• Elizabeth Nelson

How to create the perfect timeline

A well planned timeline is essential to combating a stressful day. Whether you are going to create one yourself or work with your hired vendors, coming up with the best timeline for you and your boo is going to make all the difference in the world for everyone involved.


Every single wedding is going to be unique down to the very core, but one thing every wedding should have in common, is a killer wedding day timeline! Not to sound dramatic, but the timeline can make or break the stresses that come around on your wedding day.

Whether you are having a tiny wedding that is only a couple of hours long, or a large full day wedding experience, you want the day to be as stress free as possible and unfortunately, when everything is timed out to a T, even a minute of running behind can cause a domino effect for the remainder of your wedding day. Because I am here for the couples who hire me, I hate to see them getting stressed so I have come up with my top tips on how to create the best timeline for a stress free wedding day.


Start from Scratch

Coming up with a timeline is a little bit like baking. You can’t just start putting things together and expect a perfectly baked cake. It all starts with a pinch of humor, a teaspoon of knowledge, a tablespoon of organization and a whole cup full of patience. In all seriousness, start from scratch with only your ceremony time as a starting point. Then start looking at the logistics of your day. Ask yourselves these questions if you aren’t sure where to begin.

Will the wedding party be getting ready at the venue or somewhere else? This is a good question to answer because traveling between places will add time to a schedule and are easily forgotten.

  1. Will the ceremony and reception be at the same location? Another travel consideration. And with that, figure out if you as a couple are providing the transportation or if everyone is left to their own devices.

  2. The first look! Are you having one? This is good to consider because if you are doing a first look, sometimes having your bridal and family photos taken before the ceremony will cut some time after the ceremony and leave more time for a cocktail hour or more photos of just you and your new spouse!

  3. How long will your ceremony be? A lot of vendors will ask this question so now is a good time to really lock down an amount of time.

  4. Are you having a cocktail hour and how long will it be?

  5. Moving onto the reception, are you having first dances or a grand entrance?

  6. How long do you have at your venue for your entire wedding and how long do you have your vendors for?

Once you have walked through these questions and answered to the best of your ability, you can start to play with timing for everything. The world wide web is full of wedding day timeline templates if you aren’t sure for how long everything will take. Stay tuned because I am cooking up my very own wedding day timeline to help combat all your wedding day stresses 👀


Early to rise, gets the worm

That’s a saying we’ve all heard from someone in our lives and I think it goes well with figuring out your wedding day timeline. No matter how large or small your wedding is, plan for everything to start earlier than you would expect because let’s face it, it’s never too early to start getting ready! Ideally, if you are having a ceremony start time at 5pm, getting ready at 9am may seem like way to early, but believe me, it’s not. Getting your hair and makeup done can easily take upwards of 90 minutes if you are having it professionally done. Plus, you want to have enough time to relax throughout your day as well.


Add buffer time to your buffer time

A lot of people plan every minute of the wedding day down to the second and the only problem with that, is then there is no room for things to fall behind. And let’s all be honest with ourselves, things will fall behind on your wedding day, no matter how much you try for them not to. It doesn't have to be catastrophic, but things will be forgotten or take longer than expected and when every second is planned out, is when the stress can build. To combat this, I like to add buffer time to every major event on your timeline. This way we build in flexibility. If hair and makeup take a little longer, there is 30 minutes added in as a buffer so that getting into the dress or heading out for a first look aren’t rushed. The important thing to remember, is that at the end of the day, you are marrying the love of your life and there really is no need to rush into every aspect of your day. Buffer time creates breathability.


Communication is Key

There are a lot of moving parts in a wedding day, and there are even more moving vendors throughout your day. Once you begin hiring vendors, the amount of people to stay in contact with can become a lot. A simple way to bypass this is hiring a wedding planner or coordinator. Then they are the ones who are in charge of communicating with all the moving people about all the moving pieces. However, if you aren’t hiring a coordinator, don’t worry! Establish a way of communicating with each vendor and then ask them who they need to be in contact with. A simple example of that is the DJ and the photographer. Apart from the getting ready portion of your wedding day, the DJ and photographer will need to have the same timeline so that events aren’t missed. So, when you meet with them, provide each with contact information so that they can work it out without going through you, the bride or groom, you have enough on your plate already! 😂


Once a master timeline is created, distribute it to everyone and anyone who will benefit from it! Everyone having the same idea of timing is a game changer because we can all work smoothly and effortlessly without bothering you one your wedding day asking silly questions about how events are to play out.


Wedding days don’t have to be stressful and having a well organized and thought out timeline is one of the easiest ways to make sure everyone knows what is going on when and creates an effortless flow from one event to the next!


For more tips and tricks, check out my facebook where I post once a week some fun advice columns. Ooh did I just date myself?! 😋

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Phoenix, Arizona  elizabeth@nelsoncinematic.com  480-268-5795

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