In a minute-by-minute rundown that would make Jack Bauer proud, check out your entire wedding day itinerary, from 4:02 am until the wedding night sex.
...And for our next trick, The Plunge will channel Nostradamus, read your future, and give you a blow-by-blow prediction of your wedding day, Jack Bauer-style:
4:02 am. You will wake up in a cold sweat. Holy hell, is this really happening? Stare at the ceiling. Brood.
4:14 am. Panic. Maybe she’s not The One? Maybe this is a mistake? (Click here.)
4:23 am. Freak out. You are promising to love her always for the rest of your life, but what if she changes? What if she develops some weird disease that doesn’t let her shave her body-hair? Would you still love her if she had wooly Chewbacca legs? Or what if she got in an accident and became all retarded like Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry, would you still love—
4:24 am. Drift back to sleep.
9:00 am. Alarm goes off. Pound the snooze button.
9:01 am. Groggily wonder why you were dreaming about Chewbacca. Does that make you gay?
9:08 am. Alarm goes off again. Drag your ass out of bed. If you’re hung over, be thankful that you read our hangover guide and follow the 9-Step program.
9:18 am. Grab a quick shower. Don’t shave yet. Don’t get pretty. Don’t tux-up. Just throw on jeans or whatever.
9:45 am. Eat. This is key. 95% of couples get so swept up in the day’s events, so consumed by the monsoon of activities, that by midnight they crash and burn. Fuel your body throughout the day.
9:52 am. Snag a water bottle. Lug it around with you all day. Drink from it, refill, repeat.
10:14 am. Check and make sure you have the marriage license.
10:15 am. Check again.
10:17 am. Bang out any last minute chores. Examples: call the car service, check in with the band, pack your honeymoon bag if you’re leaving the next day.
10:42 am. Ensure your best man and groomsmen are squared away—they know when and where to be, they have their tuxes, he has the rings, etc.
10:43 am. Double-check the rings.
11:12 am. Bust out your checklists and make sure you have all your paperwork: vendor contracts, lots of cash, rings, etc.
11:17 am. Take a leak. Because you’re not actually Jack Bauer, who hasn’t once used the bathroom in seven years.
11:19 am. Practice your vows and your speech. Memorize.
11:47 am. Play hoops with your boys. Or toss around the football, play beach volleyball (just no slow-motion high-fives like on Top Gun), throw the frisbee (geek), whatever. Do something that makes you sweat. Especially on this day, physical exertion is calming and even invigorating. If you really want to piss off every woman in the bridal party, suggest tackle football or mountain biking. Too lazy for all that? Shoot pool, play GTA, throw darts, whatever. Just don’t go bowling on your wedding day. That depresses even us.
1:15 pm. Scarf down some lunch with the groomsmen. Have a beer if you think you can truly keep it to “a beer.”
2:02 pm. Get man-pretty. Shower, shave, pluck the hairs from your nostrils. Slip into your monkey-suit. Once you’ve confirmed that your jacket is in good shape, take it off again and hang it back up in the cellophane or protective plastic. Avoid sitting in the jacket before the ceremony as it will wrinkle—especially during the “travel to ceremony” leg of your journey.
2:58 pm. Stash a power bar in your jacket pocket. You never know.
3:01 pm. Spot-check the groomsmen. Check their ties, vests, shoes, etc. Technically this is the best man’s job, but ultimately the buck stops with you.
3:02 pm. Check on the rings again.
3:17 pm. You’re alarmed that your pits are already starting to get wet. Damn. Is this a bad sign, an omen? It’s not. This is normal.
3:30 pm. Travel to the ceremony, leaving extra time for traffic, changing a flat, or waffling like Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (“This is ridiculous, ok I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go, I'll go. What - I'LL GO”). Reminder—hang your jacket up.
4:00 pm. Pose for photo-session misery. Try and get this over with before the ceremony. There might be some pushback, as it undercuts the whole groom-can’t-see-bride-in-dress tradition, but it makes everything run smoother. Why? The photo-session is one of life’s top-five buzz-kills. Think of a good movie you like. Let’s take The Dark Knight. Imagine if right before the climax, right after the Joker busts out of jail and unleashes hell on Gotham, the movie theater paused the film and shows you a 20-minute infomercial on gardening tools.
