Ask anyone who has organised their own wedding day how it panned out on the big day, and they’re likely to tell you what an amazing time they had – despite the schedule quickly falling apart.
Late guests (and, sometimes, brides!), delayed food, unexpectedly drawn-out speeches and a desperate search for the groom minutes before the first dance is supposed to start are classic examples of how wedding day schedules can be so easily disrupted.
With that in mind, you’d be forgiven for thinking that creating your own is hardly worth it, but as with anything in life, if you plan properly and in good time, you’ll stand a much better chance of success.
Wedding schedules are no different – with one important caveat.
It won’t go completely to plan
Weddings are complex days that require all manner of key elements to happen at specific times.
Here’s just a few of the things you’ll have to schedule in:
- Morning preparations (dresses, suits, make-up)
- Pre-ceremony drinks at the pub
- The ceremony itself
- The photographer
- The band and/or DJ
- The photographer, again
- The speeches
- The first dance…
The list goes on, and we’ve only scratched the surface above.
So, how do you keep all this in check?
You start by accepting the fact that whatever type of schedule you end up putting together, it will only be a rough guide. For this reason, you should avoid timing things by the minute or expecting everything to happen bang-on time; it just won’t happen.
Instead, focus on the following brilliant strategies for wedding day scheduling, and you won’t go far wrong.
If you’re reading this post with just a couple of months to go until your wedding, all is not lost, but it really is best to start planning the schedule right at the start of the process.
Do it as early as possible. A good six months out or more should work wonders in terms of giving you breathing space and ensuring all the constituent elements and peopl can be allocated their own time and plan ahead themselves.
Think logistics and map the day out
Probably the biggest factor when considering your wedding timeline is the logistics of the day itself.
There are a few things to bear in mind:
- Where will the key people (bride, groom, etc) be getting ready – at someone’s house, the venue or a hotel?
- Is the marriage ceremony and evening reception taking place in separate or the same locations?
- Are you providing transport for everyone or just the main two people and father of the bride?
- How long is the ceremony likely to take?
- What time are you able to access the reception venue if separate?
- If the ceremony and reception venue are the same, how long will the staff need to convert it from daytime to evening duties?
- How long does the band need to set up?
- What time are guests arriving in the evening and how many are coming?
- How long will you need for photos?
Map the whole day out on a piece of paper and you’ll quickly start to see how it should pan out and the key things for which you’ll need to account and allocate time to.
Talk to the venue
It’s amazing how many wedding couples fail to have long enough conversations with the venue about how the day should pan out.
Remember – the venue plays a massive role in your big day, and it’s therefore imperative that you find out all of the variables, potential complications and logistics they have to work on in order to make the wedding a success.
Ask about access, clean up time and how long they need to clear the wedding breakfast tables to make room for the evening’s entertainment – it might be longer than you think.
Build in some ‘you’ time
There’s no two ways about it – your wedding day will flash by, but it’s important that you schedule some time for just the two of you to get away from the madness, people and constant smiling and shaking hands to take it all in.
Book an hour’s ‘freshening up’ time after the speeches where you can retreat to your room, head out into the gardens or simply ask the wedding car driver to take you out for a spin in the countryside.
It’s your day, which means you have every right to want to get away for a bit and experience the day on your own for a time.
Don’t dictate the DJ
There will doubtless be a number of key songs that you and possibly some of the guests will want the DJ to play on the big day, but try not to dictate their night.
The best wedding DJs know how to work the crowd, and while they’ll be happy to accept requests before the day itself, they’re usually best left to their own devices.
You’d be surprised by how big an effect music can have on the schedule of your wedding. By trying to cram in too many personal favourites, the night might be drawn out and key party classics left out, or played beyond your designated finishing time at the end of the night (although, that’s not always a bad thing!).
Don’t shortchange guests on food
One of the worst mistakes you can make when scheduling your wedding day is not allocating enough time to the food.
Don’t make your guests wait to eat; food will be high on their agenda after the ceremony, and in order to keep them all capable of lasting the night, a lining of the stomach can’t be ignored.
Food should play an important role in your day, therefore no matter what type of eating experience you’re planning, make sure it gets ample time during the day (and for evening guests, if you’re feeding them, too).
Send your agenda far and wide
Once you’ve penned your wedding agenda and you’re happy it’s 99% there, send it onto all of the important people.
That means the best man, bridesmaids, mothers and fathers, venue, DJ, caterers, and anyone else who is likely to play a major role in your big day.
The more people who have the agenda, the less chance you’ll have of things going wrong. And you might find that some of them will comment on certain timings; listen, if that’s the case – they might have a point!
Enjoy planning your wedding!
This is the biggest and one of the most important days of your life, but it’s also supposed to be one that puts a massive smile on your face for the duration.
By starting to plan your schedule now, and accepting that things might not go 100% to plan, you’ll be assured of a day without any major hick-ups, and one which everyone in attendance will remember for the rest of their lives.