Now this may sound like it is geared more toward wedding professionals, but I promise I have a "moral of the story for brides" at the end. But to honest, I really hope there are some wedding professionals out there who read it too, because I know there are some who could use it!
Every wedding vendor you hire has a specific way of doing things. We have a contract we have you sign, a specific payment plan for each of our couples, and a typical way we think a wedding day should run. While that's all great and there is no wrong way of running a wedding, I realize that every wedding is completely different. Of course there are many similarities, but every bride and groom has a specific vision for their day and that vision is put into action by the amazing vendors that are hired.
When I sit down with a bride and groom a couple of months before their wedding, we put together a very detailed timeline, as every wedding coordinator does. And I'm talking detail - like down-to-the-minute detail. It lists everything from a vendor arrival to the 10 second announcement the bride would like made during the evening. And while I know that the wedding will never go exactly as planned, down to the minute, the timeline is a necessity.
Personally, I like the order of events to go something like this:
- Cocktail Hour
- Grand Entrance
- First Dance
- Dinner is served
- Toasts during dinner
- Mother-Son + Father-Daughter Dances at the end of dinner before dancing
- ...cake cutting, bouquet, and garter some time later in the evening.
And while my timeline template is set that way, not all weddings go just like that.
I have had some weddings where the "dancing" area was different than the "dinner" area. So in that case, we didn't do the first dance until after dinner. I've had couples whose parents couldn't stand to be in the same room, so we had the father-daughter dance right after the first dance, so the dad could leave the venue and the mother of the bride could arrive in time for dinner to enjoy the rest of the evening. I've had brides who only have their photographer for 6 hours so in order to get everything captured, we have to do the cake cutting during dinner and then serve it after dinner is completed.
And while all of those little details of why we set the timeline as we do are not listed in there, there are very specific reasons why every timeline is set as it is, in order to complete the wishes of the bride and groom. Makes sense, right??
So after the timeline is all set, I then contact each vendor who is part of the wedding, to go through the timeline, verify their arrival and departure times are all correct, and ensure everything in their contract with the bride and groom is covered. Of course we all have to be on the same page, so this step is a necessity.
But in the process of contacting vendors, I ALWAYS have at least one vendor who doesn't like how the timeline is set. "Well I think it's better to do toasts after dinner" or "I think the first dance should be later in the evening." And every single time, I am baffled by this.
There is no right or wrong way to run a wedding, so why is it so necessary for a vendor to "have it their way"? When I meet with a couple, believe me, I present every possible option and describe the pros and cons to each, for them to make the finalize decision. And I've had vendor after vendor call the bride and groom after the timeline is set and sent out to everyone, trying to convince them to change the timing or move something to a different spot on the timeline...just because they want it that way and for no other reason at all.
I mean, really??
Is this really going to make or break the wedding? Is it really necessary to take up the bride and groom's time when their end of the planning is done, just so you can have it your way? Of course if there are necessary changes, I make them. But personally, I think it is silly for a vendor to change something around "just because that's how we usually do it." We set everything as it is, for a very specific reason - a reason that may be beyond our control!
I know it's sounded like a bit of venting, but I promise, we are now at the moral of the story.
Before hiring your vendors, make sure they are flexible. Ask them, "I have a month of coordinator who will be setting my timeline. Are you flexible with how the wedding day is run?" It's as simple as that! No, I am not saying I know it all, and that is why I contact each and every vendor to ensure all details are taken care of before sending out the final timeline. But the more un-flexible vendors you have, the less smoothly your wedding day will run. And even in some cases, the more some vendors will stress you out!
Of course every vendor is unique and some of their styles and ways of doing things are what make them great. So I am not talking about the style of their photography, for example. Because that is what they do best and shouldn't be changed. I am talking about the flexibility in working together with other professionals, to make your vision a reality.
So choose vendors who are willing to work with others, who are flexible, and who can adapt to anything and everything. No wedding has ever gone exactly to the timeline, and it is our job to make it work, get all of the photos you asked for, and to ensure you have a great evening. So do everyone a favor, and make sure the vendors you hire aren't "set in their ways" and are willing and able to adapt to those quick changes or potential "weird ways of doing things" due to outside factors that are beyond our control. Because last minute changes are basically the definition of a wedding day.
And as wedding vendors, we are all just one piece to the puzzle. Without every single one of us doing our part, a wedding doesn't work. So we all must work together, adapt to the differences and needs of each other, and make whatever we need to make work, work.
...and we will even sit on the floor to make it happen :)