The wedding day timeline for a DIY wedding is something that there’s not a lot of great information on. Most often as a wedding coordinator (which is someone who’s there on the day of the wedding to oversee everything), I see wedding timelines that are about 10-15 items long. Truth be told, these are woefully short for a DIY wedding. A short, 10-15 item timeline makes complete sense at a traditional wedding venue where a team of staff is handling everything behind the scenes. The ceremony, cocktail hour, cake cutting, etc. are the "main events" that a couple needs to know about, and the team orchestrates it all. At DIY weddings, however, there is no magic team who just knows what to do. That job (and all the small tasks that need to be done to make sure everything goes smoothly) needs to be organized in advance by someone - generally the couple or their wedding coordinator. Generally, a thorough wedding timeline for a DIY wedding is about 2-3 pages long. But the more moving parts there are, the longer it will be. I created one for a client that was over 11 pages after we added in all the small-but-important details. But such a long timeline is rare, so no worries if yours isn’t that long! Here’s what to do if you want to make sure you timeline will actually work for your DIY wedding.
STEP 1: Start with the standard activities for your wedding
Pick the standard activities that you want to do on your wedding day. Think about things like the first look, pictures with your immediate family and wedding party, the ceremony, cocktail hour, introductions, first dance, serving dinner, speeches, bouquet toss, cake cutting, late night food, etc. Then talk to your vendors, and work with them to assign times to each of these big items.
STEP 2: Fill in your timeline with the details (psst...this is the crucial step!)
Now this is the most important part. Once you have the big items in place, you want to go back in and fill in all the smaller details of the wedding day. For example:
● What time are the vendors supposed to arrive, and where are they supposed to go? If it's not on the timeline, no one is going to know if a vendor is late or where to direct vendors to when they arrive.
● When should the bridesmaids have their bouquets? If it's not on the timeline, the bouquets may miss the pictures. (This happened at my own DIY wedding before I was a DIY wedding coordinator, and we have lots of pictures without all those beautiful flowers we paid for - oops!)
● When and where should the wedding party gather before the wedding so guests don’t see them before the ceremony? I recommend choosing a spot away from the ceremony location and the bathrooms, and having the wedding party gather there 30 minutes before the ceremony. Generally, guests start arriving 30 minutes before the start time and head straight to the ceremony spot or the restrooms. As you add these smaller details to your wedding day timeline, make sure to add times for them as well and assign people to handle the various tasks. This way whoever is coordinating or acting as the point person for your wedding day knows all the tasks that are supposed to happen (not just the big events).
STEP 3: Add "getting ready" times
This is particularly important for all the ladies out there. You definitely want to assign times for hair and make up even if there are just a couple people in your wedding party. The morning-of the wedding is so much fun, and can fly by at the blink of an eye. So assigning hair and make-up times makes sure everyone is ready when they are supposed to be. This way you can show up to the ceremony relaxed, and will be in the perfect mindset to bliss out on all the wedding love. And guys, it’s not a bad idea to have a time that all the groomsmen need to get dressed and be fully ready by. This way no one gets lost in the excitement of a pre-wedding corn hole tourney or a similar fun, pre-wedding activity. So that's it! It can seem like a lot at first, but once you get into it, things just start clicking into place. When the entire day is mapped out - small details and all - you’ll feel relief knowing that your plan for the day is now laid out so others can help make it happen. If you need any help creating your wedding day timeline, don’t hesitate at all to get in touch!
Want to make sure your timeline covers everything important on your wedding day? Make sure to check out her Wedding Details Checklist with 70+ items to make sure details don’t slip through the cracks.