Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Q & A: Wedding Itinerary

Reader Question: We are planning a fairly traditional wedding, but with a strict budget and as eco-friendly as possible (given our strict budget). Our ceremony is planned to go from 1:00 to about 1:30 and our reception is planned to start at about 5:00. The question I have for you (and your readers!) is this: What are guests supposed to do with the time in between? We need this time for photos and a bit of quiet time to ourselves; however, we recognize how awkward this gap is for out-of-town guests. We were thinking of planning some sort of activity to give them something to do, but can't seem to think of any ideas that work for a budget wedding. Can you help?!

The first thing that comes to mind is....

Scavenger Hunt!

I happen to be a big fan of scavenger hunts because they are fun and free. And what better way for your out-of-town guests to get to know your city?

I would split people into teams of four or five. You could do a Random Acts of Kindness Scavenger Hunt, but I would probably do a regular digital camera scavenger hunt if I were in your position. People are already going to be a little out of their element, and I wouldn't want to make them too uncomfortable.

I would put easy things on the scavenger hunt like: "Get a group picture in front of a statue," as well as wacky things like: "Take a picture of a group member wearing a wet suit and doing a headstand." Well, I take it back. I think I would look at the guest list and figure out who would be going on the scavenger hunt. Then I would tailor the wackiness level to the group. You could do a perfectly sedate scavenger hunt that involves visiting historic or unique things in your city.

I like to assign point values to different items, just to add a little competitiveness into the mix. I would give people a good chunk of time to complete as many items as possible and then require them to return to a centralized place by a certain time. I would make one of my friends the Scavenger Hunt Judge who would flip through the photos and certify points. I would give the winners a cheesy prize.

So that's how I would solve your conundrum, but I'm eager to hear what others have to say!

P.S. You might also want to check out this List O' Fun Things to Do at a Wedding.


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22 comments:

megan said...

If your town is fairly small, you could include a list of all the quirky places to visit. If it is big, you could write the addresses and phone numbers to certain things like movie theaters, art galleries, certain tourist sites, parks, bistros, etc. i don't think anyone will expect you to pay for them for the in-between time, but a point in the right direction would be a nice gesture.

one piece of advice? just don't forget to mention attire to your guests, as many people might not want to be in fancy clothes for 10 hours.

Atulya said...

What if the wedding is in the countryside?
I imagine you would like to avoid cars-rides to the town...
Perhaps a live-concert or a play... if you know musical or theatral people. Or a outside-movie (with an overhead projector)...
--> But people won't talk to each other...
Wood games? http://www.lescopinettes.com/index.asp?ID=427
or
http://www.cie-maxi-jeux.com/animations-prestations/catalogue-jeux/jeux-en-bois-geants.html
(sorry, I didn't find the american equivalent)
Hiking could be nice except people will be already dressed for the evening...

In town, the list from the PS is great!
My advise : be careful because some people won't participate (rest, bistro...)

And prepare your guests (specially girls : they could want two pairs of shoes!)

Good luck!

PS Sorry for the mistakes...

Roxanne said...

I like Megans idea.
They may also find a way to fill in the time themselves. My wedding was at 6 PM, and my family took the earlier part of the day to go to the Children's museum and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Marian said...

Instead of baskets for our guests, I'm making "packets" and I'm including the weekend itinerary, but also brochures for the town and local sights (we have a neat museum/park all about the history of oil since my town was the "Birth of the Oil Industry") as well as a list of local places to eat. But I do like the digital scavenger hunt!

Apartment 20H said...

I love that idea! A scavenger hunt! Genius!

Stee said...

you need 3+ hours for photos and "time to yourselves?"
that's a lot of time for guests to fill up on a day they put aside to celebrate with you and your groom

to be completely honest, if I went to a wedding and was told "oh, now you all go off and do this scavenger hunt in your dressy clothes in a town you may not know" I'd really think that was odd.

please make sure you clearly state in your invitations the big gap between ceremony and reception in the invitations
include your lists of "things to do to kill time until the wedding resumes" included in the envelope as well to prepare your guests

are there stores or coffee shops near by? a book store? although 3 hours at Borders or Starbucks is asking a lot too.

Darci said...

I would provide a pretty extensive list of ideas as each family/couple/guest is going to have a different comfort level. Obviously, you know your guests best...maybe everyone would really get into a scavenger hunt (I would think this was super fun).

