Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Step 84 - Develop and Distribute Day of Wedding Schedule

(1 Month to 2 Months before the Wedding)
To insure your wedding weekend runs smoothly, you will want to create contact sheets of all the people involved in your special day and you also will need to create a timeline of events and activities to insure your wedding day is perfect. Depending on who you have hired for the wedding, you may need to create four different types of day of wedding schedules.

The first type "Day of Wedding" schedule you will need is for the wedding day itself, someone to oversee that everything at the wedding is taken care of. This schedule may be created as one of the services provided by the wedding planner. It also might be covered by a coordinator of the reception facility or hotel or restaurant. A family member or friend might volunteer and act as your coordinator, or maybe you can hire a day of wedding coordinator who is similar to a wedding planner but works your wedding day only.

The second "Day of Wedding" schedule is in reality the official high level wedding schedule, a schedule that shows a timeline highlighting the wedding rehearsal, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding ceremony, and shows estimated activities of the wedding reception including when the cocktail hour begins, the grand entrance of the bridal party, the time to start dinner, the speeches and toasts, the time of the receiving line, the first dance of the wedding couple, father and bride dance, the mother and groom dance, the bouquet and garter toss, and the grand departure of the wedding couple. This schedule is shared by family and possibly the wedding guests.

The third "Day of Wedding" schedule is a schedule prepared specifically for the bridal party. This schedule includes all the bridal party contacts and the times and locations the bridal party need to arrive at the rehearsal site, rehearsal dinner site, the expected time the bridesmaids are expected to show at the bride's house, the time the bridal party needs to arrive at the wedding ceremony site, time to be available for the wedding photography and videography and the time they all have to be at the wedding reception. Also the time for the best man's toast and if there are other wedding activities the bridal party needs to make an appearance at.

The fourth "Day of Wedding" schedule is the caterer's schedule. If you are using a professional caterer they usually have their schedule system down pat. Though on the other hand, if you are catering the wedding through a non-professional party, you will need somebody to create a chart for the food part of the wedding. If it's a  medium to large wedding all the food activities best be charted out. Where do all the food deliveries go, when and where does food get prepared and where does it get stored? When do hors 'doeuvres get served and when, what and where is the order of the foods to go out, if it's a multi-course meal, the order for the different foods to be brought out and which seat do the different entrees go. Also any foods and dishes for buffet table such as desserts and coffee are there set up times for them too.

For any of these day of wedding schedules there are a few different types of tools that can be used. They can be set up using an Excel Spreadsheet or even created using a Word document, they can be put into an activity list and set up into a checklist format in which a coordinator can check off an activity as it's performed. If the event is medium or large sized, the activity sheet can be set up using a Gantt chart which is basically a horizontal bar chart with each activity presented using a bar under a timeline.

You can learn how to create a Gantt chart using Excel by going into Youtube and you will see instructional lessons by entering "Gantt chart using Excel" into the browser. (Gantt chart was named after an American Engineer named Henry Gantt who perfected this chart).

If the wedding activities get a little bit complex, you may want to consider putting the wedding activities into a Pert chart (Program Evaluation Review Technique). The Pert chart represents events or milestones in a logical sequence of events. It may show things such as Task A must be completed before Task B can began, or Task A and Task B can be done concurrently, or Task A and Task B have to be completed before Task C can begin. Pert Charts are used to display projects represented in a network diagram using numbered nodes (usually circles or rectangles) which is an event with directional lines used in the diagram to show the sequence of tasks. Pert Charts work well at big weddings with a lot of complexity involved, are especially helpful involving large wedding tents and weddings involving empty warehouses, ballrooms, or banquet halls.

Another tool you can use is a tool found in Google Docs. Go into your Google browser and put in "Day of Wedding Google Docs" and you will find a another guideline to help you create a "Day of Wedding" Chart. Some other websites that help generate tools you can also use to generate wedding activities are listed below.

Day of Wedding Website Tools

If you are using a wedding planner, most likely the wedding planner has their in-house tool that lays out the "Day of Wedding" schedule. If you are planning the wedding yourself, you should create a wedding schedule and identify someone to be a day of wedding coordinator. If you are having a small wedding, you might get away with creating a day of wedding schedule and recruit possibly the bride's mom or bride's dad or close relative or friend to oversee deliveries go to the right place and wedding guest's questions and needs are taken care of.

If you have a medium or large wedding you really should consider using if not a wedding planner a "Day of Wedding" coordinator. That is if the caterer or reception facility or restaurant does not provide one for the reception. There are a few options you have to find yourself a person who can serve this important function. There are wedding planner businesses and wedding coordinators that will work just the wedding for you. You can find these businesses off of wedding websites, yellow pages, and using internet queries. You also might be able to find a relative or a family friend to perform this function.

