One of the hardest things about wedding planning has been nailing down the wedding day timeline! It’s so hard to think down to the minute of a day that is still months away! But it’s so important to start working on it early, because when you get down to the part of planning where you’re booking day of details, your vendors will be asking! For example… the day of transportation, which in my opinion is a MUST! You want to ensure that all your people will be where they need to be when you need them to be there, so it’s best to just hire transportation big enough to move everyone from point A to point B. We’re looking into renting a party bus, or the Charlotte GoldRush trolley for the job, but the first question when trying to book was “What time would we start our route for the day?”… my response, “Good question!” I realized I had to finalize the timeline of the entire day before being able to book them. So when planning your, and everyone else’s, every move on your big day there are some things to consider…
1. Are you taking pictures before the ceremony or after?
Adam and I have chosen before. Since we will be getting married after the time changes in the fall, we’ll be chasing daylight by the time of the ceremony and want sunlight in our pictures. Talk to your photographer about this, ask their opinions and how long they need for pictures. Mrs. Melissa Lynn Hunt is AMAZING at this and insanely helpful… your photographer becomes kind of like a wedding planner in my mind! And I think you should plan the day around your pictures… After all they’re the thing that’s going to last the longest!
2. What time do you have to be at your ceremony site?
This is a big one that I didn’t think about at first. Our church is strict about us being there a whole hour before the ceremony starts, which at first I saw as a dent in the day, but I now understand why. The groomsmen need to be ready and waiting to seat early arriving guests! Something to keep in mind!
3. How much time does your hair and makeup artist need for the bridal party prep?
Send her a list of the ladies that want their hair and make up done, and what time you have to be walking out the door for pictures, or for the ceremony… then ask what time you need to start the day to make that happen!
4. Keep in mind the photographer and videographer’s hours on their contracts.
Do you have them for 8 hours? 10 hours? 12? What time should they arrive to make the most of the their day… capturing all the wedding prep all the way to the reception exit? Does this align with the rest of your day? Do you need to talk to them about adding an hour or two? Is this in your budget?
5. Keep in mind your guests.
Is the reception starting and ending at a reasonable time for most people? This was a big one for us! With the time changing just weeks before our wedding, and it getting so dark out so early, we wanted to know if our guest would feel like they’re eating dinner too late. Will you need a cocktail hour for snacking while everyone is awaiting your big arrival? We’re still working this one out!
Always, ALWAYS have something for the boys to do while you and your maids are getting all dolled up! And ALWAYS have someone in charge of them, making sure they’re where they need to be and when!
Once you have all these questions answered, you can start writing out the final timeline. I find it easier to work backwards… start with the reception end time and your grand exit, then work backwards all the way to the wake up and first hair/make up appointment… mapping out an exact time for all that’s in between. Make sure you allow for traveling between the getting ready location and the pictures, the pictures and the ceremony, and the ceremony and the reception. And my biggest advice in timeline planning (and in life… a lesson I’m still trying to learn) allow for life to happen! If your makeup artist says she needs to start at 9am to be finished at 1pm, start 15 minute early just in case… always allow 15 minutes for running late! So you won’t find yourself caught off guard and upset when something goes wrong! Lastly, make everyone aware of your plan! Keep everyone in the loop! I found these great wedding timeline templates on Pinterest that are free and printable. You can make them cute and send them out to your wedding party and your vendors to keep everyone on track! I like the pocket sized ones so the boys have NO excuse to not have it with them at all times on the wedding day! 🙂
Melissa Lynn Hunt Charlotte NC Photographer