The Value of Hiring a Wedding Coordinator

Now that the proposal has been accepted, what’s next? It’s time to create your signature wedding.
What exactly does that mean? It means that from this day forward, until the day of the wedding, you will spend 75% of your time thinking about how to create a wedding that will be like no other. You may not have given it much thought, but most couples have thought about this day for many years and envisioned their wedding in their minds a thousand times. Both of you are about to embark upon what could be a wonderful journey… or a nightmare! The choice is yours. Why leave it to chance that everything will go according to plan? Instead, implement a fail-proof plan. How? By hiring a wedding coordinator

Consider this idea as the first and one of the most important decisions you will make as a couple. Hiring a wedding coordinator will give both of you reassurance that you are making the right decisions about your choices; help bring your dream to fruition; and maintain a peaceful, loving, relationship in the process.

Although most couples enjoy the idea of designing a wedding, they often find that the planning is much more work than they imagined. It takes time and experience to address every detail. Let’s face it, some people just aren’t planners. Planning your wedding doesn’t have to be a frustrating and overwhelming experience. Organization and careful planning are the keys to a stress-free, fun-filled event. Hiring a wedding coordinator will ensure a much happier experience for you both!!

A wedding coordinator will not only help coordinate the details of the wedding but, more importantly, will help to make the process fun, reduce the stress and ensure that you have the wedding you desire. You will not have to worry or become stressed during the planning process. Instead, you both will enjoy planning the wedding.

Don’t misunderstand, you both will still make all the decisions, but consider leaving the details to the experts. Most couples truly enjoy the journey and, even if they don’t, the coordinator will be there to guide them. Trust me on this one, by hiring a wedding coordinator, your life will be happier, because everyone will be happier and less stressed.

Wedding coordinators are trained professionals who know the industry. Couples should understand that they are not just paying for a coordinator to manage the day for them; they are also paying for knowledge, expertise, skills, services and, ultimately, peace of mind.

Wedding coordinators provide a higher level of comfort for everyone. They are able to recommend the right professionals for you. Professionals enjoy working with other professionals. Are trained to handle difficult scenarios and unexpected occurrences at weddings; Are familiar with the latest trends and have the best resources; Know the best locations and services for each couple’s particular needs; Have access to exclusive locations that couples would otherwise never hear about; Can recommend the right wedding professionals for all aspects of the wedding; Are trained to help create a budget, keep expenses within that budget, and protect couples from making costly mistakes; Can save couples time in researching options. They already know what works best and why.

Now that you understand the various roles of a wedding coordinatoe, it’s time to start getting the important questions answered. Setting the budget first is the key! You and your fiancée should agree on the expenses before you begin the planning process. The budget must accommodate the size and style of the wedding. Write down your wishes and desires and compare notes. Distinguish your “wishes” from your “must haves”. Your coordinator can create a budget based on the most important elements of YOUR wedding. He/She can help prioritize which areas are most important to you.

Remember there is always room for compromise. Target more money towards the areas that are most important and reduce the areas that are less important. Your wedding coordinator will show you how to make changes without changing the feel of the wedding. Is it more important to have great food or a great band? Do you want an extravagant cake or beautiful flowers? You can have all of the above with proper planning. Whichever you choose, remember to stay on track with the expenses as you move forward. The budget is one of the most important areas where your coordinator can assist and it’s the start of making financial decisions together, a very important part of marriage. Open and honest communication is the key.

In a post-wedding survey, couples were asked, “If you had it to do over again, what would you have done differently?”
Number 1 Answer: “I would have hired a wedding coordinator – someone to ensure that all of the details were handled so that I could have enjoyed my day without worry.” Coordinators provide this reassurance on the wedding day! It is worth the investment to have peace of mind.

A wedding coordinator is able to provide: Peace of mind while planning the wedding; A great experience on the wedding day; and Wonderful wedding memories that will last forever!

Tipping Wedding Vendors

An often overlooked and hidden cost in wedding planning is the subject of tipping and gratuities. Though seemingly small amounts when broken down individually, these costs can add up quickly and need to be budgeted in at the beginning of your planning process. Here are some simple rules of thumb when it comes to wedding gratuity etiquette:

1) Don’t assume the service charge on your catering bill includes the gratuity. This almost always comes as a shock to brides, but the 22% service charge that you’re already paying on top of your food cost often doesn’t include the tips for the wait staff or the folks in the kitchen. Ask your venue or caterer specifically if it includes the gratuity for your service providers so that you aren’t caught in a sticky etiquette situation on your wedding day.

