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07 Apr '15

Tips for Creating the Perfect Timeline for Your Wedding Day

PocketWatchPurveyor note: This article by Elizabeth Clayton of A Practical Wedding provides an excellent starting point for scheduling your special day, minute by minute.

Timelines can be confusing when you’ve never done one—even if you’ve attended a lot of weddings you probably haven’t paid much attention to how long each individual aspect lasted (barring the rare occasion that you end up an hour-long ceremony indoors without air conditioning on a 102 degree day. Which nobody forgets). So today I’m going try and shed some light on how to keep your wedding moving, without feeling rushed or ending up with weird chunks of time where nobody knows what to do.

First, it’s worth noting that timelines are a guideline, not canon. I often go into a wedding with a two-paged, single-spaced timeline—it contains every single thing that every single person is doing for the entire day. (Famously, I often edit them before sending them to other vendors, because they scare the crap out of some people.) But, as I tell all of my clients, it’s the extremely rare wedding that hits every single point at the minute it’s supposed to. We extend cocktail hour because people are having fun (and/or the kitchen is running late). We move up the first dance because everyone finished eating early. We move last call out thirty minutes because we were able to start breaking down early and know we have time. Starting and ending the wedding on time are key—hitting everything in the middle in the approximate right order is important, but you usually have to adjust a little to the particular set of people.

And because the 4pm ceremony time, 10pm reception end (with both ceremony and reception in the same venue), with secular ceremony and photos beforehand is one of the most common formats I work with, I’m going to start with that as my example. But don’t worry! Next week we’re going to talk about variations on this timeline, like religious or otherwise longer ceremonies, daytime weddings, later evening weddings, separate ceremony and reception sites, and separate ceremony and reception times (i.e., gaps).

But for now, let’s dig into the format I mentioned above, with the timeline I use for almost all of the weddings that fit this mold:

  • 10:00am—Hair and Makeup/Getting ready
  • 12:00–2:00pm—Most vendors arrive for setup
  • 2:00pm—Wedding party and family photos start
  • 3:30pm—Doors open/Guests begin to arrive/Pre-ceremony music starts
  • 4:00pm—Invite time
  • 4:15pm—Ceremony starts
  • 4:35pm—Ceremony ends
  • 4:40pm—Cocktail hour starts
  • 5:45pm—Move guests into dinner
  • 6:00pm—Buffet opens/Dinner served
  • 6:20pm—All guests have food
  • 6:30pm—Toasts
  • 7:30pm—First dance
  • 7:35pm—General dancing music starts
  • 8:00pm—Second set of pre-sunset portraits
  • 8:26pm—Sunset
  • 8:30pm—Dessert
  • 9:45pm—Last call
  • 9:55pm—Music off
  • 10:00pm—Guests depart
  • 11:00pm—Breakdown done, all staff departs
And now, a few tips on how to get this all to go smoothly:

Invite Time vs. Start Time

The “invite” time is the time on your invitation. The earliest guests will show up about half an hour before this, so be prepared for that. And then there are the late guests. No matter the size of your guest list, you can put money on the fact that ten of them will be around ten minutes late, even if they’re all staying down the street from the venue. Do yourself a favor and plan on starting the ceremony fifteen minutes after your invite time. There’s nothing more awkward than a late arrival standing at the back of the aisle because the bridesmaids are walking down.

Food Timing

Timing for dinner depends largely on 1) what type of food service you’re having (the most common options being buffet, family style, and plated) and 2) how large your guest list is. It takes about twenty minutes for one hundred guests to get through a buffet. Plated courses are usually spaced about forty-five minutes apart. And family style also takes about fifteen-twenty minutes for one hundred guests to be served. Plan accordingly—I highly suggest starting with a minimum of bread on the table to give guests something to snack on while they wait for their turn at the food, although plated salads are also a great way to start out an otherwise buffet meal for the same reason. And of course, always discuss timing with whoever is actually serving your food—they should have the best idea for your particular menu.

