Now that it’s officially spring, wedding season is picking up and we are spending lots of time fleshing out the details for all our upcoming weddings! One of the most crucial pieces in the final stages of planning is the wedding day timeline. As wedding planners, one of our jobs is to help our clients develop the perfect day-of timeline. We are often asked how much time to allocate for this or that part of the day and the answer is…it really depends on so many different factors (I know, we wish it were that easy!). These factors include; the size of your bridal party, travel time, etc. To explain things further, we thought it would be helpful to put together our top five tips when building your wedding day timeline. So here we go…
1. Order vs. Time: When we are constructing a wedding day timeline for a client the order is more important than the exact time. While it’s helpful to map out time blocks, picking an exact time will only set you up for failure. For example: 7:25pm-First Dance, 7:28 Father/Daughter Dance is way too specific. While the song you selected for your first dance may be 3 minutes and 30 seconds this scenario leaves no time for the MC to interact with your guests and set up a meaningful introduction for your father/daughter dance. And chances are, some things will take longer than anticipated and others a little shorter. Instead, identify the order that works best for you and your fiancé and trust your vendors to implement it! Trust is key.
Photo Credit: Robert & Kathleen Photographers
2. Ask For Feedback: Once you have a good idea of the flow you and your partner envision for the day, it’s a great idea to reach out to your vendors for feedback. Your DJ, for example, will have some great ideas about how to generate that atmosphere you are looking for. If you want to create a party atmosphere they may suggest a dance set early on to get people moving and on the dance floor. Or, he/she may suggest having less breaks between speeches and dances so you are able to have longer dance sets. These are definitely things to think about.
Your hair and makeup team can also help you build an efficient schedule to make sure you bridal party are able to move as quickly as possible through this part of the day. Helpful Hint: As the bride, put your own bridal hair and makeup in the middle of the hair/make-up schedule. This way, if you are running behind when your photographer arrives it won’t put you behind schedule for putting your dress on!
Photo Credit: SCVImagery
3. Photo’s, Photo’s, Photo’s: Planning out your photo schedule with your photographer (and planner if you have one) in advance will allow you to capture all the pictures you and your family want and will leave more time for you to actually enjoy your wedding day! Again, you can block out the order for of each category (getting ready, first look, bride and groom portraits, bridal party, family portraits) and discuss how long each may take depending on your needs. Having a list of the people in the posed/group photos is also a great idea. You can give a copy to your photographer and one to your planner. It makes organizing the group shots much easier if you have names in case you have to track people down (but they should know where to be from the rehearsal!).
And, how much time will all your pictures take? The average is between 3-4 hours. I know that must sound crazy but keep in mind that for a majority of this process your photographer is capturing you experiencing each moment. So, they are taking pictures of you putting your dress on, your dad seeing you for the first time, having fun with your bridal party…and trust us, those moments are priceless (and usually make for the best photos)!
Photo Credit: Sarah Postma Photography
4. Arrival & Departure Times: Most likely, your vendors have already indicated approximate times for their arrival and departure. Make sure to factor these times into you timeline. For example, if your officiant is arriving to the ceremony location 60 minutes prior, you may want to schedule the signing of the marriage license about 15 minutes after they arrive. This way the two witnesses you select to sign the license are prepared and no time is wasted tracking them down!
Your photography and videography package may have a set number of hours but usually offer add-on hour by hour rates if the wedding/reception go longer. f your package is for eight hours and would like them to arrive at 1:00pm for getting ready pictures they will be departing at 9:00pm. This would surely impact the order of events at your reception and you can work with your venue to ensure that the events like the cake cutting are all completed prior to 9:00pm. Or, you can plan the order of events to include/exclude those things you definitely want photos of and eliminate things you don’t care as much about capturing.
Photo Credit: David and Amy Lau Photography
5. Flow: The key to a successful event is setting the right flow for your guests (bridal party included). Simplify your timeline by minimizing the travel time between ceremony, picture locations and the reception venue. If your ceremony is outside in July, your guests will really appreciate you keeping the ceremony to 20-25 minutes and being able to go right into cocktail hour for a cold drink. And while you want your night to never end, extending your reception past five hours will leave many guests exhausted (and add to your costs). Instead of adding an extra hour, consider hosting an after party where guests can attend, if they wish.
When your wedding day comes, identify a point person that you trust so you don’t have to worry about the timeline. The point person can ensure the flow of the entire day is seamless and everyone (including you and your fiancé) have a great time! But, it’s important to make sure this person can be there from start to finish, not just at the reception.
Photo Credit: Trent Bailey Photography
There is no set formula for creating the perfect timeline, and we realize that family and tradition can lead to more complexities. But, count on your vendors to help guide you in the right direction (they’ve all done this many more times than you). And, most importantly on the day of your wedding…take a deep breath and let everything fall into place!