Take A Big Step Back!
This is probably the most talked about piece of wedding advice: every bride I have ever spoken to at the end of her big day has said that the whole thing has just flown by too quickly. No matter how long you set aside for the meal, the photos, the buffet etc... it ALWAYS runs over and the day is over before you even realise that it's begun.
"It's OK, we've allowed time to chat during reception drinks"
Forget it. Whatever time you think things will happen, you'll run over. As someone whose husband is late for everything except his gigs (yes, don't worry, he's EARLY for those!) I was very aware of allowing lots of time for EVERYTHING on my wedding day and I didn't want to have to rush people from place to place: we've all been to weddings where the guests have to be herded like cattle to the photo area or into the reception area! My venue advised allowing 3 hours for the wedding breakfast - I nearly choked! What on earth could take 3 hours? I even worried that it would mean a lot of waiting around in between courses and the last thing I wanted was my guests sitting waiting. I had allowed tons of extra time for everything: even the 5 minute trip from the church I had allowed 45 minutes for! I started the day feeling confident that everything had its own time slot and that, if anything, there might be too much waiting around...
Wrong! I arrived at the church 5 minutes late as it took a long time in a vintage car (and even longer to squeeze me and my dress in and out of it!) Later that day, despite only wanting a few formal pictures and the rest to be reportage, I found the organizer whispering in my ear that we should make a move towards the marquee for dinner ASAP. I told her that we weren't due in there until 4pm but she politely informed me that it was gone 4.30pm and it would now be at least 5.30 before the line up was finished and we had everyone seated and ready to be served! Even the speeches that everyone promised would be short lasted a good half an hour (although I think 25 minutes were taken up by mine!) And so you can see how the day continued - despite my careful planning!
"So should I just allow more time?"
Yes and no. My advice is threefold here:
1. Allow lots and lots of time for EVERYTHING. Your guests are not marines and won't stick to your schedule no matter how much you try to force them!
2. Accept that things WILL run over a little bit no matter how much time you allow... but that's OK!
3. This is the most important point and my main reason for writing this blog: take it all in. Don't think about what's happening next, don't worry about your speech, don't stress over how people are getting on or if they like the food, don't panic over the time... you can't rewind and do it all again at the end! If something goes wrong - it goes wrong, that's NOT the worst thing that can happen. The worst thing that can happen is the day passes you by without you enjoying a second of it because you're worrying in case something goes wrong!
Keep reminding yourself that this really is it: you have to make the most of it. During the meal, take a moment to chat to each other about your day so far and look around the room and notice who is where, what they are wearing: take a photo in your mind. Remind yourselves that they are all there for the two of you, appreciate how fantastic your flowers look after all the time it took to chose them, notice the name cards, favours, bridesmaids: see it all as a complete picture whilst you can. In the evening, circulate together: many couples complain that they hardly see each other all evening because they're busy chatting to guests and socialising separately (probably having the same conversations with each person that they see!) Make a concerted effort to do this together - you'll manage to speak to everyone in the room in half the time and will have at least been together! Again, set aside 5 minutes every hour to "zoom out" and look at what's happening together. Milk it as much as you possibly can... it'll be over in a flash.