Get organised – with a timeline
Lisa Ferguson from The Event Boutique recommends a wedding timeline, so that everyone involved has a plan to follow and knows what’s happening, by whom, and when. Yes – even for those couples wanting a relaxed wedding, a timeline is vital to ensure this a
Planning everything out, checking timings with your suppliers, and making sure your timings are realistic is exactly the preparation needed to ensure your wedding will unfold smoothly, with the timeline as your guide. Always keep in mind that your wedding will not fall to pieces if you end up running a little late, and with all your key suppliers keeping an eye on timings, they’ll find a way to make up the time.
Starting your ceremony on time and leaving the reception venue on time is what’s important, so use these timings to begin your timeline, then work either side of those to schedule the order of events.
Ask your hairdresser and makeup artist how long they need to complete each person in your group. For larger groups, or especially if you have an earlier ceremony than usual, check if they’ll have extra staff, and clarify the total time needed.
To book their start time, work backwards from the time you need to be leaving for the ceremony. Ensure you allow time for getting dressed, for some photos, and the travel time to your venue. Aim to arrive five minutes prior to your ceremony start time, as this gives you just enough time to compose yourself before your bridal entrance. You don’t want to arrive too early or too late.
Ideally you’ll want to have a light breakfast or finger foods organised for your entire wedding party, and mimosas or juice, so you can easily nibble whilst getting ready.
If your photographer will be taking shots of you getting ready, confirm timings with your hairdresser and makeup artist so you can determine the arrival time for your photographer. You may want to ask for beautiful detail shots with your invitations, jewellery, flowers and your wedding dress, which are also great shots for your photographer to take between shots, or if you’re running a little late. If you’re having photos prior to your ceremony, check with your photographer how long you need to schedule. If you’re leaving the venue ensure you include travel time.
We recommend the groom and his attendants arrive at the ceremony location 30–45 minutes prior to the ceremony, in order to be there to greet guests. The ceremony itself will take 20–60 minutes, depending on the type of ceremony, so check with your celebrant on how long to allow.
Allow some wiggle time, of around 10–15 minutes, so that if the bride is running late this is planned for. Consider that immediately following your ceremony everyone will be congratulating you, and this can take around 15 minutes, for best wishes.
The best time for these shots is immediately following your ceremony so that everyone can be easily found and the shots taken as quickly as possible. We suggest around 20 minutes is ideal, and ask a trusted friend, ideally someone who can be bossy, who knows those on your list, to gather each group together. As a guide, to check timings, these photos should take around 2–3 minutes per shot. Ensure you also check with your photographer.
Your caterers will give you an idea of timings based on the type of meal service you choose. If you’re working with a venue that has a coordinator and in-house catering, this is even better as they’ll help guide you through the complete timings from start to finish, based on their experience of what works best at the venue.
You’ll need to decide if your speeches will happen between courses, during, or after the meal. During the meal can provide a good time-saver, and your MC can let people know to continue eating as they are introducing the speakers. Discuss whether venue staff are to continue serving, clearing plates, and refilling glasses for toasts.
Allocate a time for cutting your cake. Traditionally this is after the formalities, but these days more people are scheduling this earlier. This also allows the caterer more time to cut the cake and have it ready to serve.
This is another key area to work backwards, to ensure you get your money’s worth. If your band is playing for 4 hours and your venue shuts at 11.30 pm, they need to start at 7.30 pm.