2) A tip jar sitting out at a wedding bar is very tacky, however you can make-your-own-rules, it’s your wedding. But there are just some things you never do, and that includes putting the expectation on your guests that they have to pay for anything related to your wedding reception. Make sure the bartender knows that you will be taking care of the gratuity and that no tip jar is to be put out during the reception. Get it in writing if you have to, and then make sure your coordinator is up to speed so they can 86 it should the situation arise. Same goes for the valet.

3) Gratuities should be given in cash or check and should be divided up into individual envelopes with the name of the recipient marked on the front. It’s the wedding planner’s role to distribute the envelopes, so make sure they are ready to go when you come to the rehearsal so that you are not having to worry about it on the wedding day. If you don’t have a consultant, then the job goes to the best man. If you’re afraid he’ll be a little too tipsy by the end of the evening, designate a responsible non-drinking friend to take care of distributing the envelopes for you.

4) Each gratuity envelope should be given to its respective recipient at the end of the evening or upon delivery of services. For food service employees, the envelopes (one for each server, chef, etc – find out ahead of time how many people will be scheduled for your event) can be given to the banquet captain by your coordinator or designated friend. One exception: even with a wedding coordinator, your officiant’s payment/honorarium/gratuity is always presented to him or her by the best man. This should be done after the ceremony and you may need to prep him for a little bit of back and forth ending with an “oh no, I insist” on the part of the best man.

5) There’s always a big debate over whether or not to tip the owner of a company. Most wedding businesses are small, locally owned companies, so there’s a very good chance that most of your vendors are the owners of their companies. There’s no cut and dry answer to this, and the bottom line is that it is really your call whether to tip them or not. A gratuity should never be expected by the owner, but I can guarantee that it is always appreciated.

Knowing how much to tip can be confusing, so I’ve broken it down per vendor. These numbers aren’t hard and fast and the amounts usually vary by region, but they’ll help give you a general idea of what’s appropriate.

Wait Staff and Food Service Employees: These include the catering manager, banquet captain, chefs, bakers, bartenders and anyone else assisting with the culinary side of your reception. The gratuity scale is similar to that of a restaurant with the amount totaling around 15-22% of the total bill. The total amount should be split amongst them.

Maitre-d – $3 to $5 per person (or what is suggested by your venue)

Bridal attendant – $75 to $100

Hair – $50 to $75

Makeup – $50 to $75

DJ – $100 – $150

DJ Asst – $50 to $75

Band – 5-10% of total bill or $25 each member

Photographer – $100 to $150

Photographer Asst – $50 to $75

Videographer – $100 to $125

Video Asst – $50 to $75

Limo Driver – $25 to $50 each

Florist / Floral Delivery and Set-up – $25 to $50 each

Officiant – $25 to $50

Altar People – $20 each

Ceremony Music – $25 to $50 each

Wedding Coordinator – Tip at your discretion

Valet: $1-3 per vehicle is appropriate. Make sure the valet is instructed to graciously decline any tips guests may try to offer them. A simple “thank you, but it’s been taken care of” will suffice.

Delivery Staff: Delivery fees are often included in your contracts, but most of those costs go towards fuel and overhead and not the drivers. If you’d like to tip the people who deliver your rental items, flowers, cake, etc, then $10-15 is sufficient.

Most vendors will not expect tips, but it is a nice gesture of thanks. The best way to say thank you, however, is not monetary, but rather by sending future referrals. The wedding industry thrives on word of mouth, and spreading some positive love about your vendors is the best way to show your gratitude.

Order of Events at the Reception

Cocktail Hour

By beginning with a cocktail hour, you will give your guests a chance to gather at the reception facility, deposit their gifts, and meet and mingle with other guests. It will also provide time for lost guests to find their way to the reception. Meanwhile backstage, this time can be used by the photographer to take portraits of the wedding party. If desired, the bridal couple can arrange to eat at this time, ensuring that they will indeed get to eat, thus freeing up their time to mix and mingle with guests later on during the lunch/dinner portion of the reception. The cocktail hour usually takes place at the reception hall.

Receiving Line

The bridal couple can open up the reception hall with a receiving line and invite everyone inside. This will ensure that the bridal couple will have the opportunity to greet each guest at least once during the festivities. The reception line traditionally includes the bridal couple, the couples’ parents, the best man, the maid-of-honor, and any special guests.

Introduction of the Wedding Party

Once the guests are inside the reception hall, the wedding party is then introduced by the emcee as they parade inside. First comes the
groomsmen and bridesmaids, then the flower girls and ring bearer, the parents, and the bridal couple.

