Weddings have a special way of taking on a life of their own, sometimes for better and sometimes—like, when something goes wrong and hijacks the timeline—for worse. With some savvy planning and only the tiniest bit of self-discipline on the part of all of the players, you can ensure that your couples stay on track and stick to their timelines.
1. Set a precedent.
Well before the wedding day, make it clear how important sticking to a timeline is by helping your clients adhere to pre-event deadlines. Employ technology, if necessary, to help with remote meetings and task management. Send impending deadline reminders two weeks prior to each due date. Be mindful of warning signs such as late payments and missed email responses, and address them early in the planning process. Make sure you have an ironclad cancellation clause in your contract in case you and your client need to go your separate ways due to client negligence.
Sometimes you have to play the bad guy. If your clients know that you are doing it to ensure that their event runs smoothly, they generally will understand when you have to call them on the carpet (professionally). By the same token, you have to model good behavior—you need to be on time for meetings, and ready with responses and tasks completed, too.
2. Build a better timeline.
One of the keys to sticking to a timeline is to have one that is both functional and practical. Get together with all of your creative partners in advance to ensure that you are all on the same page.
If you have, for example, a photographer who wants 90 minutes for photos between the ceremony and reception, and you are planning to give him or her only 30 minutes, you need to pre-negotiate that and reach an agreement. You cannot just “hope” it all works out. Approach any negotiations with the understanding that there are many moving parts that need to work together for a successful event.
Don’t break down your timeline in rigid 15-minute segments. There has to be fluidity and flexibility on the wedding day to accommodate situations that cannot be foreseen. This is particularly important if your couple is detail-oriented and will have an eye on their watches all day. Keep them calm and happy by starting the day with a little elbow room.
3. Choose a cooperative team.
When possible, help your clients choose a team of creative partners who work together well. Collaboration is important and impacts the success of an event immensely. Encourage your clients to hire professionals rather than bringing in friends and family to play important roles, and to select those who are able to work together in a friendly and constructive manner.
Setting up expectations, building a functional timeline, and choosing professionals who play nice and want what’s best for the client are three of the most critical ways to make sure your couples stick to their timelines.
Heather Jones is the catering sales director for Wente Vineyards, a family-owned property in Livermore, Calif., that is home to a winery and vineyards, a golf course, restaurant, and a range of unique facilities for hosting weddings and special events.