My friend and fellow wedding professional, Jessika Brooks Brewer came up with this list of five things that happen on wedding day. Jessika is the owner of the glorious wedding venue French’s Point and has been involved with weddings since 2001, so she knows a thing or two about what happens on wedding day. I’ve been officiating weddings since 2011, so together she and I have you covered.
This list is designed to help you create a realistic wedding day timeline. If you’re not working with a wedding planner (and you should be!), you’ll have to come up with your own timeline of wedding day. The items on this list all take time, but many people don’t account for them in their schedule of the day. Your professional wedding planner knows about them, so if you’re working with a planner, you don’t have to worry about them. See how great it is to work with a planner?!
Add These into Your Wedding Day Timeline
For starters, very few grooms or groomsmen know how to affix a boutonniere. It’s not their fault, it’s a tricky thing to do and to do well. I even wrote a blog post about how to pin on a boutonniere to help you figure it out. Let me just tell you that it takes time, especially if there are many groomsmen and if the dads and granddads are getting them, too. Make sure you don’t wait until the last minute before the ceremony to pin them on. Pro tip: here’s yet another good reason to have a First Look. The boutonnieres will be affixed in time for the first look wedding-party photos and you won’t be frantically trying to pin them on right before the ceremony.
Signing the Marriage License
If you’re working with a professional wedding officiant then you probably don’t have to worry about this one. But, Jessika told me that many of her clients, who have a friend or family member as their officiant, forget to sign the license. My advice is to sign it directly after the ceremony but before going off for photos. Only the two witnesses and the officiant need to sign the Maine marriage license, so technically the wedding couple doesn’t even need to be there (I always give my couples a keepsake wedding certificate so they have something to sign after the wedding). This one doesn’t take a lot of time, but it’s something that is usually left off the timeline or forgotten altogether. Under NO circumstances should the marriage license be signed prior to the wedding ceremony. It is a legal document that testifies the marriage act took place and is only supposed to be signed AFTER the ceremony.
Time Before and After the Wedding Ceremony
I always encourage my couples to have at least 15 solid minutes where they have absolutely nothing to do prior to the ceremony. I’ve seen couples come directly from taking first look images and go right into the processional and that can be very stressful. It makes everything feel rushed and rushing shouldn’t exist on wedding day. The 15 minutes before the ceremony can be used to freshen up your makeup, take a drink of water, take some deep breaths, use the facilities, and just rest. I love the idea of pulling up to the ceremony in a limo and literally walking out of it down the aisle, so use the time in driving to the venue to just rest and truly relax.
Scheduling 5-10 minutes of quiet time after the ceremony is a wonderful tradition that many couples are choosing to do. At my wedding, my husband and I snuck off for a spilt of champagne and a kiss or two right after the ceremony! It gives you a moment to breathe, acknowledge the vows you just made and let the words of the ceremony sink in. Ask your caterer to provide a tray of hors d’oeuvres and your signature cocktail to make it even more special. Talk to your planner, caterer, photographer, videographer, and officiant about incorporating this into your wedding day timeline.
Bustling the Dress
When you’re done with photos and about to head into the cocktail party or reception, you’ll need to bustle your dress. Bustling your dress will take way more time than you think it will. On a few occasions I’ve seen it take the good part of 20 minutes! Those tiny buttons and loops hidden amongst the layers of fabric…it can feel like a puzzle. There’s even a fancy French bustle, do you know what that is? Neither did I! If you have a train and will need your dress bustled, you’re going to want to make sure you pad your schedule to give your crew plenty of time to get it done (without the stress of having to rush).
This was another gem from Jessika. She explained to me that all the transitions between wedding day festivities take more time than people think. Ceremony to cocktail hour, cocktail hour into reception, reception to driveway for the farewell…all of these transitions take time, even if everything is happening at the same venue. For example, getting folks from the cocktail hour into the reception can take 15 minutes or more. You want guests to casually make their way into the venue and not feel rushed. Make sure you add plenty of time into your day to account for these transitions.