The final 6-8 weeks before the wedding is pivotal for your mental health. This is the time to really get all the small details done.
DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE WEEK OF THE WEDDING.
You might be thinking what type of small things? Well all of the small things you wanted to purchase for the wedding but saved for later like printed items and welcome bags and even ordering food for the morning of the wedding day. The typical scenario I always come across with weddings is procrastination...and what usually happens when you procrastinate on anything wedding planning oriented is that it will eventually have to be done and it’ll be so close to the date that you’ll be very stressed and that’ll mentally travel to your wedding day...so don’t wait until the week of!
So we’re about six weeks before the wedding (more or less) these things (checklist on PG 2) should be done or in the works of being done but at least in the calendar!
Seating arrangements should be completed after finalizing the wedding floor plan with the venue and confirmed by all of the vendors (a group email with the wedding vendors helps when getting closer to the wedding day so everyone is aligned at once). Also when finalizing the floorplan, be sure to take into account how many tables can fit how many people and how much room you have between tables so catering can serve the wedding guests without bumping into anyone. Also, think about the grand entrance and how the wedding couple/wedding party is going to enter the room and make sure tables will not block the entryway to the dancefloor so you have space to beeline to the dancefloor.
Once the floor plan has been created and finalized, take a large poster board with a paper cup and draw the floorplan on the poster board with the paper cup being the round tables. Once that’s complete, take sticky notes with guests names and start assigning seats/tables.
If your parents invited people to the wedding, ask them to do their seating arrangements first then work after them. Also, be mindful of where the stage and bathrooms are in the seating arrangements...like keeping older generations away from speakers and maybe the kids table by the bathrooms.
Once you finalized the list, type up your list and then alphabetize it with their food pickings/allergies (if applicable).
It’s time to start working on your timeline. I cannot stress enough the need for a planner especially on the day of the wedding, they are absolutely essential to the day and mental health of everyone involved...
With that being said, when working on a timeline, it’s best to first reach out to your photographer to discuss timing before the ceremony. From there, they will let you know what time the wedding party needs to be ready by and then it’s time to reach out to the hair and make up artists for their timeline of what time they should start on based on the time they should end. To be completely honest, I always add a 30 minute buffer time for hair and make up so if the photographer says hair and make up needs to be completed at 2:00PM, I would tell Hair and make up artists the end time is 1:30PM for any last minute changes to the hair or make up.
After this planning begins, reach out to the venue and ask what time they will set tables and chairs and linens on the day of the wedding OR ask the DIY venue what time rental companies can start arriving?
Always add the rain call to the timeline if it is an outdoor wedding or if there is a tent, what time can they set up?
Notes that should be on Your Timeline
What’s the difference between the two? To be honest they are so interchangeable in the industry but typically to a planner, it’s whether or not you have champagne involved. A toast requires champagne and a speech does not. Earlier in the chapters I discussed a trick that if you wanted a welcome drink for guests, a lot of venues allow the champagne that’s part of the “champagne toast” package to be served as the welcome drink instead of later in the reception...so if you opted to do this trick, then your speech givers are giving a speech and not a toast because the toast requires the champagne... so if you don’t have champagne, no problem just let the speech givers know to ask the guests to “raise your glasses in hand” instead of “lets give a champagne toast to”.
Helpful Tip: Make sure to instruct your speech givers that they only have 3-5 minutes for the speech and nothing more. Trust me on that one. I highly recommend a minimum of 2-3 speeches at the wedding and 4 at the most. The rest of the guests can give the speech at the rehearsal dinner because remember the more speeches, the less dancing time you have in the wedding. The guests that typically give a speech are Best Man, Maid of Honor, One or both sets of parents.
Grand entrance is the first formal introduction of the wedding couple into the wedding reception. What’s the typical wedding order? That’s totally up to preference... Typically it’s parents, then wedding party, then wedding couple. We’re seeing a lot of couples now just introducing themselves into the wedding reception and going straight into the first dance and dancing because it saves a lot of dancing time to the wedding. This is typically what we do for most of our weddings in regard to a timeline but every wedding is different and every wedding timeline is different.
Breaking Down The Timeline
After being introduced into the wedding reception with a “grand entrance,” the wedding couple typically dance to the dancefloor and start their first dance. After the first dance, then it’s typically a traditional dance like the hora/tarantella if culture permits or just start dancing in a dance set. After a 5 minute set of dancing, everyone takes a seat and then there could be a blessing (if applicable) then the first course. After the first course is plated onto the tables, then the speeches begin...Once the speeches end, then the main course is served, which is an indication for vendors to eat their vendor meals since this is literally the only time they can eat. Once the main course is completed, there can either be a father/daughter and mother/son dance or just dance, dance, dance.
A very popular way of getting people on the dancefloor is halfway through the mother/son dance, the DJ/band asks guests to join halfway through and then jumps into the dance music after the mother/son formality dance. After a while of dancing, you then have cake cutting and possibly a bouquet toss (if applicable).
If the wedding couple wants to give a toast/speech, that’s typically done during cake cutting. As discussed before, cake cutting could be a whole thing where everyone stops and stares or it could be “silent” where the formality is announced but the party continues.
1 .Grand Entrance
2. First Dance
3. Dance Set
5. First Course
7. Main Course
8. Cake Cutting
9. Bouquet Toss/Garter Rituals
Garter Rituals - typically people just do the garter removal and garter toss but not typically the replacement.
Garter Removal - the garter is removed from the bride by the groom without hands (aka teeth).
Garter Toss - once removed, he tosses it to a group of single guys.
Garter Replacement - once a single guy catches it, the lady who caught the bouquet has to sit in a seat and the garter catcher puts the garter on her leg.
*DISCLAIMER: speak to your DJ/entertainment about best flow for the wedding reception, he/she will know best based on your wedding, this is just a typical timeline not at all geared toward your specific wedding.