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One of the hardest things for most people to conceptualize when planning a wedding is the full scope of the day. Putting together a timeline is not only essential for your peace of mind and a smooth day, but it can also save your money, Or rather, not knowing your timeline will end up costing you money!
Decide on the ending
Most planning tools advise you to start your timeline with the start of your wedding, but we recommend thinking about the end of the event first. Do you dream of a party lasting until the wee hours of the night or are you at your best during the day? Day time weddings can be less expensive, and leave time for an After Party, but they can be hard on bridal party members who have to travel from out of town. Night time weddings can be difficult if you're planning on leaving for your honeymoon early the next morning, and can be difficult for guests with children. A night time wedding may be more formal, a day time one more casual. Deciding early in the process what type of wedding you want will help you make decisions.
Your venue and your entertainment will probably have end times built in to your contract. Make sure you know what those times are before creating the start time since going over may cost you money.
Work in 15-30 minute increments and be generous
Make sure you have plenty of "cushion" time in case something goes wrong.
Don't forget travel time
Think about time when making planning decisions
If you have 200 guests and you want to have a receiving line that's at minimum of an hour for the receiving line. Want to do "first look" pictures? That has you and your bridal party at the reception site fully dressed and made up a full hour before the wedding. Don't want to do "first look"? That has you and your bridal party taking photos in between the ceremony and the reception.
Include everyone and everything
You should have one big timeline that includes all your vendors and their start/stop times, as well as all the bridal party plans. Then make a second version for individual members of the bridal party that just includes their relevant information. Give the master list to vendors and put someone other than yourself in charge of it. Make sure the person you put in charge is neither too lax or too hyper!
Wedding timelines are living, breathing things. Sometimes you'll be ahead of schedule, sometimes slightly behind. Keep an eye on the clock, but don't glue yourself to it. It will all work out in the end.