In today’s episode, we are talking about Timeline Crushers. These are the things you may not think about that can set you back, or derail your wedding day plans.

Don’t worry, none of these will destroy your day, but as wedding vendors, they are the usual pitfalls we see all the time. No matter what, you can get back on track, but they are things that we as vendors look out for and try to help couples avoid.

It’s natural for big events like this to have natural ebbs and flows in the timeline, but with a little bit of preparation and a few tips, you’ll be much better equipped to keep the delays to a bare minimum and have the best day ever!

Home » Blog » Podcast » 6 Timeline Crushers to Avoid on Your Big Day

The Best Man and Maid of Honor Toasts

We have literally seen toasts go 45 minutes or more. When your event is only 6 hours or so, 45 minutes is a big chunk out of the day, and you probably didn’t plan for that. 

In our experience, if a toast goes on longer than 15 minutes, people naturally start to tune it out. 

We understand that people get nervous and start to ramble, it’s just natural. The best thing you can do to control the toast length and help them out is to give the toast givers some parameters.

6 Timeline Crushers to Avoid on Your Big Day
Photo by Al Elmes on Unsplash

Here are our tips:

  1. Call it a toast, not a speech. The minute you call it a speech, people automatically think they need to write something long and in-depth, and that’s just not true. The point of a toast is to go up there and congratulate the couple with maybe a funny anecdote or two thrown in.
  2. Give a time limit. Explain to everyone giving a toast that they have 3 minutes (or whatever you choose) to give their toast. Most people will appreciate the guideline. Remember too, it’s just a guideline! Some people giving a toast will hear that and think they need to hit the time limit, even if they don’t have that much to say. Others, like your dad who may be emotional and nostalgic about his baby girl’s wedding, might have trouble sticking to the time limit. It all depends on how comfortable they are with a microphone.
     
  3. If there are lots of people giving toasts, have a few give their toasts during other parts of the wedding celebration. For example, have a couple of people give their toasts during the rehearsal dinner, or have your dad give the long version of his toast at the rehearsal, and the abridged version during the reception.
  4. Determine whether your toast list open or closed? Closed means that it’s only people on your list that are giving toasts. Open is when the DJ announces “is there anyone else that wants to come up and say something to the couple?” Either way can be really special, but keep in mind that if you have lots of friends who like to talk, it can really start to cut into the dancing time!

Remember, these are just tips for those concerned with the timing. If you don’t care and you want to give people the freedom to speak as long as they want, then do that!

Navigating The Seating Chart

The seating chart is one of the big ones that can throw the timeline off track. If it’s not big enough or it’s not in a place where it can be easily seen, then there’s usually a bottleneck of guests trying to find their seats and file into the reception, which can really slow things down.

We like to recommend having two seating charts: one by the door, and one by the bar.

The hour you have for cocktail hour is a great time for people to wander around and figure out where they will be sitting during dinner, and having a chart by the bar makes it really easy for people to see.

You can also have your wedding planner, DJ, or ushers encourage people to check the seating chart so they know it’s there and have lots of time to find their seat. 

A few more tips:

  • Make it large and visible enough to catch the guests’ eyes
  • Arrange it in alphabetical order
  • Have a table set up at the back with place cards that have the guest’s name and maybe their dinner preference on it. Guests can find their name, grab their card, and head to their table!

Greeting the Guests During Dinner (Working the Room)

The newlyweds will get served dinner first, and then afterward you may want to walk around the room and greet or thank guests. After dinner is a good time to do that but, without having a strategy to get to everyone, this can end up eating up a huge chunk of time. Here are a few parameters that we have found helpful:

6 Timeline Crushers to Avoid on Your Big Day
Photo by Elizeu Dias on Unsplash
  • Prioritize the upper generations. They are the most likely to leave early, and you want to make sure you get a picture with them, especially if you didn’t get a chance earlier in the day.
     
  • The next guests you want to prioritize are the ones that traveled a long way to be there. What can happen is that the night gets away from you (understandably!) and before you know it, you’re leaving for your honeymoon the next morning and never got a chance to say hi to your friends or aunt that flew in from Seattle to be there.
  • Guests that you will see at the office on Monday morning, or the cousins that you will spend dancing the night away with can be lower on the priority list for dinner greetings.
     
  • If you are really short on time, another great way to accomplish this is to take the microphone after the toasts are done and shout out the people you want to thank. It’s an efficient use of time, and people usually love a shout-out!
  • You can give yourself a time limit at each table as a guideline, but you really don’t want to feel rushed. It’s your day, and you want to take the time to talk to people you haven’t seen in a while. After all, they are all gathered together to celebrate YOU! 

