For punchlines and weddings, timing is everything!
When we start planning our wedding, that day seems so long, it seems so difficult to fill the hours. Don’t ask me why, but, in reality, that day time flies, and having a good, strong wedding day schedule is so important.
Second marriages are becoming more frequent, but not even those who have already done it once are immune to underestimating how much time each task needs.
And you know what? It’s fine! You don’t have to know everything! Hopefully, along the way, you’ll get that some things are not so quick as they seem. But if you want to go out there and plan your wedding with at least an idea of what to expect: you’re in the right place!
So, let’s get started!
Getting ready is not as quick as it seems
Hair and make-up for many brides usually take 3 or 4 hours (combined, included the last touches), and then there’s the photographer stopping you every other minute so that they can take the photographs. you might think you don’t want them, but the preparation photos are amazing and are a fantastic reminder of the thrill of those moments!
Grooms aren’t on safe land either, they might not have make-up (or they might, the right eyeliner and mascara can really make the eyes pop), but they have to get their hair in order, groom the beard or shave it, and, once again, the photographer shoots photos here too.
Don’t forget to leave room in your wedding day schedule to relax a bit, so you can really enjoy your day from the start!
Oh, and a note! If you plan to wear a bow tie that needs to be knotted, make sure to practise at home with YouTube tutorials, or that someone in the wedding party knows how to do that. Otherwise Obi Wan is your only hope… ahem, I meant the Wedding Planner (I earned my bow tie skills on the field). Bow ties are cool, but do you know what is cooler? An already knotted one (waay tidier!).
Moving the guests is like herding cats
You know where you want them to go, but none of them wants to cooperate.
Whether you are planning to have your ceremony in a place and the reception in another, or you’re planning to do everything in the same space, just remember that guests move sloooowly (they’ll remind you tremendously of Flash from Zootopia). They have to catch up with each other, children run away, and elder people don’t move as fast as they used to.
What to do, then? Give the starting time for the ceremony a bit early, so that people manage to arrive in time. Another thing to do is to allocate more time between the end of the ceremony and the moment when you need to be at the venue and start the aperitif! It’s worth to have a spare quarter of an hour than to be late! And it’s easier to move things around when you have a bit of leeway already embedded in your wedding day schedule!
Unless you have a DeLorean, going from beautiful place to beautiful place for the photoshoot will take longer than you think!
And I specified DeLorean because I’ve seen Amy and Rory’s honeymoon and… yes, well, let’s not do that.
Talk with your photographer (and your Wedding Planner if you have one!) about what you want from the wedding photo shoot, and how long it will realistically take to take the photos. Once you’ve talked with them, you might want to simulate the same tour, timing it and allowing for some time more for the travel and the time needed to shoot the photos. Again, better be a bit generous than to be terribly late.
In any case, I really suggest to have the guests entertained at the aperitif. They can have a refreshment: they’re usually starving at that point and if you’ve ever been at a reception where food wasn’t available until the spouses arrived, you know how annoying that is. If you feed the guests and arrive for the last half hour of aperitif, you’ll be able to enjoy it and you’ll find everyone in way better mood (hanger is a thing: I know all about that!).
Talk with your reception venue about their timing for the service
A big buffet and fewer courses or a smaller aperitif and then more numerous selections of particular courses? or again, a complete served dinner or a full buffet one? This is something important you’ll need to decide as soon as possible as it influences the rest of the planning. Keep in mind that if you opt for a buffet aperitif that doubles as appetiser, in Italy it usually lasts 90-120 minutes and there’s enough food to send everyone home well sated. After that, you still have three courses, usually for 90 minutes more sitting down. If you opt for a smaller aperitif and more courses, you have to consider at least 30 minutes (minimum!) for each course to be served. This brings us to three more questions…
Does the reception venue have a time limit for the event?
Whether you opt for a morning or an evening wedding, the venues can have very definite end-times for you. It can happen because they handle more than one event in a day, or because it’s their policy. It might even be that the town hall has regulations regarding how late the music can be played. For example, at the first wedding I planned, the venue had the compulsory stop for music at midnight. We had to time everything in order to respect that limit). Put the time immediately in the wedding day schedule, so you always keep that in mind!
Will you have speeches?
If you plan to have people making speeches during your reception, their timing is essential, especially if they’re placed between the courses. It is absolutely necessary that the kitchen staff knows exactly when they’ll be, so that they can time the cooking times (especially for time sensitive dishes like risotto or some kinds of meat).
Pro tip! Give the guests who’ll be doing the speeches a maximum running time, this way you can give a reliable indication to the staff. If you choose to work with a Wedding Planner, they will guide you step by step. We know how important that moment is and it cannot be interrupted by the service, but you don’t even want to ruin the food you’ll be paying pretty money for.
Will you have music and dances between the courses?
In Italy, especially in the south (but not only there) it’s tradition to have the DJ involve the guests for dances between courses. If you choose to have this, the same as above applies: inform the kitchen staff of this plan, so they can coordinate accordingly with the professional or the Wedding Planner can be the one taking care of it.
Even if you want to handle the planning all by yourself (and I get that, it can be a lot of fun!), let me advise you to get someone’s help to check that the wedding day schedule is respected. If you have a trusted friend, it might go well but… take into consideration that quick decisions might have to be made and I know I’d want a professional for that.
You know, this is actual a faux pas I did at my own wedding. My wedding day schedule was solidly prepared and everything went splendidly (except from a freaking computer that didn’t want to work, but, hey, I had brought a spare!), but I didn’t have a professional wedding coordinator. It was my first year, sweet summer child I was, and I didn’t know any colleagues yet. Now it’d be a completely different story. Still that day I had five people taking care of what I usually handle alone at any other given wedding. Afterwards, they asked me, “How do you do that? It’s insane!”, and, well, yeah, a bit, but it’s fun too!
How do I start making my wedding day schedule?
Well, my advice is: put in the start of the ceremony and work backwards from that. Put in the timings for travel, hair, make-up, etc, then do the same from the end of the party: the wedding day schedule will be much much easier!
Ok, I think I’ve given you a better idea of what doing a schedule entails and how to start going about that. Yes, it can be pretty crazy! Magical Vows has a dedicated service for the Day of Wedding coordination, check it out simply clicking on the usual reassuring blue button below!
Photo 1: Claudia Boschi
Photo 2: Marco Miglianti