Sean asks

“Do you have any advice on taking multiple bookings in a day? Accounting for travel time of course what’s the minimum amount of time you leave yourself in between ceremonies, and is this something you discuss with your couples at all?”

Josh’s response

This question needs some context around what we consider a booking. When I take a 3pm booking, I block off 2pm to 4pm in my calendar, then I block off the travel time either side of that.

So for a 3pm ceremony I schedule myself to arrive an hour before hand, I like to be all set up before any guests arrive. My audio and video gear takes under 15 minutes to set up, so the rest of the time is just being present so no-one is wondering if I’m there and I have some time to prepare myself and get in the zone.

Plus being there an hour early gives me 60 minutes of error time. I like to have as much “oh shit” time up my sleeve as possible simply because we’ve all sat through a traffic jam, or had to change a tyre.

For the 3pm ceremony I am roughly expecting that people getting married would be there between 3pm and 3:15pm, my ceremony plus any walking in and walking out, plus signing the paperwork, takes under 30 minutes, and there’s 15 minutes at the end of the hour to pack up, say thank you, and graciously move on.

The odd wedding sees the 60 minutes allocated expand to 70 or 75, but that’s extremely rare.

I’ll schedule other weddings or meetings on the same day, with the same scheduling allowances, if it fits. So if there was another wedding nearby the first, maybe 10-15 minutes drive, I’d happily take that ceremony for 1pm or 5pm.

I do communicate to my couples about the other bookings, firstly because I use it to encourage the deal on me MCing the reception, I let them know that another a couple is looking at booking me and before they did I wanted to a) confirm the ceremony time again (because it seemingly changes more than I’d care to imagine) and b) to make sure they know that I’ll be out the door at 4pm (for example) and if that was going to be a problem we could talk about it today. 

Contractually, this is how I communicate my commitment to their ceremony time:

3.2. In providing the Services, the Couple acknowledge and agree that Josh Withers is only required to attend at the Ceremony for a minimum of one (1) hour and a maximum of two (2) hours unless otherwise agreed in writing.
3.3. Subject to clause 3.2, Josh Withers will endeavour to attend at the Ceremony at least thirty (30) minutes prior to the Ceremony Time and will leave no earlier than thirty (30) minutes following the Ceremony Time.
3.4. Josh Withers reserves the right to leave the Ceremony thirty (30) minutes after the Ceremony Time stated in the Contract if both or either of the Couple have not arrived or the Ceremony cannot proceed for any reason outside of Josh Withers’ control. In these circumstances, the Couple forfeit all monies paid to Josh Withers.

You’ll note that my contractual commitment is low, but my delivered commitment is high. I aim to always under promise and over deliver.

Sarah’s response

My general policy is no less than four hours between bookings: one hour for the first bride to be late, one hour for the ceremony, one hour to drive to the next location, to be there one hour before the next ceremony. Of course if the drive is less than an hour, I take that time off.

I’ve heard way too many stories of celebrants taking bookings too close together and being VERY lucky that the first wedding has run to time. It’s too risky and it would make me too anxious, so I build in plenty of additional time.

I don’t discuss this with my clients. I’m running a business, and I reserve the right to take as many bookings as I see fit. I have a term in my contract about if they’re half an hour late I reserve the right to go to my next booking, but it hasn’t happened yet 🙂