Couples often do not realize just how long a wedding is – but that is because for the couple, the wedding goes by rather quickly. But, for the guests, there may be a lot of waiting around time and a lot going on. To keep your guests at the wedding until the end, you need to entertain them, but you also need to let them know what is going on – that way they aren’t stuck waiting around or missing out on the fun wedding activities you had planned.
The Schedule: It Does Matter
You and your soon-to-be spouse may already know what the wedding has in store, but do your guests? Most brides skip the process of creating an official wedding schedule, only to find the big day ends up chaotic. From guests missing the cake cutting to not knowing what time the reception starts, a schedule can really help you skip all of the headaches and keep your guests where you need them.
In this post, we are going to discuss the task of creating a wedding schedule – which is a lot more in-depth than most brides realize. But, the good news is after you’re done reading, you will be armed with everything you need to create the perfect schedule.
Start by Gathering the Info
You will need to collect some information before you can create an official wedding schedule. It is important to collect as much information as you can regarding the things that are set or not in your control – such as the time the venue needs you and your guests out.
A few questions you can ask yourself to help you gather the right information includes:
- When are guests allowed to enter the reception site? And what time are you required to leave it?
- How many hours will your photographer be on-site?
- What time will the sun set?
- How long do you think the “getting ready” stage will take? Remember to count how long it will take for bridesmaids and groomsmen to get ready too.
- How long will the ceremony be? Depending on your religious affiliation, it could take longer than you may expect. But, most ceremonies take about 20 minutes.
- Ask the photographer how long the photography sessions will take.
- Are the ceremony and reception at the same place? If not, how far apart are they and how long does it take for people to drive from one to the other?
- Will you host a cocktail hour?
- How many people are giving toasts during the reception?
- When do you want to toss the bouquet?
- What time do you want to leave the wedding? Some couples leave before the party is actually over, while others stay until the end.
- What time do you want to serve food and how long do you want service to last?
A lot of these questions will require you to speak with your vendors. They can give you time approximations and if they don’t offer it when you initially meet, call and ask them. That way you can plan out your schedule accordingly.
Start Adding Times
Once you have all of the information you need, start creating a timeline and add the estimated time each event will start. For example:
4:00pm – Guests arrive.
4:30pm – Wedding ceremony.
5:30pm – Ceremony over and guests head to reception.
6:00pm – Wedding photographs/Cocktail hour begins for guests.
6:30pm – Cocktail hour is over and guests move into the dining area.
7:30pm – Dinner is over and dancing begins.
8:00pm – Additional activities are introduced.
9:30pm – Cake is cut.
12:00am – Reception ends.
Don’t Forget Locations
You will need to add the locations of each event to your timeline. For example, if the cake is being cut in a different room or dinner is being served in the dining hall, while dancing is in the reception room, you will want to specify where everything takes place. Include locations for where you will meet your photographer and where photographs will take place.
Create an Official Schedule for the Guests
After you have finalized the official schedule, now is the time to create a timeline you can give to your guests. You have a few option when it comes to making a schedule: you can choose to list time-by-time or create a physical timeline. Timelines are more visual, but take more time, while a list just states the time, event and location.
Have Some Fun With It
Make your wedding schedule fun for the guests. While your ultimate goal is to have guests in the right place at the right time, you don’t want to sound like you’re dictating their every move. Have some fun with your schedule creation – such as using cute wording to describe each event or even telling the guests what drink they should be enjoying at certain times. For example, cocktail hour is the “martini hour” while the activity time is all about a great beer. During the toasts or cake cutting you may want to suggest your guests get a glass of champagne – but offer up some ways to make that bubbly more fun (such as strawberries or raspberries in the glass).
Decide How You Will Distribute It
It is best to send your guests an official schedule long before the wedding. While you can hand them out the day of, some guests may have already made plans to leave at a certain time – which means they could miss some of the activities. If you can, distribute your schedule at least two weeks prior to the event.
Hire a Pro for the Design
To make your wedding schedule look professional, create it on a Word document, then head over to Fiverr.com. Here you can find a designer who will create the schedule based on your document, then forward it back to you. That way you can print it at home or send the Word file to a professional printing company.
A wedding schedule ensures your guests are in the right place at the right time, but it also keeps the guests involved. They know what is happening – so they aren’t standing around wondering what is coming next. So, to make sure your wedding day goes as perfect as can be, make sure you create your wedding schedule.
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