Timing Is Everything: Day of Timeline

We are 5 days out and I am finally really hashing out what the day-of schedule is going to look like.  I didn’t think this would be this hard since I’ve worked out the individual pieces with the vendors, but I hadn’t strung it all together and really looked at it, and I sure hadn’t put any thought into how many vehicles we needed and who should be in them all up to the point of the ceremony.

For the record, yes I am totally working on this at work right now.  But it’s okay, since I’m running samples and they each have about an hour run time and I don’t have anything to do in-between.  Thank you stubborn compounds!

Setting up a day of timeline is a chore to say the least, and I have to give a massive shout out to our wonderful photographers who have seriously helped us figure out how much time we should allow for everything.  That is easily the hardest part.  I highly recommend using your vendors as resources while you’re coming up with your timeline.  Your first order of business should be to figure out how much time is needed to do everything you want to do.  Second, prioritize these things, so that if you realize you’re going to run short on time you know what to cut out.  Here’s what I would find out before starting to work on your schedule:

  • Ask your photographer how much time you need for the photos you want.  Try to have a list ready of what portrait pictures you want, and what pictures you want in different locations (if any).  The more specific you can be the better, but some information is better than no information.  We had a list of portrait pictures to do right after the ceremony, and we knew we wanted pictures of us and the bridal party at a park that’s on the way to the reception site, and a few pictures around the reception site itself (it’s near some ancient railroad tracks, and there’s a few old cars on the grounds Tim is in love with).  Our photogs were great at telling us how much time we would need for each of those sets to really get everything we wanted.
  • Ask your caterer how long you should allow for your meal.  They’ll be able to give you a better idea of how long the service style (buffet, family, plated, etc) you’ve chosen will take given the number of guests you have.
  • Ask your hair/makeup person/people how long they will need for however many people you have in your group.  Ask if the time they give you had a buffer in it for accidentally running long; you should have at least a 30 minute buffer, so if they don’t include it in their estimate, add it in.
  • Figure out drive times.  I mean all your drive times.  From wherever you’re getting ready to the ceremony site.  Ceremony site to the extra location for your photos if there is one.  Everything.  If things are close and you’re walking between them, figure out how long that walk takes.  Once you’ve figured out all those times, add buffers.  For walking times add about 20% to compensate for the fact that you’ll either already be dressed up and will need to walk careful so no one ruins their outfits or that you’ll be carrying all the stuff you need to get ready and it will slow you down.  For drive times the buffer gets a little more complicated.  Assume you will hit every red light, and assume you will be behind someone who strictly drives at or 5 below the speed limit.  Only you really know your area and roads, so I can’t really offer any hard rule as to what will give you a proper buffer.
  • Make sure you know how long you have your reception venue for, and if that time includes your cleanup/tear-down time.  Also be clear on about how long the ceremony will take, and keep in mind it will take about 10-15 minutes for everyone to clear out.  If you’re going to have a receiving line, plan for time for that as well (the general rule is to allow about 20 minutes per 100 guests if people follow proper “say hi and move” etiquette).

We figured the easiest way to plan our day was to actually work backwards.  We knew we wanted to go out on the town after the reception, and that it was about a 20 minute ride from the reception hall to the hotel we’re staying at downtown, so we decided a reception end time of 11PM was good.  From there, we knew we had the reception hall for 6 hours, so the reception would start at 5.  We also knew we didn’t want a huge gap between the ceremony (which will be about 30 minutes) and reception, but we needed some time for pictures as well as drive time for the guests (not to mention some of them had already expressed an interest in changing between the two).  Because of all that, we decided on a 3PM start time for the ceremony.  This is where it started getting fuzzy, since Tim and I will be separated until the ceremony, so I had to start keeping track of where each of us would be.

Considering the amount of time it takes to get me in my dress (it’s a corset back) and the fact that I’ll probably be busy trying to not hyperventilate, I want to be at the church around 2.  That means I need to be leaving the house by 1:40.  Giving myself a little cushion time for hair and makeup, we should be done by 1:00 or 1:15.  Based on that, Hanna (our hair and makeup genius) wants to start at 10:30, so she will show up at the house at 10 to set up.  Since Tim’s house will be empty in the morning (Tim is leaving to go do his own thing, his dad is going with him, and his mom and sister are getting their hair and makeup done elsewhere), I will need to be there by 9:45 to let Hanna in, so I need to leave the hotel with my parents by 9:15.  This means finishing breakfast by 9, so I’m up at 8:15 or 8:30 (oh the beauty of not having to worry about doing your own hair and makeup before going out into the world!).  That getting up time also assumes I actually, you know, slept the night before.

Ta-da!  Working backwards and logic save the day!

I told Tim to just give me his schedule for the morning since I don’t know what all he wants/needs to do, and I wasn’t about to start guessing.  I know, it’s mean I made him do some work 😛

Lo and behold, we ended up with our schedule!