Toasts

I really encourage people to do toasts during dinner—you have a captive audience, and people are in a headspace to be attentive, plus you don’t have to carve separate time out of the day for them to happen. Note: Make sure the first person to give a toast tells all of the guests to please continue to eat while people are speaking! And also make sure to tell the catering staff that they should continue to serve/clear/etc. while people are speaking (they’re good at doing this discreetly). (Editor Maddie’s note: Don’t forget to tell your photographer too! We usually eat when guests eat, because face-stuffing photos are unattractive. So make sure we’re not knee-deep in the lasagna when toasts start by giving us a heads up on when toasts will start. Though it’s always best when your timeline is shared with your photographer at least a week or two before the wedding so that we know in advance.) (Elizabeth’s note on Maddie’s note: This is why I have the photograhper’s go through a buffet first, yes, before the guests. Or if it’s plated or family style I’ll discuss with them and either have them eat at the end of cocktail hour, or once toasts are done. Please don’t forget to feed your vendors!)

Sunset

Note what time it’s going to happen! (There are lots of places online that will tell you—I personally use this site, possibly because I love the name, but I also find it to be totally accurate.) You’re going to want to think about lighting, especially if your event is happening partially outdoors. And also…

Portraits/Photos

Whether or not you opt for an “official” photographed first look, the truth is that a lot of couples these days tend to do formal portraits before the ceremony, because otherwise you’re stuck wrangling people during cocktail hour, which a) means they’re less compliant and b) you miss out on mingling with your guests/stuffing seared shrimp in your mouth (Editor Maddie’s note: or scallops wrapped in bacon. Mmmm…). Also, I always suggest a second set of portraits right before sunset for two reasons—the light is totally different, and gorgeous (they don’t call it golden hour for nothing) and you’re also in a totally different space emotionally—the ceremony is over, you may have had a glass of champagne, and you’re married, as opposed to about to get married in an hour. You really only need to budget ten to fifteen minutes for these, and you should plan on it being just the two of you and your primary photographer. This mini session also has the added benefit of giving you a short break away from the crowds.

Cake/Dessert Timing

While this rule seems to have gotten lost over the generations, traditionally it’s considered acceptable to leave a wedding once the cake has been cut—at that point you know that nothing else major is going to happen (it’s just partying from there on out) and hey, maybe you have a sitter to get home to, or just want to be in bed to watch the ten o’clock news. And while you may not be aware of this rule, if you have any guests over sixty-years-old then they do, and they will wait for you to cut the cake (or alternative dessert. I’m personally a pie girl myself). So don’t wait until too late to do it. I mean, no one wants to leave without a piece of cake (or, again, pie).

Last Call

The universal signal that things are about to wrap up or wind down. You don’t have to make it official, but if you do it can be a helpful to sign to people that they should start preparing (mentally) to leave.

Breakdown

If your venue has strict timing rules, or noise restrictions, or you’re paying a staff hourly and they’re going to go into overtime or time-and-a-half at some point, don’t forget about breakdown. While generally faster than set up (it’s a lot quicker to toss decorations into a box than it is to take them out and perfectly arrange them) I rarely see a breakdown that’s under an hour, and sometimes they end up in the one to two hour range. Think about all of the things that are going to need to happen once the lights go on and how much time that will take, and plan the end of the night accordingly.

After Parties

(and why you should have one)

“But really, I know we’re going to want to party until 1am!” you say. Dude—me too. But we’re in the minority. I am already anticipating a lot of rebuttal on this point in the comments, but as someone who’s coordinated over a hundred weddings I will tell you—I can count the number of weddings where there has been a critical mass of guests still wanting to go after 10:30pm on my fingers. And two of them took place on New Year’s Eve. And most of the rest had 6:00pm or later ceremonies. Six hours is about the most that most weddings guests have in them. That said, should you make everyone go home at 10pm? Hell no. Move people to an afterparty. My favorite way to do this, because it’s the easiest, is to pick a nearby bar ahead of time, spread the word, and whoever wants to go can go. Do you have to host (as in, pay for) the afterparty drinks? Definitely not. You certainly can, and it would be super nice, but after paying for everyone’s drinks for six hours, you’re off the hook (and I will tell you—if you walk into a bar in a wedding dress there’s definitely no one in the world who’s going to make you pay for you own drinks!). Also—if the majority of your guests are staying in the same hotel, that hotel bar can be a great option for this, and they may allow you to bring extra wedding champagne in for a reduced corkage fee.

