12 Tips for a Smooth Flowing Wedding

A wedding is unique sequence of events that take place, from the ceremony to the cocktail reception, dinner reception, traditional formalities, and the dance party. In order to transition these events smoothly you first need you obtain the right group of vendors that know how to work well together as a team. When you get closer to the date you will create a time line for the events. Yet just because you have a time line it doesn’t necessarily mean your your wedding with flow smoothly. Sometimes it’s the little things that get overlooked that can put a snag in the timing. If you have limited time with your venue and or your vendors, you may be rushed to catch up, in turn can cause stress and anxiety. This is the last thing you want to feel on what’s meant to be one of the happiest days of your life. Here are a few tips that can prevent the hiccups, and keep your wedding day on track so you can enjoy every minute with your friends and family.

1. Ceremonies are notorious for starting late for a few reasons. One reason is guests are running late and couples want to wait for more guests to arrive before starting. Second, the Bride & Groom and or wedding party runs late for pre-ceremony pictures.
Solution: The ceremony start time on your invites should be set 30 minutes prior to the actual start time. Also consider adding a little map or directions with the invites. This is really important for Friday weddings, always consider rush hour traffic.

2. Pictures can take up lots of time especially if you have a large wedding party. I’ve worked with a few (not many) photographers who do not respect the brides timeline, and will take up much more time to get as many formal shots possible so they can sell you and your guests additional pictures later. Then leave at their scheduled deadline time missing out on reception formalities.
Solution: Make sure you and your wedding party arrives on location early. Try to get as many pictures in before the ceremony as you can. Hire a photographer that will respect your time line, and won’t mind staying a little later to get the important formalities during the reception. I personally like the photographers that will stay most of the night, or till the end of the night. The last dance and grand exits can make for great memories. The easiest part of a photographers job is shooting in the moment shots.

3. When planning a wedding reception, a receiving line after the ceremony is usually the most time consuming activity at a wedding. You will have plenty of time throughout the evening to thank them for coming. This is something your parents may suggest or want you to do. It’s a fairly old fashioned formality and most times I would suggest staying away from doing this. A receiving line will cut into much more important events and other things you may want to do like pictures, eating, or dancing.
Solution: More than likely you will be the first to eat and be the first to finish. During dinner you will have down time. Walk around table to table to greet guests & thank them for coming or give a formal ‘thank you’ toast.

4. Use place cards for assigned tables only not assigned seating. It takes more time for guest to find assigned seating and it can create problems. Another common mistake I see is in the arrangement of the table cards. Although it may be easier for you to organize the cards by the table the guests are seated at, it creates problems for your guests who are looking for their name. Alphabetizing the place cards by last name will allow your guests to quickly find their card and their table.

5. If you plan on tossing the bouquet and garter, be sure to place the toss garter on your leg prior to the reception, and have a wedding party member or coordinator place the toss bouquet on the head table or cake table. When it’s time for that formality you will be ready.

6. If you plan on supplying your own champagne flutes or cake knife & server, have a wedding party member or coordinator take them out of the packaging and place them on the appropriate tables (i.e head table & cake table).

7. EAT and stay hydrated. Most brides can be a ball of nerves on their wedding day with anxiety and stress. This may cause you to loose your appetite. This is dangerous! I’ve seen bridesmaids pass out due to heat exhaustion right before walking down the isle. It’s very scary for your friends and family as well. Take the time to eat and drink plenty of water the day of your wedding.

8. If you are planning on having a buffet with over 100 guests, ask your caterer to make it a two sided line. Guests do not like to wait too long to eat. Brides & Grooms are always the first to go through the buffet, be sure to go through when it’s ready. Don’t make your guests wait any longer then they have to.

9. Do you want your guests to dance? If you like to dance and you want your guests on the floor, that’s where you need to be! Your friends and family will follow you out on the dance floor. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good the your DJ is, your guests want to party with you. If you don’t get out there and dance don’t always expect your guests to.

10. Stay in the reception room with your new spouse as much as possible until the formalities are completed. If you need to leave the reception room to smoke or use the restroom get back as soon as possible. Formalities can not be done without you or your spouse. If you are gone for a long period of time your guests will think you left and they may leave as well.

11. Inform your wedding party of the itinerary (time line) or better yet give them a copy of it at the rehearsal, and inform them of their duties throughout the night. Your wedding party will have roles for the wedding, and your wedding day will run smoother when your wedding party knows what their responsibilities are and when they will take place.

12. Most importantly hire a good professional wedding DJ/ MC. An experienced wedding DJ/MC has many responsibilities including help with the pre-planning, direction, working together with your team of vendors, and help with the day of coordination, even when there is no wedding coordinator on site. They can help make your wedding run smoother even when problems occur.

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