  • 8:00 – Natalie’s alarm starts going off in hopes she gets up on time.
  • 8:15 – Natalie actually gets up and puts on normal people clothes.
  • 8:30 – Seriously, Natalie, get up.  You need to get some breakfast.
  • 9:15 – Natalie leaves the hotel to head to Tim’s house.  Tim leaves the house.
  • 9:30 – Tim stops at the florist to check that the flowers are all ready.
  • 9:45 – Get to Tim’s house.
  • 10:00 – Hanna and Jana arrive to setup spots for hair and makeup.  Tim gets to reception venue to finish setup.
  • 10:30 – Natalie’s mom starts makeup.
  • 11:00 – Christina starts hair, Laura starts makeup.  Tim leaves reception site and heads to hotel to get ready.
  • 11:30 – Natalie starts hair, Christina starts makeup.  Photographer show up at the house.  Tim starts to try to not panic; shower and shave, being careful to not mess up his beard since Natalie has said if he shaves it off she won’t marry him (and she’s serious too; never seen him without a beard)
  • 12:00 – Laura starts hair, Natalie finishes hair.
  • 12:15 – Groomsmen and dads arrive at hotel to hang with Tim and feed him Rolaids.  Bryan arrives to take pictures.
  • 12:30 – Natalie starts makeup.
  • 1:00 – Girls cleanup and packup.  Check 12 times to make sure the dress is in the car.
  • 1:15 – Guys leave hotel to head to church.
  • 1:30 – Girls head to the church.
  • 1:45 – Guys get to church, high-five each other.
  • 2:00 – Girls get to the church, sneak inside so Tim doesn’t see!
  • 2:15 – Quartet arrives to setup.
  • 2:30 – Natalie gets into her dress.  Guys greet and seat guests.
  • 2:45 – Quartet starts playing prelude music.
  • 3:00 – Wedding starts!!
  • 3:30 – Woohoo!  We’re married!
  • 3:40 – Portrait pictures with bridal party and family.  Bridal party starts loading up the party bus and cleaning up our rooms.
  • 4:00 – Leave church for park.
  • 4:15 – Pictures at the park!
  • 4:45 – Leave park for reception site.  Parents arrive at reception to light candles, etc.
  • 5:00 – Cocktail hour at reception starts.
  • 5:15 – Pictures at reception site.
  • 5:45 – Bridal party introductions at reception followed by toasts.
  • 6:00 – Dinner is served!
  • Whenever we’re done with dinner – Cut the cake!
  • After that – Mother/Groom dance, Father/Bride dance, then Tim/Natalie’s first dance
  • Start partying!
  • 30 minutes into partying – Bouquet toss and garter toss
  • 10:00 – Last call at bar
  • 10:30 – Last song.  Start cleanup!
  • 11:00 – Leave reception site to head downtown.
  • 11:30 – Arrive downtown.  Hit up a bar.
  • When we’re dead tired – Head back to hotel and pass out from exhaustion.

Boom.  Schedule.  Way more work than I expected.  And way more detailed than I expected, but the “leave no stone unturned” approach is really the best case here.  Hopefully that will be a little helpful for you when planning your day!

Now I just need to figure out how many cars we need for each of these drives…woohoo!

I’m currently trying to get all my normal work files all wrapped up since I only have today and tomorrow here this week.  I’m picking up my steamed dress from the seamstress today, and the flowers for the centerpieces we’re DIY-ing are showing up here tomorrow.  Wednesday morning my sister, mom, and I are all getting our nails done, then I’m packing up the car with the piles of stuff we have here and heading to good ole Kalamazoo.  Thursday morning I have to run to Grand Rapids to go pay the caterer and pick up the colored napkins we’re renting from them, stop at the pottery place where we painted stuff a few weeks ago (I don’t think I’ve told you guys that story yet…I will get to that after the wedding, oops!), then head back to Kzoo and spend the rest of the day trying to not panic.

I’m planning on making a post Thursday, but it will probably be a mess of “aaaaah omgz alskjfklsfjs”, so I wouldn’t count on gleaning any actual information from it.

5 DAYS!!


Posted on June 4, 2012, in Ceremony, Priorities, Reception, To-Do, Wedding Planning Isn't For Sissies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Ahhhh!!! So excited for you! Your schedule sounds great! Reminds me that I need to make a similar schedule… I can’t wait to see pictures/hear about how it all turned out! 🙂

    • Thanks!! We’ll post some of our friends’ pictures as they come, but there will definitely be a flood of them after we get the good ones from our photographers 🙂

  2. Ahhhh! You are getting so close to your big day! I am so excited for you! 🙂 Great schedule. I wrote up a draft a few months ago but this will be a great resource! Congrats again wedding-blog-buddy 😛

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