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
It took me way longer than I expected to share this blog post just because I figured if I never posted it, the day never happened and that Megan and I are still stuck together like glue planning our little hearts away.
This gal is more precious to me than she will ever know simply because of our little 1+ year together and how much of an impact her and her now-husband, Justin, have had on my life. I’m not kidding when I say that I never knew them prior to them becoming an HLE couple! I met Megan & Justin during their pursuit to becoming the winner of the Wedding Collective Giveaway – a wedding giveaway hosted by the wonderful woman (and soon-to-be-new-mama) that is – Katelyn James Alsop! Somehow, I ended up participating as an un-biased panel voter, and as soon as I was finished viewing their video, none of the others stood a chance!
They stood out to me the most because they mentioned their desire to use their marriage for a purpose – to bring glory to God’s kingdom and by this portion of the video, I was already just in tears. I could literally feel their love and passion for, not only each other, but for the Lord. Without this giveaway, they weren’t sure when they’d be able to get married! They were fresh out of college and Megan was a small business owner, as well! I SO rooted for them, you guys, but it wasn’t in God’s plan for them to get married via this route. After narrowly missing the winning ticket, they figured it would be several years before they were able to get married in the way that they desired – surrounded by friends and family, a dream team of vendors and dancing the night away.
Soonafter, an entire group was formed by some of their closest family and friends, vendors rallied together and almost over a year later – they were married. God is GOOD. I am so grateful for this couple, their amazing wedding day, and the A-List team of vendors that I was able to collaborate with to bring their wedding day vision to life. This wedding was EVERYTHING! Enjoy these amazing recaps by Katelyn James Photography!
Venue: Big Spring Farm (Lexington, VA)
Photographer: Katelyn James Photography
Videography: The Herrintons
Planner/Coordinator/Calligrapher: Hello Love Events
Floral Stylist: Ginger & Blooms
Hair & Makeup: BobbyPins & Blush
Caterer: Wildwood Smokehouse
Cake: Sorby Sweets
Officiant: Pastor John Kuzins, Hope Hill Church
DJ/MC: Boardwalk Photobooth Company
Gown: Ava Laurenne Bride
Bridesmaids Gown: Azazie
Groomsmen Attire: Menguin
Light Marquee: Love Your Light Marquee
October 1 marks my 6-month anniversary of becoming a full-time small business owner. To say I’m truly humbled is an understatement. I’m floored! After 10 years of being brainwashed and stuck in a career that did not fire me up in any way, I’m blown away every single day that I am able to get to live my dream.
Many have asked, “how did you do it?”. The answer is simple – financial planning.
When my husband and I finally agreed to begin working towards my eventual exit from corporate America to pursue Hello Love Events as a full-time business, our #1 hurdle was debt. We had a LOT (60K to be exact) and we knew that, no matter how well my business did over the years, we wanted to be comfortable and not consumed by the financial panic that comes with not generating enough income to sustain our current/future standards of living. This began our journey to becoming debt-free, which was achieved in March of this year! Soonafter, I submitted my 1-month resignation and officially became a full-time business owner on May 1.
Read further to see how we did it!
STEP 1: HIRE A FINANCIAL ADVISOR
There are a few reasons my husband and I My husband and I decided to hire a pro to lead us in achieving our financial goals. We didn’t just hire her to help us become debt-free, but we were also concerned with our financial stability, in general (including retirement, life insurances, investments, college funds, etc.). We aren’t totally at a loss when it comes to our finances, but we definitely have some knowledge gaps and wanted to make sure that we had someone much more knowleadgable than we were to ensure that we cut down on losses and time wasted, and maximize our efforts in the least amount of time possible. If anyone needs a reference – our financial advisor is Jessica Shaulis of First Command Financial Services – she’s amazing and we are so grateful for her!
