Why You Need a Cheat Sheet

The trick to cramming all your events into a short time frame is to be judicious with what you include. For example, a father-daughter and mother-son dance is fine, but you probably aren't going to have time to waltz with your brother, grandfather and favorite uncle, too. (And we know you're the bride and what you say goes, but none of your guests really want to watch all that.)

You also need to be realistic about how long each event will last. Once you determine the time allotment, work a few more flexible minutes into the schedule. If you think the cake cutting will take five minutes, allot 10 just to be sure. Giving yourself and your guests a bit of extra time in your time line will help ensure your reception stays on track, and this wiggle room could even give you the ability to extend a few of the more popular events (like the toasts) without neglecting the more mundane, but still necessary, proceedings, such as seating the guests.

There's nothing intimidating about setting up a reception schedule of events -- and it's easier than actually planning the reception! Just write down a list of your events and estimate a rough time frame for how long each one should last. Be realistic with your estimations. Even if you're planning an afternoon reception, you don't have all day (or night). You might wish it could last a lifetime, but no matter how grand the party is, after a few hours, your guests will want to go home.

Still uncertain? We've got a sample schedule on the next page.