Timelines are stressful and couples planning weddings are often afraid they are leaving things out. The truth is, that’s rare. The overarching issue that I see most often is too much detail, and way too precise of a time for each line item to happen. When you’re sitting on your computer typing it out and running things through in your head, it seems AWESOME to get every detail listed on the timeline and who or where is involved, like you’re composing the perfect symphony as you hear the notes in your head. But here’s the thing- unless you have a professional there to execute each tiny detail on your minute by minute timeline, that much information isn’t manageable for most people, especially inexperienced people, on a day where stress, getting sidetracked by people, and a million unpredictable things can come up and torch your timeline in a hot second. And I do mean a HOT DAMN SECOND. POOF up in flames. GONE.
Detail is great for some wedding related things, and not great for others. Timelines are one of those things where a ton of detail is NOT great. Stay with me….an overly detailed timeline is too difficult to follow. It also sets everyone up for failure. Here’s why- weddings are living and breathing things. There are hundreds of details and moving parts and humans. This amount of things you don’t have control over Things change on a moments notice for even the most perfectly planned days. Too many over thought times leave little room for the flexing that we know will need to happen on wedding days. Think of it this way- each time noted on the timeline is a benchmark, a goal, not an exact instance that needs to be executed right at that exact time. There are 3 exceptions to this- FIRST LOOKS, CEREMONY, DINNER. Those are the ones that HAVE to happen on time. Everything else is fluid and able to flex as needed. Trust me.
Adding cushion to your timeline in small increments is also extremely important, typically I do this in 10-15 minute increments throughout the day so that we don’t get super far behind at any time. These little pockets allow for a bit more of a relaxed vibe so we aren’t rushing to catch up if we fall behind. They also allow for everyone to get their cell phone selfie snaps in in between the pro portraits. I also take into account the experience of the other vendors that I will be working with at any particular wedding, if I know a photog typically shoots portraits fairly quickly I will keep the cushion to a 5-10 min or cushion dinner 30+ mins if service will be slower due to a large guest count etc. which just gives my clients time to mingle with guests, go potty, etc. These smaller increments make it easy to end up with a longer unplanned break between the mornings activities and the ceremony which is great for freshening up, and getting those last minute nerves dealt with and makes it so no one is sprinting down the aisle 10 minutes late because photos rain over and the bride had to pee, or there was a major mishap.
Hire more hair and makeup humans. The most common reason a timeline falls behind is hair and makeup. And that’s not the artists fauly, most of the HMUAs I work with can whip out masterpieces quickly because they are amazing at what they do, what makes things fall behind is unexpected add on’s or constant touch ups (nerves can come out in many different ways on wedding days and I see bridesmaids show theirs in the hair and makeup chair quite often). More artists means more hands on deck to manage these types of set backs. It’s worth the extra $$ to keep your morning mimosa and laughter filled without that bubbly joy turning stressful as go time draws nearer.
Get speeches and the cake cutting done all at the same time. The worst thing in the world as a coordinator is having to pull my couple away to cut the cake because their photographer recommended they do it after they mingle with their guests, or they didn’t think about it, and guests start taking dessert anyway, or cut into the cake themselves (yes, it happens, and often). Speeches should be done when the bride and groom, bridal party, and parents tables are finished with dinner, which is often long before their guests are. This keeps the room quieter with all attention on the speakers, and makes it so we can get into the fun stuff once guests are finished eating. After speeches rap up I like to grab my couple and get them to the cake for the cake cutting right away because I’ve got the photogs right where I need them to capture it (which means in my sight and armed and ready) and the couple is available and hasn’t been swept into a conversation or a photo, we can get over and get after that cake cutting while guests are still seated and wham bam thank you mam it’s over and I don’t have to pull anyone away for another traditional photo op.
On the day of your wedding, what is most important is that you aren’t worried about what time it is. The best way to do this is to hire someone to manage things for you, like a wedding planner who won’t even tell her bride what time it is if she asks (hint: it’s me, I am that planner). The minutes of the day will pass faster than you can possibly imagine, don’t plan for every one to be filled with something, give yourself the freedom to enjoy the day.