STEP 2: ASSESS DEBT/EXPENSES
In order to successfully assess how much income we needed to generate as a household (and, ultimately, my full-time business) in order to cover our expenses, we needed to take the time to actually calculate what our expenses actually WERE. No eyeballing or estimating here. We needed the hard numbers. We even estimated what our future expenses might be and how they differed from our current expenses. Some of the additional expenses that we calculated in included family/personal vacations, possible car purchases, etc. The main thing that we focused on during this time is our DEBT and what that amount totaled up to be. This is what we focused on aggresively in the beginning to get rid of, which leads me to…
STEP 3: PAY-OFF LOANS/DEBT
Now – we did have a mortgage at the time and had no plans of paying that off anytime soon. Both my husband and I had student debt as a result of a combination of small student loans and loans to cover off-campus living expenses when we had our son during college. We also had a car loan from my honda that I purchased after completing graduate school. We even went as far as including any current credit card debt – which wasn’t huge, but still needed to go. Our advisor recommended a strict spending diet, along with exercising the Debt Snowball method. You can read all about how this works over on the Dave Ramsey blog. Wikipedia has a pretty nice article on it, as well.
STEP 4: GET RID OF UNNECESSARY EXPENSES (LUXURIES)
This was a hard one. Our financial advisor highly recommend ridding ourselves of unnecessary expenses that would, ultimately, decrease the amount of income needed in order to transition to full-time. The goal was to rid ourselves of it while we were in debt, get used to not having it, and then reassessing once we became full-time and adjusted to our current financial climate. If we felt comfortable rolling it back into the budget, then so be it. One of the biggest things that hit the chopping block was cable. We easily spent $150-175/month on cable and realized that we didn’t even really want half of the channels that we were paying for. The only thing we (or my husband) miss is ESPN, but he lives on. We still have all of the local channels AND….internet. I don’t miss it at all and find that I would much rather be doing other things with my free time (watching make-up tutorials on YouTube – I’m obsessed!!!). Another one that we cut down on was eating out. We went from eating out around 4-5 times a month to only when necessary on bible study days or practice days for Xavier. Now that I’m full-time, I find that we don’t even eat out on those days because I am able to prepare dinner earlier in the day and pick up the kids earlier so we can eat prior to heading out.
STEP 5: INCREASE MY PRICING
Y’all. I won’t share what I charged earlier in my business because…..it’s pretty bad (okay – it’s not that bad but it’s still pretty bad). I already had a job, so there was no real financial NEED for the additional income and I literally ended up investing it all back into the business (education, mentoring, branding, etc.). Once we assessed our future expenses – I realized that I had some pretty kick-butt workflow apps, domains, hosting, etc. – basically overhead – that I needed to provide the money to cover. We also had SOME household expenses that I would need to cover to ensure that I was able to pour the time into my business that I wanted in order to see it grow. I wasn’t charging nearly enough. Moving forward, since one of my biggest goals when I transitioned to full-time was to have more time to focus on my family, I chose to decrease the amount of weddings I planner per year, research in some possible streams of passive income, and INCREASE MY PRICING. This way – I don’t have to book as many weddings and run myself ragged, but I can still do what I love and live the life that our family wants to live. SO important, friends.
This was it, friends! This is a very high-level explanation of what I did in order to financially plan my transition to full-time. I created my business in February 2012 and submitted my letter of resignation a mere 4 years later. God is GOOD. I hope this was helpful and encouraging to all of those still currently working a day-job while running your very own business at the same time. With a bit of assessment, hard work (a lot of people don’t want to do the work), determination, and discipline – full-time business ownership can be here before you know it! Trust me – if it can happen for me, it can happen for you, too! Be encouraged, friends! XOXO
When discussing the process of providing and scheduling wedding day vendor meals with HLE couples, most of their questions include the who, what, when, where and why of things. I absolutely LOVE having this discussion with clients because more often than not, they actually DO want to make sure that the professionals they have hired to provide them with high quality services on their wedding day are taken very good care of! However, without a planner – this area of planning sometimes goes unnoticed and vendors are left with but a hope and a prayer (except for those of you who have added that little piece in your contract – I see you).
I decided to write this little post to do my part for the education of wedding couples who do want to make sure that their wedding vendors are taken care of, but aren’t quite sure what to consider and/or how to go about making sure that the proper process is used to accomplish such. Here we go!