Dancing (Option #1)

The First Dance, Father and Daughter Dance, etc. can occur before dinner immediately upon the Bride & Groom’s introduction to the reception area. This will allow the dancing to begin much earlier in the reception thereby eliminating a lull in activities that so often happens. Once the bride and groom have danced, and then the parents and attendants, then the guests will feel comfortable dancing while others may be eating or in a buffet line. This will allow many of the guests who know how to ballroom or maybe Latin dance to do so on a non-congested dance floor.


The best man will then make the first toast, followed by the maid-of-honor, the father-of-the-groom and the father-of-the-bride. If they so choose, the bridal couple can make a speech thanking the guests for coming, the parents for paying, and anything else
they may wish to say.

Lunch/Dinner is Served

During this time, the bride and groom (if they have already eaten) can mingle and make informal visits to each table, or even have table pictures taken by the photographer. If guests wish to make speeches, sing songs, tell jokes, do a skit, this would be the ideal time.

Dancing (Option #2)

If the bride and groom haven’t danced their first dance yet, they may now take the opportunity to open up the dance floor with their first dance. Then the father/daughter dance, then the mother/son dance. The attendants then join in the dancing and then the guests are invited to dance as well.

Cake Cutting

The bride and groom cut the cake for dessert. Additional toasts may be made at this point.

Bouquet and Garter Toss

More Dancing, if time allows

Departure of the Bridal Couple

Amid sparklers, confetti, bubbles, birdseed, or rice.

Departure of the Guests

In structuring your reception timeline, make sure to consult with your photographer, your disc jockey or musicians, your reception facility representative and/or caterer, and your bridal consultant if you have one. Also make sure your master of ceremonies is familiar with the scheduling of events.

How to Make Your Guests Walk Away Talking About Your Wedding

“That was the best wedding I’ve ever been to.” This is something that every couple planning a wedding hopes to hear once the dust has settled and the wedding is but a distant memory. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case for a lot of weddings. Your preferences can sometimes get in the way of planning a wedding that your guests can enjoy. While your special day may hold unforgettable memories to you and your new spouse, one small detail can set the mood for unhappy guests who won’t always voice their opinion to you. Something as common as mosquitoes at an outdoor wedding can drive guest crazy making them want to make a quick exit. And while this may be memorable for your guests, it’s not always the kind of memories you were hoping for.

Your wedding should be about you and your future spouse. You should focus on the day and the lifelong commitment and journey for which you are about to embark upon. A wedding is about celebration both as a couple and with those whom you care about – family and friends. After all, these are the people who watched you grow as a couple, who supported you and who you will share future memories with. As a bride and groom should be aware that your guests are a very important part of your wedding and you need to keep them in mind when planning for it.

For starters, when planning for an outdoor ceremony or reception, there are several important factors to keep in mind. First is whether or not you have a backup plan in the event of inclement weather. There’s nothing worse than being caught in the rain or having Uncle Sal’s toupee fly off due to heavy winds. Second, take into consideration any potential uninvited guests; the ones with many legs. Be sure to ask the location coordinator about any potential insect problems, and make sure that things are taken care of well before you say “I do”. Lastly, are you planning an outdoor ceremony in mid August where heat and humidity can literally melt makeup off your female guests? If you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony be sure to keep it short. Don’t make you guests sit outdoors any longer than necessary. And, make certain that arrangements have been made for your guest to retreat where it’s nice and cool. Keep in mind that while the idea of an outdoor ceremony or reception during any part of the year may be a beautiful one, it may not always be practical.

When it comes to food do you and your future spouse tend to enjoy food that are hot and spicy or are you strict vegetarians? Whatever your preferences you never want to impose those on unsuspecting guests at your wedding. Keep in mind that everyone has different tastes and trying something new at a wedding can make it memorable but for all the wrong reasons. Be sure to meet with your caterer well before the wedding and decide on at least 2-3 choices for guests to decide what they would like to eat. Be sure to include a vegetarian meal as a choice as well. Oh, and if you really have your heart set on having hot and spicy chicken or those barbeque tofu skewers you love, make sure they come in appetizer form.

Lastly, let’s address the entertainment issue. A memorable wedding is one where everyone has a good time. That usually fall into the hands of whatever type of entertainment you choose. A string quartet is a beautiful choice for the ceremony and cocktail hour, but most often can bring down the mood of the party and will most likely receive many eye rolls if chosen for the reception entertainment. Be sure to provide lively entertainment for your guests whether you choose a DJ or Swing Band. Meet with them ahead of time and get an idea of what their performance entails, or better yet, ask if they are performing locally and view them in action. Determine if what they provide for entertainment with be appreciated by all guests at your wedding.

