The Run Sheet or order of events is very important. We want your guests to feel relaxed and comfortable and for the entire proceedings of the night to flow smoothly from one thing to the next. We want to avoid interrupting everyone’s conversation too often, we want to ensure people have drinks before speeches begin, and that the food is served hot and as soon as it is ready.

Questions to ask yourself as you are planning your wedding day timeline and event order.

Ceremony – what time of year is it, and how will that affect us and our guests; for example – is it November/December, and should we have a plan to avoid flies? What could the wind be like? If it’s a beach ceremony, is the noise of waves crashing going to prevent guests from hearing the ceremony? Is there shade for the guests while they are waiting for the ceremony to begin?

But in terms of timing, often people forget to consider what their guests will do after the ceremony before the reception while the bridal party are having their photos taken. For example, if you get married on Bunker Bay Beach at 3.30pm and your ceremony, congratulations and group photos are over by 4.30pm; then while you disappear for photos – what are your guests to do before the reception starts at 5.30 at Bunker Bay Café? They cant go there early as the venue is setting up, they cant purchase drinks, there is no shade… what a horrible way to spend an hour!

You should perhaps discuss with your venue manager as to what time the venue will be completely set up and finished by, and make sure that your guests are not in the space before that time. So much effort and planning goes into making the room look special so that everyone walks in and gets the full impact and wow factor! So I always think it’s a shame when guests are allowed inside while things are half done. Also from a safety point of view, guests can trip over cords that we have not yet had a chance to tape down; the lighting stand is also very dangerous and can hit people on the head before it has been properly secured. Plugging music equipment in can also be a bit confusing and requires a lot of concentration. Its very difficult for us to achieve a good result when we have to worry about your guests at the same time.

Having an acoustic musician to play for the time that you are away for your photos, and the cocktail/canapé part of your reception is a great idea. Its one of those things you spend money on that you might not get to actually enjoy as you are not there, but it really adds a special element to the time that your guests are waiting. The atmosphere is totally different, and it feels very special. So many beautiful places where we want to make the most of the setting, on the terrace at Wise, the lawn at Leeuwin, the decking at Aravina… it’s a stunning option to keep everyone entertained. If you return from your photos during cocktail/canapé hour, you can always join your guests in what is known as a ‘soft entrance’, where basically you just join everyone unannounced. This way you get to mingle with your friends and family before being seated.

Otherwise, once you return from your photos, please take a moment to ‘chill out’ before making your grand entrance. Depending on the venue they may have somewhere that you can go to do so, such as the gallery or a room within the venue that is not being used. If not, even just hanging out the front for a minute can work. Perhaps grab a quick drink, re-do your lip gloss and just tune out for a minute in your heads. It’s a huge day with all of the nerves and excitement in getting ready and the ceremony, as well as your photo shoot. Remember that once you enter the reception you are going to continue to be fabulous for another 5 or 6 hours! If you make a soft entrance earlier on, this is still an option – you duck off while your guests go to find their seats – they wont notice as they are busy themselves.

Your MC and or your DJ will come and find you, and check how long you need before entering, no rush. Remember that your guests are inside finding their seats on the seating plan, getting their orders taken, wine poured and generally settling in. They have a lot to take in and wont mind how long you are not there for (as long as its not hours ha).

Perhaps the best time to do the housekeeping is once we know that you are ready to enter. Its probably best to not have to interrupt guests too often, so if we can get their attention and let them know the housekeeping and general information while you are standing outside ready to enter, we can then announce you straight away – get everyone excited and get you inside!

Once you are seated, we could either serve entrée, or commence a round of speeches. After welcoming the bridal party, we want to give the staff a chance to pour you a drink and let you take a minute to look around and settle in. If you are not serving an entrée, then I think it works to play a few songs before we commence that first round of speeches for this reason. But its up to you.

Having an acoustic musician to play for the time that you are away for your photos, and the cocktail/canapé part of your reception is a great idea. Its one of those things you spend money on that you might not get to actually enjoy as you are not there, but it really adds a special element to the time that your guests are waiting.

If you are having a wedding cake, I would suggest cutting the cake, and moving pretty much straight on to your bridal dance. This just allows the night to flow without stopping and starting too often for formalities. By this time of night your guests will have a few drinks under their belts and be enjoying each other’s company and conversation.

Some couples choose to cut the cake early in the reception to allow the photographer to capture the moment and or for the kitchen to prepare the cake for dessert, but a mock cake cutting is always an option – so that way your guests are able to check the cake out throughout the reception. If the cake is being served as dessert, we will look at the run sheet together and devise the best time to cut it so that the kitchen has enough time to plate the cake up.

Alternatively cut and serve the cake at the wedding ceremony, everyone can have an afternoon snack! I love this idea!

The bridal dance should happen at a point in the night when formalities are over, no one has any reason to return to their seat, and people have had long enough for a good chat and to get a few drinks under their belt. There isn’t one song that will make all guests of all ages and walks of life get up and dance at the same moment, so the bride and groom doing their first dance is the tool we use to kick things off! This is the event that signifies that the dance floor is now open. The reason is that once you do your bridal dance, then everyone will join you on the dance floor. Then, I can KEEP them there! I find that 2 and a half hours of dancing is about right… you want your guests to leave on a high and all excited, rather than tired. So it’s a good idea to aim to cut the cake and do the bridal dance around 9.30 if we finish at midnight. For a cocktail reception its very difficult to hold it for this long, we would perhaps aim for around 9pm. The run sheet/schedule will probably be finalised in the week leading up to the wedding. We need to make sure that any ideas that we have will work in with the food service and general running of the venue – which is why its very important to keep your contact at your reception venue in the loop. The FINAL RUN SHEET needs to be emailed to your MC, your DJ and The Venue Manager. These are the 3 people who on the day, ensure that everything runs smoothly, and will ensure formalities are over as soon as possible so everyone can relax and have a great time! If you change something on the run sheet when speaking to the venue manager, be sure to forward changes on to myself and your MC, or vice versa. This way when the 3 of us meet up early on in the reception, we are on the same page.


1 – Meal Service Times

Contact your function coordinator or your caterers and ask for meal service times, or for a cocktail wedding – ask for the timing for service of canape brackets, most importantly the substantial canapes. We can work everything else in the run sheet around the food, but obviously this is the most important 

2 – Photographer

Talk to your photographer about how long you will be gone for photos, what time (dependant on light at that time of year) and if you are travelling off site or not. If you book a local photo grapher they will have a good understanding about any travel times, and know all the special places nearby for your photos. If you book a photographer who is travelling for your wedding, make sure you work out your photo locations beforehand and budget adequately for travel time. If you have a large bridal party, budget for ‘faffing around’ time. Its a fun and exciting day, nothing wrong with taking ten minutes to get going – as long as this time is included when planning.

At this point, please consider what your guests will be doing while you are gone for photos. If its more than 1.5 hours total, we need a good plan in place so that they are comfortable.

3 – Celebrant

Work backwards from the photographers requirements, and consider what time the venue finishes lunch service if applicable.

Generally a budget of one hour for the ceremony is a good rough plan to work from. That gives you ten minutes to be late, and time after the ceremony for congratulations and group photos. If you finish before the hour, great – you have time up your sleeve!

4 – Speeches

Work out who is giving a speech.

Once you have these four things, then please call South Sound Events, and we will discuss your DRAFT Run Sheet. Once we have a draft, you can then send this to your other suppliers and the venue for their input. When all parties are happy, we will name it the FINAL Run Sheet and Mandy will ensure that your MC gets a copy.