What good would a worst-case scenario be without a little advice, right?! We are back, as promised, with part two (Read part one here) on the importance of good wedding time management from Paul at The DJ Connection.  This is a long post, but it is full of such good information about how to plan your big day.  At the end of the last post, Paul said that the key to avoiding timing issues on your wedding day is good planning.  Well, here are the keys to good planning; the things that you might not have ever thought about, but that can make a big impact on your wedding day schedule.   Take it away, Paul:

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Photo credit:  Stephen Gosling Photography

Earlier, we provided you with the details of a wedding we did last year, which resulted in a total of 35 minutes of open dance time.  As we already mentioned, it is not uncommon to have less than an hour of dancing at a reception, due to problems that occur prior to the start of the reception.  In this segment, we will provide you with a guide to the most common issues that result in delays to the reception schedule.

1. Reception time management begins when you wake up the day of the wedding
Once you get behind, it is difficult to recover the lost time. This results in a “trickle-down” effect on your reception.

2. Four hour vs. five or six hour receptions
There is no room for error if you have a four-hour wedding reception.  If something happens that the reception gets a late start, you will not easily absorb the lost time in a four-hour reception.

3. Things that cause reception delays:

  • Ceremony does not start on time. Despite the best planning, situations arise that result in the delay of the start of the wedding ceremony.  Sometimes the flowers do not arrive on time, parents, wedding party members are late – the list of reasons can be endless, and often times are not preventable.
  • Unintended receiving lines. If you do not wish to have a receiving line at the church or ceremony location, you should make arrangements for a “holding area” for the bride, groom, parents and wedding party to stage at the conclusion of the ceremony, while your guests make their way out of the church, and drive to the reception.
  • Bridal party members gathering belongings/floral arrangements at church. Once the photographs are taken at the conclusion of the ceremony, instead of going directly to their vehicles and driving to the reception, some wedding party members go back to their dressing rooms to collect their belongings.  This can add five, 10, or even 15 minutes to the time it takes them to get to the reception.  We recommend that you pre-pack everything in your dressing room prior to the start of the ceremony.  We recommend that you delegate the task of taking floral arrangements from the ceremony location to the reception to someone other than a wedding party member or parent.
  • Lengthy post-ceremony photography sessions. We want to stress that most experienced professional photographers spend a reasonable amount of time taking photographs after the ceremony.  We interviewed several respected photographers in our area for this article.  Most indicate that the average photography session after a ceremony lasts approximately 30 minutes.  It is also important to note that lengthy photography sessions that last 45 minutes or more are not always the photographers fault.  Often times, photographers report that members of the wedding party or parents were not available for pre-ceremony photos, and they were forced to take both pre-ceremony and post ceremony photos in one long session after the ceremony.  In other instances, wedding party members or parents were said to have wandered off during the photo session after the ceremony, extending the time necessary to capture the group photo’s that were required.  They also report that there are times when the couple provided a lengthy list of large group photographs above and beyond the normal number of group photographs that are typically required.  Occasionally, you will find a photographer who goes overboard taking photographs, and simply takes too much time.  We recommend that
    speak with your photographer and come to an agreement on a reasonable time limit for the photography session after the ceremony – we recommend 30 minutes, with 40 minutes being the absolute maximum.


Photo credit:  Stephen Gosling Photography

4.  Bridal party members do not go directly to reception.
If you read the nightmare wedding story in part 1 of this series, this is not an isolated occurrence.  We very often have to delay the introductions, because one or more wedding party members did not drive directly from the ceremony location to the reception.  Make sure you tell all parents and wedding party members to go directly to the reception.  If introductions are scheduled, advise them where they should gather to be lined up and introduced.

5.  Inexperienced DJ/emcee or coordinator managing the flow of the reception
Many of the wedding professionals that we know, tell us about weddings they have done where the DJ (from another DJ company) lacked experience in managing the reception.  This problem has also occurred, when a friend of the bride served as coordinator, and lacked experience in weddings.  An experienced DJ/emcee or coordinator will ensure that a comprehensive schedule of events is compiled prior to the reception, and make the necessary timeline adjustments as needed during the reception.

6.  Don’t worry be happy syndrome
This is obviously not a medical term!  It does describe what we see when a bride and/or groom have no concern at all about being on time for the ceremony or reception events.  Brides and grooms come in all sizes, shapes and personalities, and sometimes they are not concerned about timing.

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Photo credit:  Stephen Gosling Photography

7.  Lengthy photography sessions at the reception
Another problem related to the photography occasionally arises at the reception, where the photographer takes bridal party and family members away from the reception for additional group photos.  In some cases, the wedding reception becomes a full-fledged photo-shoot in which the bride and groom become stressed out by having to pose for so many photographs.  Once the reception begins, most professional photographers usually adapt to a more candid style of photography, capturing the reception festivities as they happen, rather than creating posed photographs.  Obviously, there are exceptions, such as a quick sunset photo of the couple (which, of course, is determined by the time the sun sets!)

The reception portion of the wedding day should be a time where the couple can relax, dance and mingle with friends and family members.  We suggest that you carefully allocate a reasonable amount of time to capture the wonderful photographs that are important to every couple, without dominating the day with lengthy photography sessions – especially at the reception.  Make sure you discuss these issues with your photographer prior to the wedding to avoid problems similar to the ones described here.

These are the most common issues that result in delays to the reception schedule.  In many cases, a combination of one or more of the issues we identified resulted in delays to the reception schedule.  Small time segments for several issues can add up quickly, and result in 30 to 60 minute delays to the reception schedule.  With proper planning and communication with your wedding party and immediate family members, you can avoid the type of delays we have identified, and enjoy your wedding day!


Thank you so much, Paul!  For more from The DJ Connection and their entertainment services for weddings in DC, MD and VA please be sure to check out their website.

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