1. Who Do We Feed?
Anyone who you have hired to be present during your reception. This could be wedding coordinators, photographers/videographers, musicians, photobooth attendants, etc. If they are “on-the-clock” while dinner is being served, chances are they will be for the entirety of your reception and this is possibly a 4-5 hour event in which they are (hopefully) working super hard to provide you both with the best.
2. What Exactly Do We Serve?
I would HIGHLY recommend serving them a HOT meal. While it doesn’t have to be exactly what the guests are being served (filet mignon with a side of crab crake, anyone?), please don’t serve your hard working team a (most likely) soggy deli sandwich with an almost empty bag of chips (which is what a LOT of caterers offer as the “vendor meal” option, unfortunately). In the case of a planner, photographer, or videographer team – we have more than likely been running around ALL. DAY. LONG ensuring that we are delivering the absolute best to you on your wedding day (because you deserve nothing less!) While we could be more worried about bringing our own snacks and eating here and there and such – most of the time we just don’t have time. We are in the zone ensuring that we deliver exactly what we have committed to.
Also, PLEASE be sure to ask for any applicable dietary restrictions. Some of your vendors may be vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc. and while these food considerations cannot ALWAYS be accommodated by your caterer (“I don’t eat anything but farm-raised catfish….” – …NO), it doesn’t hurt to ask – most common restrictions can, and it’s always a super nice gesture!
3. When is the BEST Time?
My favorite! We have to be very strategic about this because there is a LOT going on during a reception and we are most likely (hopefully) working with a timeline. While most caterers recommend that all vendors eat AFTER all of the guests have been served – I beg to differ from a logistics standpoint. Hear me out, hear me out! By the time all of your guests have been served (whether it be plated meal or buffet) and the vendors finally receive their meal, the majority of your guests are done eating and I’m pretty sure your timeline will say it’s time to head into the next event – which will most likely need to be:
- Coordinated… (Planners)
- Photographed & Videographed… (Photographers/Videographers)
- Serenaded with some music and/or announced… (DJ/Band)
My suggestion? Have vendor meals placed in the designated vendor area at the same time as guests are served their meals. Are you having a buffet? If possible – have your caterer 1) prepare a separate buffet setup for the vendors so that they can self-serve at the appointed time OR 2) have plates prepped and ready to go to the vendor area once dinner service begins. I totally understand not wanting vendors to enter a buffet line before/while guests are – but there are ways around this that allows everyone (and your timeline and photo coverage) to win!
4. Where Should Vendors Eat?
For my HLE weddings, I always coordinate with the venue to have a separate area for the vendors as CLOSE to the reception space as possible. I never recommend having vendors placed in the same room as guests because…..well, it’s just awkward. We will be the first to admit – we are not guests. We are there to work and provide a service – not mix and mingle. We are eating to live and that’s it – once we’re done – back to work.
On the flip side, if we are placed too far from the reception space, we are placed at a disadvantage since we will not be sure what’s going on back “home”. We need to be able to sense the speed of dinner service, any situations that arise that need attention, and not take long to get back once we’ve finished our meal. Coordinate with your venue to figure out what place would work best!
5. Why Feed Them at All?
Last, but not least. Why? Why feed the vendors at all? Well – I believe in most vendor’s contract it states that if a meal is not provided, then we will most likely need to be allowed to leave and procure our own food. I know that I personally block off entire days for my clients, no matter the timing of their wedding day. I want to be available to them if something were to arise that they would need my assistance with. I am basically dedicated to them and them only for 12+ hours. I know the same rings true for photographers and videographers – with coverage times spanning anywhere from 6-12+ hours, as well. We work hard. Our passion is our service and quality of providing it to you as engaged couples who have trusted us with SO much for your wedding day!