In my experience, guests often choose either the ceremony or the reception when there is a huge lag time. Don't be disappointed if you don't have as big of a crowd as you anticipated.

Kate said...

Is it possible for you to rethink the schedule for the day at this point? Maybe you could take some of the photos before the wedding and have a moment to yourselves then so that the gap isn't so huge? That would only work if you're not tied to seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony. (My fiance and I are scheduling this way and it means that guests only have to wait about 30 minutes while we do group photos.)

Another thought - I'm assuming that your guests will eat their own lunch before the ceremony and then not eat dinner until the reception. With that in mind, whatever you do - consider providing them with bottled water and a snack while they wait. Cocktails would be lovely but they could end up plastered by the time you arrive.

If there's no wiggle on the scheduling, I think that the scavenger hunt could be fun. But again, be careful about how much driving and gas they are expected to consume, if they need to change (and then providing them with a place to do so), and making sure whatever activity you do ties in with your wedding somehow even if tangentially. (like it's in a rustic outdoorsy setting and you have croquet and cocktails on the lawn or it's urban and you do a urban safari scavenger hunt.)

Plus Size Bride said...

We had everyone meet under a tree for a little "pickin under the pine". But then again a LOT of our guests are musicians. That took up probably 3 hours. The ones that didn't want to sit around and listen to music, aka my family, hung out in their hotel room visiting.

Yerin said...

I second the scavenger hunt, and offer the IKEA Scavenger Hunt, if there is one in your town. Might be a good alternative for sketchy weather.

One Barefoot Bride said...

I was at a wedding with a similar schedule last weekend, and we ended up lounging by the hotel pool from 2 to 4. It was nice to have some downtime to recharge for partying throughout the evening.

However, the gap was a little tricky: I didn't want to do anything that would require re-doing hair/ makeup afterwards (eg. swimming or exercising). I think if the guests know the schedule ahead of time, and have some info about the area and amenities/ sites to see, they can plan accordingly.

The Introitus said...

I would have to second what others have said about rescheduling your day. I certainly understand wanting to take pictures and needing some alone time, but I was under the impression that this is why a fair amount of couples don't make it to their cocktail hour. This way, the guests don't have to fill an awkward gap. Missing part of your reception is definitely a big decision to make though. So, if that isn't something you are comfortable doing I would rearrange the schedule.

I think it is possible to give guests something enjoyable to do- but probably not possible to have one central activity that everyone will enjoy. For example, while some younger individuals might enjoy a scavenger hunt perhaps an elderly family member will end up feeling left out. If the hotel is near by I would just assume people will go back to their rooms to chill out. Perhaps one of your families could "host" people in a suite and offer some light refreshments. That might be a nice way for people to visit.

Sara E. Cotner said...

I'm really glad other people have offered suggestions (I think a scavenger hunt will only appeal to a certain demographic), but I don't think we should criticize her for having a gap between the ceremony and the reception. It's definitely different, but different can be a good thing. I think as long as you come up with a couple different options and clearly communicate the schedule to guests (wedsites can be a huge help here), then everything will be fine.

Lauren said...

I'm going to kinda have the same problem, but for a different reason. The latest time we can do our ceremony is 2 pm, and the earliest we can start the cocktail hour/dinner reception is 5:30 pm. Granted, the ceremony will be about an hour, so with driving time, the gap will only be about 2 hours. I like the idea of presenting many different options for people to choose from, like scavenger hunt, museum, hang out in one person's hotel room, etc.

Anonymous said...

This is probably unhelpful but, we decided to have our photos taken before the ceremony, so that we could go straight from our ceremony to our guests and spend some decent time mingling with them. Every wedding I have been to I just want to spend a little quality time with the bride and groom - very difficult when the only mingling time before dinner - they are not there.

We are still making sure that there is some impact made when we meet for photographs and my groom sees me (and me him) for the first time.

As a guest I much prefer this, than waiting all afternoon for the next stage.

:)

Anonymous said...

Not to be a downer but....I went to a wedding last year that had a 3 hour gap between ceremony and reception and from our perspective, it sucked. A lot. We were 2 hours from home -- we thought about going home and not coming back. We had lunch, went to a casino, and then a bar. It cost us more to "waste time" than our gift to the couple. We could have dealt with an hour but, 3 was LONG. I would seriously reconsider your timing.

