Wedding Day Timelines Decoded - What They Are & Why YOU Need One!

Your wedding day timeline – one of the most essential items to have on your wedding day, yet one of the most difficult items to put together, maintain and utilize. What is one, why do you need it, what goes in a timeline – great questions!

What is a timeline?

Your wedding timeline is a listing of the major and minor events and the approximate time of day they will occur. It can be as extensive and detailed or as simple as you wish. A good rule of thumb is to start your timeline when the first vendor begins providing services or when the first person from the wedding begins getting ready. End your timeline when the last vendor has finished providing their service or picked up their items.

Who needs a timeline?

If you have a coordinator that is handling the management of your wedding day, they will have a timeline that they have developed that incorporates all of the information they need to ensure that your day runs according to your plans (as much as possible). Your coordinator will connect with your vendors and will include all of the information, timing and details that will affect the flow of the wedding. There should only be ONE timeline. I emphasize this because you will have other vendors that will try to create their own, which is fine, as long as in the end, their version and the version that your coordinator is working from have the same information. Remember it is the coordinators job and responsibility to maintain the timeline and flow of your wedding.

If you do not have a coordinator to manage your wedding, you have a few options. You can see if another vendor is creating a timeline and utilize it to plan your day (most photographers and DJ’s will have some form of a timeline). You can also use our easy template to create your own timeline. Finally, some coordinators will create a timeline, with the information you provide, as an a la carte service.

Before you start with any of the options make sure to have the following information easily accessible –
• Location and time of rehearsal, wedding ceremony and reception
• Vendor name, arrival time of all vendors (both services and products) and day of contact information
• Names and phone numbers of all wedding party members
• Final guest count
• All vendor contracts – from these you will be able to get the start time, contracted length, end time, meal requirements, final balances, etc.
• Speak with your photographer about how long each session of pictures will take. This is the most important item as it is the framework that the timeline is built upon.
• Build your timeline in a block or cushion format rounding up whenever possible

Why do you need a timeline?

Weddings have lots of moving parts with lots of people. All of your vendors are focused on providing you with the best product and service. Without some coordination it is inevitable that something will not occur when it needs to or something will be overlooked. If everyone involved with your wedding knows where they need to be, when they need to be there and what they will be doing the chances of something not going quite right will be reduced.

How to communicate your timeline?

The easiest way to communicate your timeline is through your coordinator. They will contact all of your vendors, get their relevant information, and send them a draft timeline to make sure that there are no adjustments that need to be made, coordinate the final timeline details with you and about a week before your wedding they will send out the final version. Your coordinator will also bring copies of your timeline to the rehearsal to share with your wedding party and to make any last minute notes and changes.

If you don’t have a coordinator you can follow the same steps, however you will be the one adjusting the timeline at the rehearsal and will be responsible for communicating it to your vendors. You will also be the go to person when a conflict occurs. The key to dealing with these conflicts is to empower your vendors to take care of them, within reason. Ask that they exercise their best judgment and communicate with all involved parties.

The key to a successful timeline is to understand that it is a GUIDE, not GOSPEL. Things will happen, people will be late, photo sessions will run long, and things may be forgotten. In the end, the “I Do” is the only part of the timeline that is important.

Sweet I Do's is a wedding planning company located in Surprise, AZ (a suburb of Phoenix). We specialize in wedding day management (also known as day of coordination). We help you create an amazing, unique and totally "you" wedding that allows you to be in the moments making the memories, not worrying about the details. From contract review and timeline creation to day of management, set up and tear down, we're focused on ensuring our couples, their families and friends experience a stress and worry free night to remember.