While most often no wedding will go off without some glitch, it’s best to keep these important ideas in mind when planning for your ceremony or reception. Chances are if you do, you may just hear those words you were hoping for “That was the best wedding I’ve ever been to”.

Wedding Guest Etiquette

It can be tricky to know just the right thing to do as a wedding guest. Times have changed, but basic wedding etiquette hasn’t. Know the rules and make a good impression at your friend or loved one’s wedding.

Step One: Get Invited!

The bride might want to invite everyone (including Cousin Jane, twice removed on her stepmother’s best friend’s side). Unfortunately, this is just not always feasible. Be a good sport if a distant family member, an acquaintance or a co-worker doesn’t invite you. The couple’s budget may not allow it, or the reception venue might be too small.

If you do get invited, congratulations! Now the real work begins. Your etiquette know-how will be put to the test in the coming weeks. Be prepared with the tips that follow.

A Prompt Answer
Your wedding invitation will come with an RSVP card and envelope. Be aware that only the person or persons listed on the invitation is or are invited. If your invitation states Ms. Jill Doe, that means just you — not you and your boyfriend. If it says Ms. Jill and Guest, then a special someone may tag along.

This goes for children, too. Be prepared to find a babysitter (or to politely decline) unless Junior’s name is on the invitation. Some brides make this extremely easy by providing a space to write in the number of invitees that will be attending.

Fill out your RSVP card and return it immediately. Don’t delay; your bride needs a head count sooner rather than later. You’ll make a good impression if you’re quick to get that response in the mail.

If you’re unable to attend, RSVP with your regrets, and do send a present; it is a show of good will toward the couple.

The Bridal Shower
If you’re very close to the bride (her mother, sister, sister-in-law or best friend) take the initiative by organizing a bridal shower. Don’t assume someone else will do this; they may be assuming the same of you! Start making phone calls and getting a feel for a good time to hold the event, whether or not it should be a surprise and how many people might want to attend.

It is within etiquette rules to ask for or even assign help with a bridal shower. Be diplomatic; for example, Hi! It’s Mary. I’m so glad you can attend Jane’s bridal shower on the sixteenth. Each guest is bringing a dish. Would you like to bring the salad, some refreshments or a dessert? A bridal shower is a joint effort; don’t be afraid to ask people to pitch in.

Get to the Church on Time

Don’t be late to the ceremony — no matter what. If you absolutely can’t help being late (for example, if your car breaks down en route), wait for the processional to get down the aisle before quietly entering the church, synagogue or venue. Find the closest seat possible to you; it is the height of wedding rudeness to push through aisles whispering excuse me while the ceremony is proceeding.

Let the professionals take pictures of the ceremony. You can pull out your camera outside as the couple is leaving the chapel.

When greeting the New Couple
DO wait your turn in the receiving line before entering the reception hall. DON’T go on ahead without being formally received by the bride and groom, unless there is some emergency or you have extenuating circumstances (for instance, you are in a wheelchair and there are only steps rather than a ramp).

DO allow seniors or differently-abled individuals ahead of you in line. This isn’t a must, but it will make a good impression and is general good etiquette.

DO say “congratulations” to the groom and “good luck” to the bride. This is an ages-old social must.

Once the ceremony is over, you can loosen up a bit, but remember to use good sense at the reception.

Bring a present unless you have already sent one ahead in the mail.

DO provide the happy couple with a gift — no matter what. However, you needn’t bring one to the reception if you sent one ahead of time in the mail. Only one gift is required.

DO politely follow up after six weeks to make sure the couple received your gift if you haven’t received a thank-you note by then. You want to make sure the present arrived on time and in good condition.

DON’T ask the bride and groom at the reception whether they liked your gift. It will sound like you’re “fishing,” and will put the focus on you when it should be on them. It also puts the bride or groom on the spot. Out of fifty, one hundred, or more guests, it will probably be difficult for them to remember which gift was yours.

Good Eats
DON’T begin eating until the best man or other appointed person has made the first toast.

DO observe good cutlery etiquette. (This is an easy one — work from the outside in, and never re-use the same piece of cutlery for the next course.)

DO tell the bride well ahead of time if you have any special dietary considerations. DON’T wait until the actual reception to do this; it will throw a monkey wrench into the kitchen’s plans and could send the already stressed bride into a tizzy. Be reasonable; if it’s a preference and not a serious medical concern, let it go. Push the salty garlic mashed potatoes to the side and nibble on the asparagus tips instead.

