Wedding Day Timelines

All the Best recently did a wedding at a beautiful multi-function venue in northern NJ that has a strict policy of not allowing brides to see each other. We were rushed through the rehearsal that was held prior to the ceremony and the venue's on-site coordinator started the ceremony early (my protesting did nothing to dissuade him). This lead to confusion during the ceremony and some guests not getting in to see the ceremony even though they arrived before the allotted time. There was also an issue with photographs being taken outside of the reception area without permission from the on-site coordinator. "You're not allowed outside without asking me" the bride and photographer were told after they were found in the hallway with the bride's aunt for a special photo.

If you're considering a venue that can hold more then one event at a time ask who's in charge of timing - you or them. Also ask how strict they are about one bride seeing another and if permission is required before the bride can leave the reception area for any reason. If you don't like the answers to your questions or if they don't seem flexible in their policy - another venue might be for you.

I am a firm believer in being on time. If the invitation says the ceremony is at 6:00pm that doesn't mean 6:15 pm or 6:30pm. The processional starts at 6:00pm. The longer you wait to start the ceremony the less time you may have to enjoy your cocktail hour. If your timeline is delayed because you got a late start with your ceremony, or you're late starting introductions at the reception, your reception venue isn't going to add on extra time at the end so that you get your four hours (unless you pay for it of course).

Wedding Reception Overtime

If you're thinking of extending your event past the contracted time period (which is normally 5 hours including cocktail hour), and don't have an event planner, make sure to mention it to all your vendors including the reception venue ahead of time. Every vendor who stays (entertainment, photographer, videographer) will charge you extra to stay and that's on top of what the venue will charge you for the OT for their wait staff and alcohol. If the venue charges on a per person basis it will be based on the # of guests you gave as the final count NOT the # of guests who are still there at the time you decide to extend. Consider an after party at a nearby bar instead (either planned or spontaneous). Everyone will pay for their own drinks (including yours) and you can dance the night away to the band that's playing. It's another way to save money and your professionals will appreciate it especially if they weren't planning on being there past their contracted time and may not be prepared to stay.

Are you having a band at your wedding?

At a recent wedding the father of the bride had a request - he wanted to do the Hustle with his sister. I went up to the band leader and gave him the request.  "Sure" he said, "Give me about 10 minutes." Time passed and I reminded him again. "We're working it in" he said. No one ever got to roll their arms or sway their hips to Hustle that night.

Earlier I had given him another request to have a contest to give away the centerpieces. "OK" was the reply. By the time he made the announcement half the centerpieces and the guests were already gone. NOTE:  make sure announcements like this are made right before the cake is cut when you have everyone's attention.

When you have a band they're not as flexible as a DJ. If you want to have a contest to give away the centerpieces make sure it's on the activity sheet with all the other announcements given to the band prior to the wedding.

If someone wants a special song - and the Hustle was just a request that came out of the blue - make sure it's on their play list before making the request. If they didn't rehearse it, or they don't know it, it's not going to get played no matter how many times you ask and they OK you to death.

A band requires more advance planning then a DJ. It's likely they've made a set play list (with breaks) that was rehearsed and distributed to all members prior to the event. Adding a song means another one has to be taken out and if they're in the middle of a set it may have to wait until the next set and then it's possible it will be forgotten by the time the next set gets underway. Ask to see your bands play list BEFORE your event so you can check if any of your "do not" play songs are on it. A DJ can be much more flexible. If a DJ doesn't have the song you want it's likely they can download it from iTunes before the night is over.

Cancelling a Wedding Contract

If you have to cancel a contract, for any reason, the cancellation can USUALLY only be done by the person who signed the contract. Sometimes the professional or venue will accept a phone call to cancel, however, the majority will request cancellation in writing. Even if your contract says that the deposit is NOT refundable you MAY be able to get it back IF the professional or venue can re-book that date.

After sending written cancellation check back with the professional or venue periodically (say once every two weeks) to see if the date has been re-booked.  If the vendor is not returning your calls have someone else call to see if the date you booked is available for their event and go forward from there.

Always read the fine print before signing and discuss cancellation policies up front and make note of items discussed along with the name of the person who provided the information and the date. Have a MILITARY CLAUSE added if appropriate. Hopefully, you won't need it, but it doesn't hurt to have!