Creating the ideal Wedding Day Timeline is almost like an art form, and having your wedding go off without a hitch can often be about timing. There are so many moving parts to a wedding day, and having everyone show up where and when they are supposed to can really affect the day. In my experience, there are particular points in the day where things can get off track. This is why timelines are so important and why as a Wedding Planner, I spend a lot of time and take care to put them into order to avoid these timeline traps. Keep reading to find out what the critical points in your wedding day timeline are, and my tips to ensure your day runs smoothly.
Beauty (Hair & Makeup) is the first critical point in a timeline, as it is often the very first thing that happens on your wedding day. As there are often multiple people requiring hair and makeup on the morning of your wedding, beauty will have its own timeline, and getting entire wedding parties ready when they need to be can be hard. If beauty starts to fall behind, this can impact the timeline of the entire day. My advice is to work with experienced hair and makeup artists, who specialise in wedding services. They will have worked numerous weddings, with wedding parties of varying numbers, and know how long it really takes to get you all ready. When booking your hair and makeup artists, try to be clear with exactly how many people you require their services for, and ask them how long is needed for each person. They are the professionals and should be able to give you estimates on how long they expect it to take. Finally, try and add a buffer of 30 minutes into your timeline before the photographer arrives, so that if there are any last minute fix ups or adjustments for hair and makeup, there is time to do so.
The ceremony start time is probably the most critical point in the timeline – it is why we are all here! When working on a timeline, I usually start with the Ceremony time and build the rest of the timeline around it. There is so much that needs to happen before the ceremony can start: Beauty, flowers delivered, bride/s and/or groom/s portraits, family and wedding party portraits, guests seated, musicians in place, celebrant ready, transport in the right locations, and the wedding party all in the correct spaces, just to name a few! If any of those things take longer than expected, the ceremony will start late, and push into your cocktail hour and reception time. This could eat into the time you have for portraits after you are wed, and limit the time you have to mingle with guests. A late ceremony will also affect your reception timeline, minimising the time for things like dancing and toasts. Hot tip: put the ceremony start time 30 minutes before the actual start time on invitations to ensure that guests will be seated and there are no hold ups when you arrive.
Toasts can really be a timeline killer at the end of the night, and it is so important that they not run overtime. You will usually only have a reception venue available until a certain time, so that your vendors can begin packing down everything and leaving the venue. So, if toasts run overtime, it will certainly eat into the time you have for
other reception activities, like dancing, cutting the cake, spending time with guests etc. To keep toasts running smoothly, consider hiring an MC who can keep things moving along (sometimes DJs or Celebrants offer this service, or there might be an MC available at your venue – but you need to check if this service is available, because it’s not always the case). Prep the people giving toasts well in advance, and give them a strict time to stick to. Hot Tip: tell them that they have slightly less time than they actually have, for instance, if you know each person can have 8 mins, tell them they only have 5, that way, if they go a little bit over, it won’t run into the rest of the reception time.
Creating the perfect wedding day timeline is one of my favourite parts of planning a wedding, but it involves a lot of logistical planning, communication with vendors and with family and friends who have important roles in your wedding. Having a Wedding Planner or Coordinator who can work closely with you and everyone involved to create a realistic timeline will save you a lot of stress and worry on your day.