If you have done all the work, have lined up and booked all the vendors, have laid out all the contacts and created a "Day of Wedding" schedule. You might even think of hiring a student that has started taking Wedding Planning classes. You have done all the upfront work, you just need somebody to oversee the vendor deliveries, where to place the gifts and cards, makes sure the tables are set, and answers any questions wedding guests may have. In all likelihood if you contacted a class that has wedding planners, and interview a few of them and talk to their instructors you should be able to find a pretty good one. You just need to do a good interview with a few students, find one that is organized, well mannered, and would be personable to your guests. Someone who can take your marching order instructions and implement your tasks, and hiring a student shouldn't cost you a lot of money, and they will be appreciative by getting their foot in the door. If you are happy with their service afterward, you should get a picture taken with this person at the reception so they have this experience to pad their resume.

Your "Day of Wedding" Coordinator should have three types of charts on them on the day of the wedding. The first chart should be a contact sheet of all the important people involved for the special day. It should be broken down into two pieces, contacts for the bridal party and wedding vendor contacts. For the bridal party you should include their function (e.g. Maid of Honor, Best Man, etc.) their name, phone number, their address, backup number, and an electronic means of contacting too such as their email. The address is important, you just never know, you might have to send someone out to pick up the bridal party person, for this is the day their car won't start.

Your coordinator should have a contact for all the wedding vendors too. If the wedding vendor is suppose to make a delivery and that have not shown up yet, this day is an important day that all has to be perfect. The wedding cake, florists, decorators, food delivery, limousine service, DJ, musician's, rental services, food, and beverage, reception help, caterer's, etc. they must be all on time. If they don't arrive when they are expected you must find out why and how soon can they get there. The coordinator should have the business name, contact person, time of expected delivery, phone number, business address, and a backup contact with all numbers on a handy contact sheet.

The wedding coordinator should also have available an answer to questions sheet. Answers to any question that a wedding vendor or wedding guest may ask. Where does the wedding cake go? Where do I put the wedding flowers? Where do the wedding gifts go? Where do cards for the wedding gifts go? Where do I find the lady's powder room? What are the directions to the wedding reception hall? If the coordinator does not know the answer to a question she should know who to check with an answer, whether it be the mother of the bride, mother of the groom, maid of honor, or caterer.

The third piece of information the wedding coordinator should have is a sheet of the "Day of Wedding" activities. The wedding coordinator might have a clipboard or a whiteboard of each of the events expected activities. Occasionally some activities might be added, dropped or rearranged. Before the wedding this "Day of Wedding" schedule should be reviewed over and over to insure everything is in order and a little buffer is placed so the wedding schedule is sure to run smoothly, even including the timeliness of the groom and the bride.

A baseline for "Day of Wedding" is shown below. The "Day of Schedule" should get reviewed and reviewed, talk to the officiant, church secretary, bride, groom, mother of the bride, maid of honor, best man, caterer, reception facility, and all the wedding vendors, a summary should be shared with all the participants too.

"Day of Wedding" Rehearsal Activities

Review timing and processional order
Review positions of bridal party during the wedding
Review timing and order of recessional
Provide cues and coordinate readings
Provide cues and coordinate wedding musicians and soloists
Review if anything else needs coverage at the rehearsal
Coordinate any decoration at the rehearsal dinner
Coordinate food served at the rehearsal dinner
Oversee the delivery of the groomsman cake
Provide cues for the best man's speech and wedding toasts
Make sure the groomsman cake is cut and served to guests
Provide assistance to out of town guests at the rehearsal dinner
Make sure rehearsal dinner vendors get paid and tipped
Insure all favors, food bags, leftover groomsman cake, and gifts are not left behind

"Day of Wedding"  Wedding Ceremony Site

Arrive at ceremony site
Greet wedding officiant
Bride and bridesmaid verified ready hair, makeup, dress done
Limousine has picked up bride and bridesmaids
Insure decorators drop off decorations
Insure flowers for wedding arrive
Insure church is decorated for the wedding
Guest book is set up and attended
Wedding party arrived
Bride situated in holding room
Wedding family members arrive
Musicians arrive
Photographers and videographers arrive
Flowers, bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres handed to bridal party
Groomsmen receive wedding programs to hand out
Pre-wedding photos taken
Music Begins
Groomsmen and best man situated at the altar
Candle Lighting
Mothers are seated
Processional is formed
Flower girl and ring bearer go down the aisle
Bride and father processional
Ceremony begins
Music cues
Reader cues
Wedding vow cues
Wedding party recessional
Signing of the marriage certificate
A formal receiving line formed
Photo sessions at the church
Check with guests on directions to the wedding reception
Coordinate any transfers from ceremony to reception (i.e. flowers)
Stay on top of photo shoot and location
Insure ceremony site has been cleaned, misc. items for storage
Insure appropriate ceremony vendors been paid and tipped.