 

Originally appeared at http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/03/calculate-wedding-timeline/

04 Apr '15

Make a Wedding Cake for Under $50 Using a Grocery Store Sheet Cake


DIY Wedding Cake Grocery Store Sheet Cake (25)

A few weeks ago, the APW team got together to do a little flower shoot. While we were at it, I decided that we were going to do something I’ve wanted to do for a zillion years: turn a grocery store cake into a really lovely wedding cake. You know, a post you could show to your mom when she didn’t get you were saving money AND being super classy. (PocketWatchPurveyor note: Costco sheet cakes are even more affordable, tasty and perfect for this project.)

So it was decided that I would go to Whole Foods, and get some of their cute cakes for us to work on. But I was really determined to take it a step farther than that. I wanted to show that you could take ANY kind of grocery store cake and turn it into a wedding cake. (Because, let’s be for real: my home town does not have a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s or any kind of gourmet grocery store, and your town might not either.) So, I set out to find the world’s most average sheet cake. This being Oakland, I tracked one down at the Lucky’s in my neighborhood, where the people behind me in line were pretty clearly high on crack. So, you know, that seemed not-gourmet enough.

And when I got this cake I was OVER THE MOON, because it was suddenly clear to me that this was going to be the awesomest of all the projects (in my estimation). So I brought the cake into the shoot, and everyone just sort of looked at it, worriedly. Then they looked at me very doubtfully. (Credit where credit was due: Maddie was as excited as I was about it.) While I was working on the cake, I kept waving people away, because everyone wanted to pretty-fy it: take off the sprinkles, take of the piping. And do.

But for truth. When I finished, there was a collective, “Ooooooooo…..” It was good, my friends. So without further ado, the world’s easiest (and cheapest) wedding cake. If you do this for your wedding, I want to have a drink with you.

DIY Wedding Cake Grocery Store Sheet Cake (20)DIY Wedding Cake Grocery Store Sheet Cake (21)

DIY Wedding Cake Grocery Store Sheet Cake (22)

 

Originally posted at http://apracticalwedding.com/2013/06/grocery-store-sheet-cake-wedding-cake/

16 Jan '15

A Pocket Watch is Always a Welcome Gift

My father was an ardent pocket watch enthusiast who collected vintage timepieces his entire life. I spent hours examining those watches and speculating about the people who carried them. I imagined their excitement when first receiving the watch, the special occasions the watch was worn to and the ritual passing of the watch to a close friend or family member. I came to understand that each pocket watch is both a special treasure and silent witness to a lifetime of events.

I inherited my father's pocket watch collection and his enthusiasm for these amazing time keeping devices. The process of restoring some of the watches in that collection honed my watchmaking knowledge and skills. The creative juices flowed and I began to experiment with new modern pocket watches. My two sons started wearing those new reproduction models. Wherever they went, people asked about these new pocket watches and where to buy one. People were intrigued. They wanted a pocket watch too but didn't know where to find them.

With my store, PocketWatchPurveyor.com , I help people experience the pleasure of giving and receiving beautiful pocket watches. I source components from around the world to create and assemble a quality pocket watch collection worthy of my customers exacting standards and requirements. I check and recheck my watches at every stage of the creative process to ensure my customers receive their purchase in exactly the condition stated. I offer quartz and mechanical pocket watches (with matching chains) in various colors, sizes and styles. I also offer Groomsmen Gift Wedding Sets of two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight or more. I ship Monday to Friday so orders are received promptly.

As the proprietor of PocketWatchPurveyor.com, it is my privilege and pleasure to answer your questions and address your specific requirements, as you select the perfect pocket watch for yourself, special friends or family. Whether it be for a Birthday, Anniversary, Valentines Day, Father's Day, Graduation, Christmas or as a special token for members of your wedding party, a pocket watch is always a welcome and treasured gift.

 

Julie
PocketWatchPurveyor