How To: Build Your Wedding Day Timeline
Updated: Nov 4
Creating a timeline for your wedding day can seem like a daunting task, but it is definitely a necessary one. As overwhelming as it may seem, this is one of those tasks, as an experienced wedding planner, that I can put together in a matter of minutes when taking into consideration some basic information. The best place to start is in the middle, with the ceremony. Then it is easiest to work your way backwards, before working your way forwards. When doing this, I want to give you five things to consider…
1. The first thing you need to know is, what are your venue time restrictions? How long do you contractually have the venue for? Does that include time for set up and take down? It is important to consult your venue, as well as your other vendors, to make sure you allot enough time for set up, party, and clean up. Having all this information will help dictate your first task, when to start your ceremony. Consult with your future spouse and your officiant to decide what you want included in your ceremony and how long it will be.
2. Next, when working backwards, think about if you are wanting to do a first look or not. This will dictate how much time you need before or after the ceremony to get all your desired pictures. If you are undecided, weigh the pros and cons with your future spouse and consult with your photographer about how much time they recommend allotting either way. Remember, the more photos you take before the ceremony the more time you will have afterwards to mingle with your guests.
3. Continuing to work backwards, your “get ready” time will really depend a lot on how many ladies (or gentleman) need their hair and make up done and if you are paying someone to come in or if they are in charge of doing their own. If you are paying someone to come in, consult with them how long they will need for the number of people you have. If they are doing their own, consult with your photographer about when they need to be done and “photo ready”. Also keep in mind where you are getting ready – if it is off site or at the venue – because that will play into your timeline.
4. Now, to work forward from your ceremony. When trying to time how long you will need for dinner before you can start the dance party, you need to take into consideration what kind of dinner you are serving – plated or buffet. Consult with you caterer when you would like to start dinner and how long they will need to prep & serve because it can vary depending on the meal components.
5. The last thing I recommend taking into consideration, is whether you would like to have your photographer capture those dreamy sunset photos that you see all over Instagram and Facebook. Consult with them what time sunset is and how long before that actual time they will need to capture the best light. This will likely cut into your dancing/mingling time, but if those photos are on your “must have” list then it will all be worth it in the end!
With all that said – if you are still feeling overwhelmed – keep in mind, when hiring an experienced planner or day-of coordinator you are getting all their knowledge that comes with them. That means that instead of having to consult with all those separate vendors I mentioned in each bullet point, you will only need to coordinate with one. Your planner will already know how long each segment will take and will likely already know how long each vendor needs to set up. Like I said before, after so many weddings, I can create for you a wedding day timeline in a matter of minutes simply based off this simple information that you give me.
You, and everyone in your entourage, deserve to completely enjoy this beautiful day! No matter how much planning you have put into your big day and no matter how many people say that they are available to help you on that day, you can still never be everywhere at the same time. Think about Monica Geller, from Friends, at Phoebe’s wedding in the last season where she barely got down the aisle in time because she was not only a bridesmaid but running the show too. Ultimately it can make the day longer for both you and that bridesmaid or friend. Consider reading my blog, "Invaluable Tasks a Good Wedding Coordinator Will Perform" to learn more about what else I can do to make sure your day is as stress free as possible!
If you found this article helpful and want to chat further, head on over to the services page for my packages and pricing information. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below!
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