Wait Your Turn
DON’T interrupt the bride or groom while he or she is speaking with someone else.

DO wait for the couple to come around to your table before getting up to offer congratulations and a few words. Generally, the couple will do a quick sweep of all the tables in the room to make sure they haven’t missed anyone. After you’re sure the couple has gone around the room at least once, you can then go over for a more informal chat with either.

And a Good Time Was Had by All
DO make sure you seek out the bride and groom (individually, if they’re not together at the time) to thank them before leaving the reception. This is an absolute etiquette must, even if you are on close terms with the couple or have spent a good portion of the evening talking to them.

The next time you see the bride in a more informal setting, DON’T complain about the reception — no matter what. Unless you are a direct family member (mother or sister, for example) or the bride’s best friend, no bride wants to spend $150 a plate only to hear later that the air conditioning was frigid or the lemon cod was too dry. Simply smile, tell the bride again how much you enjoyed sharing her special day with her, and go on your way.

Use these etiquette tips, and you’ll be a guest that’s welcome at any wedding. Above all, keep in mind that the couple has honored you by asking you to share in this very special day.

Choosing Wedding Venues

If getting married is the biggest decision in anybody’s life, then choosing the venue for the wedding is the biggest decision you will take during its planning. There are two parts of organizing a wedding location- the wedding ceremony and the reception.

Picking the Location: The traditional wedding ceremony venue is the church, and many people still like the charm of a wedding held in a church; but there is no hard and fast rule to this. Many people plan their wedding around a theme which could require outdoor wedding venues like beach resorts or more luxurious ones held in castles. The important criterion of a wedding venue is that the venue for ceremony and the reception should be close to each other. If you are opting for a civil wedding, then a licensed wedding venue can serve well for both the ceremony as well as the reception.

Sorting the Guest List: Whether you are on a lookout for luxury wedding places or casual venues, the number of guests attending your wedding will determine the type of venue. Before you start looking for venues, it is wise to determine how many people will grace the occasion. The venue capacity thus is a great determinant in picking the wedding venue. You would also like to plan whether the reception will be a seated or a standing affair; a formal meal requires more space while a standing buffet meal can accommodate more people.

The Wedding Venue Theme: You can let your individuality and personal taste reflect in the venue you opt for. You can hold your wedding in the midst of luxury if you like elegant settings; castles, country houses and large mansions allow one to host a stately wedding. Hotels too serve as good wedding venues and can arrange for both traditional as well as ultra-modern look. If you are fond of open spaces, you can opt for outdoor wedding venues. A marquee is a great venue option that provides you to enjoy the most special day of your life among spacious gardens and beautiful landscape. These venues also allow you to have more control over the catering services which you can personalize according to your taste.

Wedding Venue Facilities: There are many considerations to look into when choosing a wedding venue. From its being disabled-friendly to having an efficient and experienced staff, the wedding venue must cater to all your needs. If the wedding is set in the outdoor settings which have a pond or tricky porch steps, you would need to ensure that the venue is set appropriately and is safe for children and the elderly alike.

You should also confirm in advance whether the wedding decorations such as table linen, flowers and place cards are inclusive in the overall charges or not. The lighting of the venue too should be perfect, so that the most precious moments in your life can be captured in all shades of happiness. Thus, whatever is your wedding theme, with a little thought you can find the perfect venue to mark the best day of your life.

How to trim your list

So how do you handle it when your wedding budget won’t allow you to invite the college roommate you haven’t seen in ages or your (favorite) third cousin from Topeka? Be gracious. And be organized.

Be judicious with save-the-date notices. Everyone who gets a save-the-date card gets an invite. So skip the cards altogether or send them only to the people you absolutely must invite. That way, if the guest list shrinks or plans change, you don’t have an etiquette emergency on your hands.

Have an “A” list and a “B” list. The “A” list includes must-invite family and closest friends. They get invitations first. The “B” listers, organized by priority, are the people you’d love to invite, but might not be able to. If a member of your “A” list, say, Auntie Esther, can’t make the wedding, you immediately send an invitation to the first guest on your “B” list, and so on.

Keep expectations low. As you’re talking to people about the wedding, mention up front that it’s going to be a very small gathering. Also, make sure those who will be invited don’t blab about it incessantly. Mention to people on the guest list to scale back the chit-chat so others don’t feel snubbed.

Consider excluding by category. Often, if you invite one person from a particular group, you have to invite them all. In that case, difficult as it may be, you may decide you can’t invite any of your co-workers or, say, members of your book club. If you’re particularly close to a couple of them, it’s best to explain your decision directly. You say, ‘If I invite you then I have to invite the whole department. I hope you understand.’

