So much energy goes into planning the different elements of your wedding. For your ceremony, you spend time selecting readings (and readers!), maybe writing your own vows, and cutting the traditions that don't sit well with you, until you have a ceremony that's uniquely yours.
When planning your wedding feast, you might obsess over the options, choosing mouthwatering dishes for your guests to enjoy. Then, you design gorgeous menus and signage to go along with it, and select a tablescape to reflect your wedding vision.
Maybe you've spent hours curating your favorite songs and thinking of ways to add whimsy to your dance floor. Or chosen something charming and personal to print on your cocktail hour napkins.
Do you see where I'm going with this? The ceremony, the meal, dancing or cocktail hour...these are all examples of mini events within your main event. But what happens in between each one of those?
The Importance of Thinking Through the In-Between Moments
While couples put a lot of effort into each element of their big day, the in-between moments can get lost in the shuffle. Guests amble from one to the next. Sometimes, they're stuck in lines. Often, there are downtime moments that mean guests are just killing time.
Your event flow doesn't have to stop and start as one element of your day comes to a close. Thinking through ways to make the in-between moments special can create a more magical experience for your guests, and will make your wedding feel extra thoughtful and cohesive.
Below are some ideas to take advantage of transition moments throughout your wedding and to wow your guests.
Transport Guest to a New Mindset
For events that rely on shuttle transportation, you might be wondering, what can you possibly do to make a bus ride special?
What if you leave a little snack and bottle of water on each seat of the shuttle? This small gesture gives guests sustenance for the ride, and sets a thoughtful tone: we're glad you're here, and we're looking out for you. You've created a little surprise-and-delight moment for next to nothing.
Can one of your bridal party MC the ride, and host some games? Do you have a carefully curated playlist to get your wedding guests or bridal party in the zone? The sky is the limit.
Speaking of Transportation... Strategically Select Your Venues
We'll get to some of the advantages of an exclusive-use destination wedding venue in Part Two, but if your wedding necessitates multiple locations, a thoughtful selection can save you and your guests a lot of wasted time.
If your getting-ready location is far from either your first look/portraits location or your ceremony, you and your bridal parties have to have a long shuttle ride. This means lots of extra time spent on a bus, and less time spent enjoying the events of your wedding. And, this added transportation time has a ripple effect on your event timing: bridal parties will have to wake up even earlier to get ready, which inevitably translates to sitting around in full hair and makeup, waiting for something to happen. We've all been there. It's not the best.
Your wedding day doesn't start at your ceremony: it begins the moment you open your eyes in the morning. Cutting back on this phone-scrolling, waiting around time wherever possible can help your nearest and dearest have the best possible time at your wedding, and will give you more time to enjoy the day.
And of course, select hotels that are nearby to your reception venue to make the end-of-night experience as smooth as possible.
Hydrate Your Guests
One of my favorite tricks is to build in a hydration station along the way to the ceremony seating area, especially for weddings under the Tuscan sun!
A table with fruit-infused water (or lemonade or iced tea) and a basket with sunscreen, bug spray, and paper hand fans can make outdoor summer weddings much more tolerable. And, it creates a focus for guests as they wait to find their seats.
People can see from afar that there's a stop along the way. Instead of being stuck in a long
line as ushers work to get guests seated, your friends and family have a shorter wait to reach a stop for a refreshing glass of water (or, you could opt for champagne), before continuing on to their seat.
In a similar vein...
Take a Trick from Disney – Create Distractions to Break Up Lines
Long lines can form as guests hunt for their name at the escort card table or on a long seating chart. There's an opportunity here to create a little distraction along the way.
Consider setting up a bookshelf or table nearby. You can feature photos from your relationship, or celebrate your past with ancestry photos from the weddings in your family. Or, replace the slideshow with a handful of framed pictures from your childhood.
Not only are you giving guests something to look at, but also you're creating a conversation piece. Guests who don't know one another yet, but have arrived in line at the same time, have an easy way to chat.
Careful planning helps keep waiting time to a minimum, and helps eliminate a scramble or rush that will detract from your experience. Make sure that your vendor timelines are aligned, too, to ensure that there are no false starts. (For example: are you heading towards the table but the caterers haven't finished plating the first course? Your guests be left sitting around and waiting for the meal to begin.) "Hurry up and wait!" is not a great way to spend a wedding day.
An event coordinator or full-service planner can help keep your timeline moving, and can make adjustments in real-time to ensure the flow continues smoothly. They are there to make sure guests know where to go and when, and to gracefully keep your event on track.