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Top Tips For Writing Your Wedding Day Timeline

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

10 Things That Can Derail Your Wedding Timeline

Getting your wedding day timeline right is one of THE most important parts of the wedding planning process. You can spend hours and hours planning your perfect day but if you haven't figured out a solid wedding day timeline it's all for nothing.

I'm Becca, a wedding planner, stylist & designer based in Devon, UK. I've planned and coordinated well over 100 weddings and I'm here to help you make sure your wedding day is AMAZING. So here are 10 common wedding day timeline mistakes and how to avoid them:

1. Getting Ready

Starting your day on the backfoot is the last thing you want to do. If you have a large bridal party then making sure you have plenty of time for everyone to get ready and dressed is absolutely crucial to nailing your wedding day timeline. As a rule of thumb, allow 30-45 minutes per person per service (hair/make-up) but always check directly with your hair and MUA. If they recommend that you allow longer then definitely listen to them! Steaming and ironing outfits can take a lot longer than anticipated so don't leave this till the last minute either. You want all the wedding party to be dressed and ready a minimum of 30 minutes before you leave for the ceremony so that you have time for....

2. Pre-Ceremony Photos

If you want pictures with your wedding party or want to do a first look with your parents or partner before your ceremony, then make sure you factor this into your timeline. Want fun getting ready pics with your girls? Add at least an extra 30 minutes on top of the time you've allowed for hair, makeup and getting in your outfits. Photographers might be wizards with a camera but they can't magic up extra time out of nowhere.

3. Travel Time

Your ceremony and reception are at different venues then you need to factor in plenty of travel time for you and your guests, as well as time for you and your wedding party to get to your ceremony.

The best way to do this is to check the journey on Google maps then add 10-15 minutes to allow for people to get in and out of cars, park, deal with traffic.

4. Seating Your Guests

A lot of guests won't even look at the seating chart until they are called through for the wedding breakfast, PLUS if you've got lots of guests it can take a while for them all to find their seats. The last thing you want is for your caterers to be holding your food whilst you wait for your guests to sit down.

As a wedding coordinator I assist in making sure guests are seated at the right time and I will start going round asking groups to make their way through to their seats with plenty of time to spare. Once people start moving others will follow! You can always ask your wedding party to help encourage people to their seats if you have some stragglers. For 50-100 guests I'd allow 10-15 mins for your guests to be seated, for over 100 you would be wise to allow a bit longer.

5. Unplanned Group Photos

Look, I totally get that capturing pictures with everyone you care about is hugely important to many couples. Group photos are great BUT they do take time. When your photographer gets in touch before your wedding asking you to provide them with a list of group shots that you want then give them a complete list. Many photographers recommend no more than 6-8 group shots due to how time consuming it can be to find and arrange large groups of people who are also busy drinking and talking.

However many group shots you agree with your photographer, try and avoid adding additional ones on at the last minute. Your timeline will have been created to accommodate the amount of group shots you discussed prior to your wedding, and if you start adding lots of additional groupings in then it will 100% impact your wedding timeline. Remember that your photographer will be snapping away throughout the entire day so formal group shots aren't the only way of getting pictures of the people you care about.

6. Speeches

Speeches might be the number one cause of wedding day timeline issues. If your speeches are all scheduled for after your wedding breakfast and you've got a decent amount of buffer time before your evening guests arrive it isn't necessarily a big problem if they overrun a little. BUT, if you are planning to do speeches before your meal or in-between courses then it's a real concern if the speeches are significantly longer than planned. Your caterers will be working to the timings they have agreed with you beforehand so it's really important to try and estimate the length of any speeches as accurately as possible.

My advice: ask anyone who is giving a speech to time themselves doing a practice run before the wedding. If you have an on the day coordinator they will also check with anyone giving a speech to make sure that the timings can be adjusted at the last minute if necessary.

7. Room Turnarounds

If you are using the same space for your ceremony and wedding breakfast then you need to have a plan for the room turnaround. Make sure you have a big enough team to complete the turnaround whilst you and your guests are enjoying drinks - discuss this explicitly with your venue/caterer/wedding coordinator. Even with a good team you need to be organised so that they can get your tables decorated and styled and looking beautiful.

My advice: get everything as organised as possible in advance. Organise your name cards, favours and other decor so you've got a box per table. Then your turnaround team can simply grab a box and go! Make sure your napkins are folded in advance, and any glassware and cutlery is polished. If you aren't working with a wedding stylist then I'd also recommend working out exactly how many candles/vases you want on each table and creating a diagram showing this so your turnaround team know exactly what you need them to do.

8. DJ/Band Set Up

If you've got a band booked for the entire day they will set up before your wedding breakfast kicks off but if you have a band or DJ arriving for your evening reception then make sure you have factored in plenty of time for them to set up and sound check.

If your evening reception is going to be in the same space as your wedding breakfast (for example in a marquee), then you want to find a time for your DJ/band to haul in their gear without it overlapping with your speeches.

My advice: plan for at least an hour of down time after your wedding breakfast finishes before your evening reception kicks off. This lets you and your guests grab a drink, mingle with people you might not have had a chance to speak to, and hopefully enjoy some golden hour sunshine, and it lets your band/DJ set up and sound check without interrupting the flow of your day.

9. Not Making Time For YOU

You've probably heard this 100 times already but your wedding day will go by so fast. It's so easy to get completely swept up what's happening, get to the end of the day and realise you've barely had a minute with just the two of you.

My advice: Sneak off with your photographer before your evening bash kicks off and reconnect with each other whilst getting some epic golden hour shots.

10. No Buffer Time

No matter how well planned your timings, I always recommend adding on some extra time just in case. That way if something unexpected happens then your overall day isn't affected.

My advice: add 5-10 minutes on to every other item on your timeline. This gives you that little bit of buffer time and takes the pressure off your wedding timeline. If everything goes exactly to plan you'll just end up having a super chill relaxed day and who is going to complain about that!

If you enjoyed this post let me know in the comments <3

Happy wedding planning,

B x

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