Venues want to make sure your event timeline is smooth from start to finish


Glidden House set up for a wedding. Photo / Yogi Smith Photography

By Amy Richards

Weddings and b’nai mitzvahs involve a wide scope of planning. When and where will the celebration take place? Is there a theme? Who will be invited? And once the preliminary decisions are made, it is time to think about what the actual day will look like – hour by hour, minute by minute. 

When you find yourself at that stage of planning, it helps to understand how some area venues and vendors coordinate managing the timeline for your celebration.

Jennifer Franz, director of special events at Glidden House in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood, said although her venue has hosted several b’nai mitzvah parties, it is mainly used as a wedding venue. She explains she and event coordinator Allyson McDonnell, “manage the big picture in terms of timeline, whereas party planners, DJs and caterers manage the detailed timelines.” 

Couples are provided with a list of suggested vendors including planners, bakers, florists and entertainers. 

“We field these vendors and make sure each vendor timeline is followed on the day of the event,” Franz says. “For example, if a wedding cake is supposed to show up at 3 p.m. and doesn’t, we make the phone call to the baker to resolve the issue.” 

While Franz and her Glidden House team don’t involve themselves in the pre-event timelines, such as bridal party hair and makeup, they take over as the ceremony approaches. 

“We don’t get involved with the timeline until the ceremony is set to begin,” she says. “We leave the pre-party timelines to professional party planners or the bride and groom. When it is time for the ceremony, we seat guests, go to the bridal suite to get the bride and make sure that the ceremony starts on time.”

Their careful timeline considerations continue into the evening. 

Green Road Synagogue set up for an outdoor wedding. Courtesy of Green Road Synagogue. 

“During cocktail hour, we check on the caterers to make sure that they are ready to seat people, and on the DJ or band to make sure that they are ready to begin,” Franz adds. “After that, the entertainment, the party planner, the photographer and the caterer are in charge of the timeline. For example, if dinner service goes more quickly than expected, the caterer may bump up the dessert service.”

Franz warns that if one aspect of the day runs late, it can cause everything after to be late, too. 

“That is why we do a complete run-through six weeks prior to the event with the bride and groom, the caterer and a party planner if one is involved,” she says. “We finalize the basic timeline and make sure that everyone is on the same page.”

Cindi Bessette, director of sales for House of Blues Cleveland in downtown Cleveland, also stresses the importance of planning the timeline. 

“Effective communication and detailed planning ahead of time are crucial,” she says. “We start the conversation and collaboration early to ensure a well-prepared plan and schedule for the day of the event. The more we plan in advance, the more you can focus on celebrating on the big day.” 

Although House of Blues has a wedding concierge who stays with the bridal party from the time the bride arrives until dinner is served, Bessette also highlights the importance of hiring a professional event planner, if possible. “Having a dedicated emcee/event planner working with our venue allows clients to relax and focus on the main event,” she notes. 

House of Blues adheres to a general wedding timeline. Set-up begins at 2 p.m., ceremony at 5, cocktail hour from 5:30 to 6:30, dinner and dancing from 6:30 to 10:30, and then tear down. Planning for before the ceremony is left to the couple or a professional planner. 

“For b’nai mitzvahs, we understand that the trends and events are a highly personalized experience, so timelines vary based on client preferences,” Bessette explains. “We work closely with the emcee/DJ to establish it in advance.”

House of Blues Cleveland set up for a b’nai mitzvah. Photo / Domino Arts Photography

Although Bessette emphasizes the importance of finalizing timelines far in advance of the event, she understands that sometimes things don’t go exactly as scheduled. 

“Our experienced team is adept at adapting to the changing needs of events,” she says. “We seamlessly accommodate timing twists and ensure flexibility to make sure the celebration goes on without missing a beat.”

Rachel Epstein, executive director of Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood, also says one of the most important roles of the venue is “to facilitate a line of communication to make sure that everyone is happy on the day of the event.” 

Like Glidden House and House of Blues, Epstein encourages engaged couples and b’nai mitzvah celebrants to hire professional party/event planners to manage the day-of timeline. But, how much the venue staff is involved in the timing of the big day varies between locations, and the type of ceremony and celebration. 

“Besides b’nai mitzvah celebrations and weddings, we also host a lot of Shabbat dinners, luncheons, kiddushes and Sheva Brachot meals,” Epstein says. “We take care of reserving the space, managing the facility and scheduling vendor drop-offs and arrival times, but don’t manage the day-of timeline.” 

No matter what venue, caterer, photographer, florist, entertainer, event planner or baker you choose for your big day, communicate your timeline wishes with all of them so everything runs smoothly and you can enjoy your special day.

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