Seven Tips for Creating the Perfect Wedding Timeline

 

 

Timing is everything in life, and your wedding day is no different. A detailed wedding timeline ensures a smooth experience for your wedding guests (and maximizes your time with friends and family!).

Each wedding is unique, as is the timeline. The wedding timeline depends on many factors, vendors, venues, families, and more. Make sure to communicate with your wedding vendors when creating your ideal timeline.

Seven Tips for Creating the Perfect Timeline

If you’re working with a wedding planner, he or she will create a wedding timeline with you. If you’re on your own, it is imperative that you create one of these yourself to ensure a smooth run of day.

Tip 1: Gather Information

Start by gathering information about key details of the wedding day. Start by answering these questions, before assembling your wedding timeline.

  1. What time can you get into your reception space? What time do you need to be out?
  2. How many hours did you contract your videographer and photographer?
  3. Will you be getting ready at your ceremony location or somewhere else?
  4. How long will hair and makeup take for the guys and gals in your wedding party?
  5. Are you planning on having a first look and doing formal photos before the ceremony?
  6. Do you want a long or short cocktail hour?
  7. Are your ceremony and reception in separate locations? How far apart are your ceremony and reception locations?
  8. How many people are giving toasts?
  9. Are you doing a first dance and/or dances at your reception? Will you dance to an entire song?
  10. Will you have any performers at your wedding reception? Hora Loca?
  11. Do you want to toss your bouquet? Will you have a garter toss?
  12. Do you want to have a special exit (e.g. sparklers)?
  13. How much time is included in your vendors’ contracts?
  14. Are you hosting an after-party or parties?

Tip 2: Start from scratch but don’t recreate the wheel

Once you’ve answered all the questions from Tip #1, make a list of the events taking place before and after the ceremony and determine how long each of those events will take. The ceremony is a great anchor to your wedding timeline.  While you’re thinking of your ceremony, also consider having a unplugged ceremony.  Once you’ve plotted the ceremony time, work backwards and consider how long hair and makeup will take, and whether you will be doing a first look.

Tip 3: Consider hair and make up

Plan for an early start to the day and build in buffer time in your wedding timeline. Consider that hair and makeup easily take 90 minutes per person. If you’re doing an intricate hair style, like an updo, it may take more than 90 minutes. If you have a large wedding party, we recommend your hair and makeup vendor bring a larger team (at least 2-3 makeup artists or hairstylists).

Tip 4: Remember your videographer and photographer

How many hours do you have your videographer and photographer booked for? We recommend 8-10 hours of video/photo coverage to capture all the day’s moments.

When making your wedding timeline, consider that the videographer will need to leave the prep location earlier than the photographer to set up for the wedding ceremony. Don’t schedule any special moments, such as a first look, after the videographer has left to the ceremony site.

If you only have your videographer or photographer booked for 6-8 hours, be strategic about when you want them to arrive, especially if it is important to you that they capture your grand exit or a Hora Loca.

Tip 5: Don’t forget the small details

Include time in your wedding timeline to eat, change into your wedding dress or tux, and have your wedding party change into their formal attire. Often these details get overlooked, but remember, the more detail you can add to the timeline, the easier it will be to stay on track.

Tip 6: Include buffer time

Give yourself buffer time on the wedding timeline to account for delays. Think an activity will take 15 minutes? Allot 25 or 30 minutes on the timeline.

Allot at least 30 minutes of buffer time before the ceremony start time. This ensures everyone (couple + wedding party) will be ready and on time.

In many cities, major traffic delays are not uncommon, give yourself enough buffer time to account for traffic delays.

Tip 7: Assign a timekeeper

Find a friend, family member, or member of the wedding party to oversee the wedding timeline and keep everyone on track. This person should be organized and feel comfortable gently nudging others to move onto the next activity.

 

Sample Wedding Day Timeline

Below is a sample timeline from one of our weddings, to get you started, alter it to fit your wedding day:

Important locations and addresses:
Bride and Groom Prep:
Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables – 1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Ceremony:
Church of the Little Flower – 2711 Indian Mound Trail, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Cocktail and Reception:
Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables – 1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134

Invitation Time: 2:30pm
Ceremony: 3:00pm (1 hr.)
Cocktail: 4:00pm (1 hr.)
Reception: 5:00pm – 11:00pm (6 hrs.)

PRE-CEREMONY PREP

8:00am Arrival of Hair & Make Up Team
9:00am Bride begins hair & make up
12:00pm Arrival of Video/Photo team to Hotel
12:30pm Bride and Groom Prep Video & Photo
1:00 Hair and Makeup Concludes
1:15 Bride is in her dress
1:30 Video/Photo of bride in her dress with mother and bridesmaids
1:45 First Look
2:00 Bride & Groom Portraits
2:15pm Departure of Video Team to Church
2:30 Guest arrival begins to Church
2:40pm Bride, Groom, & Bridal Party Depart to Church
2:45pm Photographer Departs to Church

Ceremony
3:00pm Processional; Ceremony Begins
4:00pm Ceremony Ends; Recessional

Cocktail Hour
4:00pm Cocktail Begins
4:10pm Formal Portraits with the family at Church
4:50pm Room Reveal with Video/Photo
5:00pm Cocktail Hour Ends

Reception
5:20pm Bride & Groom Introduced by DJ
5:25pm First Dance
5:30pm Father/Daughter Dance
5:35pm Mother/Son
5:40pm Toasts (FOB, MOH, BM)
6:00pm Dinner
6:45pm Cake Cutting (announced)
7:00pm Dinner Ends; Party Time
8:00pm Photo booth Opens (8-11pm)
8:00 Hora Loca & Percussionist (Percussionist 8-10pm)
10:00pm Departure of Video/Photo
11:00pm Reception Concludes

 

Need a  wedding videographer and more wedding day tips? We are here to help!

 

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