Who’s Running the Show at Your Wedding?

We cater many receptions with and without wedding planners.  I think a good case can be made either way as to why a planner or coordinator should or should not be hired and I truly understand both sides.  Some of our brides have had the time to deal with the details on their own and some haven’t.  Some have had experience putting together events or projects and were undaunted by the task of planning their own wedding and for some, the responsibilities were overwhelming.  Regardless of your decision to hire a coordinator or not, one thing needs to be determined…someone needs to be in charge of moving things along.

I was recently reminded of this at a lovely wedding where the details came together beautifully but the reception did not flow well.  The DJ was a friend with an iPhone and it was really up to me and the photographers to get things going.  The couple was laid back and probably not bothered by the confusion of what was going to happen next but it was clear to me that the guests were not sure what was happening…and some started to leave.

As guests arrived, there clearly was not any instruction at the ceremony as to what should happen next.  They walked in the reception hall, admired the decor, and just stood there, congregating in the doorway.  I quickly moved over there and invited people to the bar and appetizer table.  A seasoned DJ would have welcomed everyone and given instructions as needed.  When the bride and groom arrived, there was very little introduction and it caught people off guard.  One of the photographers was actually waiting at the wrong door for the entrance and had to scramble quickly to capture that moment.  This wasn’t the photographer’s fault because, in her defense, half the wedding party came through that other door.  Then, as the couple entered the hall and walked to the front…nothing.  They just stood there not knowing what to do.  The groom walked over to the DJ table, picked up a microphone, and welcomed everyone awkwardly.  When asked when we should open the buffet, the reply was…”I guess now is ok.”  And this went on with the first dance, the cake cutting, and the exit.

Like I said, I’m sure the couple was not bothered by this.  However, I think that if there is not a day of coordinator on site, someone should be designated to be in charge.  This duty usually falls on the DJ or entertainment who are typically more comfortable with a microphone than other vendors.  In many instances, it’s the caterer or photographer who move through the timeline.  The key here is to create a timeline or order of events and entrust someone to advance through the various events smoothly.  A little discussion on the front end goes a long way.  We try to get these details in our visits with our clients but many wait until after we meet to make important decisions.

A note to vendors:  If you are running the show and the caterer plays a key role (such as in preparing for a champagne toast or cutting the cake), please give us a heads up.  Most weddings run through an order of events, not necessarily a timeline.  So, after dinner they usually cut the cake, do their toast, etc.  Since these events are not set at a particular time, it is difficult to  be ready without notice.  A case of champagne can’t open and pour itself upon the announcement that everyone grab a glass for the toast.  A five minute warning is appreciated!

Have you attended a wedding that moved through the order of events awkwardly?  I’d love to hear about it.


Ryan Draper
Operations Manager
Draper’s Catering of Memphis

Feature Image by Jakrapong Kongmalai

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