Last month I touch on some important points that both brides and grooms should discuss before they decide on the wedding timeline. Now keep in mind, if you’re working with a wedding planner or day of coordinator, creating a wedding day timeline is likely something they will handle. If you’re on your own, it is absolutely essential that you create one of these yourself. (And trust me, there are very few things that I will say are essential for every single wedding!) A well-crafted timeline creates a seamless experience for your beloved guests (and maximizes your time with them!), helps your vendors do their best work, and cuts down on the amount of “managing” you’ll need to do on your wedding day — all very good things!
Let’s get started!
Now here are some questions you want to ask yourself as you’re building your timeline:
What time can you get into your reception space? What time do you need to be out of it?
How many hours does your photography and videography package cover?
What time is sunset?
How long will you and your bridesmaids need to get hair and make-up done?
How long do you think your ceremony will be?
Most ceremonies last approximately twenty minutes, but I would recommend rounding up to at least 30 minutes – and some can be much longer. Add up worship, readings, entrances, vows, sermon, communion, unity candle (if you’re doing that), etc. to get a ballpark.
Are you planning to do a first look?
How many family portraits need to take place?
How far apart are your ceremony and reception locations?
Will there be a cocktail hour? If so, how long or short would you like it to be?
Will you be making an entrance into your cocktail hour or reception?
How many toasts will be given? Will anyone be opening the meal with a prayer?
Will there be a father/daughter dance? First dance?
Will there be a garter toss or bouquet toss?
Do you want a formal exit or dance until the last song?
Lastly, make sure you keep these in mind:
You are NOT a magician! But really… Brides often forget that you can’t be in two places at once. Unless you’re standing over a state line like in “A walk to remember” – it’s impossible. When the timeline says you will be done with getting ready at 1:30pm and the first look is at 1:30pm – holy cow, you’re a magician! But really – you need buffer time. You need to remember that it actually takes you TIME to walk down the hall or down the stairs to get to wherever you are going. It’s best to add in small buffer times so that if you do run 5 minutes late you aren’t freaking out about turning into a pumpkin.
Do you own a helicopter? Again a silly question but a serious answer. Don’t forget about the fact that the rest of the world around you is doing their everyday life. Meaning – there will most likely be some kind of traffic on your wedding day to add into the mix. If your ceremony site is separate from your reception site – it’s important to factor those things in. For example: if your wedding is in Seattle - even though the church and the reception venue are 5 miles apart – that could mean anything from 10 to 30 minutes of travel time! 5 miles in the country is WAY different than 5 miles in the city! I wish I had a helicopter for those moments when we’re stuck behind a dump truck going 2 miles per hour… but I don’t.
What time is sunset? If you’re looking to have a night time 7pm ceremony in December … remember that with daylight savings time, it gets dark at 4:30pm! Unless you want all of your photos in the dark – you may want to rethink that decision! On the opposite end of the spectrum remember that the hottest and brightest part of a Summer day is around Noon to 1pm and you would most likely be squinting throughout the entire ceremony! No one likes black holes for eyes on a sunny day! **If you can, visit your wedding venue at the time you’d like to have your ceremony so you can see what the site looks like! If you get there and it’s in direct sunlight with no shade on a Summer day – you might want to see what other ceremony locations your venue has.
Are you doing a First Look? The first look is a wonderful new tradition happening more and more for brides and grooms who want more portraits on their wedding day. As much as I love having extra time with the bride & groom on the wedding day, it’s actually a win-win for YOU as the bride and groom because you are able to go right from the ceremony to the cocktail hour with all of your guests! First Looks also go hand in hand with the question above as well… If you don’t plan on doing a first look but want a sunset ceremony – you wouldn’t have any opportunity for bridal party and bride & groom portraits in the prettiest light of the day!
How many events do you have scheduled before dinner? Remember that people will get hungry. The last thing you want is a room full of hangry guests. Don’t give your guests a chance to start losing interest after the ceremony. Most people jump into the cocktail hour with light apps and drinks which is great. Also think about this too though, once you enter into the reception – are you going to want to start with dancing? or go straight into dinner? What time is it? If it’s already 7:30 and you have 5 first dances planned and 17 speeches from special guests – chances are you are going to have a lot of restless wedding guests. No one likes to be hungry – definitely not us. We’re all human and our tummies all grumble. There are a few different ways you can “layout” the evening – I won’t bore you with all of the possibilities, we can talk about those later!
I hope some of these tips have been helpful to you as your writing out your big to-do lists and things to think about! I know sometimes the details can get really overwhelming - if you need help creating a Wedding Timeline, let's connect! I wish you the best in your wedding planning!