I create very detailed timelines for my clients. One may think they have too much information, but the timelines leave little room for questions or confusion. So if you are creating something on your own or enlisting the help of a professional, there are many things to take into consideration when approaching a wedding day schedule.
Review the terms of your vendors’ contracts, and note how many hours each has been hired for so you can do your best to get all the important events completed before the photographer and videographer are finished. A good timeline will help you use the time you’ve hired them for most wisely. Ideally these professionals would begin as the bride is finishing hair and make up and leave after the cake is cut, assuming all the other important things have been scheduled before the cake cutting. I usually start at the end and work my way backwards.
Consult the caterer and kitchen to make sure they have enough time to cook, serve and clear the food for each course. Timing the evening precisely and listing each event by the minute is great, but understand the importance of knowing when to let the evening flow naturally, as it often will do. Sometimes speeches last longer, the dance floor is having too much fun to interrupt or the kitchen needs additional time to plate a course. The importance of an accurate timeline is to ensure guests enjoy a well thought out experience, nothing is forgotten, the vendors are all in sync and the special moments are documented.
Timelines prevent salads from being served during your dad’s toast, courses being cleared during your first dance and your cake cutting from occurring while your photographer is breaking for dinner. Make sure whoever you delegate the coordination of the day to is prepared to give those with important contributions to your day the advance warning they need to perform their task well, whether it be a toast, a prayer, a parent dance, etc. Introducing them or toasting to you while someone is not in sight or earshot should be avoided.
Who to send the timeline to:
Maid of Honor/ Best Man
Anyone else with a role or special interest in the wedding day activities
I usually include a note at the bottom of my email asking them to confirm receipt. Print extra hard copies to bring on the wedding day for those vendors who have not had a chance to open or review the document. Also, resending the final timeline a day or two before the wedding allows vendors to easily access the timeline on their smart phones without having to dig too deep for the message.
Running behind? There are often opportunities to recover lost time throughout the evening. Once you are off and running, try not to worry about the small things; your guests won’t be. If you’re enjoying your meal, having a cocktail and frequenting the dance floor, your guests will likely follow suit.