Monday Coffee: Creating the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline

For us creating the perfect wedding day timeline for each of our couples means tapping into a decade’s worth of wedding and event scenarios and knowing what works well and what doesn’t based on past experiences. We often scrap the norm and start from scratch with each of our couples and compile their timelines based on elements they desire {like a wine tasting happy hour, late-night food truck, dance party, or a family-style farm-to-table dinner} and then insert our knowledge to create a timeline that’s unique to them. 

Just for you, we’re sharing our 5 Key Elements for Creating the Perfect Wedding Day Timeline to help you create a timeline that’s cohesive and fluid and perfectly you. Here it goes:

No. 1 Work backwards. A mistake many couples make is starting their timeline from the beginning of the day. We always work backwards with the time marker that the venue has to be totally empty and cleaned up by. So this means calculating ample time for any rental pick-ups, ensuring caterers can file away glassware and button up the space, your band or DJ can tear down, etc., etc. This will then give you an end time for your last dance and/or last call {or just when the bar shuts down} and working from this point backwards should be a breeze.

No. 2 Be sure to add in elements that you MUST have. Create line items for everything down to special photos you must have, time to visit with certain guests, a moment to relax post-ceremony, sign your marriage license, and the like. Again, many couples don’t pinpoint down to the specific nitty gritty tasks {even a restroom break} and often times timelines can derail if it’s not planned out properly.

No. 3 Give padding and remember it takes time to move people. A common mistake, couples may not realize that, while you downloaded a standard timeline online or tore a page from a magazine, one timeline doesn’t fit all. Consider how many guests you have and realize that they won’t be magically transported from your ceremony to cocktail hour across the lawn. Estimate at least 15 minutes f0r 75 guests to find their seats for dinner, 20+ for over 100, and at least 30 minutes just for the movement of 150 + people. Movement can mean transitioning to a space for happy hour, finding escort cards and sitting down to dinner or moving to a separate space for dancing. Trust us, this is a very important element to remember!


estate wedding by Valley & Co.

At this gorgeous estate wedding, as you can see, we hosted over 300 guests so we had a very elaborate timeline to maximize the day but also to move this many guests. Not only did we have to welcome 300+, but then we had to usher them all to their seats for the ceremony, to a separate lawn for happy hour, then to the tented wedding by Valley & Co.License to Still for Valley & Co.

No. 4 Gather input from everyone on your team – if you’ve got a planning team they’ll take the lead to create the timeline with you and will gather input from the roster of artists. If you’re planning solo gather input from your caterer, photographer, band or DJ, and everyone else you’ve brought on board. Your photographer might have suggestions to maximize time, alterations for family photos or concerns about your initial timing vision. Gathering input from everyone will also ensure that they are all comfortable with the timing of the day and not feeling rushed, a big benefit!

No. 5 Finally, calculate time to relax. Ultimately you are the designer of your day, so build a timeline that will allow ample time to mix and mingle with your guests but also to relax post-ceremony, during dinner and during dancing. Sitting down to take it all in will be worth it!

How are you working out your wedding day timeline? We’d love to hear your thoughts or questions!


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  1. Vows for Bride says

    What a sweet session! I really love the last two photos! It is so important to include flowers  into your wedding day.

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