Wedding timelines may not be the sexiest or most exciting topic, but creating a great timeline is hands down the most impactful thing you can do for your wedding. Curious how to get started? We’re sharing all the details here.
Why is your wedding timeline important?
A set schedule for your wedding day ensures that everyone knows what to expect. You, your family, your wedding party and your vendors can plan ahead and be prepared to with information they need to play their part. Thoughtful planning of the timeline minimizes the risk of issues and makes intentional use of your time.
Who should be involved in making your wedding timeline and what to ask each of them?
Venue – What time do you have access to the property?
Event Planner/Coordinator – Clarify from the beginning if your planner/coordinator will be creating your event timeline. If they aren’t handling timeline creation for you, then you need to know their wedding day schedule.
Photographer & Videographer – Make the most of however many hours you booked your photographers and videographers for by ensuring that their coverage period covers all the things you want photographed. Every photographer and videographer will also have a preferred timeline and specific order of events depending on how long they typically need to photograph every aspect of your day. What time do they need personal flowers for photos? What time do they want to do golden hour / sunset pictures? Will they be staying for your send off at the end of the night?
Caterer – What are their estimated arrival and departure times? How long do they estimate dinner service will take based on your menu and service style?
Bartenders – What are their estimated arrival and departure times? Does their service include setup and cleanup time? How many hours is alcohol allowed to be served?
Florist – What time do they plan to arrive? How long will floral setup and installation take? Are there any weather considerations? Ex. Does the setup time change in the case of rain? Are your flowers sensitive to heat or cold? Should the florist place them at the last minute?
Hair & Makeup Artists – How many people are getting their hair and makeup done? How long does your glam team need per person? What time does everyone need to be completely ready?
DJ and/or Band – When will the DJ and/or band arrive? How much time is needed for set up and clean up? Will the DJ/Band need to move at any point during the event and how long will the move take? Does the DJ/Band have any timeline suggestions, timeline requirements for the reception portion of the evening? Be sure to discuss special dances, toasts and speeches.
Baker – What time will the cake be delivered? How long will cake setup take?
Rental Company – When will they delivered and picked up rental items? How do the rentals need to be prepared for pickup?
Top 5 Tips for Making the Perfect Wedding Timeline
- Leave time for just you and your new spouse after the wedding ceremony. You’ll appreciate a quiet moment together for a little exhale.
- Block out several buffer times for dealing with unexpected issues like travel delays, wardrobe malfunctions, vendor issues, weather changes, and setup delays. Things happen and you (or your vendors) will want to have to time to remedy the situation.
- Decide in advance if you want to see your fiancé before the ceremony or not. A first look greatly impacts the photography timeline because if you don’t take pictures together before the ceremony, you will need to schedule time for that after the ceremony.
- Overestimate setup and cleanup time to reduce everyone’s stress level. Check out our post, 10 Tips for Setup & Cleanup for more guidance.
- Be realistic about how long your guests will really dance. If your friends and family aren’t big dancers, don’t allocate a bunch of time for that. Instead, use that time in a more meaningful way.
Who should get a copy of your final wedding timeline?
All Vendors & any other helpers
Your Entire Wedding Party
Key Family Members
A Sample Warrenwood Wedding Timeline
To get you started, here is a very basic sample wedding timeline for a ceremony that starts at 4:30 PM, with no first look and all events in one location. This is common at Warrenwood Manor since most couples choose to have their ceremony, cocktail hour and reception here. More detail is needed and you will want to adjust everything based on your event details, but it is a great simple example.
9:00 AM – Bridal Party Arrives for Hair & Makeup to Begin
12:30 PM – Groom & Groomsmen Arrive
1:00 PM – Photography & Videography Coverage Begins
2:00 PM – Wedding Party Dressed & Ready for Photos
4:15 PM – Wedding Party & Family Line-up for Ceremony
4:30 PM – Ceremony Begins
5:00 PM – Ceremony Ends & Cocktail Hour Begins while family, wedding party and the newlywed’s pictures are taken
6:00 PM – Reception Begins with Wedding Party Introductions, Welcome Speech & Prayer
6:15 PM – Dinner Service Begins
7:15 PM – Toasts Begin
7:30 PM – Cake Cutting
7:40 PM – Special Dances (Bride & Groom’s First Dance & Parent Dances)
8:00 PM – Open Dance Floor
10:30 PM – Newlywed’s Sendoff & Cleanup Begins
Still have questions? The Knot shared A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Wedding Day Timeline.