To make sure your wedding day runs as smoothly as possible and goes off without a hitch, you’re going to need a timeline.

There is so much that happens as your wedding day unfolds – and a lot of it you won’t have the time to personally deal with as you can’t be in two places at once.  Having a timeline that is adhered to and delegating tasks will prevent your wedding day from descending into chaos.

A timeline will set your mind at ease and ensure all your wedding vendors are on the same page and will arrive and leave when they are meant to.

Friends, family members and the bridal party who have tasks to perform on the day will also be clear on when they need to perform them, and will have an overall picture of the importance of getting the timing right.

One of the biggest mistakes that couples make in creating their wedding day timelines is to underestimate just how long certain things will take on the day, which can then affect the day running to schedule.

There are lots of reasons to want everything to run to schedule… not only do you not want to leave guests waiting and waiting (and waiting!) for a ceremony to start, but many venues have strict start and finish times.  Other vendors may charge you more if you need them for longer than you have booked them.

Common ways that wedding days can not go to schedule include:

  • Not allowing enough time for hair and makeup for the bridal party.
  • Underestimating just how long it can take you to get into your dress. Dresses that have lots of buttons or need to be laced up at the back can actually take a long time to get in to.
  • Not being realistic about how long it will take to travel between any locations, eg: getting ready and ceremony or ceremony and reception.  Take into account traffic conditions, whether there are any major events scheduled in the area at the time, road works and the overall distance that needs to be traveled.
  • Ceremonies not starting on time because key family members are running late, eg: mother of the groom.
  • Uncooperative children in the bridal party can cause delays if they are refusing to get dressed/get into the car/walk down the aisle. Sometimes younger children who are selected to be flower girls and ring bearers can find it too overwhelming and they have tantrums and meltdowns on the day.
  • Flowers not being delivered when they are meant to be, meaning a bride can be ready to go but can’t because her bouquet hasn’t turned up yet.
  • Photo shoot running over time and delaying the start of the reception. Particularly if you have not left a realistic amount of time to complete all the family photos you have requested and the bride and groom/bridal party portrait session.
  • The reception venue running behind schedule on the day meaning you could have to pay your photographer, DJ, band, car company and so on extra because they’ll be working later.

When building your timeline, you should consult with all your vendors and ask them to approximate their times.  Don’t rely on a cookie cutter timeline that you might have found on the internet – it isn’t going to be right for your specific wedding, your needs and your vendors.

Listen to what your vendors have to say – they do this week in and week out and they really should have a handle on exactly how long things will take.

The bigger your bridal party, the longer hair and makeup will take, for example.  If you request 30 different family photo combinations, this will eat into the rest of your photo session time so either allow extra time or cut some things out.

Of course unexpected events can still happen, and no amount of planning is going to stop it. A car accident can cause massive traffic delays. Severe weather might cause things to be delayed. A family medical emergency could crop up on the day.   When these sorts of things happen, you just have to roll with it.

Image: Flickr/Unc Bianca