When figuring out the guest list, remember you must invite spouses and partners. It’s a huge faux pas not to invite significant others to a wedding. It’s not a business conference, it’s a social function, and you’re invited to social functions with your spouse.

Oh, and one more thing. . . If you don’t get an invitation, be kind to the bride and groom. Don’t make it harder on them. Guest lists are difficult to compile in the best of circumstances, and these days, even harder. Put aside petty grievances and wholeheartedly wish the couple well.

Wedding Guest Book

Even the little things (like where a guest book is placed) can result in little glitches (like a slow moving line) on your wedding day. So, I’ve compiled some wedding guest sign in books tips. If even one of them makes your reception or wedding day run a little smoother, my mission is accomplished!

  • Make sure your wedding guest book is located somewhere where everyone who enters will see it and sign it. This seems obvious, but unfortunately, I’ve been to weddings where half the guests never saw the wedding sign-in book because it was placed in an “out of the way” location. The resulting lack of signatures was…well, depressing. I’ve found that having the guest book in plain site might not be enough either. It might be a good idea to catch your guests as soon as they enter. If the book is located somewhere away from the entrance, many guests might see it, and intend to sign it eventually, but end up forgetting. Another option is to have a member of the wedding party circulate the wedding guest sign in book around the tables during dinner or entertainment.
  • Remember, it will take people time to sign the guest book, so if it can be positioned so guests can sign-in while they wait in your receiving line…all the better! If you don’t have a receiving line, make sure you place the guest book in a location that’s easily visible from the entrance, but doesn’t block the flow of traffic.
  • Choose the right kind of pen or marker for your wedding sign-in book. Make sure it will last. Choose a tip that will be legible. Choose a color that compliments your book, and is easy to see. Consider the type of paper your wedding guest book has (glossy, etc), and choose a pen that won’t smear or leak through the pages. How the pen writes is more important than how it looks! (What good is a cute feathery pen if it ends up making all your guests’ signatures look like smeary blobs?) I often suggest having a friend or family member sign the guest book in advance for a pen test run.
  • Think about your reason for having a wedding guest book. Is it to add a unique detail to your reception? Is it to preserve the names of guests in attendance? Is it to ask for advice or messages from guests? A combination? Make sure the guest sign-in option you choose fulfills your reason for having a guest book. Make sure it’s quality and will last if that’s important to you. Make sure it’s something you’ll want to display around your future house if storing it in a closet isn’t what you have in mind. Make sure it’s well-thought out and…YOU!
  • Make sure your wedding sign-in book has enough pages for everyone to have room to sign.
  • Remember, your wedding guest book can play a key role in setting the tone for your guests. It will be their introduction to your wedding’s colors, theme and personality. Let it tell your unique story!

Making Your Wedding Day Timeline

Your wedding day itinerary – sometimes called a wedding day timeline or a wedding day schedule – is a non-negotiable, must do wedding planning task.

The itinerary is a comprehensive plan for who is going to do what, where, and when on your wedding day.

Even the smallest or most casual wedding is still a production – a lot is happening at the same time on your wedding day that must be managed.

If you have a Day of Coordinator or Wedding Planner they will handle the complicated task of creating the timeline for you. If you do not have a coordinator or planner you will need to make a wedding day itinerary, even if you’re convinced you won’t need it. Save yourself the potential grief down the road.

In order to make the schedule, you need some basic information:

  • Find out when your venue will be available to your vendors for set up. Sometimes party rental companies need to deliver tables and chairs the day before the wedding, so make sure this works for your venue. Tents may also need to be set up the day before.

  • Contact each individual vendor – caterer, baker, florist, DJ or musicians, limo, party rentals — anybody providing a service or a product on your wedding day — and work out their arrival times, set up times and any additional needs they may have.

  • Contact your photographer and determine how many photos on your shot list you will take before the ceremony, how many you will take after the ceremony and before the reception, and what photos you need at your reception. Work out with the photographer when he or she needs to arrive (and where) in order to get the shots important to you.

  • Work out when attendants and any family members need to be available for pre-ceremony photos, the logistics of how many different places your photographer will be taking photos, and how the photographer will get photos of both you and your fiancé getting ready, if you want this.

  • If you’ve contracted or borrowed transportation, make sure it’s available when you need it for photos.

If you do not want to miss any time with your guests, plan to have most if not all of your pictures taken prior to the event. This has become much more commonplace.

