Tick tock the clock is ticking

As a bride, I wanted to make sure everyone knew exactly where they were supposed to be and when they were supposed to be there. I didn't want them question or worry about not knowing. So I was organized and I had timelines and I shared these with my bridesmaids and family. As a planner, it is my job to know who is supposed to be where and when. I study contracts and talk to vendors and the bride. 

My biggest pre-wedding fears for your wedding: the unknown and mass chaos. The closer the big day comes, the more I worry about the specific timing of events. The thought of missing bridesmaids, groomsmen wandering off, being disorganized, and important people missing out on certain things such as family photographs makes my heart palpitate a bit faster. I know that things running smoothly is key to me staying calm. Because of this, developing a wedding-day timeline is of the utmost importance to me.

To begin a timeline we need to start with the basics: what time are the ceremony and reception starting and ending. From there, how much time does each vendor allow per their contract. Do vendors depend on others? For example, florists may depend on rentals? If so, we want to make sure the rentals arrive before the florist. Then I research how much time each vendor may or may not take. For example, photography takes a significant amount of time. 

Here is the photography breakdown I developed from samples:
  • Bride/bridesmaid makeup, hair: 2-3 hours
  • (Actual primping shots – 30 minutes)
  • Detail shots – 30 minutes
  • Groom/groomsmen “getting ready” – 30 minutes
  • Bride dressing/accessories – 15 minutes
  • First look + couple photos – 1 hour
  • Wedding-party photos – 1 hour
  • Ceremony – 30 minutes
  • Family formals – 30 minutes
Using this as my guideline, I started with my ceremony start time (5 PM) and then worked my way backward to the beginning of the day. Adding travel time is key. Without it, the schedule would be off by at least 30–45 minutes by the end of the day! For the reception timeline, my DJ/master of ceremonies is always a huge help.

For those interested, here is an actual It's Your Time Events wedding-day timeline I would distribute to the wedding party:
  • 08:15 AM: Make up artist arrives at hotel
  • 08:30 AM: First bridesmaid begins make up
  • 08:30 AM: Bride goes to yoga
  • 12:00 PM: Bride gets make up done
  • 12:30 PM: Hairstylist arrives (only for bride’s hair)
  •  1:30 PM: Bridesmaids get dressed to leave for venue; bride gets dressed at venue
  •  2:00 PM: Catering & florist arrives at venue
  •  2:30 PM: Photographer arrives at venue
  •  2:45 PM: Bridal prep, bridesmaids, getting dressed 
  •  3:00 PM: Groom arrives; at first sight photographs & wedding party pics
  •  3:30 PM: Wedding-party photographs
  •  4:30 PM: Photography ends (wedding party inside, ushers stay outside and begin handing out programs and ushering people to seats)
  •  4:40 PM: Band arrives; music begins 
  •  5:00 PM: Processional begins
  •  5:05 PM: Bride walks down aisle, ceremony begins
  •  5:30/45 PM: Recessional
  •  5:30/45 PM: Family formals
  •  (5:30/45 PM: Cocktail hour begins)
  •  6:00 PM: Must be completely done with photography
  •  6:30 PM: Grand Entrance
  •  7:00 PM: Dinner 
  •  8:00 PM: Photobooth opens
  •  8:30 PM: Cake photos, pulls, and cutting
  •  8:45 PM: Open dancing
  •  9:45 PM: Bride changes
  •  9:55 PM: bouquet toss, bride and groom leave
  • 10:00 PM: End of reception
Phew! Distributing the timeline to the bridal party is definitely a relief. There is a much more detailed one for myself and vendors. But, I know by providing these timelines, I won't have to be as worried about rounding everyone up. I am sure I will still heard a question or two like, “What time do we have to be at XXX again?” The running joke will probably be, “You obviously didn't read your timeline.” Trust me, I don't mind the occasional teasing, though. Wedding days will go more smoothly with my timeline :)

Did you/will you write a detailed schedule out for your wedding party?