Having watched / participated in weddings I find that there are some wedding
day planning guidelines to follow to help the whole event work as desired. It
is a special day for
BRIDE and GROOM. Everyone else's ideas and wishes should be placed on a second,
third or lower priority.
Get a wedding planning guidebook
Wedding planning books (similar to my specific wedding
photo checklist on suggestions on what photos to take) lists the steps,
items needed, people to contact and the order to contact them so as to
organize a complete complicated wedding. The sole object to to eliminate
of what needs to be done then ensure that it is done. Each book varies as
to what it contains so really look
at them before
These books all have checklists but every wedding is slightly different.
Start your own checklist. As soon as you think of some task, item to get,
person to call,
or idea write it down wherever you are at and add it into the master checklist.
Here is a set of Microsoft Word® docs or Excel® spreadsheets that you
can use before or after the wedding to help with some of the wedding management.
Have name tags for the people during the rehearsal
Many people will be meeting each other for the first time and therefore have
no idea who is who. Having to remember 10 to 15 different people all at once
is difficult for many people. This way, as each person is introduced,
wearing a name tag, the others can easily learn their names during the rehearsal.
also makes it easier on the wedding coordinator, minister and, of course,
On the wedding day itself
For an outside Wedding have an alternate location for the ceremony if it
rains / snows / a hurricane arrives etc. (Rent sun / rain canopies?)
Designate a person to coordinate the wedding ON THE WEDDING DAY.
This person SHOULD NOT be a person IN THE WEDDING PARTY. That means no mother,
father, groomsman, bridesmaid or anyone who participates in the wedding in
I have seen that if a person who is part of the wedding party tries to actually
ensure that everything is getting done they:
Don't have time to enjoy themselves
Never get to mingle with the guests
Are not objective as to what is important
Never have enough time to do it all
Usually not in any pictures
Plan on any travel time taking 50% more time than normal.
The vast majority of weddings take place on Saturday - - a busy shopping day.
If a normal trip takes 20 minutes plan on 30 minutes to get from point A to
Hair appointments always take longer than planned.
Plan for at least two hours to get all hair-styling done for the bride and bridesmaids
(four people). Add 30 minutes for each additional person. Any hair appointment
that is set to start less than two hours before the bride is supposed to arrive
at the church will never be done on time.
Allow at least an hour and a half (1 1/2) for the bride to get dressed from
the time she arrives till she is ready for any formal photographs.
It could be longer if dresses needs to be pressed. The bridesmaids usually take
about 1/2 the time of the bride. Their outfits are simpler but sometimes they
are helping the bride and doing other errands as needed so they may end up taking
the same amount of time as the bride. Know in advance if you want the photographer
to take pictures the bride as she is getting dressed! Some women are very shy
and only after the dress is on do they allow a (male) photographer in with them.
Some feel okay in their underwear - - they are basically wearing a bikini. Ask
the bridesmaids also. They too are going to be dressing in the same area. If
a woman does not not mind being seen, but she does not want to be photographed
with just her underwear on, that is easily accomplished by any photographer
through the use of various lenses and angles to "edit her out" in
To take pictures of the bride's side of the party before the wedding reserve
at least 1/2 hour of time that ends 30 minutes before the wedding starts.
If the wedding starts at 2 PM, then the bride must be dressed and ready to take
pictures at 1 PM. Counting backwards she should then be at the church by no
later than 11:30 AM and had her hair appointment set for 9:00 AM.
Avoid using children under six (6) years of age.
It may be emotionally wanted but any child younger than six does not have the
attention span to last four hours that a wedding takes. Learning what to do,
then standing still for 15 to 30 minutes during the ceremony, may be too much
to ask of a kid that young. Ability varies child by child but be aware of it.
Groom and groomsmen take around 30 minutes to get ready.
If they arrive at the same time as the bride then it is possible for the photographer
to take pictures of the grooms while the bride is still getting ready.
After the wedding ceremony is over the complete wedding party pictures are
Immediately following the reception line everyone involved in the wedding should
return and allow at least 20 minutes to get group and individual pictures taken.
is why, as noted above, people in the wedding party should not be
in charge of the site setup, reception, teardown or any other operational wedding
They need to be available to have their pictures taken. If they are busy working
then they cannot expect to have themselves included in the group pictures — or
any other pictures.
The bride and groom should NOT have any tasks to do on the wedding day.
Other than showing up and exchanging vows, they should NOT have do ANY physical
This is especially true AFTER the wedding. They should just enjoy themselves.
If they change into regular clothes after the ceremony the only thing they should
concern themselves with is getting into their car and going away. No teardown,
putting items away, cleaning up or ANYTHING like that. That just distracts from
their wedding day by making them think and work when everyone should be doing
that FOR them.
