June 29, 2017
Creating an accurate Wedding Day timeline is critical for a smooth event. It’s what you will provide to your vendors to communicate their arrival, set, and tear down times. Let’s talk about building that day-of timeline.
Start with the event basics…
- Begin with your ceremony start time and reception start & end time. You’ll work backwards from here.
- If you’re doing a first look, speak with your photographer about how much time you’ll need for these photos. You’ll want to discuss your entire day with the photographer to determine what time and where they’ll want to start and end.
- Take your first look time and factor in travel time to this location. This will give you the time the bride & bridesmaid as well as the groom and his groomsmen will have to leave the getting ready locations to arrive at the first look on time. Make sure one party arrives purposely ahead of the other so you don’t run in to each other. While you wait for the others to arrive, your photographer can get some group shots. Use this time to start building your transportation timeline.
- Regardless of you’re doing a first look or going right to the ceremony, I like to add an extra half hour before you have to leave your getting ready location – you might need it, you might not. I find that it helps to have a little buffer right here.
- Determine how many of your bridesmaids and mothers or other bridal party members will need styling services. Get a count of hair and count of make-up – bring this number to your stylist(s) and ask how much time they’ll need to get everyone done. This number of hours (big bridal party = lots of time needed) will determine what time you’ll need your bridal party to arrive at the getting ready location.
- For the guys: they’ll obviously need less time to get ready. If you want to have photos of them getting ready, have the photographer arrive at the guys getting ready location about an hour before they need to depart for the first look. Feel free to build in a little extra time here so they can enjoy some down time together.
Next: add vendor information
At this point you’ll have the skeleton of a timeline for your bride, groom, and bridal party. Now you’ll want to go back and add vendor information. It’s possible that your vendors will drop-off the day before so feel free to go back and start a new timeline for the day before.
- Photographer: as I mentioned above, your photographer is very helpful in building your day-of timeline. Speak with them about what time and where they’ll want to arrive to start their getting ready shots and what time they’ll depart your reception. Add their start and end time to your timeline.
- Venue: add the time you have access to the venue to start setting up.
- If you have a venue that is more all-inclusive (meaning catering, rentals, etc. included) you might have less vendors to worry about adding to your timeline.
- Rentals: any additional rentals that you are bringing in should be dropped off as early as possible so they are ready for the venue to set up. Communicate with your venue the exact items items that will be delivered and determine who is responsible for setting up.
- Catering: discuss not only the time they will arrive to set up but the timing of cocktail hour, dinner drops (including the time of each course), and any late night snack timing. The amount of time it will take staff to drop meals, for guests to eat, and for staff to clear are dependent on the number of guests and the number of servers. You’ll want to make sure that these times are in the timeline so all vendors are aware of the flow of the evening.
- Florist: they’ll want to come in after the tables and linens are dropped. They might start with delivering your bridal bouquets and then head over to the venue or vice versa. Make sure you communicate the time you will be departing your getting ready location so the florist can have the personals dropped off in time. Provide addresses for both getting ready locations as well as the venue address.
- Band or DJ & Ceremony Music: ask your entertainment what time they will arrive to set based on your ceremony and start time receptions. Also include their end times on your timeline.
- Transportation: this can be simple or extremely complicated! If you have multiple guest shuttles and bridal party transportation, it can become a beast of a logistics. For this overall timeline, include all shuttle departure times and locations to and from the ceremony. I encourage you to build a separate transportation only timeline containing each vehicle, departure time, arrival times, and addresses to be sent to your transportation vendor two weeks prior.
- Dances and Speeches: add any dances (first dance, father-daughter, etc.) and all speeches to your timeline – you could coordinate these with meal times.
- Last Call, Final Departure: sadly your day will have to come to an end. Make sure you add last call and final departure to your timeline. Note the absolute latest time the venue has communicated that you have to be out of the venue.
- Tear down/pick up: Depending on who brought what in, you’ll need to communicate tear down and pickup with your venue, florist, and rental company. Add this information to your timeline.
I can’t stress enough the importance of a thorough wedding day timeline. When in doubt, add it to your timeline! The more detailed information included, the better for everyone. Be sure to add any vendors or categories that make sense for your wedding – this is just a starting point!
Because this is an incredible thorough document, it’s a bit too cumbersome to send to your family and bridal party. Something I create for my couples is a streamlined family & bridal party that will communicate the most important details for them.