The thing that contributes most to a stressful wedding day is not having enough TIME!! I’m sure you’ve planned out all of your events and your timeline is perfect (still need timeline advice? Click here for this freebie timeline tool download!), but that doesn’t mean time won’t be wasted on your wedding day! Wasted time can put a lot of pressure on you, your vendors, your bridal party, and your spouse! It can mean that photos get cut short, dancing gets cut short, people have to rush to get ready, or guests have to wait longer, just to name a few. Have I scared you yet? Not my intention!! Your biggest asset will be having a calm, collected attitude, and the ability to roll with anything that comes up definitely means that you will be totally fine! So if knowing event times and details stress you out, don’t worry - share this post with your maid or matron of honor, your mom, or any other trusted friend (but not someone that will turn into a drill sergeant!) to watch out for these minute-hogging pitfalls and to steer clear of them to help keep things moving along.
Pack Your Bags
If you’re the kind of person that often says “where’s my _____?”, this one is for you! Two nights before your wedding (yes, two), pack a suitcase of ALL the things you need to get ready for your wedding. Things like undergarments, toiletries (perfume, etc), cell phone chargers, special props for photos, hair accessories, gifts, tips and final payments in their own envelopes, and of course your emergency kit items must all be gathered up well in advance. This is also a great time to make sure all of your details that your photographer will want to photograph are in their own separate box or suitcase. Things like your shoes, jewelry, garters, and invite suite are a great place to start!
It’s very helpful to figure out ride situations BEFORE your wedding day. I was guilty of this one too, so no judgement here my friend! Make sure each bridal party member has a seat in a vehicle to and from both the ceremony and reception. If you are doing a shuttle for your guests to arrive at your ceremony, give some extra time for your ceremony to be delayed due to late comers catching the last shuttle, or communicate well and early that 2:00 means 2:00, sorry not sorry!
Don’t Wander Off!
This one is especially important for weddings where the ceremony and reception are at the same location: if you want family photos done directly after the ceremony, let the people who are in them know well in advance. I tell my brides to talk about this with their family and bridal party at the rehearsal, that way, they are already in the mind frame of “sticking around” after the ceremony for photos because they saw and rehearsed it the night before. This is probably the BIGGEST time waster of all, and I would never want you to have to give up a photo because a family member has wandered off. Let them know early, and let them know multiple times!
Clean Up Crew
After you finally have Uncle Bob standing in place and the family photos are taken, designate someone that is not in the bridal party or a part of photos to come to clean up the church or ceremony site. Unsuspecting bridesmaids taking time to rip off pew bows and gather up your unity candle will just push the start of photos back. This is also a great point to remember at the END of the night too! Figure out who will gather up all your personal decorations and belongings like your champagne flutes, signs, etc.
Don’t get me wrong - I love receiving lines! If giving your guests a hug or a handshake right after you say I do is important to you, then set aside at least a half an hour for it! As soon as the ceremony is over, the photographer’s clock is ticking. Help him or her along by keeping things brief and focused! If you need a restroom break, now’s the time to do it!
After you and your groom eat dinner, it’s normal for you both to visit each table and say a brief hello and thank you to your guests, but it can be really hard to tear yourself away from conversations and keep things moving so that your DJ has enough time to fit all your events in. A good strategy is to eat first and eat relatively quickly, so you can start your visits as your guests are just starting their meal. Another tactic is to play good cop, bad cop with your spouse. If one of you gets wrapped up in a conversation, the other can politely interrupt and say “we should probably get over to the next table.”
Let me leave you with this bit of advice: if you surround yourself with people you trust, feel comfortable with, and who are experienced, you will float above any small little ripples that come up during your day. Think of your bridal party, your family, and your vendors like your shield - you don’t have to feel, or deal with, any stressors as long as someone is aware they can happen, and you have breathing room in your timeline to let the day play out as it will.