Wedding guests come in two types: those who have been to seventeen in the last six months, or those for whom your wedding will be the first they have attended. This means two things: half of your guests will have preconceived ideas about what will happen and the other half won’t have a clue! It may be useful to prepare for this…

Every wedding has a combination of some similar events. Firstly there will be a ceremony (or ceremonies), then some time where photographs are taken and guests mingle (often termed ‘Drinks Receptions’ by suppliers and venues), some food will be served and finally the party will really get going, possibly including music and dancing (and more drinks and food might be served). The difference is that all of these things can take place in a variety of orders and for different amounts of time. But does that matter? Why do the guests need to know what is happening? As long as we have a Master of Ceremonies, won’t this be enough? Absolutely, it can be, but you may need to think about a couple of things…

None of us like not knowing things! Human nature is such that we like to be prepared for what is going on. It means that we can hang our coats up, use the facilities and find our chairs in plenty of time for any big event. This is quite helpful for you at a number of times during your day. Most couples will start their wedding day with the ceremony, and so guests are informed of the time that this will start, but after this things can get a bit blurred. Not all of your guests will be needed for all that goes on during the day, however you really want them all to be around for the group photographs and to sit for the meal. You don’t want them disappearing to the bar or out for a cigarette at this point! It may be useful therefore to have a way of communicating this to all in the way of a timetable. Some couples put up a blackboard simply outlining the timings of the key points during the day. Some print them for the guests to have a copy, possibly on the back of the Orders of Service. Other ideas I have seen are sets of vintage clocks with little signs, to show what will happen when, which I loved.

Apart from your guests, your wedding suppliers will also appreciate the clearly set out plan. Photographers, in particular, are always quite tight for time and therefore them being able to see the timetable will help them to keep to time. At venues with accommodation, for example, guests need to be clear about when they can check in, or they may miss you throw the bouquet or when you cut the cake.

Having said that, is it better to keep everything a surprise? You’ve spent months, or possibly years, preparing for the most special of days, perhaps keeping everything under wraps would be more fun for all…?