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How to Create a Wedding Day Timeline

There are a lot of wedding planning to-do lists, but not as many guides on creating a wedding day timeline. There are so many details to consider that it’s completely understandable that many brides are nervous about creating the timeline and forgetting something. It may even be tempting to not make one or just let a vendor make it. While most wedding professionals are capable of making the timeline based on their experience, they won’t be able to include the little details you may want or need. Use their input on the time they need and create a master timeline. A good, detailed timeline is vital to an organized wedding day.

The best time to finalize the timeline is about a month before your wedding because you’ll most likely know all the details for your vendors, family and wedding party at that point. Here are some easy steps on how to put the whole wedding day plan together, including who needs to be where and who should do what during the big day.

Write down the basics.

Start with the beginning and end time for the ceremony and reception. Include any drive time needed if you have multiple locations (add a few extra minutes of fudge time to be safe). Then add the times your wedding party, family and vendors are arriving and leaving. Don’t forget to include the venue’s open and close times.

Ceremony and reception details.

These will be very helpful for your officiant and DJ since they will be crucial in keeping your schedule on track (or close to it). Ceremony details include the processional, special music or readings, the vows, exchanging rings, first kiss and recessional. Be sure to include information about what songs will be playing, who walks in at what time, and references to any readings. This part will be very helpful when walking through the wedding rehearsal.

Next, think about each step at your reception – your entrance, special dances, meal time, toasts, cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss and when you’ll leave. Don’t forget events like posing in a photo booth, arrival of a food truck or carriage ride. The reception section will need to be a little flexible. There are many possible things that could happen unexpectedly. If your day-of-coordinator or DJ know what the schedule should look like, they can help direct events so everything flows smoothly.

Include the random little details.

Write down when you’re setting up the decorations and who is helping you. You can even include a list of items that need to be placed so nothing is forgotten. Add when you and your fiancé are getting ready. Remember that girls need extra time and guys will need to bring something for amusement. Add time for family photos, photos with your wedding party and time for just the two of you. Don’t forget to include any special moments in the day like a first look, cocktail hour, or requested moments with the photographer/videographer. Finally, record when you’re tearing down the decorations, who is helping and what cars are carrying décor items and gifts.

Once you have all this listed, make sure everything is in order based on the time when it takes place. Double-check to make sure the sequence makes sense and that you are satisfied.

If you really want to be even more detailed, include the location and people who are involved with each step. You can even color code the location, people or type of action if it will help keep things in order (red for vendors, green for family, blue for wedding party, etc.).

The finished timeline should be sent to each vendor, wedding party member, and any family member or friend that needs to be present at a certain time. Be sure to bring extra copies to your rehearsal in case somebody forgot theirs.

Happy planning!


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