Bride's Guide: Q&A for the Big Day

Tips on preparing a timeline for your wedding day and reception.

April 15, 2010, 10:27 AM

April 23, 2010— -- I started yesterday's entry with a reference to an episode of "Platinum Weddings," and today I'm going to begin with one of my favorite television wedding moments of all time.

I don't actually sit at home and watch shows about weddings all day long, but MTV's "True Life: I'm Getting Married" is a classic. My fiance Mark runs in the other direction at the first sight of "Say Yes to the Dress," but even he enjoyed the wedding of Charlie and Sabrina from Staten Island.

Like all "True Life" episodes, "I'm Getting Married" features a number of different characters and their journeys. Of the couples they chronicled heading to the altar, none was more entertaining, and ultimately endearing, than Charlie and Sabrina.

To make a long story short, an hour after his wedding was supposed to start, Charlie's limo still hadn't arrived to pick him up. He was immortalized on film running down the street and threatening the life of the limo driver on his cell phone.

Charlie and Sabrina were many hours late for their own wedding, and I don't want that to happen to me.

In "The Wedding Book," celebrity wedding planner Mindy Weiss advises having a timeline for your entire wedding day that includes relevant details and contact information for all your vendors. She also suggests giving timelines to vendors and providing abbreviated timelines to your wedding party with details about hair and make-up appointments, transportation, photographs, etc.

She also sent me a sample wedding reception timeline.

*This timeline is based on four courses, and dancing between courses.

5:00 p.m.: Cocktails and Appetizers

6:00 p.m.: Invite Guests into Reception

6:15 p.m.: Band Leader or DJ Invites Guests to Be Seated

6:20 p.m.: Band Leader or DJ Introduces Bride and Groom for Their Grand Entrance

They Walk Directly to Dance Floor for Their First Dance

After the First Dance, the Parents Are Invited Up: First the brides, then the grooms' (In some cases there are more than one set of parents), followed by the wedding party

6:40 p.m.: Guests Invited to Be Seated

6:45 p.m.: Optional Blessing Followed By Welcome and Toast by the Brides' Parents

6:55 p.m.: Followed By First Course

7:05 p.m.: Best Man and Maid of Honor Toast

7:20 p.m.: Dance Set

7:40 p.m.: Guests Invited To Sit For 2nd Course

7:55 p.m.: Any Other Toasts

8:05 p.m.: Dance Set

8:30 p.m.: Guests Invited to Be Seated For Entrée

9:00 p.m.: Father/Daughter Dance

Optional Mother/Son Dance Can Be Invited Half Way through Father/Daughter Dance or They Can Have Their Own Dance

Followed By Long Dance Set

9:50 p.m.: Dessert/ Cut the Cake

Good Time for Bride and Groom to Make a Toast (Thanks Parents and Guests)

Weiss says you can decide on the wedding day whether to go into overtime with your band or DJ at the end of the night. Or, if you had a band and expect that your crowd will want to keep dancing, you could decide ahead of time to bring in a DJ later to keep the party going.

Katie's Wedding Day Timeline, First Draft

Weiss's timeline can be adjusted accordingly depending on the circumstances of your wedding, as I have done below. We're only having three courses but definitely want to dance between courses.

5:00 p.m.: Cocktails Hors D'oeuvres

6:00 p.m.: Invite Guests into Reception

6:15 p.m.: Band Leader Introduces Katie and Mark for Their Grand Entrance and They Walk Directly To Dance Floor for Their First Dance

*No parent/wedding party introductions

6:30 p.m.: Guests Invited to Be Seated

6:35 p.m.: Welcome and Toast By Katie's Parents

6:45 p.m.: First Course

7:00 p.m.: Best Man Toast

*No Maid of Honor toast; we decided to do that at the rehearsal dinner

7:15 p.m.: Dance Set

7:45 p.m.: Guests Invited to Be Seated for Entree

8:15 p.m.: Father/Daughter Dance and Mother/Son Dance

Followed By Long Dance Set

9:15 p.m.: Dessert/ Cut the Cake

Katie and Mark Thank You

10:00 p.m.: Reception Ends, Band Goes Into Overtime

It's a little scary to think about the day being over, but then we get to go on the honeymoon!

I'm sure no wedding goes quite according to plan, but I've learned from Mindy that it's important to keep things in perspective. After all, MTV later aired a follow-up show on Sabrina and Charlie… who were living happily ever after.

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CLICK HERE to visit Mindy's Web site.

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