How to Set Up a Wedding Timeline

I’m finally back from the holidays! After spending a week in Miami for Christmas and three nights in NYC for NYE, I’m tired, have a bad cold, and feel like a blob. But other than that I’m excited to be able to post again!

I wanted to start sharing with you a few of the behind-the-scenes wedding “basics” that you’re likely to be exposed to along the way. Things such as schedules, contracts, proof of insurance, etc. can be daunting if you’re not expecting them. So be prepared!

Because I didn’t want to deal with having to worry about who was supposed to be doing what on my wedding day, I hired a day-of coordinator. You can hire a full-time event coordinator, but those can cost you anywhere between  $5-$10,000 for full event design. If you have the budget, I say go for it, especially if you don’t have that much time or energy to plan. We paid $800 for a day-of coordinator, and an extra $50/hr for extra events such as the rehearsal and menu tasting that we wanted her to attend. We loved our coordinator and I highly recommend getting one for AT LEAST the day-of.

Think of a day-of coordinator as a calming drill sergeant/personal assistant. She’s there to make sure everything runs smoothly, and that you are happy. Trust me, if I could hire somebody to do this for me every day of my life, I would. They are priceless, especially when you’re stressed out on your wedding day. (Another priceless element is champagne. That calmed my nerves more than anything.)

You should plan on discussing with your coordinator things you do/don’t want to do at the wedding (such as toasts, cake-cutting, garter toss, etc.). You’ll also need to go over details such as what song the groom, groomsmen, bridesmaids, and you are walking down the aisle to, and who’s going to escort you down the aisle.

After you go over all those details, they’ll present you with a wedding day timeline. Even if you decide not to use a coordinator, you’ll find making a timeline like this helpful, so you can hand it out to your DJ, caterer, officiant, and anybody else that needs to know what’s happening when.

Below is my wedding timeline. This was originally in an Excel format, FYI. My invitation stated that the wedding started at 6:30 PM:

3:30 PM- Bride will arrive at venue (hair/makeup already done) to put on dress

3:45 PM-Groom arrives at venue (dressed); Photographers arrive

4:00 PM- Portrait session of Bride/Groom (1 hour)

4:45 PM- Wedding party and immediate family arrives

5:00 PM- Family and Wedding Party photos (1 hour)

5:30 PM- All set-up needs to be complete in ceremony/foyer locations

6:30 PM-Servers ready to pass out champagne/sparkling water to arriving guests

6:30 PM-Guests arrive

7:00 PM- Ceremony begins

7:45 PM- Ceremony ends. Cocktail hour to start immediately after (1 hour). Hors d’oeuvres ready to be passed.

8:00 PM-Dinner/dance location set and ready

8:30 PM-Antipasto display to be placed on tables

8:45 PM-Guests will be asked to take their seats for dinner

9:00 PM- Parents/Bridal Party introductions

9:05 PM-Bride/Groom introduction/First dance

9:10 PM-Father/Daughter Dance

9:15 PM-Groom/Mother Dance

9:20 PM-First course Served (Wine to be served tableside. Guests will toast with the drink they have. No champagne toast)

9:30 PM-Clear antipasto display and first course

9:40 PM- Best Man/Maid of Honor toasts

9:50 PM- Second course to be served

10:00 PM-Dancing begins. Staff clears all tables and prepares them for dessert

11:00 PM– Cake cutting

11:05 PM- Mother/Father of bride say a few words

11:10 PM-Dessert selection and wedding cake served tableside

11:15 PM-Speciality after-dinner drinks to be passed

*No bouquet/garter toss

1:00 AM- Event ends (all break down will take place at 1:00 am not before)

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