Eeeek! You're engaged! Congratulations!!!! For the next several months you will be living in a whirlwind of endless ideas and design options for your wedding. Not to mention that your vendors, family and friends will be asking you a million questions about the details that you may not know the answers to... at least not yet. That's when you you say to yourself, "I still have time... or do I?" Or better yet, it will all work out. Wrong! The answer is having good plan is always better than not having one.
We all know the saying "time is money"... the same is true for your wedding day, except replace the word "money" with "happiness." Planning weddings is a lot of fun, but they are run like a production and can create a whole lot of unnecessary stress if you don't have a solid timeline to keep you on course. There is a lot of behind the scenes planning and you need to hire people who are not only incredibly creative, but very business savvy too.
I work on dozens of timelines for all my clients to help bring their wedding days to life. Each one of them feels a sense of relief once they can see how their day comes together. There are two different timelines leading up to your wedding day that you will want to have. One is a monthly to-do timeline that breaks down what you need to do each month... nail down a budget, select a venue, buy a wedding dress, etc. The second timeline is equally as important, the Wedding Day Timeline. This timeline is crucial because it breaks your big day down by the hour, if not the minute. It is important to figure out what time you are having your wedding rehearsal, what time you are getting your makeup done, what time is dinner service... and the list goes on.
There is nothing worse than guests looking at their watch because they are getting bored, dinner just took way too long to be served or your flowers arrived late. If you have a plan, your day will be remembered for how much fun it was, everything went smoothly and how much thought you put into the day. It is up to you to bring your day to life and create a timeline. I have included my top ten tips on timeline planning for your wedding day to help you create a wedding timeline that will keep you sane and happy -- and your guests inspired knowing the day has been all thought out.
1. Create a Wedding To-Do List - You need to have a timeline leading up to your wedding day. When you hire a wedding planner, they will create a custom one for you, or you can find great wedding timelines online and in wedding magazines.
2. Be Proactive - Start checking off the major items you need to take care of. Venues can be booked 8-12+ months in advance if popular and in high demand. Don't wait until the last minute or leave it up to fate.
3. Know Your Strengths - Even if you have a Type A personality, know when to ask for help and seek your Bridal Party to help with anything you don't have time to complete.
4. Be Realistic - When creating the timeline, you can't fit everything into one day. Give yourself time to add "cushion time" throughout the day because if you are driving from one location to another, there may be traffic. You want the day to run smoothly and don't need added stress on things out of your control.
5. Select Reputable Vendors - For instance, you don't want to select a photographer whose pictures you love but can't stand their personality. Your pictures won't look great, because you are unhappy. Never sacrifice quality over price. Remember the saying; 'you get what you pay for.' These vendors will help be the glue on your day. The better chemistry you have with your vendors, the better your day is going to be.
6. Communication is Key - You never want to assume all of your vendors, family and guests know how to read your mind. Keep in touch and reply to emails and phone calls within 48 hours. If anything changes in guest count or you need to add items, notify the appropriate parties. The final count is due two weeks before the wedding.
7. Stay Organized - Create a folder in your email dedicated to the wedding so you have all correspondence in one place. Include all sent and received items. It is a great paper trail to go back to in case you need to refer back to a certain email. You will also want to create a wedding folder that includes all vendor contracts, invoices, contacts, timelines, budgets and notes.
8. Review Vendors' Coverage Hours - Once you have selected all of your vendors, double check the amount of hours you have them booked or need them for. You may end up going into overtime if you booked the DJ for four hours but need them for seven hours. These can be costly mistakes if not caught early on.
9. Mastering the Timeline - If you don't have a wedding planner to create a preliminary timeline for you, I suggest creating one on your computer that you can update as needed. Knowing what time you want everything to start is the key. When you have determined your ceremony start time, cocktail hour and the end of your reception you can build around that. Vendors will need to know what time to arrive for setup based on this. Send the final timeline to all of your vendors no later than 1 week prior to your wedding date.
10. Hire a Wedding Planner - Truly one of the best gifts you can give to you and your fiancé on the wedding day. Depending on your budget and schedule, a wedding Planner can offer a variety of services to suit your needs, from full service planning to month of coordination. This will allow you to have fun leading up to and on your day knowing everything all the details are taken care of by a professional.