We do not take this lightly. Chances are – we only need about 20-25 mins to scarf down our food and get back to work – we won’t cheat you. We’re simply trying to take care of ourselves the best way we can (which I know I’m already guilty about not drinking enough water on wedding days – ugh) and hope that you can help us to do that. Regardless of what we’re provided to eat – we’re committed to providing the best of our services to you – but a hot meal wouldn’t harm anything! 🙂
XOXO – Lacoya
PHOTO CREDITS: Bridesmaids Grouping – Camille Catherine Photo // Buffet Display – Wolfcrest Photo // Ballroom – Megan Chase Photo
May 2nd, 2016 began my first full day as a full-time wedding planner and I was super ecstatic to try out my newly acquired schedule. I made no promises to myself that this schedule would be perfect in every way and promised to give myself time and GRACE to give it a real shot. Here’s how it turned out. Let’s start with the schedule that I had estimated:
ROUTINE EXPERIMENT #1 (Estimated)
6:30am – Wake up with husband and kids, get dressed for workout, get kids ready for daycare, serve breakfast
7:00am – Drop kids off at daycare (5 mins away)
7:15am – Hop on the treadmill for 30mins (Couch25k Program)
7:45am – Shower and get dressed
8:30am – 30min devotional
9:00am – Begin work schedule
4:30pm – UNPLUG & Pickup kids
Well, it’s 3 months later and I must say that this was a very….optimistic schedule. I truly underestimated the morning time allotment for a lot of things. Here is more or less what ACTUALLY occurs:
ROUTINE EXPERIMENT #1 (Actual)
6:30am – SNOOZE
6:40am – Wake up with husband and kids, get kids ready for daycare, serve breakfast
6:50am – Get dressed
7:00am – Olivia stilllllllll eating…………..
7:10-7:15am – Drop kids off at daycare (5 mins away – but still have to account for time actually spent IN the daycare)
7:30am – Hop on the treadmill for 30-35mins (Couch25k Program – Depends on what day you are on)
7:45am – Shower and get dressed (Gotta catch my breath….undress, put my shower cap on, music…..yeah. AND it takes normal humans more than 5 mins to get dressed. Let’s be real)
9:00am – 30min devotional (More like 1 hour – my prayer time/devotion is important to me and this is just how long, on average, that it takes me to finish completely)
10:00am – Begin HLE work
4:30-4:45pm – UNPLUG & Pickup kids
It’s comical, really. 1 ENTIRE HOUR OFF, you guys. Haha! But, I’m not really being too hard on myself simply because it’s seriously my first time doing this – ever! I was used to getting up like clockwork to catch the vanpoole and then just starting the hustle upon my return home. I never really had the opportunity to have a REAL MORNING. I’m so grateful and happy these days. I just can’t stop smiling! I am my own boss and I am absolutely learning what that looks like and what schedule will work and ensure that I create a life that’s flexible and works for myself, my family and my business. SO, with THAT being said – I kicked the dirt off of my shoulders and created a revised schedule:
ROUTINE EXPERIMENT #2 (Estimated)
(Evening Prior: Set coffee pot delay to 5:20am)
5:30am – Wake Up & Speed to Coffee
5:40am – Prayer/Devotional (Downstairs Kitchen Table)
6:30am – Get Dressed for Workout, Wake Kids Up, Get Ready for Daycare
6:55am – Drop Kids Off at Daycare
7:20am – Treadmill Run for 30-35mins
8:00am – Shower & Get Dressed
9:00am – Begin HLE Work
4:30pm – UNPLUG & Pickup kids
IT WORKS, YOU GUYS!!! YESSSSSSS! I have been executing this new routine for the past week and I am SOOOOOO in love! The getting up 1 hour earlier is a struggle, y’all – but it’s SO worth it! I’ve always desired for my prayer/devotional to be at the beginning of my day and this new routine helps me to realize that dream! Once I’ve stumbled (literally…zombie status) out of my bed and had a few sips of coffee, I’m actually okay! Once I’ve completed my devotion, I feel like a brand new person and am so ready to tackle the day!
Before, I never realized how tired I was in the mornings and how much it was affecting my speed (I didn’t drink coffee until right before I started work!). I am clearly NOT a morning person! This new routine works SO well and I am totally loving how much earlier I am starting HLE work! I’ve basically added an entire hour to my work schedule and it’s been SO helpful – esp. with weddings ramping up this month.
As far as my actual WORK routine – well, I’m still working on that. Haha. I’ve been troubleshooting a LOT of different things, but I think I’m getting closer and closer to something that actually works well for me! I’ll be sure to share that with y’all soon, too! But for now – I hope to hear from you! What’s your daily routine?
Happy Tuesday! XO – Lacoya