Wedding Planning Tips: What’s In A Timeline?

One of the most in-depth conversations I have when I sit down with a client centers around their timeline for the big day. Some folks have tons of ideas how they want to manage the event, others want to just entrust it to me, and others just don’t know where to begin. I’m always more than happy to chime in with as much- or as little- input as they want.

When putting together the ideal timeline for your event, it’s important to note the following:

  • Things Will Change! There are almost always unforeseen situations that come up, like the kitchen being ahead of schedule, or behind schedule. You may have a wardrobe malfunction moments before the grand entrance, which requires an extra 5 minutes to get sorted out. So the actual times of things will fluctuate
  • The Order Counts! Because of the fact that it’s rare that things will go exactly as planned, your primary focus when putting together a timeline is the order you’d like things to happen. Example:  The first three things you may want to happen are 1. Grand Entrance, 2. First Dance, and 3. Toasts. This way, your vendors will be ready to unfold your plan in the right sequence, even if things get adjusted 5-10 minutes up or down.
  • Get Your Team On The Same Page! Since it’s up to your vendors to follow through on all of your tireless hours of planning, make sure they all know what the game plan is. Better yet, try to pick a Team Captain- the vendor you trust the most, who will coordinate with all of the others, so that you don’t have to answer a million questions on the day of. Typically, the DJ (Ahem!) is best suited for that role (unless you have a wedding planner), since they have experience creating a flow for events, it’s their announcements and transitions that make sure everything goes to plan, and the good ones know how to accommodate all the other vendors’ needs.
  • Balance Things Out! When putting together a timeline, it’s easy to think of bunching up certain things, or delaying others. From my 12 years of experience, the best weddings happen when the night is constructed with peaks and valleys, with all of the traditions/formalities spread out throughout the celebration.

Allow me to elaborate on that last one:

You may think, “Oh, let’s just get all the formalities out of the way early so we can just dance all night,” and I understand how appealing that sounds. But, in actuality, when you structure the party that way, what you’re kind of doing is forcing your guests to be a captive audience for several hours- as opposed to letting them be part of the celebration. Think about it. They sat and watched the ceremony. They enjoyed a mellow cocktail hour. They cheered you on as you walked in. They witnessed your first dance. Then they sat and listened to speeches, watched you dance with your parents, watched your cake cutting, they sat…and sat…and sat. Then suddenly, 2 hours into your reception- 3 1/2 hours into your overall wedding extravaganza- after dinner, is when you finally invite them to cut loose.

It’s a gamble.

However, if you spread things out so that there’s time for traditions, speeches, dancing, food, more dancing, traditions, and then even more dancing- the night actually builds, and allows for everything to get the attention and excitement it deserves. Not to mention, it’s a way to make sure everyone sticks around. When you spread things out, it gives people stuff to look forward to. If you bang everything out during the first hour, suddenly you might find that people start to peter out shortly after dinner because all that’s left to do for the night is 2 hours of solid dancing- which isn’t something most people would do.

In closing, have a look at a recent timeline I helped create. The wedding was a smash hit, both for the couple- who quickly posted a 5-star review online– and the guests:

wedding day timeline

Oh, and an extra bit of trivia? I actually had such a grip on how the venue was going to handle things, that all of my projected times for things actually happened. To the minute. Such a rarity. But it’s why it pays to hire a professional, experienced DJ that you trust with your day.

I hope you found all of this helpful. Timelines can be tricky. Myself and the APB staff are always happy to help.

Musically Yours,