Let’s talk timelines! As wedding coordinators, we have seen it all but live to plan the unique. You are likely in one of two bride camps: detail-oriented or big-picture. No matter your vision, the wedding day timeline will ensure your story is written your way. You will inevitably attend what seems to be an endless amount of vendor meetings over the course of the wedding planning process, and every vendor will ask you to make decisions about how you want your wedding day to run. Having essential timeline markers is crucial in the early stages of planning.
Here are a few wedding day timeline tips to get you started!
1. Decide the big items first
Will you do a first look? How long will the ceremony last? Plated/Buffet/Stations/Family Style food service? How many people will give toasts? Will there be a cake cutting? What time do you need to be out of the reception space? To help you determine the answers to these questions talk to the experts and read our post where we defined common wedding terms used throughout the wedding planning process so you can know the lingo.
2. Rely on your vendor team
You pick the best of the best for a reason. Your vendors are pros at making timing suggestions that cater to their specialties. For example, talk to your photographer about the amount of time they suggest for family portraits, location changes and when lighting will be best for outdoor photos. Speaking of lighting, if you are having an outdoor wedding think about the sun at all times of the day. This will help you decide which way to face during the ceremony, where to put your head table so you aren’t blinded during toasts, and the exact time to schedule a few gorgeous golden-hour shots.
3. Set your vendors up for success
Try to give your vendors accurate timing from the start. It’s not uncommon for vendors to schedule multiple weddings on the same day (florists, rentals, cake, hair & makeup). This can be a difficult balancing act as most vendors are booked several months in advance. So once they lock you in for a time, they work from there to schedule other brides and delivery times. For example. hair and makeup sets the tone for the entire day. You do not necessarily need your hair and makeup finished a full hour before your first look but on the flip side, you also do not want to feel rushed into your ceremony. To avoid any of these last minute faux pas talk with your vendors and know your timing early.
4. Allot for travel time
Always add in a travel buffer for both the bridal party and your guests. Try this: drive the same route that you’ll take on the day of your wedding. Do this at similar times as your wedding day to determine what is an adequate amount of time to allocate within your timeline! Remember, out-of-town guests always appreciate a suggestion for a place to stop if there is a gap between the ceremony and reception!
5. It’s all in the details
You have spent countless hours crafting personalized favors, alphabetizing place cards, and soaking skew stickers off votive vases. Don’t let all of your hard work be forgotten when determining the wedding day timeline. Someone (likely your Day of Wedding Coordinator) needs time to light each of those votives, line up your place cards in a formation your photographer will swoon over and place favors strategically as to not be missed by one guest. Those details are what make your day stand out from the rest!
The JDWC Team
Image by Sara Ackermann Photography