Simple or elaborate, your wedding day is a production. There can be a lot of moving parts and pieces with a cast of vendors helping to make it all happen. Keeping everyone on the same page is so important. And as it is in life, timing is everything on a wedding day.
I am sure everyone organizes themselves differently, which they should, but I’ve been told that my timelines are some of the most detailed. (Feel like I’ve even had a vendor or two lovingly make fun of me for it, ha.) But I think they should be, and here’s why: there are a lot of factors that contribute to a smooth wedding day – like working with a trusted team of creative pros – but having a well thought out, thorough, and detailed timeline is probably at the top of the list.
You work hard for months, making decisions and putting all these plans in place, not to mention the financial piece of it all. Why risk it with no organized plan (and backup plans for that matter) come the actual wedding day?
When you have Hart & Co. Events on your team, the timeline is something I spearhead and manage. As I sit here working on final details and prepare for the start of the spring wedding season, thought I’d share a few tidbits of how I approach a timeline and why a good one is clutch to a smooth day…
Start Backwards: I’m sure every bride, planner, or wedding industry pro has their own way of going about this, but I typically start backwards. I’ll put to paper the key moments that I know right off the bat – ceremony start time (the invitation time, the actual start time may be 5-15 minutes later if necessary) and time the night will end – then I just work my way back to the beginning of the day. Sometimes I may jump around a bit as I go – I may focus on just the reception or just the front half of the day for a little bit – but I always go at it with a work backwards approach. After I get the key moments in, I start plugging in when your vendors, such as the photographer, florist, band or DJ, might arrive.
Double Check Contracts: After I kind of have a shell of a timeline and see how the day is shaping up, I’ll go back and double check the contracts with key vendors. Most of the time, it’s been a while since a vendor was booked. And if I’m being honest, I don’t always have everyone’s contracts all memorized! This is where folks may realize they’re short on time with a vendor, and typically that’s the photographer. For example, you may want the photographer to cover everything from getting ready to that grand exit. That may take eight hours but you only booked them for six hours. You can either adjust the timeline where you can, or consider adding more hours to your contract. Everyone is different, but most photographers – and most other vendors – have options to add time. (Throwing in a note here, this is one of those examples of where working together from the beginning, before you sign contracts with anyone, helps. I can better guide you through that process from the get-go, so we’re not adding time (ahem, spending more money) toward the end of the planning process.)
Photography: Speaking of photographers, I don’t know if this is just me, but when I start confirming details with vendors, I usually start with the photographer(s). To me, next to the commitment you’re making with your fiancé, your wedding photos are the most important thing. They’ll be what you look at and reflect on for years, maybe even generations to come. Because of that, I like to start with the photographer. I’ll shoot them the draft timeline, and then talk it all through. If they don’t have the time that they need to capture everything (within reason…can’t take photos alllll day long, ha), and we don’t communicate well, then the day can just be and feel chaotic.
Keeps Everyone On The Same Page: Whether I’ve been solely communicating with the vendor team or you’ve been in touch with some of them, at some point they will all start asking the same questions. So while it may seem really early, I’ll start thinking through the timing of your wedding day about two months out and start working with everyone on what they need about a month to go. I always have way more in my timelines than each vendor may need, but I always relay that they are welcome to take what they need out of it for them and their team. Come the wedding day though, the final timeline is what guides the day and I believe that helps keep everyone on the same page. (That and excellent communication!)
Know When – And How – To Adjust: Timelines and the times on them are there for a reason, to keep things on track, but you have to know when it’s time to adjust. Because sometimes, in the middle of the wedding day, something may throw all your hard work and perfect timing off kilter. I had a destination wedding last year where we ran into an unfortunate incident with the caterer. A very long story short, I realized early in the day that we were going to have a situation with the vendor, so I did the best I could adjusting as the day went on. It’s an epic story that I should probably tell one day because it’s definitely one of those examples of why a planner can be one of the best investments you make while planning a wedding. But for now, I’ll just say dinner was two hours late and thankfully it all worked out ok (the food was really good) and the bride, groom, and their guests had a great time.
I know it’s easy to think that our job as a planner is to make everything look pretty. But honestly, if the day isn’t managed well, a lot of other things may not go well either and how pretty it is may not be what you, your family and your guests remember. I want to tell you that I love love and all the pretty things that come with weddings, which I do. But call me a nerd, I absolutely love logistics and coming up with a well-organized plan for your wedding day, which includes those timelines!
What do you think? If you ever have questions or think you need help sorting out how to go about planning your wedding day, I’d really love to help you! Drop me a line!