Blog Takeover Written by Kelly Golia Events
When I was just weeks out from my own wedding in 2015, I remember feeling overwhelmed by one thing in particular: the wedding day timeline. I had planned large scale events before, but never a wedding, and I was terrified that I was going to forget to include some crucial element of the day. Luckily I loved logistics enough to take the time to do a lot ( and I mean A LOT) of research in order to craft my own day-of timeline, but I know that a lot of the couples I work with now experience the same fear of something slipping through the cracks.
I’ve learned a thing or two since my wedding, and after helping 30+ couples plan their own big day, I’ve developed some key timeline planning tips that I’m excited to share with you. Make sure you also scroll to the bottom of this post for your own printable timeline templates!
Here are my top tips for crafting your wedding day timeline:
1. Allow for Some Padding
Time and time again, I find one thing to be true: everything takes longer than you think it will on your wedding day! Little things pop up here and there that set you back: an aunt surprise visits the getting ready suite to chat just as you’re wrapping up hair and makeup, your bridesmaid forgets her purse in the getting ready room and you have to turn back on your way to the photo location, a shuttle gets stuck in traffic and 20 of your guests are running 5 minutes late to the ceremony. Even if everything goes exactly according to plan, you should still keep in mind the amount of straight up people-wrangling that happens - there are a lot of guests and bridal party members to coordinate, which inherently takes longer than you might think!
Allowing for some padding is going to be one of the best decisions you make as you create your timeline. This usually starts with hair and makeup start times, and while it might not sound ideal to start getting ready at 8am (or earlier!), I promise you that you won’t regret having the extra time to spend with your bridesmaids, family, and ultimately your new husband/wife. Again, even if everything goes exactly according to plan, if you have some extra time built in, you’ll get to sit back, take a deep breath, and finish your mimosa before walking down the aisle! You can’t go wrong!
2. To First Look or Not To First Look
I get it - I, too, was dead set against doing a first look at my wedding. I had always imagined that the first time I saw my husband on our wedding day would be the moment I walked down the aisle towards him. Due to a cloudy weather forecast on our wedding day, our photographer highly recommended doing a first look before our 6pm ceremony, noting that if we didn’t see each other until after the ceremony, the lighting would likely be dark and we wouldn’t get those light, airy photos that we loved so much in her portfolio. We ultimately decided that a first look would be worth it, and oh was it the right choice!
Not only does a first look help to put you and your partner’s mind at ease and calm some of the pre-ceremony nerves, you get more time to actually spend together on your wedding day, more photos of the two of you, and *gasp!*, you might actually get to spend time enjoying your own cocktail hour (and all of those appetizers you were so excited to pick out) during the time that you otherwise would have been taking post-ceremony photos!
3. Trust Your Vendors
As a Wedding Planner, I always start piecing together my timeline with the couple’s preferences, and then I look to each of their vendors to make sure all of their needs and expectations are met, too. For example, your photographer is going to know the best lighting based on sunset times for those epic golden hour shots, and your caterer is going to know exactly the right timing between serving first and second course. Trust your vendors to provide their timeline input and guidance - they’ve been around the block a few times.
4. Make It Your Own
Weddings are becoming more and more unique, which means that they are more and more reflective of the individual couple being celebrated (you!). Your timeline sets the foundation for a wedding day that truly represents you and your partner. Don’t be afraid to forego the norm and host a pre-ceremony cocktail hour, or have your first dance during the end of the ceremony as soon as you say “I do”. The possibilities really are endless, and just because something is “usually done a certain way”, doesn’t mean that’s the way you have to do it if it doesn’t feel right. Half the fun of wedding planning is thinking outside the box!
5. Stay Flexible!
I cannot stress this enough: it doesn’t matter how much you plan for every single little detail on your wedding day, something is going to go not-quite-right. For example, the ceremony almost always starts 5-10 minutes behind schedule, and that’s okay. By all means, take the time to carefully craft your wedding day timeline, but remember that stressing about it on the day of is only going to make your once-in-a-lifetime day go faster (and it goes by too fast already)! The more you can let things go and trust in your vendor team, the better the day you’re going to have! And isn’t the point of planning your perfect day so that you can enjoy it? Have fun!
BONUS: Of course, a bonus tip is to work directly with a Wedding Coordinator or Planner. Not only do we make sure that you don’t miss a single timeline element throughout the planning process, we make sure the timeline runs smoothly on the day of your wedding. Again, it’s all about enjoying the best day of your life!
I’m excited to share two customizable timeline templates with you:
Wedding Day Timeline: The tried and true timeline breakdown. Don’t be afraid to adjust to your unique wedding day, and simply fill in the times on the left hand side with your schedule!
A blank template: Fill it in from scratch, using the tried and true version as your guide.
Go forth and plan! You’ve got this!
Kelly is the heart and soul behind Kelly Golia Events, a Wedding Planning and Design studio serving New England, Charleston, and beyond. Having worked with couples with a range of personalities, visions, and styles, she takes pride in the unique designs of each wedding day, and believes strongly that a wedding should be truly reflective of the couple being celebrated, their lives together, and all of the things that inspire them.
Photo by Meredith Jane Photography