If any special pictures are to be taken write them down in advance.
The photographer does not know everyone nor can he / she read minds. With a
list, and someone to point out who is who, then the photographer can take the
pictures desired. This is another reason to have someone designated outside
the immediate wedding party to coordinate the event.
Groomsmen, like fathers, shed their tuxedos in half the time it took them
to put them on.
The longer you wait to take pictures the less likely they will still be dressed
like they were during the ceremony. This even applies to the groom at times.
Don't delay between wedding stages.
The longer the delay between the wedding stages the more people leave. Immediately
after the ceremony some people will always leave. While the reception is being
set up (or while people are traveling to it) is when the complete wedding party
pictures are taken. Allow 40 minutes for group pictures, property collection
and travel time to the reception location. Now the reception is going on. Once
the bride and groom arrive at the reception people get to eat. It takes 15 minutes
or so for the people to go though the food line. Wait 5 minutes after the last
person has gone through and cut the wedding cake. The toasts can be done at
the this time since everyone is gathered around. Now wait another 15 minutes
and do the first dance; wait another 10 and do the money dance, another 10 and
do the garter / bouquet toss. This means from the end of the vows to the bouquet
toss around 1 1/2 hours has elapsed. About the limit for most people to stay
in one place. 1 1/2 hours is the same length of time as a standard movie. Now
regular mixing, saying hello and dancing can occur. After a 1/2 hour to 45 minutes
of free form entertainment all the presents should be opened. By this time only
1/2 of the guests can be expected to still be there. Mainly those who brought
Rent a car.
If you do not want your personal car to be decorated then rent a car for the
weekend. I don't know if the rental firms charge extra for cleaning. This
good if you are going immediately away on a honeymoon the next day. No worries
of cleaning the car, no parking fees at airport etc. Just drive and go. If
traveling away, but going to a local Hilton, Doubletree or other premier hotel
then renting a limo would work. The driver will not allow any decorations
his vehicle of course but you can go in style. Limo prices vary from $80 / hour
If at all possible have a rehearsal. This forces people in the wedding to
learn what they are to do, where they are to stand, how long it will
take them to get there and so on. Going through a rehearsal will point out
for those in the wedding as well as
Don't rush the rehearsal. Go through it at least three times.
A rehearsal can even be done on the day of the wedding
itself. If the wedding is at a rented location, or just not practical to have
a rehearsal the night before, do a quick run though before everyone goes
off to get dressed.
Have the bride put on her makeup like she will have it during the wedding.
This will not only give you a good estimate of time needed to put on make
up but it will also help her decide if it needs to be altered due to the
lighting in the church / location.
If there are lots of out of town guests talk to a local hotel and see if
you can get a group discount so that all of the guests can stay in the same
When there are a lot of people in the wedding party, and there is going to
be a rehearsal party, it would be good to rent a bus so that after the rehearsal
everyone just gets onto the bus and goes to the party. No worry about driving,
giving directions etc. This is especially useful for people from out of town
and they are all staying in the same hotel since after the party all can be
taken right back to the hotel. Eliminates getting lost and also any fears
about having a drink at the party.
Wedding Sequence Timeline
Create a sheet showing the timelines for the rehearsal / wedding that you
can give to all those in the wedding party so they will know the exact sequence
of events. This would include all the times at which to arrive at rehearsal
and on the wedding day itself. It would include precise sequence of events
that are used by the wedding party not the summarized version is included
on the event brochure itself that is given on the wedding day itself.
Wedding Party list
Create a simple list showing all the people involved in the wedding party
and their relationship / function is. Putting this information on the name
tags for people helps all identify who is doing what.
In the wedding invitation include a map to both the church and reception
Place balloons or signs with very large lettering (like 8 to 12 inches in
size) at key intersections to help direct guests as they drive. This is especially
true if holding the wedding at a house or at a church in rural areas. Put
the Bride/Groom's name at top and then the word "Wedding" below with
an arrow showing direction.
Time is Money
There are always tradeoffs when having a wedding. You must, up front, decide
which is more important: saving money by doing it yourselves - - using your
time to perform a task - - or paying someone else to do that task for you.
The main criteria is that you have to ask yourself do you have the time before
and during and after the wedding to do all these tasks.
If you get friends to do tasks for you - - they donate their time - - then
you must be cognizant of what "they" see their task is and cannot
expect more of them than that single task. Also, you cannot hold them up to
the same standards as a hired person. They could be just as good as a hired
firm, however, since they are donating their time for you, mistakes must be
overlooked and forgiven.