"Day of Wedding" Wedding Reception

Pre-inspect wedding reception area to insure venue is in good condition and clean
Caterer is ready to attend to his food preparation
Attend to rental services deliveries
Bartending stations are ready to go
Verify seating charts and seating arrangements
Is updraft or special lighting or fabric hanging need to be done
Get wedding banquet tables and chairs and buffet tables positioned
Linen deliveries made
Wait Staff help arrived including bartenders and kitchen help
Linen placed on all the tables
Oversee any additional food deliveries
Wedding cake delivered
Wedding cake put on table and inspected
Ice sculpture delivered and setup
Flowers delivered
Decoration materials delivered
Wedding favors delivered
Beverages delivered
Cater food prepared
Photo booth delivered and setup
Guest signing book and station readied
Check in with caterer
Table centerpieces are positioned on tables
Flowers are positioned on tables
Each table place setting with china, napkins, flatware, and glassware
Buffet tables squared away with coffee, coffee cups and saucers, etc.
Disc jockey arrives for setup
Dance floor setup
Musicians arrive for setup
Gift table is positioned
Check in with bartender to insure they are ready (beer, wine, and hard liquor, soda, juice, water, garnishes, ice, they are situated and ready)
Place settings are positioned on tables
Wedding favors placed on the tables
Final decorations placed on tables
Coat and cloak room is ready
Candles and lights are lighted
Take care of special buffet table (candy buffet, chocolate fountain, coffee bar)
Toast glasses and champagne positioned and ready
Cake cutting knife positioned and ready
Wait staff receive final instructions
Check if caterer and wait staff are ready
One last thorough inspection of facility
Get formal picture of reception facility decorated while empty
Unlock front door of reception facility
Begin cocktail hour
Ceremony music begins
Cocktails served by bartenders and wait staff
Wait staff serves hors d'oeuvres
Oversee wedding guests needs and help locate seating
Photographers and videographers arrive from photo shoot
Formal part of wedding reception begins
Wedding guests get seated
Cue musicians or disc jockey
Announcement of grand entrance of bridal party
Bar is closed during formal part of dinner
Bridal party is seated for dinner
First table seated
Bridal party seated
Officiant leads in prayer
Bridal party served dinner by head of waitstaff
Reception tables served dinner by waitstaff in numerical order
Bride and groom on receiving line
Check on special needs tables
Check on children's or teenager's tables
Food prepared for wedding vendors
Check in with caterer
Give cue on toasts and speeches
Formal evening music begins give cue to musicians
Photographers and photographers are positioned for pictures
Bride and groom cut wedding cake
Serve coffee and tea and dessert
Wait staff clears table of dinner dishes
Bar opens back up
Hostess cuts and waitstaff serves wedding cake
Tossing of the bouquet and garter
Bride and groom's first dance
Bride and father dance
Groom and mother dance
Any special announcement (birthday's, anniversary's, after reception matters)
Wait staff starts clearing tables
Insure limousine for honeymoon or hotel has arrived
Hand wedding sparklers out to wedding guests for Grand Finale
Grand finale send off for the bride and groom
Insure tuxedos and wedding dress get returned to tuxedo shop and to cleaners
Make sure final payments to wedding vendors and tips are ready to be handed out
Collect gives and insure delivery to bride's mom's house or couples home
Pack up leftovers and deliver to designated person
Wedding guests continue to dance
Wedding guests start to depart
Wait staff starts removing linens
Rental supplies are readied to be returned
Cleaning staff has arrived and starts cleaning
Insure no gifts, favors or belongings are left behind
Inspect reception has been cleaned
Thank all for a great wedding and lockup
Return the key in the morning

About a week before the wedding you want the bridal party to receive their wedding schedule. They should receive contact information on all the wedding party members along with the time and place of each location of the wedding. Also the wedding coordinator should check in with the caterer to be sure he is squared away, most of the time he is organized well for the wedding but if you happen to come across an inexperienced caterer, he most likely will need help with some type of "Day of Wedding" scheduling tool.

Every wedding is different, they each have different bride and groom wishes and a varied sort of wedding vendors and caterers. The one thing is for sure unless it's a very small wedding, in order for the wedding to be run smoothly it's best they find a tool to aid them in the managing of all activities and events associated for the wedding day.

See you on the other side!


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