What happens at a wedding anyhow?

NIAMH WHITE

Wedding Coordinator, Horetown House

This might seem like an obvious and somewhat silly question, but do you know the answer? This is where you realise how much attention you were(n’t) paying at the last wedding you attended! Did they have a receiving line? How long does that take? When did they cut the cake? Who caught the bouquet? Did anyone throw it?
“Did they have a receiving line? How long does that take?.”

Do i have to throw my bouquet?

There are lots of traditional wedding customs that you may or may not have any interest in including in your day. Thankfully you don’t have to follow anyone else’s template of a Wedding and can chose to do it your way. But do you know what your day will look like and what time the different elements, like dinner or the first dance, will happen at? No matter what kind of wedding day you are planning, there are usually 2 things that are fixed and these will determine the shape of everything else. Your ceremony start time and you venue’s closing time. In between these you will need to fit in everything else and this is how you create your timeline.

sample timeline

Church Ceremony 1pm to 2:15pm (always allow for a late start) Receiving Line 2:15 to 2:45pm Travel to Venue 2:45 to 3:30pm or 3pm Civil Ceremony 3:45 Ceremony ends, receiving line (allow 30mins per 100 guests) 3:50 Drinks Reception Begins 5:30 Dinner Bell (allow 30mins to seat guests, take orders and pour wine) 6:00 Couple enter to dinner 8:30 Dinner is completed- Speeches begin (more on this later) 9:30 Band begin to set up – Couple Cut cake 10:30 First Dance 12:30 Band finishes and DJ starts  

“Be generous when you are planning your time and always allow for a little contingency ”

There are only 24 hours in a day- even a Wedding day

The timeline above is just a sample but you can change this in hundreds of ways to suit your plans. The only thing you can’t do is change how many hours are in a day so if I could give you one piece of advice it is this: Be generous when you are planning your time. If you decide to allow your Dad 5 mins for his speech (which he has been planning for two decades) and it really takes 30 mins, you’ve just lost 25% of your band time.  If he is going to take 30 mins then put that in the plan and work your times around it. Be realistic, ask how much time people need and explain to them the importance of staying within that timeframe once you have allowed for it. Always allow a little contingency. This could mean you end up with 5 mins to spare before you walk down the aisle or an extra 10 mins to chat with your college friends at the drinks reception and no one complains about spare time on their wedding day!

So to sum up my advice on planning your day: Work with your wedding coordinator to create a realistic timeline. Allow spare time and tell vendors, speakers and anyone who needs to know, how long they have. Have someone keep an eye on the timeline-  have a groomsman time the speeches or a bridesmaid tip you off before the dinner bell rings and you need to talk to Granny. On the day, enjoy every minute, and if things take a little longer, or if you get a couple less songs from the DJ, don’t worry! The reason wedding days go so fast its because time flies when you’re having fun- so have lots of fun and don’t sweat the small stuff.