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Wedding Chat with Sande - The Wedding Timeline

One of the first things I ask my brides is "do you have a wedding timeline?" I then follow up with "If you don't, would you like me to help you create one?"

My favorite Jasmine Star quote is "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail". No where does that fit more than this. It's possible that my brides may get a little annoyed with me (surely not!) because as we get closer to the wedding, I really start to push for one. Why? Because it assures that the day of her wedding is going to go smoothly. I have been to weddings without a timeline and I can see the difference. Example - I have seen a wedding cake not cut until 10:00 pm because everyone is enjoying the party and the guests. I have seen the guests get bored because nothing seems to be moving forward. That's just a couple of examples. So I always offer to help my bride with it. If she wants me to, I will even type it for her and e-mail it to whomever she wants me to.

I also urge all brides who don't have a wedding coordinator to recruit someone in their family who is willing to take charge. I always say "we all have that one bossy aunt" Maybe she's considered bossy but I bet she know what it takes to get the job done!! Pick someone you trust - they will be honored you asked.

I am a bit of a control freak (don't need any comments from the peanut gallery) so I am going to confess that when my daughter got married, her timeline was 4 pages long. That may be a bit much but I can tell you that everyone knew where they need to be and when. That included the bride & groom, the wedding party and all the vendors. Everyone got a copy. It assures everyone is on the same page and that details are not overlooked. Although I planned every single minute of the my daughters wedding weekend, I will highlight here what is most important.


Your timeline should begin the day before the wedding. It should state what time the wedding party should show up at the rehearsal. It should also give the name of the ceremony venue and the exact street address. The next thing it should have is the rehearsal dinner time, place and again - exact address. If it's being catered, include the time the food should arrive and be served and forward the timeline to the caterer.


The morning of the wedding is a whirlwind. It goes so fast and really needs to be planned to the minute in order to assure the bride & groom are ready on time.

Be sure to document exactly where everyone is meeting and what time they should be there.

Find out who is getting their hair and make up done and then work with your stylists on setting up "appointments" for them. Make schedule for everyone who is getting their glam on and put it on the timeline. If everyone is responsible for paying for their own glam - then make it very clear how much it is and how they should pay (cash, card etc) - plus tip. Find out from the stylists if there are any notes they would like to pass on. For example - one make up artist I know asks that everyone's face be cleaned and moisturized. A hair stylist may want the hair clean and dry. At my daughter's wedding, the hair stylist even asked for each girl to send her a picture of the hair style she likes. Whatever it takes to make this go smoothly and efficiently.

This should also include the time to leave to the ceremony. What time is the limo picking everyone up?


Leave no room for a vendor to be late. The last thing you want is a vendor rushing in, or setting up in front of guests. A wedding I attended had the band doing their sound check during the cocktail hour. Oh no no no no!! Discuss in advance with the vendor how much time they need to assure they are completely done and ready to go when the guests arrive. Let your bartender know what time to start serving drinks. Let the caterer know what time you want dinner to start and then include on the timeline when they should arrive at the venue. All vendors should be prompt and be ready to go at their scheduled time. The timeline should also include the vendor contact and their phone number. Provide the vendors with a copy of the timeline in advance.


Get with your music coordinator/musician/singers ahead of time. Let them know what time you would like the music to start and a list of all the songs and when they need to be played, including before the ceremony as guest arrive, what should be played as the wedding party walks down the aisle, what should be played as the bride walks down the aisle and any must that should be played during the ceremony and the exit.

List the wedding party in the order they are to enter, starting with the officiant, the parents, and grandparents. Spell out how and in what order the groom, bridesmaids, and groomsmen will enter.

Also include in the timeline what will happen during the ceremony and in what order. If anyone has a part to play, include that in the timeline as well. Something that I found real helpful was for the officiant to make an announcement at the end of the ceremony: "The Bride & Groom want to thank you for coming. They would like to invite you to join them at their reception at Spring Creek Event Center. They will be greeting guests following pictures. You are now dismissed". This keeps the bride and groom from getting caught up in everyone wanting to congratulate them after the ceremony. This takes precious time from the photography time.


It's important to include photo times in the timeline. The photographer needs to know exactly how much time he/she has to get all the family, wedding party and bride/groom photos. A shot list would assure that everyone who is to be included in the formal photos be present and ready to go. Although a photographer would love a lot of time, the normal time frame is about 45 minutes to an hour. More time than that is a gift and means the bride and groom will have more alone time with the photographer.


List specific times for cocktail hour, what time the wedding party is expected to arrive and what time dinner will be served.

Depending on what the bride would like, a time should be given to each of these events to assure they are done efficiently:

Cake Cutting - include a song you want played

Grand March - Include the song(s) you want played. Make a list of who is being announced and in what order. Introduce the bride and groom.

First Dance with bride & Groom - include the song

First Dance with Bride & her dad - include the song

First Dance with Groom & his mom - include the song

Best Man Speech

Maid of Honor Speech

Bride & Groom thanks to the crowd

Bouquet Toss

Garter Toss

Grand Exit


Put the time the party must end and what time everyone should be out of the venue. Example - Party ends at 12:00 am and all decorations etc must be out by 1:00 am. Those time are going to be important to everyone responsible for clearing the room out.

I know this was long and seems incredibly OCD but this assures that the bride & groom (and their mothers!) can relax and be present the day of the wedding. To all my brides - it is my pleasure to help you with this!!

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