In any wedding, no matter how carefully and meticulously planned, something big or small may still go wrong, turn out a little differently or be totally unexpected. You can’t possibly plan for every contingency. But you can follow these 10 tips to ensure the ceremony runs as smoothly and calmly as possible.

1. Allow time for Wedding Prep

Create a Timeline with space for the unforeseen built into it. Have the aesthetician come to you for hair, nails and makeup. If that’s not possible, allow yourself lots of time to get from one appointment to the other.  Leave plenty of time to dress and to get to the wedding venue at least half an hour before the advertised starting time – the one you put on the invitations.

2. Choose your pre-ceremony photo shoot location wisely

If you are having a pre-ceremony photoshoot somewhere other than at your home or wherever you are getting ready for the ceremony, build in lots of time to get to the venue. Ideally, schedule your photo shoots at wherever you are getting ready for the wedding and then also at the venue. That way, at least you are on the premises!

3. Decide yes or no to guests snapping during the ceremony

Decide whether you’re OK with your  guests snapping away, texting and instagramming  during the ceremony. If you’d rather they didn’t,  ask your officiant to spell that out right at the beginning of the ceremony. That way you won’t be distracted or annoyed by snappers and they won’t interfere with the professional photos being taken by the professional photographers.  

4. Happy Baby, Happy Bride


You want to carry your baby up the aisle in your arms. But he’s demanding to be fed, having a meltdown or has just fallen asleep. Just give her time to calm down or finish feeding or to gently wake up. As long as you let your guests know what’s happening, they’ll smile and understand.

5. Make a Plan B for the Ringbearer

If you choose to have a small child, say under the age of six, as your ring bearer, have them carry the rings securely tied to a pillow or in a box. Make sure the Best Man retrieves the rings once the child has walked up the aisle, so the rings are available and ready for the Exchange of Rings part of the ceremony. Better still, have the ringbearer carry fake rings. Just make sure the Best Man has the real rings in his pocket!

 6. Be flexible with whether children participate as scheduled in the ceremony

Children are usually thrilled to be participating in a wedding ceremony. On the actual day, be prepared that they might be overcome by the excitement and get stagefright or have a meltdown. So be understanding and  flexible and don’t force the issue. Remember, Happy Child means Happy Couple means Happy Guests.

7. Keep all the children happy

If you are expecting lots of guests with very young children, hire a child minder or two for the ceremony and the reception. Have the officiant announce that there is childcare available, and also ask that guests comfort a crying child during the ceremony by taking it out of the room or space so as not to distract from the ceremony.

8.  Be doggone sure you want that dog in the ceremony

Pets are notorious scene stealer. Do you want to share the limelight? If you do, just make sure the dog has done its business just before the ceremony, has a designated person to walk it up the aisle and to take it aside once it has delivered the rings

9. Punctuality, yours, the guests, and everyone else involved, matters

Traffic is often unpredictable, taxis are late or don’t show up, the bus you hired to bring the guests from their hotel to the venue inexplicably  fails to materialise. So find a balance between respecting the value of the time of those who are at the venue on time, and giving those who are not on time, through circumstances beyond their control, a chance to be at the ceremony.

10. Stick as closely as possible to the advertised start time of the ceremony

Nobody expects wedding to start exactly at the advertised time,. But if you start the ceremony more than, say, 20 minutes late, you may incur additional charges for the extra time,  throw off the tight schedule for cocktails, post-ceremony photos, and  the reception. Be sure to check with the officiant, the musicians, the photographers and the venue as to what flexibility they have with delaying the ceremony. Agree in advance on a cut-off point beyond which you will not wait for that last guest to arrive.

Finally, remember there are some things you can’t control. Know that by the end of the day, you will be married to the person you love. All the stresses will be forgotten in that joy. And don’t forget to breathe, and enjoy every moment of your special day.


Catherine Kentridge, Licensed Wedding Officiant 
Custom Wedding Ceremonies