Archive for November 26th, 2007

Expect The Unexpected At Your Reception

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Many brides send me detailed timelines of their wedding receptions. With these well thought-out schedules in hand, the wedding coordinator, venue, and I can all literally be “on the same page” with regard to what happens when. There’s only one itty-bitty problem: these agendas never really turn out as planned.


First, the timelines are often unrealistic. Typically, 5 minutes will be designated for seating the guests. But directing your friends and family to their seats is a bit like trying to herd cats – they move at their own rate (which is almost always slower than you wanted.) Another 5 minutes each will be given over to the welcome and prayer. But here, you’re looking at 3 minutes – tops – for the two. Allowing 20 minutes for each meal course is only accurate if you have engaged a huge wait-staff. 30 minutes per course is a more common average, leaving your schedule in tatters.

Secondly, stuff happens. It takes 5 minutes longer to bundle the wedding gown than you had planned. It takes 15 minutes longer to make a pit-stop in your bundled wedding gown than you had planned. Or conversely, in mid-reception, you suddenly discover that your over-stressed and under-rested body is going to collapse if you don’t get out of the ballroom and into your bedroom now – even though this is an hour earlier than you told the limo to arrive.

Once the reception gets off-schedule, your vendors are left to wonder what they should do next. Do they take up the salad plates at the designated time, even if guests are still grazing? Do they wait to serve the champagne toast, even though it is obvious that the crowd is getting antsy and is beyond ready for you to cut the cake? If you have fallen far behind during the meal, do you cram the cake, bouquet/garter toss, and last dance into a single hour – leaving some guests still waiting to receive their cake while you and the groom depart?

My suggestion is keep the party moving. When some guests resolutely refuse to take their seats, have Dad give the welcome and prayer anyway. If the meal is running late, go ahead and do the ceremonial cutting of the cake. Guests can always eat the cake when they are ready. But don’t fall ever-farther behind. Your party will suffer for it, and so will you. Your goal is a successful party, not to stick slavishly to a predetermined schedule.

The unexpected will happen. Allow your vendors the freedom to scrap the schedule for the good of the reception. Because, after it’s over, the satisfying memory of a fantastic party is more important than sticking to an arbitrary timeline.

Keep that in mind as your wrestle with your bundled bridal gown in the potty.