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In this article we will look at ten things you can do so that your event runs on schedule.
Top 10 Ways to Stay on Schedule
We have all been there, attended a wedding that for whatever reason started late or had major delays throughout. Being a little late is generally alright but when things get too delayed you get unhappy hungry guests. Sometimes there are disasters that we can't do anything about (bad weather, venue issues, etc) that cause delays, this is not what we are talking about in this article. Instead we are looking at ten things that you can do that will help you stay on schedule for the "normal" issues that you will experience at weddings.
The examples I use below are mostly wedding ones but you could easily tailor these tips to suit most events.
- Have a Schedule - Be Realistic: This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many people try to "wing" an event. Take some time to put together a schedule while making sure you are realistic about how long each activity will take. Don't forget to account for set up and take down of any activities that you plan.
- Account for Delays: Once you have a schedule add a little extra time to each of the activities so that you have a buffer should something run a little long. For example, at a wedding you may only plan for a half hour receiving line but adding a little extra time means that should everyone be talkative you are not cutting into the photo time. This step can be really important if you have kids in the wedding party. No doubt someone will get hungry or need a diaper change, having time for these activities will make everyone less stressed.
- Figure Out Transportation: In my experience one of the areas that is most often overlooked is how people are getting from one venue to another. If you are going to have all your bridesmaids meeting at the hotel to get ready together, make sure you have a plan for how to get them all to the church and then to the reception afterwards. Make sure you have enough seats, drivers with directions and that everyone knows who they are going with. If you have kids needing transportation make sure you have car seats installed in the cars they will be travelling in. This saves tons of time and ensures you are not scrambling for sober people to drive people, making multiple trips or moving car seats.
- Schedule time for food/bathroom breaks and travel: Unscheduled stops for food as everyone is hungry or the delay of everyone needing to use a washroom and only one being available can really put events behind schedule. Instead plan so there is food at meal times (perhaps when getting ready or snacks for the car) and add a bit of extra time for everyone to use bathrooms, pack up items and get to the vehicle they are travelling in. Also make sure you allow for the time it takes to get from one area to another, accounting for construction and traffic if at all possible.
- Provide Written Instructions to Every Person With a Job to Do (wedding party, helpers, family members): This may take a little bit more time before the event but trust me, it means everything goes smoothly on the day. Before my wedding I typed up emails and sent them to every member of my wedding party, family, people doing speeches, etc. By walking through each persons day I was able to figure out areas that could cause delays and prevent them by giving detailed instructions. I was able to copy and paste most of them over and over but it did allow me to ensure everyone had rides to the different venues, that people were not in two places at once and that they had all the supplies to do their jobs. For example: I had some friends helping me out with the guest book signing. When walking through their day I realized that I would need to leave supplies for them during set up as no one would be at the church early enough to bring them the table, guest book and supplies.
- Ask for Help, Assign "Guests" Roles: People generally love to help, especially with weddings. Put that help to good use for some of the tasks that need to happen during the event that you personally cannot take care of. Make sure these are "easy" tasks and that you ask in the correct way so that people feel honoured that you thought of them. Some of the things I assigned were: moving flowers from the church to the reception hall, picking up nut free cupcakes for the people who couldn't eat the cake (ask someone who will be driving by the bakery) and shuttling some of the out of town guests from the church to the reception. These were small roles but made sure things were in the right place at the right time without having to make second trips myself.
- Be Organized, Make Up Lists: The more organized you are, the better things will run. For example: have a list of photos you want taken and put them in the order that makes the most sense prior to the event. Perhaps the larger group shots first and work down to the smaller shots so that most people can leave right away. Make sure the photographer has this list in advance. Then on the day have the photographer start at the top and work their way down. This eliminates the confusion of everyone standing around as the bride and groom try to figure out what photo to take next.
- Have Someone In Charge: Without someone running the show, things can fall apart pretty fast. If you have a wedding planner, this is pretty easy. If you don't, try to make sure someone is taking care of things. Note that the Bride and Groom should not be in charge on the day, they have enough to do. If they did things right, all the planning will be done so they can easily assign someone else to take care of any of the missed details. This could be a family friend, master of ceremonies or a relative. I would suggest making this someone not in the wedding party as it is hard to answer questions while sitting at the head table or taking care of the bride/groom. For me, I had my parents step in on the day. They were able to coordinate all the details I couldn't such as communicating with the kitchen about when they should bring out the food.
- Have Someone Watching the Time: This could be multiple people throughout the day or one person (wedding planner) but make sure you are not leaving things to chance. For example, my dad was in charge of keeping myself and my bridesmaids on time when we were getting hair and make up done. Regularly he would give us a time update (1 hour till we have to leave, 30 minutes...) so that everyone was able to have fun but also be aware of how much time they had. This meant that no one lost track of time and we were all dressed and ready to go at the appointed time.
- Do a Dress Rehearsal: This doesn't have to be anything formal but take the time to scout out photo spots in advance, drive the route from the church to the venue a few days before the event to see if any construction is happening and run through the schedule for the main participants of the wedding to make sure that everything you can think of has been taken care of.
I hope that you found this list useful. In the comments let me know some of the tips you have for staying on schedule.