Updated: Feb 13, 2022
Creating a timeline for your wedding day can be a daunting task, let's try to make it a little easier!
You’ve picked all your vendors, you’ve figured out your decorations, and now the big day is getting close... How do you make it all come together to make sure the best day of your life goes the way you’ve always thought it would? A well made day of timeline! (And likely a day of coordinator too, but that’s a whole different blog post in itself!)
So what do you need to consider when you start your timeline?
What time are you able to get into your venue to get ready or start setting up?
What time do you need to be out of your venue? (or venues)
If you are using the same venue for the ceremony and reception are there separate rooms for each part or will you need to account for a room flip?
Do you plan to have a first look? Or will you be waiting to see your significant other until the ceremony?
Do you need to travel at all between ceremony and reception locations? Will you need to travel to a picture location?
What kind of dinner service are you planning to have? Buffet or plated? And how long does your caterer need for a guest list of your size?
Once you’ve answered those questions, consider reaching out to your photographer as this person will often be one of the main vendors running the show. Consider how much time you have with them as part of your package and what things are most important to you to have photographed. Some people want everything start to finish... Others could care less about getting the cute getting ready photos with the girls, or getting photos at the end of the night during your dance. Ask your photographer for a rough suggestion for a photo timeline and start to base the rest of your day around that plan.
Let’s try an example:
Saturday wedding with all of the event happening at the same location a room flip will happen during social hour. You are able to get into the venue at 10AM and must be out of the venue by 1 AM. They are planning on doing a first look with a 4 PM ceremony time. Both the Bride and Groom have 4 people in their wedding parties and they are expecting about 200 guests to attend. They have a day of coordinator and their photographer is booked for 8 hours of time.
10:00 AM Arrive at venue
10:15 AM- 1:15 PM Hair and makeup (planning for 30 minutes per person per service with 4 bridesmaids, bride and the MOB getting both services done)
11:30 AM Groom and Groomsmen arrive
12:00 PM Lunch & refreshments for bridal party
12:30 PM Photography coverage begins
1:15 PM Bridesmaids into dresses
1:30 PM Bride into dress
2:00 PM First look
2:30 PM Wedding Party Photos
3:00 PM Shuttle service begins for Guests
3:15 PM Family Photos
3:45 PM Photos done & Wedding party hidden while guests are seated
4:00 PM Ceremony
4:30 PM Cocktail hour begins
4:45 PM Extended family photos
5:30 PM Guests invited to find seats for dinner
5:45 PM Grand Entrance for newlyweds and bridal party
5:50 PM First dance by newlyweds
6:00 PM Dinner service starts
6:30 PM Speeches (Typically plan for about 5 minutes per speech)
6:45 PM Other Special Dances (Father/Daughter, Mother/Son etc)
7:00 PM Dance Floor open for guests
7:30 PM Cake Cutting
7:45 PM Sunset Photos
8:30 PM Photography coverage ends
9:00 PM bouquet toss/ other events & games
9:30 PM Return shuttle service begins for guests
11:30 PM Last call
12:00 AM All guests leave, coordinator & event staff clean up
1:00 AM Venue vacated
Other things to include in your master timeline:
Addresses and names of locations (aka ceremony, reception, picture locations)
Names of vendors, contact person and a phone number on how to best reach them day of (This may be different than your usual contact method, ASK!)
Time of expected arrival or delivery for all of your vendors
Key songs (ie processional, recessional, first dances etc)
Order of procession for your ceremony (and grand march if you're doing one)
We like to include a bullet point that says “Set up details” Somewhere early on. This will remind whoever is helping with your set up the main points aka: 3 vases per long table, 6 candles per table, move flowers from ceremony arch to head table etc.
If you are doing a rehearsal dinner, gift opening or other things that take place in the days surrounding your wedding, include timelines and details for those events as well.
Our last piece of advice for you is to make sure you send your beautifully crafted timeline out to all of your vendors, the wedding party, and other important family members so they know what is expected of them. We would recommend doing this a week or two before your wedding date so that your vendors (or family) can review this and respond back to you with potential conflicts, allowing you time to adjust as needed. Be sure to send out the final copy a few days before the wedding.
Now, if you’ve decided to get a day of coordinator (which we highly recommend), then a lot of this timeline planning will fall on them instead of you. You will still want to know the answers to the main questions and probably have an outline from your photographer so they can work their magic and make everything run smoothly. Read our blog post here on the differences between venue coordinators, day of coordinators and planners so you can decide if you need more help!