A huge aspect of our wedding planning services includes creating and implementing your day of timeline. Having a set timeline ensures a smooth-running day and that, fingers-crossed, there are no hiccups to get in the way of having fun! Below are our top ten timeline tips that we try and follow when working with our clients. Hopefully they are useful to those brides who are foregoing a wedding coordinator!
1. Leave enough time for getting ready
When creating the timeline for the earlier parts of your wedding day, it is important to leave plenty of time for you and your girls to get ready. Typically we try and work backwards here. We first chat with your photographer and ask what time you need to be ready by for photos. That determines when we need to get started based on the number of bridesmaids you have. If you have more than 6-7 bridesmaids, we highly recommend hiring up to 3 or 4 makeup and hair artists to get everyone ready in a timely fashion.
2. Be open to doing a "first look"
While it is more and more common for our couples to be open to doing a first look before the ceremony, we still have many brides who are on the fence. If you want to spend as much of your wedding reception with your guests as possible, a first look is the way to go. This also allows you to take your time with photographs of just you and your future hubby, which takes the pressure off the situation AND allows you to get those photos done with fresh hair and make-up!
3. Keep in mind any noise ordinances or load out restrictions
Depending on your venue rental agreement you may only have access to the space until, or have to shut music down, at a specific time This could mean that not only do you and your guests have to be out of the space, but so do all your vendors and rentals. This is important to keep in mind when crafting your day-of timeline as you may think you can dance with your band until midnight, but in reality some bands need to be finished at 10:30 PM to ensure they are packed up and moved out of the venue in time.
4. Do not be afraid of having your ceremony earlier than expected
Again this goes back to venues that have noise ordinances. In those situations most bands are cut off around 10:00 PM and a 5:00 PM ceremony is simply too late to fully enjoy your wedding day. We suggest moving that ceremony up to 3:00 or 3:30 PM to ensure that you are getting the full day's worth of experience and that you are not rushed going from one portion of the wedding day to the next.
5. Make sure your band loads-in and is sound-checked in plenty of time before guest arrival
Some weddings take place all in the same location from beginning to end, so it is important to ensure that your band or DJ is done with soundcheck before your guests arrive for your ceremony. This may lead to an early load-in fee, however you wouldn't want your band practicing your first dance within earshot of you walking down the aisle so it's an important factor to consider.
6. Keep the cocktail hour short
Try not to let cocktail hour extend beyond 45 minutes to an hour max. Any longer than that and guests start to get antsy. Plus you want to get some food in their stomachs that is more substantial than just a few appetizers before they keep drinking!
7. Skip the receiving line
Most couples decide to fore-go the receiving line these days. It takes up a large portion of the reception and all you get is a quick hello and hug with each of your guests. Skip the formalities, get out on the dance floor with your guests, and let people come to you. This allows for a more genuine interaction that promises to be more memorable than a quick hug!
8. Schedule set times for your first dance, father/daughter & mother/son dances, cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc.
Some brides think that the evening will just flow and that your band or DJ will know when to initiate the first dance or other classic wedding moments, however this is rarely the case. In order to ensure that your evening flows seamlessly through transitions, it is important to have a set schedule for your band/DJ to follow for each of these moments and that they are operating on your cues. You wouldn't want them to decide it was time for the father/daughter dance and your dad be in the restroom!
9. Don't serve your cake too late! Or too early!
As many of you know, once the cake is cut, many guests tend to leave the reception. We always try and ask our clients about their guest list. If we get the sense that there are a lot of older guests in attendance, we try and keep the cake cutting earlier to be considerate of them. However you do not want to cut the cake too early either and risk your guests leaving before the fun really starts! We find that 45 minutes into dancing tends to be the perfect time and allows from a brief reprieve for those who plan on being on the dance floor all evening.
10. Keep an eye out on sunset timing
While this is a task mainly for your photographer, it is always nice to know when the sun will be setting on your wedding day. Especially to get those really beautiful "golden hour" photos of the two of you. A lot of the time this will sync up with your cocktail hour, which is the perfect time to sneak away for a few more portraits in that pretty light.
We hope that these tips help when creating your own day-of timeline! And we have said it once, and we'll say it again, the best way to ensure a smooth, seamless wedding day is to hire a wedding coordinator. That way you're not the one keeping an eye out on all these details, your coordinator is, so you and your groom can focus on each other and having fun!