It's all very well having a rough idea of how you want your day to go, but you need specific timings for every step of the day and detailed instructions for everyone involved to follow. Your venue, photographer, videographer etc. all need to know when and where they're expected to be somewhere, so the more meticulous you can make it, the better. Of course, things can sometimes take longer than expected and you don't need to worry too much about getting a little behind schedule, but having the timeline to follow will allow everyone to help keep the day on track, and avoid dragging anything out that isn't neccessary. If you're not sure where to start or what should be included, I'll explain here in this blog.
Start with your ceremony. What time do you need to be there? How long will it take you to get there, taking traffic into account? From here you can work your way backwards to figure out timings for the start of your day.
Think about how many bridesmaids you have. Are they all getting their hair and makeup done? If so, ask your stylist how long it will take to get through everyone. Allow plenty of extra time for a glass of bubbly, any wardrobe malfunctions and photos. Now you can put down the time you'll be commencing the beautifying process. Highlight where this will be so that everyone knows where they can find you should they need to.
Now think about the venue set up. What needs to be done and how long will it take? Put timings next to everything and a checklist of things to be done if you want to be really specific. For example:
9am - Florist to arrive on site at *insert venue*
10 table arrangements - 1 per table
Floral arch at entrance of venue
Floral cloud to hang from beam overhead
...and so on. Liase with suppliers about what they think would be an appropriate time to arrive and set up, and ensure the venue is aware of everyone they should ecpect to arrive and at what time. The cake delivery may be later in the day so that it can be at it's freshest, whereas the ceremony space should be prioritized and ideally set up first. Write any notes on things you are worried may be forgotten. Your suppliers are more than capeable of doing their jobs, but if there is something you want done that's a little out of the norm, or you think they might need specific instructions on where something needs to be positioned, include this in the timeline for them to refer back to.
Once you've scheduled the set up and all of the steps leading up to the ceremony, you can then work from here. How much time do you and your guests then need to make their way to the drinks reception? Is it in the same venue or does it involve travelling? Once you've worked this out, you can list the start time for the drinks reception. You then need to decide exactly how long you want it to be. I advise between 1.5 - 2 hours. Any longer and guests start to get a little impatient. If it's outside they may be getting too cold or too hot, or most likely, hungry! So it's important to provide some kind of food here like canapes or ice cream. Just something to fill a hole. It's also a good idea to write down here what photos you want taken in this period and how long you want to spend on them. Don't forget you want enough time to mingle, drink and enjoy it yourself, but it's also the perfect opportunity to get as many shots with your loved ones before they are no longer at their freshest or most compos mentis!
Following the drinks reception is usually the wedding breakfast. What time should the announcement be made? How long should it take for your guests to all be seated? I would allow 15-20 minutes for this. Now decide what time you want food to be served or the buffet to open. How long are you allowing for all of your guests to finish? How many courses do you have? I would recommend speaking with your caterers here. They will have the best idea of how long it should take to deliver all of the food based on the amount of guests you have and complexity of your menu.
Are you doing speeches here? Tell those nominated to keep it down to a maximum of 10 minutes each. The likelyhood is, your guests will start to lose focus after this amount of time. Depending on how many speeches you have, you can work out a max time it should all take to wrap up. Often, not enough time is given between the speeches finishing and the evening guests arriving, and you'll often find this is where the schedule can become a little behind and evening guests arrive before the party has started. It can be awkward for them and you, so don't schedule them to arrive too soon.
Also, think about whether you want your evening guests to be present for your cake cutting and first dance, and time these accordingly. Write anything that needs to be done within these periods, for example, "bottom two tiers of cake to be cut up and presented on platters. Top tier to be wrapped and kept in fridge for bride and groom". Write set times for your band or DJ to play and what music should be played in intervals (on what device and who is in charge of this).
The more specifics you can put down, the less can go wrong. Write timings for everything and always give leway for things to take longer than expected. A solid timeline is the key to a seamless day, but if all of this sounds at all daunting , or you'd like more information on writing the perfect timeline, don't hesitate to get in touch via email at email@example.com