Updated: Feb 4, 2020
While detailed timelines and strict time limits may seem utterly unromantic, they may be key when it comes to throwing together the wedding of your dreams. Even if you and your fiance consider yourselves super laid back and want a casual affair, it's important to have a strong sense of how your big day will unfold with a solid wedding day timeline. Otherwise you risk missing the chance to enjoy certain parts of the celebration.
So lets get into it...
Waiting Until the Last Minute
As soon as you've decided in what order you want events to occur (first dances, then appetizers, then dance party, then entrees) and roughly when you'd like them to happen, show the wedding day timeline to your day-of team. Share this information at least two weeks before the wedding so that you can work out any kinks well ahead of time.
Skimping on Primping
Be sure to allow plenty of time for hair and makeup. While your aestheticians will try to give you an accurate time estimate for when you should expect to be done, it's common to run over, especially if someone wants a few tweaks to her look or a late addition shows up. To avoid this stress early on the big day, simply add a half hour to the scheduled ending time for these services. That way if you finish before that 30-minute cushion, you'll have a little extra time for fun, candid photos of the bridal party.
Leaving Anything to Chance
This goes for a wedding with 50 people or 500 people. No matter how intimate or low-key your big day may be, you should still give the day a lot of structure. Your parents, bridesmaids, and vendors will need to know what's going on at each turning point. So don't think that you'll just naturally transition from dinner to dancing to cake-cutting. You have to create a timeline and have someone keeping an eye on the clock to ensure the night doesn't disappear before you know it.
Not Listening to the Pros
If the photographer asks for more time to take shots of the wedding party during cocktail hour, follow their lead. They probably wouldn't mention it unless it was really needed. Don't forget to take your vendor team's experience and advice into consideration. They've done this hundreds (if not thousands) of times.
It always seems like traffic jams pick the worst times to show up. Couples getting married in metropolitan areas should allow extra time to get from venue to venue. I suggest an extra 10-15 minutes for travel, including any locations you're stopping by to take photos.
Forgetting Forces of Nature
Be sure to check out when the sun will set on your wedding day, especially if you're hosting an outdoor wedding. This will impact when the ceremony begins or ends, as well as where and when you take photos. The best time for these photos is from 10 minutes prior to sunset and up to 10 minutes after sunset.
Spreading Things out Too Much
If your goal is to get everyone on the dance floor, think about combining or front loading some of the events like cutting the cake and tossing the bouquet. Otherwise, the dance party is being frequently broken up and guests may lose their momentum. If you take care of these things early on, then guests can have fun for the rest of the evening.