One of the tasks we spend a lot of time on as wedding planners is creating and managing timelines. And it can be quite overwhelming, especially during a busy wedding season! After executing countless weddings, I have created a system that I use to organize and manage my client’s wedding day timelines. This system has really helped me keep my sanity over the years, and it’s easy to follow!
Create your wedding day timelines
One important thing to remember before you start is to keep your wedding day timelines to the point. It’s a vendor timeline, and vendors don’t need to see all the nitty-gritty details broken down in two-minute increments. A baker doesn’t care about the ceremony processional order just as the band doesn’t care about the ceremony décor setup. I leave all of that for my Game Day Playbook that only my team and I follow on the day of! So, when creating your timelines, I always encourage planners to stick to only what’s most important.
01. Sit down with your clients
First and foremost, I always start off by sitting down with my clients to discuss their vision for the day. Will there be a first look or no first look? Will there be multiple photo locations, or will everything be held at the one venue? Are they planning to incorporate traditional formalities or were they hoping to mix things up a bit? Whatever it is, it’s extremely important that I get a better understanding of what the couple is envisioning. Not necessarily what I want. And then offering suggestions and recommendations when necessary that will ultimately help me begin to devise a game plan.
02. Create an initial working timeline
Next, I put my logistics hat on and get to work behind-the-scenes creating an initial working timeline. Highlighting details and timing that are unknown or TBD. This helps me get an overall view of the day and understand what my next steps are. It also allows me to see what is important to them during their wedding day. For example, if they have a large family, we might need additional time during family portraits. Or if they have a large bridal party, we might need more time for hair and makeup and so on.
03. Start with the photographer
Once you have an initial working timeline approved by the client, reach out to the photographer first to get their suggestions and preferences on photo timing based on the client’s wishes. The couple’s photography package, location changes, the couple’s photo preferences, and decisions like first look vs. no first look can all impact photo timing. Not to mention the overall flow of the day. Working closely with the photographer first can help you start to really solidify your timeline.
04. Work backwards
Once you’ve determined the photography timing and it’s been approved by the couple, work backwards. For example, start with the bride’s getting dressed time to determine an official hair and makeup start and end time. Working backwards is a great method to figuring out when everything needs to happen!
05. Send the timeline out to vendors
Once the wedding day timeline is finalized and approved by the client, you can send it out to the rest of your clients’ vendors! Photographers, venues, caterers, and DJ’s/bands may have slightly altered timelines of their own, and that’s okay! The goal is to have a general overview (a bullet list if you will) of the most important things happening, where the bride is at all times, vendor arrival times, main formalities, etc.
06. Remember that everyone is on the same team
It’s important to discuss timing with all major vendors before sending out a final timeline. This also prevents last-minute changes. I strive to always send out a final wedding day timeline to vendors three to four weeks in advance and rarely have revisions. This gives all of the vendors plenty of time to review and let me know if there are any changes needed.
However, that being said, I would rather send out a final timeline two weeks in advance versus sending three or four or even five revisions to vendors in a matter of a couple of weeks. Sending out multiple timeline revisions only creates the possibility of a vendor showing up with and working from the wrong timeline! Always make sure you let them know the final timeline, and remind them to use only this timeline for the wedding day.
Wedding day timelines made easy
One thing that can really make creating wedding day timelines easier is having a template that you can quickly and easily plug the couple’s information into. This can save you so much time and effort. And luckily, I’ve already started that work for you! I’ve created nine vendor timeline templates that you can use along with a detailed guide that will walk you through creating your very own vendor timelines. Having a detailed and professional timeline will create a better experience for not only your clients but their vendors too. Plus they’ll create less stress for everyone involved, which is a win-win in my opinion!
So whether you’re starting to develop your own system or you just need a better system, these 9 vendor timeline templates can make your life so much easier!
Wedding day timelines are such an important part of being a wedding planner, so having a system that works for you is crucial. Then, when the busy wedding season hits, you’re prepared!