Wedding Itinerary Schedule
Top 10 Ways to Impact your Wedding Schedule
There are a lot of things that can effect the wedding itinerary, how the schedule flows, and if you actually stick to the timeline planned. Here are 10 things that may impact your schedule in order of the collective risk based on the greatest commonality, impact, or potential cause of stress. Please note these things will be often positive or negative depending on what you want for your wedding day.
1. First Look.
Seeing each other before the ceremony will effect most things throughout the wedding day. This can be so impacting to the feel of the day we wrote an entire Wedding First Look post on why we think you should not wait till the ceremony to see each other on your wedding day. Considering you will see each other on your wedding day we believe it is the most common scheduling topic that can impacts the day. The potential impact to the timeline is from getting ready to dinner. Without seeing each other ahead of time you have to get a lot in a short period of time that could be impacted by the other factors below such as compartmentalization, travel delays, family photos, and the ‘paid for it trump card’. We have heard of some people disappearing for hours but we think that is a little crazy and not an ideal way to treat guests. Stress often comes from worrying about someone seeing someone else and treating them like they had an incurable infectious disease. Considering the bride and groom want to see each other the stress is normally experienced by the one worrying or is felt from others worrying about it.
2. Coordinator Dictating Durations.
It should sound crazy to have a coordinator tell your caterer to start cooking your food at X time, to check on status of how the asparagus is doing, and correct them on how they are cooking it. Unless you hired the coordinator to be a chef they need to stay out of the kitchen and make sure the caterer knows when the food must be ready. It seems most common when times are dictated that the coordinator will dictate when, where, and how to take wedding day photos. As everyone these days is a photographer with an iPhone in their pocket perhaps that gives a sense of creative license and knowing better than the professional photographer. A good wedding planner will ask questions and if something goes on the schedule will collaborate with impacted parties. You want your wedding planner to plan and coordinate rather than dictate and control. An unhealthily pride will be the driving ambition of someone who tries to play the role of chef, officiant, florist, photographer, and DJ. On the outside it might seem like they are collaborating but unless you talk as a ‘team’ you may receive misrepresented information.
3. Last Minute Coordinator Addition.
This depends so much on who they are and what kind of target wedding feel they are seeking to create. The positive side of this is you can pass of responsibility to someone else which might decrease your stress. Most often this works if they are a non-venue coordinator and you both are on the same page. By that we mean they know what kind of day your going for and only make changes to meet your objective. The negative side is that you have been spending months to, in some cases, years planning your wedding and they are coming in at the last minute or coordinating with others at the last minute. They will default to what they know and how they view the wedding day. That means that they might be going a very different direction than you therefore messing up the day and creating stress. Please note this might be last minute because your coordinator never coordinated with anyone but you. From your perspective they may be doing a great job unless you hear from other vendors that they never knew you had a coordinator.
4. Travel Logistics.
Getting from point A to B has many uncontrollable factors of vehicles, traffic, events blocking areas, and people not being on time. If you are going from B to C to D then you will be at a higher risk of falling behind schedule. Plan an extra 15 minutes for every location change that requires people to get in a vehicle. If you are traveling through an area prone to traffic at that time of day then look at Google Maps on a comparable day / time. If you are having all the guests meet at a place and go somewhere together give an extra 30 minutes. Stress is always low when you arrive early. Sometimes couples want a photographer to go to a one place where the guys are getting ready, another for the girls are getting ready, a place for wedding photos, the venue for the ceremony, and a different place for the reception. Without planning 15 minutes for each you run risk of falling behind schedule. However going to 5 different places might add over an hour of buffer room.
5. Last Minute Schedule Changes.
The wedding day will not happen perfectly according to plan. If you make a lot of changes to the wedding timeline in the last week or so before the wedding you increase the likelihood of things going less according to plan. What commonly happens is that when you make one change it impacts another area. Often last week changes are completed on ‘Final (Version 3)’ of the wedding timeline. This is most commonly seen because communication isn’t occurring before the wedding. Most common occurrence happens with the order or contents of the reception. When it comes to a DJ tweaking things based on preference it is low impact as long as they communicate with others on the day of the wedding. We find the quality of a DJ or coordinator is seen in their adaptability to the plan to accomplish the right feel of the wedding day. If everyone was good with the schedule the past year what do you gain by changing it right before the wedding?
6. Family Photos.
We have heard it said that getting the family to the right location or to stay at the right location is like herding cats. There always seems to be one person running off after the ceremony or a group of people who don’t know they are ‘family’ perhaps cause they are cousins or married into the family. Another potential delay are family members wanting unplanned extensive photos of every possible combination of people. If you don’t plan for it or set the expectation that this is not a family photoshoot you will impact the timeline. The only stress that might come is to the bride and groom if you had an hour for family photos, bridal party photos, and your photos due to no first look. A couple might end up with 5 minutes for themselves in order to stick to the schedule. If they go longer then expected guests might be waiting on them, coordinators might add some pressure to wrap things up, or the caterer might start complaining that food will be cold.
The best wedding day flow will come by keeping things simple and streamlined. Efficiency comes from lining up related activities. If you are the kind of couple that wants to party with your wedding guests then we recommend creating a highly efficient schedule. Imagine having the ceremony stopped before vows for cocktail hour. Thankfully we have never seen this but its that kind of concept. We see this most often in photography with the bridal party getting split up into multiple ‘sessions’ for the sake of not seeing each other or thinking ‘we had time at this point’. The second most often seen place is in the reception. Order of events is subjective but stopping the dancing for something like cutting the cake will kill the energy. Perhaps this is seen as a breather for everyone or a way to extend the slow evening. If you get a good DJ or Master of Ceremonies (MC) or have run out of the 10 kegs of craft Colorado beer you had on tap then don’t worry too much on the party getting dull.
