We've all heard the phrase that weddings never run on time, and there are many reasons why. As the years go by this is one topic that we find all of our couples bring to us. They want to know what they can do in order for things to run smoothly and on schedule. A wedding doesn't have to run late! We work with our clients to come up with a timeline for their wedding day, but more often than not that timeline has dissolved, and becomes pretty much useless before we even arrive. This can create a stressful experience, and if there's one thing we want is for all of our Brides and Grooms is to have a stress free and enjoyable wedding! Here are some of the most common reasons that wedding days run late, and how to prevent them from ruining your day.
Hair and Makeup: This is one of the top two reasons weddings run late. Oftentimes the HMUA's are hired for a number of people who will use their services, and the Brides will tell them when the next event is (hello photos!) so that's what time they believe they need to be finished by. Unfortunately that doesn't leave any time left for putting on the dress, traveling, or appointments running late.
Our solution starts with the wedding schedule. We provide all our couples with a sample timeline for the day. Every wedding is different so the sample timeline is meant to be tweaked to fit your vision. Including a stop time for hair and makeup on the schedule helps, and make sure to schedule their appointments to be finished an hour prior to that stop time. That way when it does run over (yep, I said when) you'll have a bit of a buffer and still be able to get in all the getting ready photos, as well as get to the ceremony before go time.
If you end up with extra time to sip a mimosa and not have to pee in a hurry - you'll be grateful, not disappointed. Also, be ready for your hair and makeup artists when your appointment is scheduled to start. That means make sure you've got a clean face, you've had something to eat and drink, you've brushed your teeth, and you put your cell phone away. Not only will this keep you and your bridal party on schedule, but your hair and makeup artists will be relieved that they finally have a bridal party whose prepared and knows whats up.
Family Is Known For Being Late: We all know someone who is guaranteed to be a minimum of half an hour late to absolutely everything in their life. It's just the way it is, and we still love our family who we know won't be where they're supposed to be, when they're supposed to be there.
If you know that there are family members who will run late (don't forget to ask your fiance about their family!) we suggest creating a fake photo timeline for them. Especially for those who have a history of running late. If you know Aunt Pamela will be fifteen minutes late then give her that false timeline, and put a dependable family member in charge to keep her on time. Someone who will most likely be with the habitual late arrival. Planning for late arrivals will save your sanity, and defuse a stressful situation before it starts. Also have a designated meeting location. Hotel lobby, entrance of the venue, or even just an area slightly to the side of the ceremony site works.
Family Formals: We're not trying to pick on family, I swear! Let's imagine that you've finished the list of family portraits, but then the mother of the groom, or your first cousin who you haven't seen in awhile, asks for more pictures. Suddenly you've found that the cocktail hour you wanted to spend celebrating is half over, and all you've done is stand around so people can take their picture with you.
It is very important to have a list of groupings for family formals prior to the wedding day. Each family grouping takes about four minutes and those groupings with small children can often take a bit longer. If you want to avoid the last minute photo requests from family, plan ahead. We recommend creating your typical list of your immediate family groupings (please use names as we do call them out) and show it to parents for suggestions. Let them know that you have room for two or three more formal groupings and if they want to add any now is the time. If they end up adding more than a few you can either choose to prioritize by cutting it down, or move the schedule around to add on time needed for all those requests. The farther enough in advance that this is done the easier it is to alter the schedule.
Underestimated Travel Time: Think getting to the reception location from the ceremony site will take five minutes? You're adorable. Travel time is the third on our list (albeit we have it in no particular order) of things that puts the wedding day timeline off schedule. We get it, traffic happens. Especially on weekends, and when there's multiple people/vehicles involved.
If you think it'll be five minutes then leave a gap for fifteen. If you think it'll be half an hour then leave a wiggle room of forty five minutes. If you're hiring a service to drive you they need to know exact times they are expected to be where. Sometimes travel only takes twenty minutes, but that's for a regular vehicle and not a limo, and especially not the case for a horse and carriage! Ask your driver to let you know exactly how long it will take them to get from point A to point B. This helps manage expectations all around and a better experience with your drivers. Plus your day of coordinator will love you forever for being right on time, if not a couple minutes early!
Think the list is over? Nope! Head over to Why Weddings Run Late: Part Two to find out the rest, and to see the number one common reason for why weddings run late!