You’re gonna need a solid wedding day timeline—no ifs, ands or buts about it. 

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Even the most “Oh, we’re just doing something very casual and don’t need a timeline” couples need to have a timeline. There is never anything “casual” about having 150 people in one room who need to be fed, provided beverages and entertained simultaneously.

My main goal, when creating a timeline, is to ensure my couples don’t feel rushed. Believe me, the day goes fast enough as it is without adding any stressful “hurry, hurry, let’s go” elements. Plus, no wedding is the same, and each one will take on a flow of its own. So a solid, well-crafted wedding timeline is important to allow the day to naturally unfold, which, in turn, will help slow down an experience that’s already over too soon.

Whether or not you’re working with a wedding planner/coordinator (*cough* you really, really should *cough”), below are some pieces of advice to keep in mind for your wedding day timeline.

Priorities, People

As with everything else in life, it all comes down to priorities. What portions of the day are most important to you? Not only is working with a wedding planner a great way to have some assistance in figuring this out, but we will create a realistic timeline that best reflects your wedding day priorities.

Say Cheese

Photos at the Wrigley Building, on Michigan Ave., at the Adler Planetarium AND at Olive Park in an hour? Yeah…I wish I could make that work but, being real with you, it ain’t gonna happen. Again, this goes back to your priorities—together, we’ll talk about the time we have to play with and then figure out, realistically, what spots you can hit for photos. I’ll also work closely with your photographer to really polish this portion of the day so everyone enjoys this time and doesn’t feel rushed.

Getting You From Point A to B

Transportation might be the most important element of timing that you really, really need to get right. Unfortunately, Google Maps is just not a reliable tool when we’re trying to get a 32-passenger trolley to Adler Planetarium. Planners factor in a lot of different elements—traffic, time of day, the size of the vehicle and wedding party—to determine the timing necessary to get you and your squad where you need to go.

Your Family and Friends—They Have Needs Too

“Wait, so what time do we need to be at the hotel?” You’re going to get a lot of texts and emails like this as you get closer to your wedding day. Everyone wants to know where to be and when to be there. We wedding planners figure this out for you, so all you have to do is forward them a copy of the timeline. Boom, done.

What the Day Is All About

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You’re getting married, and the ceremony is the most important part. It’s my mission in life to make sure every ceremony starts on time. And, leading up to the big moment, I want you to have a few minutes of downtime—again, to make sure we slow down the day as much as we can, especially before diving into the “I dos.”

My Dad Said His Toast Is Only 2 Minutes Long

Yeah, it probably isn’t. And that’s OK. Short, sweet and to the point is always the best way to go for toasts, but sometimes that’s just not the case. We’ll need to work together ahead of time to make sure these are timed properly. This way, dinner service continues to flow, the meals are hot and fresh, and we still allow your VIPs their brief (emphasis on the brief) moment to shine.

We Came to Get Down

Oh, believe me, I understand—dancing is what you came here to do. You want that dance floor open, I want that dance floor open, we all want that dance floor open. SO, we need to plan for this. We talk through the ways we can make this happen ASAP while, again, allowing your wedding pros the sufficient time they need to do their jobs well.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Trust Your Wedding Pros

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Photographer Jennifer Kathryn in action taken by Rebecca Marie Photography

If your wedding photographer says she needs 20 minutes for family formals, she needs 20 minutes for family formals. Your caterer is serving 200 people a three-course meal, each one coming out at the same time. You must give your vendor dream team the time they need. You hired the best Chicago wedding pros, so we need to be sure to listen to their thoughts on timing. Again, just because you want dinner service to be 30 minutes long doesn’t mean this can happen.

For Real, We Got You

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Testing the Photo Booth with Ed from Ed & Aileen Photography

That trust in your vendors must continue from the planning phase all the way into the day itself. Even the most carefully planned timeline can hop off track a bit, but if you’ve hired kickass professionals, you’re not even going to notice when we make a slight adjustment to accommodate a surprise. That’s the beauty of working with a planner and experienced, seasoned event professionals: Everything is handled with style and grace.

It always comes back to knowing your priorities and trusting your wedding professionals. When I know what your priorities are, it makes it much easier for me to create a timeline for you that best reflects this. I also work closely with the other vendors to make sure they have sufficient time to do what they do best. You? Well, you and your partner just get to enjoy the day—every single moment of it! How great is that?

To learn more about what a wedding planner can do for you, head here: 10 Unexpected Things Your Planner Will Do For You. If you’d like to set up a time to chat, please do so here.