Structuring the timeline of your wedding day is a daunting task for plenty of brides-to-be and some don’t even realise that this must be done at all. The consequences of not having a well-planned program can be disastrous. At Hudson’s venue, we assist each couple with creating a carefully thought-out schedule of events. You should have a rough idea of the flow from the outset of your planning and consolidate this into a formal final document at least two weeks prior to the big day.
- Pick Your Ceremony Start Time
Your schedule of events will hinge on your ceremony start time, as the timing for your preparations will be worked backwards from here and your reception timeline will unfold afterwards. Consider what time your venue permits, the availability of your pastor or marriage officer, travelling time for you and your guests to and from the ceremony, and ensure you will have enough good light afterwards for your photo shoot. Consult your venue and your photographer before making a final decision.
- Plan Your Morning
Now that you know what time you need to arrive, you can schedule times for breakfast, getting dressed and hair and make-up for you and your bridesmaids. Check with your hairdresser and make-up artist what they would recommend and build-in a little time for small unexpected delays. Don’t forget to arrange snacks at lunchtime. Aim to be ready early enough to have some time to relax and take photographs prior to leaving for the ceremony, then leave in plenty of time accounting for traffic. You should do your very best to arrive no more than ten minutes late as losing too much time here can impact your whole wedding. Make sure the groom and his best men also have a pre-wedding “game plan”.
- Schedule Your Reception
Your post-ceremony timeline might look something like this:
16h45 Signing of the register, followed by confetti
17h00 Pre-drinks and canapés served to guests, photo shoot begins
18h15 MC asks guests to be seated
18h30 Bride and groom make their entrance, welcome from the MC
18h40 Starters served
19h00 Speeches begin
19h30 Main Course is served
20h30 Cutting of the cake, first dance
21h00 Dessert is served
21h45 Throwing of the bouquet and garter
23h30 Bar closes
23h45 Last dance
24h00 Venue closes
You will need to flesh this out with details of which groups will be photographed in which order (consult your photographer) and who will make speeches. The times will also vary depending on your number of guests, whether your menu is buffet or plated, and according to any special events you are incorporating such as a father and daughter dance. Your venue co-ordinator is the person ideally placed to guide you with planning this most important part of your schedule so do ask for their input.
- Inform Important People
Once your wedding day program is set, you should make sure all of the key-players are in possession of a copy – definitely your MC, photographer, venue co-ordinator and DJ. If you have to make last minute changes, be sure to update everyone. You should also confirm with each person making a speech and advise them approximately how long you have set aside for them to talk. Finally, give one of your bridesmaids a copy and ask them to help you with staying on-track. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and unaware of the time as a bride and, in fact, clock-watching is the very last thing you should be focussing on. If you’ve planned your day this way, you can relax safe in the knowledge that your team have the timing covered.
- Be Flexible
All being said and done, your wedding is not a military operation and you should not expect to stay exactly on schedule. Sticking within roughly thirty minutes of your planned times is ideal and as long as your venue co-ordinator liaises with your MC, a deviation on this scale should not present any problems. Minor reshuffling on the day to optimise proceedings can definitely be accommodated when needed. If any glitches cause delays, accept what is out of your hands and continue to enjoy each special moment regardless. You only get to do this once and stressing won’t stop the clock.
Book a venue that will help you to manage your time. Contact us to schedule a viewing.