Planning your wedding is a very important project, there is a lot to think about and it is easy to overlook things. For every thing you are unsure of ask yourself 'Would I like this if I was a guest at this wedding' it will help you a lot. I would also not get too deeply into a Timeline. For me there are only 4 times that are important, 1. Hair and Make Up starting on time - it is important to keep this to time, it's like a plane making 4 stops, if the first flight is delayed, all the others will be !! 2. Ceremony starting on time - but know how long the ceremony is and how long the site has allotted. I have seen it where the site allows 1 hour but the ceremony is only 15 minutes ... sometimes it is necessary to start a bit late !! 3. Food service on time - Your biggest expense is food. I have done way too many weddings where all the toasts were done before dinner, took longer than expected and subsequently the food just kept cooking and was not at it's best (through no fault of the site or caterer). 4. When is your Photographer/Videographer leaving - As long as all the events you need pictures of are done before the photographers end time, does it really matter when they are done? I have done many weddings when I get people dancing before the end of dinner, they are being entertained, why stop the music to do toasts in that case, we can push them back a little bit. As long as it is all done before they leave ..... Too many people (and sites if I am being honest) get way too caught up in doing every event the same way, we have a guide to the night, but the best weddings are the ones where we adjust to the guide accordingly :-) Go with the flow and trust your vendors that you won't miss a thing while your guests have more fun !!
I have always felt that the goal at your wedding is to make is for your guests to be talking about it for years afterwards and for all the right reasons and a good start is to do things at your wedding that are different from other weddings, don;t have the 'cookie cutter wedding' a lot of people have. You don't have to do anything crazy and over the top, it's the small details that make the biggest impact sometimes. I have some suggestions that I have put together from weddings I have performed at. Please note, these are just suggestions!!! Your wedding is your wedding!
- Make an announcement before the ceremony to make sure everyone has turned off their cell phones.
- If the wedding ceremony is outside, provide water/fans for guests.
- In hot weather, think about cover for guests. DJ's and Musicians often have this in their contract ( primarily to protect their equipment )
- If you are having a ceremony within the ceremony (i.e.: Sand Ceremony) have the DJ or musicians play something softly while the Officiant is reading. It makes a big difference (Watermark by Enya is a great song).
- Be careful if you choose the unity candle outside as the wind will make it hard to light.
- After the ceremony, try and take a group photograph, you can have the officiant make the announcement. Ten years from now you will spend more time looking at this picture than any other.
- Check to see if the site requires clean up after the ceremony (i.e Rose Petals). They often charge a fee if it is not cleaned up
- If you are having an outdoor ceremony, try and keep the last row of seats empty for any late-comers.
- To me the first rule of picking songs is NO GOOGLING!! There is no such thing as a Cake Cutting song, it does not have to say sugar, sweet or honey in the title !! just pick a song you like !!! In fact, I love it when my clients pick all their favourite songs in cocktail and dinner. I would have the cocktail music more upbeat than the dinner music, but never too mellow, and not all the same type of music as it becomes background music after a while if it all sounds the same. I do recommend that you limit the dance 'Must Play' song list to about 5 songs as every crowd is so different. If you want everyone to have a good time, you need to take their tastes into account, that is why you have a DJ, to read the crowd :-) Provide the DJ a list of songs you like, and they would be 'Plan A' but allow the DJ to react to the crowd. Your Do Not Play list is the most important list you have and can be as long as you want it to be !!! All of your vendors are important, but your guests are going to base their experience more on the entertainment than anything so think about all of your guests when it comes to music choices (remember 'what would I like if I was a guest') If you like Motown and you went to a wedding where they told the DJ 'No Hip Hop' because the Bride and Groom didn't like it, would you be happy .... If you aren't keen on Motown, add the songs you really don;t like to the Do Not Play list or tell the DJ not to play any unless requested.
- The introductions are very important, it's the only time you have everyone's attention. I recommend doing first names only, for 2 reasons, firstly it is easier for people to to remember names if you do not include last names (try it with your own bridal party !!) and secondly it is less formal ...
- Choose something fun and upbeat for introductions, one song for the bridal party and a different one for yourselves. It doesn't matter if the songs have lyrics as a good DJ can work around that and make sure they do not compete with the names being introduced. I would not recommend a song for each couple as they enter, it gets very choppy and confusing.
- Your First dance should be after the introductions and before dinner. The main reason I recommend this is that introductions do not take long, once you come in, you are all psyched and then I announce "it's time for dinner" it seems like a big anticlimax.
- For your first dance, don't worry about how long the song is, have a "signature move" such as a dip and a kiss. I am watching for this and when I see it I will end the song. You are now free to dance for as long or as short a time as you want !! Remember that dancing in your wedding dress is different to dancing in jeans and a shirt ........
- Ask me about my Dance Before Dinner (or go to the video on my Promo Video page)
- Never underestimate the older crowd at a wedding, they often look forward to weddings more than the younger crowd as they don't get out much !! Don't underestimate what they will dance to either. To put it in perspective,"You Shook Me All Night Long - AC/DC" was released in 1980. If you were 30 when that song came out, you are now over 60 ......
- Do the toasts after everyone has been served their food. If you are having a sit down dinner, after the last entree' is served, if you are having a buffet, after the last table has gone through.
- If you are planning on walking around every table to thank guests, be aware of how long you are spending at each table. Every guest will want your time and it can end up taking longer than you think. If you have 20 tables and you spend 2 minutes at each that is 40 minutes of your time gone .....
- If you are having a Money Dance, have it right after the cake cutting. have your bridesmaids help to move people along, about 20-30 seconds each per person is good. Select songs that do not say 'I Love You'.
- Consider a sweetheart table instead of a head table. When dinner is over people will head to the table their spouses are at and you will be left with a table not being used and taking up space.
- If you are having pictures to identify the tables, include table numbers or it will be difficult for guests to find the table, especially at larger weddings. If the pictures are large, laminate them or they may not stand up in the holder.
- If you are having videographer ask if they will be using your special songs' to complete the video, see if the DJ can bring them a copy.
- A lot of people forget to sign the Guest Book. Have the DJ/Band make an announcement to remind everyone to sign the book.
- If you have a photo booth, don't keep it open until the end of the night, close it at least 30 minutes before the end so you can keep everyone on the dance floor to ensure a fun ending with everyone together. I will never forget a wedding where we were ending at 11:00. at 10:30 the Photo booth had me announce last call , several guests went over. 5 minutes later I had to announce last call at the Bar and again we lost a lot of people. The dance floor went from being full to only half full and I can still see the disappointment in the Bride & Grooms faces
- Make sure you have enough people left at the end of the night to take everything away i.e gifts, left over alcohol if you provide your own or even extra food/cake. Also make sure they have cars large enough