Our solution to this problem was to have our ceremony at 130 and have the reception to immediately follow. We are taking an hour out of the reception for some pictures. we are doing some pictures before hand (even though I didn't want to) to save time.

Good luck!

Atulya said...

Yes, Anonymous, 3 hours is long but 3 hours is also very short!
It's only a point of view!

This year, for a wedding, we had to wait during the pictures (in a lovely park) and it was "loooong". We were only on the big group's picture, and we took one picture with them only the evening (at a different place, with rain...). Because they took many many pictures in the park.

But I don't remember how long we waited because I was with friends and we hang out. It could be great we knew, we could take a blanket to sit down or walk around the park (that we didn't do because we didn't want to miss the departure of the "procession"!)
But even nobody told us the pictures will take a long time, we went to a bar and we drank something (3-5€ max!) (where we could see the entrance of the park!)

So if you can't reschedule, don't worry, it will be ok! Try to inform your guests so they can prepare themselves.

And if they decide not to come because of the gap... it will be their decision (you can't satisfy everybody!)

Good luck!

PS Sorry for the mistakes

Autumn said...

I've been to several weddings like this, and I usually just end up going back to my hotel room and watching TV or something and having a beer. It always feels like I'm just killing time until the party starts back up. I second the thoughts above that you don't want to do anything during this time that will get you sweaty or mess up your hair, so you don't have to shower and get dressed up all over again. The only time I've actually enjoyed this gap was when a college pal got married and another pal invited our friends to her house for a glass of wine during the gap, and we hung out and visited.

My thought: is there a central location you can invite everyone to hang out at? You wouldn't even necessarily have to spend money on this, perhaps it could be a friend's house or park, or the fellowship hall of the church, and you can provide some very light snacks and lemonade or other non-alcoholic beverages (so people don't get hammered before the reception), board games, puzzles, movies, etc. to give people a place to connect with one another and have a little fun without getting dirty/ sweaty? This would be especially good for out of towners who might not know anyone else, or like in the previous comment those who traveled but were not spending the night and had nowhere to go.

Good luck and best wishes!

Meg said...

So here is the thing: if you can reschedule things so there is no gap, do, since it's less than ideal. Having a gap just so you can take pictures and have down time is.... not great. And trust me, as someone who has been there, it will make your guests grumpy. You do need to think of yourself as a host, first a foremost.

BUT! I'm assuming that for one reason or another you can't change the schedule, and that happens, make it clear that nothing could be done and people will understand. REALLY. If that's the case, I'd really second the idea of providing people with a list of things to do in the area, and making sure everyone knows there is a gap (while it's totally managable, it wouldn't be a nice surprise). Then.... relax and know that your guests are adults, and they will and can figure out how to fill the time on their own. Done.

Best of luck, I'm sure it will be wonderful.

Alice said...

horray for scavenger hunts! I am already planning out one for my wedding next may. However the scavenger hunt is planned to take place during the reception. We are having out wedding at a camp where everyone can spend the night so we have alot of time. We are also taking all the pictures before the ceremony to get it out of the way so we can have more time to celebrate and have fun with our friends and family.

i know that once the ceremony is over im going to be filled with such excitement and nervous energy that i couldnt relax even if i wanted to.

i do think the 3.5 hour gap is alot of time. not that people couldnt find something to do but more because of the whole make-up, hair, dress clothes thing.

Your Wedding Whisperer said...

I agree with the other comments, this is too much time for your guests to occupy themselves. Taking most of your pictures before the wedding would be the best option so as not to inconvenience your guests. If you have a shorter period of time for your own picture taking, and want an idea of something for your guests to do, how about setting up an area where you can create a photo backdrop, have some fun props (such as large sun glasses, boas, etc) and have someone assigned to bringing the guests over for a fun photo session. You can send the guests home with their photo if using a Polaroid, or if a digital camera is used, the photos can be emailed or mailed at a later date.

Dea Felis said...

One of my sisters-in-law offered to have all of the out-of-town people over to her house in between the wedding and reception. I was *SO* grateful for this. She had finger snacks and the kids went downstairs to play with the video games while the adults sat upstairs and chatted. She lives just around the corner from the church and it was *very* helpful because we had a lot of older guests who would not have had the energy to do much else. Congrats, good luck, and have fun! :)

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