7 Important Things You May Forget That Will Ruin a Wedding Timeline
The wedding day timeline is the most important document you as a wedding planner will create; It is the blueprint, the master plan, and the keystone of the wedding day flow.
Creating timelines that both couples and vendors love is an art, and wedding planners have to to balance the needs of many while focusing on the wants of the couple getting married. And there are a few things you might be leaving off of your wedding timeline that can ruin the entire flow of the wedding day.
Don’t worry, I’ve got you! Here are seven things you must include to help make your wedding day timelines even better!
You must include vendor meal times and location to ensure that the photographer, videographer, and emcee are eating at a time the doesn’t conflict with any formalities. I have found that most catering companies don’t mind working with you on the vendor meal timing as long as they have plenty of advanced notice.
Pro Tip: I also list any vendor allergies or requirements on the timeline in case there are discrepancies day-of.
Signing the Marriage License
The most important thing that needs to happen on a wedding day is the signing of the marriage license. And it shouldn’t be an afterthought. If you schedule time on the timeline (along with the names of witnesses), you will ensure this special moment isn’t rushed and that it is captured by the photographer and videographer. You can be flexible with the timing (for example, scheduling it immediately before the Grand Entrance if you need the entire cocktail hour to capture photos), but make sure it is listed and include the location of where it will occur.
Pro Tip: I instruct the caterer to have a plate of appetizers and two glasses of champagne waiting in the selected signing location for the couple.
Pre-wedding meal details for the Bride and Groom
The last thing any wedding planner wants is to have a bride or groom faint at the altar! Making sure that everyone eats something before the ceremony is so important that the details need to be included on the timeline. I include the basics of what will be provided (sandwiches and fruit salad, for example), who will be delivering the food to the getting ready areas, and contact information for whoever is responsible for that food delivery.
Pro Tip: Have the conversation with your couple early and often during the planning phases about who will be responsible for purchasing and delivering food so that you aren’t receiving panicked texts the morning of the wedding.
Vendor and VIP contact information
Speaking of contact information, I include the email and cell phone number for every vendor and every VIP (the couple, maid of honor, best man, parents of the couple, etc) on the timeline. I prefer to have a section on the bottom of the timeline that includes this information. Sometimes phone die, so I like to have a printed copy of this information handy.
Pro Tip: for vendors who can greatly impact timing, I include their contact information when they are first required on site. For example, I add a contact phone number for the transportation driver on the line indicating pick up time.
Parent First Looks
Wedding days are emotional for family and friends of the couple and every wedding planner should find ways to include the couple’s VIP guests. One moment that can particularly delay a timeline (if it wasn’t previously accounted for) is a “parent first look.” Often parents will write letters to their children, or gifts will be exchanged, so I always budget at least 10 minutes for this, but sometimes more, depending on the situation.
Pro Tip: often wedding planners will ask about a Bride/Father first look, but I have found that Groom/Mother first looks can take the most time, so be sure to budget a bit extra if you know they are close.
Sunset or nighttime photo session
One of the worst things that can happen to wedding reception timing is not accounting for a sunset photo session. Because the sunset timing is fixed, you need to make sure that the toasts/dances/other formalities don’t bump into sunset photos. If there isn’t a gorgeous sunset during the reception, it is much easier to start the toasts a bit earlier than to have grumbling guests who feel trapped at their tables because the couple has been whisked outside for photography.
Pro Tip: ask the photographers if they use Google Earth Pro (or use it yourself) to determine when might be the best time for sunset photos since it won’t be exactly at sundown.
Sound checks for the officiant and ceremony
Nothing makes me panic more than sound issues during a ceremony, especially an outdoor ceremony. I am terrible at futzing with AV equipment and terrified I will unplug the wrong thing if I try to make an adjustment. So it is important to have your sound engineer or DJ meet with the officiant about 45 minutes before the ceremony starts to perform a preliminary sound check.
Pro Tip: I also ask that the sound engineer or DJ remain near the ceremony in case of issues with microphones or speakers.
Now it is your turn! What things have you forgotten to include that threw off your wedding day timing?