#1 Mistake to Avoid When Planning Your Own Wedding
Article By | Ashley Blackwell & Jennifer Atkins of Perfectly Planned
Planning a wedding is hard work and while most wedding days go off great even with just a day-of coordinator, there are many areas in which couples often find themselves wishing they had asked a professional for guidance. So, what’s the number one mistake we see couples make? Choosing the wrong ceremony time.
This decision is a big one that can truly make or break the flow of a wedding. If it is too late, the wedding may not end with enough time for photos before the sun sets. If it is too early, the reception may be too long and many guests will have left before your grand exit. So, what’s the perfect ceremony time? That question begs a few answers, as there are key factors that indicate the “perfect” time for your day.
The questions you need to answer before setting a ceremony time are:
- What time will hair and makeup be completed?
- Are we doing a “first look”?
- How long will the ceremony last?
- When is sunset?
- How long do I want my reception to last?
- (Or when is my preferred “Grand Exit”?)
Hair & Makeup
What does the completion of hair and makeup have to do with my ceremony start time?
Generally speaking, it takes about one hour per person to get their hair and makeup done. If you have a large bridal party, which is not uncommon, you and your besties may not be finished getting ready in time for your photographer to capture important things earlier in the day. You may also feel rushed to put on your dress and get down the aisle.
It’s important to carve out enough time between the completion of hair and makeup and your ceremony start time to relax and savor the special moments so you look and feel your best as you walk down the aisle.
What is a first look?
A first look is a moment prior to the ceremony where the bride and groom will see each other privately. Not only is this great for photos, but it can be a calming, reassuring time to share vows, exchange a gift, and feel the excitement between the two of you before walking down the aisle. An alternative to this is a first touch, where you don’t physically see each other, but you can hold hands across a threshold and share the same moments without laying eyes on one another.
Why does a first look impact my ceremony time?
Having a first look allows you, the bride and groom, to not only take photos with each other and your side of the wedding party before the ceremony, but you are also able to take full advantage of having all of the wedding party together and get those photos out of the way so that after the ceremony, you can get to your reception more quickly and enjoy the festivities.
How long is a typical ceremony?
Most ceremonies take 30 minutes from the start of the processional to the end of the recessional. If you add in any special elements, such as readings, songs, unity candles, communion, etc., your ceremony will likely be a little bit longer. Be sure to ask your wedding officiant about the contents of the ceremony, and the estimated length of time, as each person is different.
How do I know when the sun will set?
Google is a wise friend that we have come to know and love. Simply search “sunset on (date) in (location)” and it will tell you exactly what time the sun will set. Keep in mind that buildings, trees, and other large structures can impede sunlight in certain locations.
How long should my reception last?
While using your venue contract is the minimum rule of thumb, not all rental periods are the best indicator for the time of your grand exit. Other things to consider are open dance floor time, the length of your vendor contracts, and knowing your crowd. We’ve seen open dance floors last for hours and never tire, but most dance floors are lively for about 2-3 hours tops, even with a “dancing crowd”. You’ll also want to note the length of your contracts with any vendors needed for your reception (coordinator, photographer, videographer, DJ/band, bar, etc.) If the duration of your reception exceeds those contracts, you will likely need to add hours on to each vendor contract to suit the timing.
All in all, your wedding plans may have components that need further consideration. Our best advice is to utilize both your wedding planner/coordinator and your photographer for guidance when choosing a ceremony time. Rely on their expertise and you will be certain to have the perfect timing to say “I Do.”
Perfectly Planned coordinated our Brazos Valley Bride Magazine fall 2022 styled shoot (featured in this article) at the P.A. Smith Hotel. For more great wedding planning advice, view prior magazine issues at brazosLife.com! Ashley Blackwell & Jennifer Atkins, Lead Planners and owners of Perfectly Planned, share top questions to consider for your perfect day!
Find Perfectly Planned’s Vendor Profile on p. 98 of our Spring 2023 issue on brazosvalleybride.com