Put all the above info into a timeline formatted itinerary of the day.


  • Add info on any personal appointments for you and your attendants, like hair or makeup.

  • Include your ceremony and reception outlines in the schedule if you like, or just your reception outline.

  • Add any additional volunteer help for your wedding to the schedule, like friends picking up out of town guests at the hotel, decorating the reception venue, or delivering furniture or other borrowed items.

Once your wedding day itinerary is done, make a contact list of all the names and numbers (including emergency numbers) for every business and individual involved in your wedding day.

Before the wedding be sure each vendor or volunteer contributor has the numbers for anyone they may need to contact.

Make your preliminary wedding day schedule around a month out from your wedding date.

Expect your itinerary/schedule to be several pages long.

A week before your wedding, use your schedule to send out emails to everyone involved to confirm times, actions, and any relevant contact info.

Copies of the wedding day itinerary (with vendor info pulled out) can be handed out to the wedding party and family at the rehearsal dinner if you like, but always back it up with an electronic copy via email.

Your day of coordinator or wedding planner will always carry extra copies of the itinerary and the contact list on your wedding day. If you do not have a day of coordinator or wedding planner designate someone to carry a spare copy or two.

Here’s a sample wedding wedding day timeline– for you to use as a template when you make your own itinerary. This wedding day itinerary is for a 3pm wedding. Adjust your own wedding day schedule accordingly.

Sample Wedding Itinerary:

07:00 AM Wake up & light breakfast
08:00 AM Hair and Make-up begins for bridesmaids (7 ladies 1 every ½ hour)
10:00 AM Florist Arrives at Brides home
11:30 AM Hair and Make-up begins for bride
11:30 AM Photographer & Videographer Arrive at Brides Parents Home
11:30 AM Coordinator Arrives at Brides home
12:00 PM Light Snack/Lunch
12:00 PM Photographer Arrives at Best Mans Home
12:45 PM Bride’s hair and make-up complete – Get Dressed
01:00 PM Formal Dress Shots begin at Brides Parents Home
01:00 PM Coordinator goes to the church
01:30 PM Limo Arrives at Best Mans House to pick up Groom & Groomsmen
01:45 PM Limo Arrives at Brides Parents House to pick up Bridesmaids and Flowergirl
01:55 PM Limo Leaves for church
02:00 PM Bride and Parents leave for church in Rolls Royce
02:30 PM Limo arrives at church
02:45 PM Bride arrives at church
03:00 PM Ceremony begins
03:40 PM Ceremony Ends
03:45 PM Receiving Line
04:20 PM Bubble Exit
04:30 PM Rolls Royce Pictures
04:40 PM Formal Family Portraits In The church Begin
05:00 PM Leave for pictures
05:00 PM DJ and Florist arrive at venue to set up
05:30 PM Head to Venue for pictures
06:00 PM Cocktail hour begins
06:00 PM Bride and Groom arrive at venue and take extended family Pictures
06:30 PM Bride and Groom Retreat to Bridal Suite
07:00 PM Guests seated for reception
07:05 PM Dinner Order Taken
07:10 PM Introductions
07:15 PM First Dance
07:20 PM Parent Dances
07:30 PM Dancing
07:45 PM Dinner Music Starts
07:45 PM 1st Course Served
07:45 PM Uncle gives the blessing
07:55 PM Maid Of Honor / Best Man Toast
08:00 PM Father Of the Bride speech
08:15 PM Dinner Served
08:30 PM SURPRISE – Aunt will sing a song for the Bride and Groom
08:45 PM Dancing Music Resumes
09:45 PM Cake Cutting
09:50 PM Bouquet Toss
09:55 PM Garter Toss
10:00 PM Dessert Bar Opens
10:05 PM Dancing
11:00 PM End of Reception

Make sure you put arrival and departure times for everyone, including vendors, and time how long it takes to get from one location to another in your wedding day itinerary. Pad the time it takes to travel and to finish tasks like hair, photos and decorating.

Your wedding day itinerary will not look like anyone else’s, or have the exact same timing.

Work with your vendor on the timing for dinner (especially sit down dinners, which take more time), dancing, and traditional events like the cutting of the cake.

No two bride’s will have the same wedding day schedule.

Don’t forget to communicate your wedding day itinerary to all your vendors and wedding day participants!

