Your wedding day is almost here. You’ve worked tirelessly to plan your wedding, from picking flowers and guest lists to locations and food details. While it might seem like you’ve covered every detail, one of the most essential wedding planning tasks you need to work on is your wedding day timeline. While it might seem tedious and unnecessary, this task will ensure that your day will run smoothly.
(12 months prior to wedding)
This wedding timeline checklist plans every detail of your wedding starting one year before the wedding. It is available in Word, Excel or PDF.
What is a Wedding Day Timeline?
A wedding day timeline is a full schedule that breaks down your day from the moment you wake up to when you leave the ceremony at the end of the night. Timelines are important so that everyone is on the same page. Your timeline will include things like hair and makeup, photo times, cocktail hours, toasts, and so on. It’s important to schedule ahead of time to ensure you’re not stressed out on the day of your wedding.
A wedding planning timeline will help you create a wedding schedule. You will need this to ensure that everything and everyone is on time and that all your vendors are in the loop. For more wedding printables see how to plan a wedding.
Wedding Timeline Template
The wedding timeline template is available in 3 different formats:
App – 7 Designs
This is an infographic wedding program. You can edit all text and change the icons. You can change the times and add more text and icons.
How to make a wedding timeline
Open the wedding timeline spreadsheet above.
You will see a typical wedding timeline.
You can change the time you want the guests to arrive. You can also change the time you want to spend on each activity.
Say for example, you want to create a wedding day timeline with a 4PM ceremony. You then decide how long before the ceremony you want your guests to arrive. The sample timeline assumes 15 mins. Either leave it at 15 mins or change it. Assuming you leave it as is you will then change the arrival time to 3:45. Once you change the arrival time all the times in the wedding schedule example will change accordingly. Go over each activity and check the time allotted. You can change any of the times, but the duration must be in minutes. Each time you make a change, your timeline will change accordingly.
How to make a wedding reception timeline poster
A wedding reception itinerary can be made in Word, Excel, or as a pretty poster.
You can change all the times in the wedding day schedule template. You can also edit the text or add additional text.
Before you start to create a poster, I suggest you create a wedding schedule template. You can use the Excel template above or you can jot down the schedule on paper. Once you know what your wedding reception schedule should be you can choose any of the templates and customize it with your own text and times.
You can give a copy of the wedding itinerary to all vendors, you can add it to the invitations and you can print a poster to hang at the venue.
The images below are wedding timeline examples. You don’t need to use them as-is. You can change every element to suit your special day.
Tips for Creating the Best Wedding Day Timeline
It’s time to start creating the perfect wedding day timeline. This process will take planning and coordination with your vendors. Follow these tips to ensure you’re creating the best wedding day timeline for you and your guests.
Schedule Every Single Activity
While this might seem obvious, you need to schedule every single activity you plan to do during your wedding day. This should include everything from hair and makeup to eating lunch. You do not want to come up with ideas for “the day of,” so make sure to plan accordingly to avoid any stress, frustration, or anxiety. If this sounds overwhelming to schedule, you can ask your maid of honor or wedding coordinator to plan your day out for you.
Add Buffer Time
Creating a tight timeline is not a good idea because it can stress everyone out if there is any delay. Instead, add a lot of buffer time to ensure you can deal with whatever situation pops up last minute. If you think hair and makeup will take two hours, schedule two and a half for it instead. It’s better to be ahead of schedule and ready to go instead of behind and stressed out.
Hire a Day of Wedding Coordinator
If you didn’t hire a wedding planner for your wedding, you can still hire a day-of wedding coordinator. If you hired a wedding planner, this service usually is already included. A day of coordinator will help to keep everything running according to schedule. They’ll make sure your plan is appropriately followed by keeping vendors on time, so you don’t have to worry about it on your wedding day. They can also help take care of all the minor hiccups that might happen during your wedding day, such as broken buttons, flower malfunctions, broken heels, fixing a bustle, and so on.
Create a List of Shots for Your Photographer
It’s essential to provide your photographer with the family members and wedding party that will be a part of your formal photos. Chat with your photographer about the different types of shots you want to take before the ceremony, after the ceremony, and during the reception. Your photographer will help you time out your day, including a time they will need the wedding party and family to be ready by, so you can plan your day around it. Give your photographer a wedding photo list to ensure no shot is missed.
Plan a First Look
Your wedding day will go by so fast, so make sure to schedule some time for you and your significant other. This planned time will help calm nerves and create a special, private moment together. Taking photos together before the ceremony starts allows you to have extra time to hang out at the cocktail hour and chat with guests instead of being stuck with the photographer. If you’re planning to do this, you’ll have an earlier call time for photos, which means you’ll need to schedule an earlier start time for everyone to get ready.
Plan Your Reception Timing
There’s a lot that happens during your reception, including dances, toasts, prayers, and food service. Think about what you would like to have happen at your reception. Do you want to have people speaking at your wedding? Do you want to have photography during your cake cutting? Do you prefer to have your first dance as soon as you enter the reception, or do you want to wait until you’ve finished eating? Your reception timing impacts the reception’s feel and vibe, so it’s important to plan this part well. Remember to think about what feels best for you and your spouse, and don’t feel obligated to include anything that isn’t important to you.
Schedule Time to Eat
It’s important to remember to take time for you and your significant other to eat. With all of the dances, people coming to congratulate you and speeches, it can be easy to forget to eat. However, it’s super important that you get to enjoy the food too! Try to schedule your meal as soon as you get to the table, or if you want, you can eat between the ceremony and reception privately to ensure you’re not going to get hungry!
Talk Everything Over with Your Vendors
When you have finally finished your wedding day schedule, it’s important to go over and communicate this schedule with each of your vendors. Understand when they will come in to set up and when they will leave. If you have a wedding coordinator, they will follow up with all of your vendors on your behalf. Understand the flexibility of your vendor if your time runs a little over. If they were supposed to leave at 9 PM, but you’re running behind schedule, will they stay longer? What do the additional fees look like to extend their time?
Timelines can seem complicated, but they don’t have to be. By taking the time to plan your wedding day and create a wedding day schedule, you’re sure to have a fun-filled day with little interruption.