8. Venue Restrictions.
Often the restrictions that are impacting to the timeline come from not being allowed on site at the venue till a certain time, being in a wedding factory environment were you are 1 of 4 weddings that day, seeking to transform a location that didn’t look too great into something magical, or having to be clean up earlier than you would count ideal. The impact is a rushed setup or tear down and if you don’t have a team for that it might fall on friends or family. Stress can come from things being missed that you planned in the ceremony or reception. Some brides feel stress when they arrive to see nothing is setup. While more popular and established venues may have more structure they typically have a better idea of how to execute a wedding.
9. Excessive Details.
If you are planning to have doves, mints in the bathroom, assigned seating for every guest in the ceremony, or select alcoholic beverages listed on the itinerary delivered in a certain glass at a specific temperature than you might be going too far on details. We say might because we believe you should make your day your own. There is nothing wrong with getting your exact beverage but these things can be noise to a wedding plan. We love having animals (specifically dogs) as a part of the wedding day but if your dog needs its hair checked you will likely be focusing on the little details at the expense of the larger ones. This is often more of a stress increasing thing than something that will delay you. The impact to the schedule would be if the doves are not ready to be loosed into the air as you walk down the aisle.
10. Paid for It Trump Card.
If your parents are paying for the wedding be aware that if they want something they might pull the ‘we are waiting on’ or ‘we are doing’ trump cards. They likely don’t know the wedding timeline as they are likely writing the checks and swiping the cards. For that reason they likely will not know the impact they may have on the schedule. It really comes down to what another value’s and what power they feel they have over the wedding day. Most often the bride and groom get their say on the wedding day and parents are less demanding. However, when a parent does feel they have the power a couple may back down to keep the peace or cause they really don’t care about keeping things going as planned. The more someone spends the more they will likely feel passionate about something. If you feel your parents may be the kind to demand something then engage them in the wedding planning.
SO . . . Where to Start in Creating a Wedding Itinerary
You are engaged, you may have a general idea of a plan, you may have some vendors hired. You do an online search and find there are a some fancy looking templates, varying ideas, and some tips. Since you likely aren’t on your third husband this is all newer to you. It is slightly confusing. What do you follow and who do you follow? Here are the wedding day realities:
- Everyone or every help you find for wedding planning will view things slightly different just as every day is different.
- The best plan is made for you. Listen to those who ask you what you want, what you both are like, and how you want the day to feel.
- Planning is good but things will rarely go fully according to plan.
STEP 1: What Kind of Bride Are You?
Do it yourself – why not? You will certainly save on a wedding planner and there are many great resources out there. The risk however is unless you are really passionate about planning you will likely miss out on pulling from the experience of others. DIY will likely work well unless you are non-traditional and looking for a non-traditional take on a wedding schedule.
Hired a Planner
Why are you still reading this then? Well, maybe you haven’t hired someone and you are still thinking about it. Regardless just because you hire someone to come up with a plan and pull everything together there is still some risk that they might not be that experienced or not communicate well with everyone. Not all venue coordinators actually coordinate everything.
We Need One?
We love you. Non traditional brides who are getting married on an unnamed mountain side in Colorado probably don’t need a grandiose plan. The risk to not having one is your plan will succeed and whatever happens will happen. Considering you are spending money on the day and weddings can be full of friends and family inserting ideas its probably better to have something.
Step 2: What Kind of Day Will You Have?
Hopefully your day will not be crazy. We believe in doing things in the most relaxed, low key, and stress free way. Often though couples get ideas in their heads and they limit themselves in such a way that the wedding day is complicated focused on things that matter very little in the big picture. If you are hiring professionals trust the professionals. Often couples that have firm ideas in their head increase their stress on a wedding day when things aren’t perfectly according to plan. Have fun and relax – it is your wedding!
Talk to The Coordinator
We love the punt method provided they know what you really want. Who wants to be bothered by all the details, think about setup, play gopher between people, and answer random questions. Give me my Mimosa, Beer, or shot and let me enjoy my day is our recommended approach. Just because the venue offers a coordinator don’t expect that to extend beyond setup and getting food out on time. Beware of a controlling coordinator.
Whatever You Think
Again – We love you! So much can change on a wedding day and so adaptability is huge. You have a plan but its based on prior conversations about what you all want. The plan is likely non-traditional and non restrictive. The downside to this mindset is that if you go get the thoughts of the venue coordinator, photographer, DJ, and caterer they might all be different. If you go this route let the venue coordinator do setup, photographer do up till the reception, and the DJ order the reception.
Step 3: Are you Traditional or Non-Traditional?
A good way to figure out which way you gravitate toward is to answer the question if you will see each other before the ceremony or not. Around 60% of our couples see each other before the ceremony. While we firmly believe you should not wait till the ceremony, we certainly have no problem if you want to wait. Those that wait typically are a bit more traditional throughout their day both in the activities and flow. No wedding is alike so just because you wait till the ceremony doesn’t mean you cannot eat cake as an appetizer to dinner!
To the traditionalists. Find all the stuff you want online. Find someone who is a little more set in their ways and looks at things a little more traditionally. It won’t be too hard to pull a plan together.
To the non traditional. Do you want to do __________ on your wedding day? Then do it! Unless you are super organized what you may end up with is something like a puzzle with a lot of little things you love.
Step 4: Get Vendor Recommendations Based on Experience
We are photographers. We believe that means we are biased toward recommending things to make the best photography. We however also would acknowledge we are there often longer than many coordinators, caters, florists, and DJs. We also probably interact more with a couple than many other people brought in to make the day successful. While the coordinator or wedding planner will be highly invested in things happening on time as planned we believe we are more invested since we capture the day with a photojournalism style. In other words if your not enjoying your wedding day our work will show it.