Your master schedule (even if it’s for your eyes only) begins with the pre-ceremony rituals of getting dressed and — if you’re not waiting until after the ceremony — taking photographs. The timing of what has to happen before the ceremony is crucial. Make sure you take into account even seemingly little things, such as when you’ll have time to eat before the ceremony. Putting these items on your master schedule will act as a reminder on a day when time can be on warp speed.
In many hotels, check-in is at 2 or 3 p.m., so the bride should either stay in this room (perhaps with her maid of honor) the night before the wedding or try to negotiate with the hotel for an early check-in. Even couples who are living together often spend the night before the wedding in separate places.
Whether the attendants are getting dressed in a hotel or at someone’s home, always arrange for lunch or tea. They won’t be eating for hours, and the combination of starvation and the first glass of champagne can be explosive. Also, the bride should usually be last to have her hair and makeup done so that she waits the least amount of time “done up” before the ceremony.
Then you have the ceremony itself. For the master schedule, you’re interested in the broad strokes.
Many couples still prefer not to see each other before the ceremony, though. If you prefer to slip away and have formal portraits taken while the guests are having cocktails, configure your schedule that way.
If you’re having ethnic dancing, such as an Hora or Tarantella, schedule it after the main course to get guests moving again after eating and drinking.
A head waiter should be prepared to choreograph the bouquet toss. Participants should be several yards behind the bride, arranged into a semicircle. If possible, gather participants on a softer surface than a dance floor; competition can be ruthless and people have been known to go down.
If you don’t have a critical mass of single friends at the wedding, you may want to simply present the bouquet as a memento to a favorite aunt or other person you want to honor. If you want to keep your bouquet for yourself, make one specifically for the toss.