4:01 pm. Smile for the pictures. Even if you normally have a stoic, tough guy, Clint Eastwood-esque expression, you need to suck it up and show your teeth. Otherwise your wife (and family) will wonder why you looked so miserable on your wedding day.
4:57 pm. Wonder if there’s a polite, convenient, inoffensive way to call the ceremony off.
4:58 pm. If Jewish, prepare to break the plates and sign the ketubah. Obviously, Jewish weddings have a substantial number of cultural rituals that aren’t included on this generic timeline. (Veiling of the bride, untying of the groom’s knots, walking the seven circles around the groom, etc.) Presumably you already have the lowdown from your Rabbi, but you can find a good itinerary and background here.
4:59 pm. Tell your bride how astonishingly frickin’ spectacular she looks. Remember, she’s been sweating her appearance for a year. Let her know it’s working.
5:00 pm. Get married. We’re not going to walk you through the actual ceremony. You know how it works. Some people wear some fancy clothes and walk very slowly down an aisle while listening to music that they would never normally enjoy. Cameras flash. You fidget. More cameras flash. You’ll hear some words that will all jumble together and then, before you can blink, your life has just changed forever. (As the careful reader has gleaned, this entire schedule presumes a 5pm ceremony start. If yours is different, shift everything forward or backwards accordingly.)
5:18 pm. Kiss the bride. More than a peck, less than tonsil-hockey.
5:23 pm. Hold court in the receiving line. Scrap this if at all possible. The receiving line is the dumps. It’s tedious, it’s awkward, and it just delays the party. Better to greet your guests during the reception—at the tables and with alcohol in-hand. That’s more relaxed and more egalitarian, as one person can’t stall the entire line.
5:24 pm. Continue thanking your guests. This is important. Even though they really should be thanking you for inviting them, you need to be a gracious host and thank them from coming. If you haven’t said “Thank You” at least 100 times on your wedding day you’ve done something wrong.
5:26 pm. Give special thanks to your mother and father in-laws. Remember, you’re still under the microscope. Express a deep fountain of gratitude.
5:30 pm. Cocktail hour starts. Bonus planning tip: If you have extra cash to blow, consider a cocktail hour before the ceremony. Everything will feel more festive.
5:31 pm. Steal a quick snack. Arrange this ahead of time with the caterer.
5:47 pm. Your Grand Entrance. Yes, you’ll be nervous, but all kidding aside this could be one of the most triumphant moments of your life. Soak it in.
6:15 pm. All of your guests feast on dinner. You don’t.
6:47 pm. Uncle Eddie will piss you off. Don’t let it show. Hide any frustration. Hide any fatigue. As a host, you must always act like you’re having a wonderful time, even when you’re not. Again, think of this as healthy practice for marriage.
6:51 pm. More schmoozing. For extensive thoughts on your reception behavior, click here.
7:02 pm. They toast. You toast. This is all starting to go to your head. (For more on your toast, click here.)
7:19 pm. Cake-cutting. It starts to sink in. Good God. You really are married.
7:20 pm. The first dance. Make it a good one. Ideally something energetic and upbeat. (Click here for our thoughts on dancing.)
The next couple of hours should be a joyous (but not shitfaced) celebration that doesn’t require an agenda...
10:04 pm. Quietly—without ignoring your guests for too long—take care of any loose ends like tipping vendors.
10:34 pm. Thank your parents (and her parents) again. And then again. Always remember: this wedding means as much to them as it does to you. Probably more.
11:02 pm. Give your best man one last bro-hug, hopefully avoiding a long, lingering goodbye like the escalator scene at the end of Superbad.
11:37 pm. Head off with your new wife for Wedding Night Sex.
There you have it. Does it feel like this starts with everything moving sloooow – events every 2 minutes – and then finishes up too quick? Yep. And that’s how your day will feel. The morning will be a month; the night will be a bolt of lightning.
For more specific advice on how to act at your reception, click here.
-By Jeff Wilser
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