Are you a budding wedding planner desiring to know the ins-and-outs of creating a wedding day timeline to ensure that your finished product is impressive and thorough?
Or perhaps you are a wedding vendor and a couple has asked your opinion on their timeline and you have no idea what to say and need some reference points!
Oh, no wait – I totally bet you’re the Type A DIY bride who already has a draft timeline, but is just doing some reasearch to make sure that all of the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed?
Regardless of how you ended up here and/or why you’ve chosen to read along – here are a few ways to ensure that your wedding day timeline is as thorough as possible and ensure clear communication on all ends for everyone involved!
Prior to drafting up a draft timeline, consider who will be actually using it and how much. Your key audience will most likely be participating wedding vendors. In this case, be sure to include the events in which they will need guidance and/or timing information for. There is no need to include personal information such as what time you will be waking up to get dressed for the day, what time you’ve scheduled to send your assistant to the restroom for a potty break, or what time you plan to check the bathrooms to make sure they are still clean throughout the evening – vendors don’t care. Focus on including wedding-specific events that will let vendors know where they need to be at what time and for what purpose.
If I want to be more specific and include items that pertain to me and only me as the planner, I generate one to send to the bride/groom and vendors, as well as one for my personal use (and sometimes even one specifically for the bride and groom so that they remember personal items such as gifts, attire, and wedding day accessories).
Creating timelines is not just about listing the order of events and the respective timing. It’s also about being realistic about the timing of things and what will and won’t work. Experience is HUGE when it comes to this aspect because the more weddings you are a part of, the more you realize how long (or short) things actually take. Assigning 30 minutes for a seated meal – from the end of the prayer until the start of the next event (dancing, etc. etc.) MAY be a bit ambitious. Not only do caterers have to serve every single guest (which takes some time in and of itself), but they also have to wait until the majority of the guests are done eating before removing them and placing the next course. Since wedding guests are usually socializing while eating, they tend not to eat as fast as they normally would elsewhere. I have seen meal durations that last upwards of 1.5 hours! Alloting appropriate times for portions is CRUCIAL to ensure that things don’t get behind and there is room for everything that the bride/groom desires.
From another perspective – we have to be realistic about what will and won’t fit! Inserting a cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception while also submitting a list of 50 ‘must-have’ family formal groupings to your photography is setting the timeline up to FAIL. Starting hair/makeup for a bridal party of 6 at noon for a 3:00pm ceremony (with only 1 hair & makeup artist) – no. Just no. Both of these are extreme situations, but even the lesser extremes will create a stressful day, so keep that in mind. Which brings me to my next tip…
Yes. Yes. and Yes. Now, I do tend to add more wiggle room in some places than others (*ahem* toasts *ahem*), but for the most part, I do try to add in some time for all events – esp. those where it is a bit uncertain as to how long they can last (e.g. dinner service, toasts, transportation schedules, etc.). This way – you are always prepared in the event that something goes longer than what is normally expected. If things end earlier than what is listed on the timeline, most of the time no harm is involved (and if there is the possiblity for that – plan for it), but you never want to skimp on time and then end up running behind schedule for more time-sensitive portions of the schedule (HELLO, SUNSET PORTRAITS! haha!)
Nothing causes more confusion and annoyance than vendors scanning through a detailed timeline and trying to figure out what events specifically involve them and what they need to be on the lookout for. A simply column addition that outline who is responsible and/or involved in each line item decreases on the amount of clarification that you will have to provide during the feedback process and, ultimately, on the day of the wedding.
Most likely my favorite piece of advice! I consider myself to be extremely Type A, however, I am still only one person and after looking at a timeline 1000 times, some things may be overlooked. Once I work along with the bride and groom to create a draft timeline, I then send this to the entire vendor team and give them a 1-2 week period to review and provide feedback prior to sending out a finalized version for the day. This allows vendors to view and confirm all of their specific event items and let me know if something doesn’t match what they have on their end and/or even offer feedback for the flow based on their prior experience. I also like the fact that it allows me to show my vendor team that I am humble and know that the success of a wedding day is not based solely on me as the planner, but the effectiveness of the entire team who will be working their butts off the entire day. I have receive some amazing feedback (and been made aware of silly errors, too!) from vendors who have taken the time to review the drafts that I send out. It just makes for a better, well-rounded timeline for sure!
Did this help you in your wedding day timeline effort? I’d love to hear what you think I may have left off and/or could add to make a future post even better! Thanks so much for taking the time to hang with me, today! XO