Timing Is Everything

Having a wedding on the beach but not sure how to time everything? Fear not, gentle reader, for help is at hand. I’ve put together an example of a wedding day timeline, taking into account that the sun sets very early here (it’s dark by 5:45 PM during our summer months of November – April and by 6 PM the rest of the year).

Hair makeup – depending on how many are in your entourage, what they are having done, etc. my suggestion is to start earlier than later. The last thing you want is everyone in a panic as the sun is setting and you’re still in hot rollers! The bride should go last (so she’s the ‘freshest’) and should be finished at least an hour and a half before the ceremony start time. Word of advice…book a trial run the day or two before the wedding so you’re not fussing with the hair and makeup on the day. The money spent on a trial run is well worth the peace of mind on the big day.

Ceremony – I always aim for 4 PM as this allows for ‘wiggle room’ to start late. Since the sunset waits for no one and ceremonies rarely start on the nose (usually due to the bride taking her time getting ready),  it’s better to err on the side of caution. Civil ceremonies usually last 15 – 20 minutes (I don’t recommend going longer as people start to really ‘zone out’).

Cocktails/Photo Session – right after the ceremony, it’s perfect to move into the cocktail hour and photo session, as the light is starting to soften. Get the big group photos out of the way first so the really fabulous sunset lighting is just for you and your hunny’s portraits (around 5:30 PM). Guests like to watch the sunset as well, so try to keep the food/drink/music near the beach.

Dinner – darkness sets around 6 PM, making it a perfect time to segue from the beach into the reception area. Bride and groom will likely want to take a few minutes to freshen up before dinner and guests need some time to find their seats, grab a drink, etc. I find starting the welcome toast around 6:20/6:30 PM to settle everyone works nicely.

Ending time – due to the fact most venues in Costa Rica are open-aired and subject to noise-bylaws, music must be turned off by 10 PM. While this may seem very early, keep in mind that the sun rises by 5 AM, tours start early in the morning and the heat/humidity tends to tire people out. If you’re still ready to boogie on after the music has stopped, most beach towns have clubs or discos where you can shake your booty until the early hours.

So that’s a timeline in a nutshell. Speeches, toasting, cake cutting et al usually slot in between 6 and 10 PM. When creating your wedding day timeline, think of how things will flow – if you have a lot of speeches, consider breaking them up during dinner. And don’t feel that you have to stick like glue to the printed schedule. Weddings take on their own energy so go with the flow and enjoy the day.

Photo by Comfort Studio

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