10:00 AM Hair and Make-up begins
12:00 PM Sage Arrives
12:00 PM Eat Lunch!!!
01:00 PM Photographers arrive at the house
01:30 PM Sage goes to the church
02:15 PM Limo arrives at the house to pick up girls
03:00 PM Ceremony begins
03:45 PM Ceremony Ends
03:50 PM Receiving Line
04:30 PM Formal Portraits In The church Begin
04:45 PM Bubble Exit
04:50 PM Leave for pictures – Location TBD
05:00 PM DJ arrives at GV to set up
05:45 PM Formal Pictures End – Head to Grandview
06:00 PM Cocktail hour begins
06:30 PM Kristin & Jeremy Retreat to Bridal Suite
07:00 PM Guests seated for reception
07:15 PM Introductions
07:20 PM First Dance
07:25 PM Parent Dance (F/D, M/S, SM/S)
07:40 PM Dinner Order Taken
07:50 PM 1st Course Served
08:00 PM FOB speech
08:05 PM MOH / BM Toast
08:15 PM 2nd Course Served
09:00 PM Dinner Served
09:45 PM Cake Cutting
09:50 PM Bouquet Toss
09:55 PM Garter Toss
10:00 PM Dancing
11:00 PM End of Reception

10 Big Mistakes Brides Make On Their Wedding Day

1.  Timeline – so many brides either don’t make a timeline for the day of their wedding or they create one that doesn’t work.  the number one thing to remember is to put time buffers in your timeline.  For example, if it takes 15 minutes to drive to the church give your self 25 minutes.  If you really think it is going to take 1 hour for photos and you have 16 people in the wedding party, give yourself 1 1/2 hours.  This way when you are over on time, you can say, “it’s ok!”

2.  Shoes – wear them, wear them, wear them.  Make sure you start one month before the wedding wearing your shoes for 20 minutes at a time 2-3 times per week.  Walk outside, inside, on wood floors, carpeting, stairs, etc.  Your feet will love you at the end of the night.

3.  DIY – Please do some DIY projects, it is what makes a wedding yours and not cookie cutter.  But, don’t do each and every DIY project you see online, in a magazine or on tv.  Limit yourself, create a list, sit down with some of your girls and figure out, with their opinions, which ones are realistic.

4.  Wedding Party – So you have five really close friends, but you have two sisters and your fiance has two sisters.  Do you really need to have 9 bridesmaids in your wedding?  I big trend these days is to either choose 1 maid of honor or siblings.  Keep it simple and keep the costs down, for you and your wedding party.  Your five friends will still be at your wedding.

5.  Wedding Dresses – Your dress is going to be on your body for about 10 hours, yes 10 hours.  For your dress, consider how you are walking in the dress, sitting in the dress and most important dancing in the dress.  There needs to be comfort on your wedding day.  What about a knee length or tea length dress and shoes that match your attendants color dresses?

6.  Attendants Dresses – choose a color that is flattering.  But let them choose a dress that is comfortable.  So many designers now have created a line of dresses that are very similiar but yet can be suitable for different body types.

7.  Guest List – The days of 300 guest weddings is just about over.  Chelsea Clinton said it perfectly, “if I don’t know them, they don’t get invited.”  There is nothing worse than trying to create a seating chart for people you don’t know.  Meeting people for the first time on your wedding day is just not fun.  Tone it down and don’t be afraid to tell your parents that this is no longer the 60’s and that the budget just doesn’t have room for the 4th cousins 7 times removed.

8.  Hiring Professionals – Please, please take this one to heart.  Never, ever hire a friend or family member to work at your wedding.  There is a very clear line between a friend or relative and a professional.  Do you have a comfort level in telling a friend to get back to work, don’t drink, stop eating?  No, well then hire a professional.  Let the friends and relatives help with the wedding, but never have them do what a professional can do.

9.  Dinner – One important item with dinner is the amount of food and courses.  The more courses you include in your dinner the less time you have dancing.  Now for some this is fine and is a desirable choice.  But if you are spending over $7000 on your band and they only play waltzes or big band because there is another course coming to the table, don’t complain to the band.  having more than three courses for the reception is just a waste of food and time.  Tone it down, your guests will not starve.

10.  Honeymoon – So many couples just can’t wait to go on their honeymoon.  I don’t blame you.  Crystal clear water, sugar beaches, tropical drinks.  But, the last thing you want to do is get up at 4am the morning after your wedding and drive to the airport and fly to 2-8 hours.  Take 1-2 days off after the wedding to decompress.  Don’t pack before the wedding, do it the next night after the wedding.  Sleep in the day after your wedding, relax, hang out with friends and make it a weekend.  You will enjoy your honeymoon and your wedding so much more if you just take your time.

For more advice and information about how to make your wedding stress free contact Hudson Valley Ceremonies, 845-266-6076,