Throughout the planning process, especially as your wedding day gets closer, vendors and bridal party members are going to be inundating you with questions relating to timing and when things are supposed to happen. The overwhelming pressure can cause you to rip your hair out and scream, but it doesn’t have to be so! Today, I’m sharing with you my tips and tricks on creating your own wedding day timeline, and with it save your sanity (and your hair!)
When creating your wedding day timeline, my first and foremost suggestion would be to look at when the sun sets (or rises, if you’re doing a morning wedding). The light in what photographers and videographers call Golden Hour (generally an hour or two before the sun actually sets) is absolutely magical, and you will certainly want photos captured during that timeframe. That being said, when you plan around the sunset, you set yourself up for a solid foundation to plan your ceremony and reception, as well as be able to take all the photos on your list. You can also determine if a First Look is something you want to do together, especially if you’ll be pressed for gorgeous lighting after the ceremony for portraits.
After you determine when the sun is going down, carve out time for the ceremony, and any travel that might be involved if you are moving between ceremony and reception venues. When talking to your officiant, ask about how long of a ceremony you should expect. Though you don’t need to write down every detail, get a general idea, and make sure to block it out(I love using Excel for timelines and all things relating to planning…I’m a real big fan!). To figure out the average times for folks to get to and from different venues, I like using Google Maps and their “arrive by” or “depart at” feature for this. Factoring in earliest guest arrival, giving wiggle room in case of an unforeseen car accident, and other probable situations regarding getting to the ceremony venue is also a good idea here. Tack on roughly an hour for photos beforehand at this time, and you should be golden for everything relating to ceremony.
Now, you’re at the reception: determine now if you’re doing speeches, who’s speaking, if you’re doing a garter and bouquet toss, Money Dance, and if you’d prefer to have everything done at once or have the evening spread out. Different parts of the US do receptions differently, such as in Louisiana traditions are spread throughout the event to give guests time to eat and socialize with you, whereas East Coast weddings tend to do all everything right at the beginning and leave the rest of the reception to party and dance. You can certainly time it however you like, but remember that songs last roughly 4 minutes (so carving out 30 minutes of first dances isn’t quite necessary), the DJ or Band has to know when you’re doing various tosses and dances, and folks aren’t quite ready for cake right after dinner.
Whew! That’s a lot! But what about everything before the actual wedding? Go back to ceremony and pictures beforehand, and map out how long it will take you to get to getting ready locations. Mark down when parents, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and everyone involved have to be dressed at the location. Refer back to contracts of how long you have your photographer and videographers, and include travel times in this, especially if they’re shooting you getting ready. Estimate roughly 30 minutes to get dressed, as pictures and poses will be taken throughout, and any last minute bathroom breaks and touchups will be needed then. In regards to getting ready, think 1.5 hours per person getting hair and makeup done, and how many stylists will be working with you. Generally for a five person bridal party and two mothers, with two stylists working, look at roughly 4 hours. Be sure to remember to eat, as it might be a while before you get to sample your delicious wedding food! Again, include traveling, especially if you’re going from home to a salon. If you’re doing a massage or getting nails done, be sure to include that as well, and confirm all of your appointments.
Finally, you want to finish up the timeline with when you should be up and about, and look at when you should go to bed the night before so that you’re well rested and prepared for the big day. Taking the extra time to ensure that you’ve got everything planned out and taken care of well in advance will make a HUGE impact on whether or not you enjoy your wedding day. This also allows you to look at any last minute details or items that need to be taken care of, and you can delegate those tasks.
I hope this guide has been helpful! Timelines and making sure everything is just so can be overwhelming, especially if something unexpected comes up, but with these tips and tricks, you can get a better handle on making sure that you get to enjoy every second of your wedding day.