Monday, August 25, 2014

Ask Liz: Reception Time = Money

Courtesy of Real Simple
Dear Liz:

I started my wedding planning business this summer, and I'm excited because I've already booked four weddings this year! Two have already happened, and I had the same problem with both - we ran out of time with the photographer. Every part of the receptions ran late - it took forever getting everyone seated, dinner took longer than I thought it would, which means the toasts were late, the cake was late, her dance with her father was late, so we were already out of time at the bouquet toss. The photographer at the first wedding wanted to charge another $250 for another hour, so they let him leave. The last photographer was nice enough to stay a little longer and get those pictures. But, I really don't want that to happen again. What can I do?


Mistaken Rookie

Dear Rookie,

First of all, welcome to The Show. Two weddings down, I know it's probably been fun, but a little stressful. For one thing, you're supposed to be the expert now, and you're learning, too. We've all been there.

So, it sounds like you've got all the things the photographer is supposed to shoot during the reception down - First dance, toasts, cake cutting down, so that's good. But, if it's 30 minutes or less before your photographer needs to bail, you need to switch up and speed up the timeline. Cake-cutting takes hardly any time, so you can have your couple cut that before dinner is done. Cut the cake, and then finish eating while the catering staff cuts gets it ready to serve. Father-Daughter and Mother-Son dances do not have to be to each 3-4 minute song. A couple of verses will do. The bouquet toss is a bit more comprehensive, because you have to get everyone on the dance floor, get them lined up, etc.

Communication with the photographer, the DJ, and the venue manager is absolutely essential in this situation, Everyone needs to be on the same page, moving forward. If you're cutting the cake early, catering needs to know so they can allocate staff to cut the cake up, while others might still be serving and bussing. The photographer needs to know what you're doing moving forward and why. Most likely, they'll have some suggestions of their own. And since your DJ is the one who has to keep the guests informed of what's going on, he needs to know what that is. And, of course, you need to (calmly) inform your couple that they're running out of photo time, and present a plan and/or options to them. Not only will it make them feel like you have everything under control, but you will have everything under control. WIN.

Confidential to Tempe: "Traditionally" the toast order is Best Man, Father of the Bride, Maid of Honor. But hardly anyone sticks exclusively to that list or that order these days, so don't stress about it. Lots of couples even throw in their own Thank You speech at the end, too. Whomever is toasting, as them to keep it short, if possible, and it end it with a raised glass and an actual toast, "To Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt and Jessica Fortenberry,"except, you know, with their names instead, obviously.

What questions do you have about your wedding right now? Email me at, and let me know what's up.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events
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