20 May

The Ultimate Wedding Timeline Guide – Part 2

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a wedding photographer, it’s that a good timeline can be one of the most powerful tools in your wedding toolkit. This has greatly translated into helping me here at Kahn’s Catering too. A well-thought timeline is an easy way to keep guests feeling like they’ve been taken care of, but also will help you, as the one to be wed, feel comfortable knowing that everything is ready to be enjoyed. Part one of this three blog series about wedding timelines focused on the basics of reception timelines. Specifically for couples using their venue as their ceremony site as well. This post will speak to those that elect to use a separate ceremony site, such as their church, making adjustments for timeline gaps, and moving guests between ceremony and reception spaces.

Longer Ceremonies
In our previous post we discussed ceremonies which typically last 15-20 minutes. If you are opting for a religious ceremony, know that they are just as easy to incorporate into the ‘standard’ schedule. Religious ceremonies tend to be longer (anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half), so it’s important to allow for extra time. Whether you start your ceremony earlier or begin your cocktail hour later, your overall timeline doesn’t need to differentiate much from the last in our last blog.

Separate Ceremony and Reception Sites
Separate ceremony and reception sites still come into play fairly often, especially with religious weddings. Not many chuches, synagoges, or mosques have space for a sit down reception for over one hundred people. The only approaches you are left with to deal with this is to allow just enough time for guests to get from point A to point B or have a gap in between the ceremony and reception. If you are getting married at point A and having your reception at point b, keep the following in mind:

Stuff: There’s likely going to be ceremony decorations or floral that you’ll want to bring to your reception. You’ll need to establish who is going to take those things from ceremony to reception and get them informed as to the point of contact at the reception venue.

Timing: If guests are driving straight from ceremony to reception, your cocktail hour space will be ready to welcome them upon arrival. Generally, everyone will arrive right around the same time. However, if you are going to have a gap of time between both events, it is possible that guests will arrive for the cocktail hour a tad too early for cocktail hour. They are just eager to celebrate you and your love!

Parking/Transportation: If you’re planning to use shuttles to take your guests from ceremony to reception, let your venue know in advance. If you’re not planning to shuttle, make sure your guests have clear directions and addresses for both locations.

Separate Ceremony and Reception Times
Time gaps are nearly inevitable when using two separate sites. Usually religious venues do not schedule ceremonies after a certain time of day due to evening services. Gaps are not that uncommon, or difficult to deal with. Always keep in mind your guests’ comfort. Be sure your guests don’t have to spend a gap of time sitting in their cars in the parking lot or awkwardly hanging out in the lobby of your reception venue waiting for festivities to begin. In general, timing gaps are about two to three hours. But thankfully here in Indianapolis there are LOTS of things to do in our area to fill that time. Whether your guests want to visit a museum, go shopping in Castleton, or catch an afternoon snack in Broadripple or Fountain Square. The one hour gap is the worst. It’s really not enough time to do anything so you’ll likely end up with guests milling around your reception space before the start time. So, if your reason for the gap is that you want to do photos after the ceremony but not miss cocktail hour, the solution may be to extend your cocktail hour so you’ll be able to attend. Because asking guests to stand around with nothing to do and nothing to eat or drink is just not the way the art of entertaining works.

Weddings With Photos After the Ceremony
Regardless if you are having your ceremony at the same site as your reception or between your ceremony and reception, your cocktail hour will likely be affected. If you are getting married at the same location, you may not be able to attend all of your cocktail hour. While you’re taking photographs your guests will begin sipping and munching on hors d’oeuvres. If you are getting married at a separate location from your reception venue, extending your cocktail hour may be the only way you’ll be able to attend.
Also, if you want to take photos with your extended family after your ceremony… tell them! Whether you decide to take those photos at your ceremony location or at your reception venue, you still need to tell everyone you want in the photos ahead of time. They will need to know where to be and when to be ready. Get extended family photos out of the way first, immediate family second, wedding party third, and then do your couple portraits last. The key is to release the most people to the cocktail hour as quickly as possible.


In our next ‘The Ultimate Wedding Timeline Guide’ post we will discuss the different types of reception and other helpful information!  

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