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Tips for a Smooth Wedding Day Timeline

Your wedding day timeline may not be the most romantic part of your planning process, but it’s one of the most important.

A detailed wedding day timeline is key to ensuring your day runs smoothly. It is the script for the day, where every movement and moment is sequenced and timed to create a seamless flow of the day. It ensures that all of the important elements – from getting ready in the morning to your send off at the end of the night – are accounted for in your event schedule. 

It’s also essential for your venue and vendors. On your wedding day, all of your vendors come together to create and execute your vision. A carefully crafted timeline enables us to work in tandem to give you the best experience.

Our experienced wedding planning team can work with you to create a timeline tailored to your wishes and goals. 

Here are our top tips for a smooth wedding day timeline:

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1. Plan for deliveries

Be sure to plan for the delivery and pickup of items to your venue. You may be providing your own alcohol, renting farm tables, linens, or other items. Perhaps you’re hiring someone to create special signage, or bringing in any other multitude of items needed to create your day. 

You will need to communicate with the venue coordinator about the timing of delivery and pickup. Find out their delivery and pickup windows and make sure the vendors making deliveries are aware. Also consider the order of these deliveries so your vendors can set up as efficiently as possible. For example, the florist cannot place the centerpieces and votive candles until tables are set up and linens placed.

Assign any pick-ups or deliveries to a trusted family member or friend who is not part of the wedding party. Of course, if you hire a wedding planner or coordinator, we will take care of all of this for you.

2. Account for travel time

Many couples forget to factor in travel time. If you are getting ready at a different location and need to travel to the venue, consider the time it will take for everyone to get into the vehicle, travel to the venue, park and walk into a holding room. Add a few extra minutes for traffic, loading and unloading, and possibly needing to use the bathroom before or after the trip. 

Also think through how you and your wedding party will get from point A to point B. Will they drive their personal vehicles, car pool or will you provide transportation? If you provide transportation to the venue, remember to consider how everyone will return to their homes or hotel after the wedding.

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3. Schedule enough time for photography

Most photographers sell packages based on a number of hours. When calculating how many hours you will need, don’t forget to factor in travel time. If there is a 30-minute to 1-hour drive between the church and the reception venue, that is time you will need to pay for. However, the photographer will not be taking photos at this time. If you purchase an 8-hour package and have 30 to 45 minutes of travel time, the actual photography time is reduced to 7.5 hours. 

Discuss all of the photos you would like taken with your photographer prior to booking to ensure your package allows enough time to capture everything on your wishlist. Remember, this is the only chance you get to capture the beauty and emotion of your day.

Northern Virginia wedding Havard Events Wedding Planner

4. Know what time the sun will set

If any portion of your wedding will take place outside, it is important to know what time sunset is on your wedding day. For weddings in the fall after daylight savings time, we suggest starting the ceremony 2 hours before sunset. This allows for a 30-minute ceremony, a 1-hour cocktail hour and time to transition to dinner before it is completely dark.

5. Leave plenty of time for dancing 

You spent a chunk of your budget on a great band or DJ. To ensure you have plenty of time on the dance floor, we suggest doing all of the reception formalities before or right after dinner service. This includes your first dance, all toasts, and your cake cutting. 

For instance, we always recommend having your first dance as soon as you are introduced at your reception. Couples who are nervous about dancing with all eyes on them particularly like to get this out of the way early. The cake can also be cut before dinner so you don’t have to interrupt the party later on.

To keep things moving, schedule your toasts to overlap with dinner. Consider doing toasts right before dinner, between the salad and the entrée, or right after the entrée. This will enable you to get out on the dance floor as soon as dinner ends and dance the night away without interruption.

wedding day timeline tips leave time for dancing Northern Virginia wedding planner Lisa Havard Events

Smooth wedding day timelines don’t happen by chance. At Havard Events, the timeline is a key element of all of our wedding planning and coordination service packages. 

We spend hours gathering information, creating a draft, and revising the draft with input from the vendors and the couple. To keep everyone informed, we also share customized versions of the full timeline to the venue, vendors and the bridal party. 

This is one of our secrets to continually turning out smooth, stress-free weddings and hearing our couples exclaim “We could not have done this without you!”

Havard Events & Design is a boutique wedding planning and design studio serving Washington, DC, and beyond. We specialize in timeless designs, obsess over the smallest of details, and create events that feel as good as they look. 

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