The Best Ways to Stick to Your Wedding Day Timeline

A bride and groom walking in the park with their bridal party who's popping a bottle of champagne.

Leading up to your wedding day, you’ll likely spend a good chunk of time mapping out what the day itself will look like. From the moment you wake up until the last dance of your reception, your wedding day will likely be mapped out from start to finish. That precise timeline includes a wide range of people – from the bridal party to the groomsmen to the parents of the bride and groom to the flower girl. One of the keys to a successful and seamless wedding day is not only planning your timeline well, but sticking to it! There are many ways to ensure that happens on the day of for a smooth and relaxing day.

Make the Plan Known with Your Bridal Party and VIPs

Don’t keep the timeline for the day a secret from your wedding party and other VIPs. Everyone likes to know what to expect out of the day. While weddings are fun and exciting, they can also be tiring for everyone involved. Provide your wedding party with a documented time of events before the actual day. Highlight on the document what times everyone needs to be where and ask them all to be at least 10 minutes early to everything to avoid unwanted delays.

Ensure Everyone Comes to the Venue Prepared

Clearly communicate with your wedding party (and everyone else closely involved with the success of the day such as family or close friends) what they need to bring with them to be prepared for its entirety. Even though they probably already know the “must have” items, provide them with a written list of everything they should bring with them. This will include wedding day attire and accessories, any “getting ready” outfit they may want to wear such as a robe, and necessary hair and makeup items. Also tell them what you will be providing to them that day such as beverages, snacks, and so on.The point is that you want to cut down on the stress and running around people may have to do for forgotten items.

Work Closely With Your Vendors

A wedding photographer with cameras hanging off of him.

The more in sync you are with your vendors, the more realistic your day-of timeline will be. You’ll especially want to go over your timeline with your photographer and have a “must-have” shot list written out for them. This way, they’ll be able to correctly budget how much time is needed for wedding party photos, family portraits, and photos of just you and your spouse. Remember that wedding vendors do this all the time and have seen it all, so use them as a reliable source in crafting your timeline and take their feedback to heart.

Plan Glam Time Strategically

A bride getting her makeup applied on her wedding day.

For a bride and her tribe, hair and makeup takes up a good chunk of the wedding day morning and of the “getting ready” process. Planning this time strategically is key. Work with your hair and makeup artists to understand how much time they need to work on each person. It can help for your bridesmaids to choose the look they want ahead of time so the vendors can have a better understanding of the time requirements. Build in buffer time between individual appointments just to be be safe.

Build in Breaks for the Bridal Party

A group of bridesmaids relaxing before the wedding ceremony with champagne.

As mentioned above, wedding days can be tiring! You’ll want to ensure that you and your crew have breaks built into the schedule so that everyone has time to rest, grab water and snacks, and unwind a bit in between the chaos that usually makes up a wedding day.

Pad the Schedule

Face it—sometimes things run behind! In order to avoid as much choas as possible on the day of, pad the schedule at certain points with buffer time. This could be at basically any point of the day, but scatter at least 30 to 45 minutes of buffer time throughout the day’s activities to account for any unforeseen hold-ups or things that take longer than you would expect. The rest of your crew will never know there’s buffer time built in, so it’ll be your little handy secret.

At the End of the Day, Don’t Sweat It

At the end of the day, even if you veer off the timeline you’ve set for your big day, remember that everything will work out OK! Things come up, you may get off course, or things simply may not go as planned. Regardless of whether or not your timeline was followed down to the minute, breathe easy and enjoy this special day of your life.

Crafting the perfect wedding day timeline takes quite a bit of work, so ensure that you do everything you can to stick to it and keep all wedding party members (including yourself) on track. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of the day, but let your timeline be the guiding light that ties it all together and helps you to leave no stone unturned on your big day.

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