Wedding Timelines - What You Need to Know

As a professional wedding planner and coordinator serving Napa, Sonoma, and San Francisco, one thing I find crucial is the wedding timeline. What is a timeline? In its simplest form, it contains all of the details that your vendors and bridal party will need to know. These details include what happens when, who needs to be where, and how long things last. But it much more than a simple guide - consider it your wedding master plan. Today I want to dig a little deeper and help you understand it all.

That being said, if you are a current client, most of this happens behind the scenes, and we handle most, if not all, of the details.

A well-designed timeline creates a delightful experience for the wedding guests, inspires your wedding vendors to do their very best work, and allows you to be a guest at your wedding.

So, if you are ready to learn more about this critical tool for planning your wedding, let’s go ahead and get started.

First, develop an in-depth understanding of your key details. Make sure you have open communication with all of your vendors and your wedding coordinator - what they are providing and when they need to be on site.

The next step is time and details. There are hundreds of decisions to make - start documenting them. Information from your coordinator and vendors should go into the same document. For example, what time do you have to vacate the venue? Again, if you are working with us, we will provide all of this information for you using our online planning tools. Here are some of the many factors that come into play into the time before and during the wedding:

  1. Venues. If your reception is at a different location than your wedding, you will need to factor enough transportation time for your guests to get into their cars or the transportation you have set up for the trip.

  2. Photographer. It’s important to have clarity when you are setting your expectations for your wedding photographs and videos. If, for example, if you are planning a 5:00 PM ceremony in the winter season, don’t expect your photographer to capture a lot of sunlight.

  3. Transportation. Be certain that you know where your bridesmaids and groomsmen will be getting ready. If it’s not at your ceremony venue, make sure you have arranged for transportation for everyone. Is your photographer going to be taking “getting ready” shots? Are you getting ready at your ceremony site? Consider traveling to your site in your regular clothes and change when you arrive.

  4. Dancing. Traditionally, couples will opt to do their first dance as soon as they arrive at the reception. If you prefer to wait, however, you could plan your first dance after dinner - and use it as encouragement to get everyone up and dancing!

  5. Toasts. We often suggest splitting the speeches up between courses during your dinner service. This is a better flow and allows your guests to focus on each speech individually.

  6. Sunset shots. Your wedding photographer will likely suggest some soft and tender sunset shots with just the groom and bride. This is a magnificent time for a some “alone” time during your reception.

Do you have a wedding timeline yet? Do you have additional questions that may not have been answered? We’d love to know!