing the reception, catering, photographer, band or other service providers. Outsource the time management.
Let it go!
If you have made a very exact timetable and you may notice during the party that this timetable is not anymore accurate. If you can, let it go. Remember that none of the guest do not know if the program changes or some of the games are completely removed from the schedule. It does not affect the party or how much people enjoy your wedding. The people and your time with them are the most important things when celebrating the love between you and your spouse. Concentrate on that!
Do you have anything to add? Please comment and share your experiences!