But the bottom line is that a little bit of pre-planning can help make sure you see the people you want to say hi to the most!

When should the ceremony start?

Everyone has friends or family that are notoriously late.

A recent trend is to put the starting time on the invitation as 15-30 minutes before you intend to start to make sure that all the guests are present before the ceremony starts. While this may be a good tactic for catching a movie on time, it can lead to confused and restless vendors and guests.

We always recommend staying true to the start time that you put on your invitations. If you are about to start and there are a couple of last-minute guests coming in, we suggest letting them find their seats and then starting right away.

By starting the ceremony as close to the actual time as you can, you set the tone for the rest of the event. If you take on the mentality that you are going to wait for everyone to arrive, you might find that you end up starting 45 minutes late, which can really derail the rest of your event.

How long should the ceremony be?

The length of your ceremony is completely up to you, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Religious wedding ceremonies tend to go a bit longer. Talk with the minister beforehand, and settle on a time that you feel will be right for you.
  • In our experience, guests start to get restless during ceremonies that go past the 30-minute mark, especially if your ceremony is outside and the weather is really hot or really hot.
  • If you have a friend or family member performing the ceremony, prepare a script. This helps them be more comfortable because they know what they will say, but also keeps them from getting off track and talking longer than they intended.

The Little Things That Don’t Usually Make it Onto the Timeline

No matter how prepared you are for your big day, there are always unexpected little things that always come up!

Here are some of the most common little things: 

  • Bathroom breaks – wedding dresses are made for beauty, not for convenience! Depending on yours, bathroom breaks can take 10 minutes or so.
     
  • Bustling your dress – It’s something brides don’t always think about beforehand, but if you have a train, bustling your dress after the photos is essential! If your dress has lots of buttons, you can have someone carry a crochet hook to make it go faster, but it’s still something that can easily take 20 minutes.
     
  • Serving dinner – Estimating a timeline will help! But sometimes when you are serving 150-300 guests, it can take longer than expected.
  • Toasts – earlier we talked about setting a time limit for toasts, but it’s smart to leave a few extra minutes in case someone gets long-winded!

You don’t have to plan a ton of extra time for these things, but they are good to be aware of. After all, 15 minutes here and 5 minutes there can really start to add up. Check our Wedding Day Checklist to help you prepare for some of the little things you may not have thought of.

Do All of the Vendors Have the Same Timeline?

Making sure all of your vendors have the same timeline can make the day go much smoother.

When planning the wedding, you might get a timeline from the DJ, caterer, photographer, and florist and realize that they are all different from each other and no one is on the same page.

6 Timeline Crushers to Avoid on Your Big Day
Photo by Zane Persaud on Unsplash

Have a conversation with each vendor well in advance. Ask them, “What do you need?” “How much time do you need?” and “What time are you arriving?”

All of that information can be put on one and given to each vendor so that everyone knows exactly what to expect.

This can go a long way in making sure your event is as efficient as possible! Without a timeline, you might find that some of the shots the photographer wants will extend their time by 45 minutes. This can cut into dinner and cause the caterers to have to scramble to keep the food hot, for instance. 

If you have a planner, they will take care of this, but it’s good to be prepared for it if you are doing the planning! Whether you are organizing your timeline, or your planner is, it’s a good idea to have it finalized at least a week before the wedding.

6 Timeline Crushers to Avoid on Your Big Day
Photo by Lauren Rader on Unsplash

The best part about all of this is that it all works out. It really does. 

If your big day is creeping up, just know this: we know that sometimes it can feel overwhelming to read posts like this but don’t panic! These ideas are only meant to help you prepare for the unexpected.

If you have professionals hired, they are used to anticipating the time crushers and dealing with them so you don’t have to.

However, if you are doing the planning yourself, it will help to have even a basic timeline put together to keep your day as stress free as possible (and we can help!)

Check out our top tips for How to DIY Your Wedding and our Wedding Timeline Example or download the Wedding Planning Bundle to help keep the planning process moving smoothly.

We also offer 1:1 virtual planning sessions where we will sit down with you help you work through any part of the wedding planning process that you may be stuck on. Whether it’s creating a timeline or finding the right song for your first dance, we can help! Check out our virtual planning sessions!

And as always, no matter what happens, your wedding day is going to be fabulous and beautiful because it is all about you and your partner and your love for each other. 

Wishing you a wonderful wedding day!

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