Our Wedding Day Timeline’s First Draft

Rooster (who’s been taking charge with a lot of our vendors lately) asked me a question the other day that threw me for a loop: What time do we want the photo booth to start? It’s not a difficult question to answer with our unstructured cocktail-style reception; we want people to start snapping shots some time after the ceremony is over. But like many snowballing wedding decisions, this little one hinges on a few larger outcomes. Exactly when does the ceremony end? When does it start? What time will we be done with photos?

That simple question made me realize that I needed to draft a day-of timeline sooner rather than later. Nothing set in stone (we’ll be doing that with our coordinator a little later on), but a first draft timeline that allows us to answer questions like this one.

Swell & Grand Agenda Printable

Also to begin prepping for really adorable timeline cards.

I started figuring out a rough timeline by jotting down the things that I know for sure about our day. If you’re looking to create your own timeline, obviously your list will look a little different, but starting with what you know is a great jumping off point.

  • We’ve rented the venue from 5pm to midnight (and that needs to include setup and take-down time).
  • We’ll be doing a first look and getting all of our posed photos out of the way before the ceremony.
  • Our reception is pretty relaxed and shapeless; with a food truck, there’s no set dinner time and we’ve no need for a cocktail hour.

Beyond those things, I didn’t know exactly what our day would look like. I needed to figure out when our ceremony would kick off, when we’d serve up from the food truck and how we wanted to work through toasts and spotlight dances. I did a lot of Googling of “cocktail reception timelines” about this point (this A Practical Wedding post was incredibly valuable), and then carved out our first draft.

Getting Ready/Photo Timeline
10:00am – Makeup and hair stylists arrive at hotel
12:30pm – Photographer arrives for getting ready photos
1:30pm – All hair and makeup finished
2:00pm – Dress on, final touches
2:30pm – First look
3:00pm – Wedding party photos

Wedding Timeline
5:00pm – Vendors arrive for setup
6:15pm – Guests begin to arrive, bar opens (drinks before the ceremony!)
6:30pm – Invite time
6:40pm – Ceremony starts
7:00pm – Ceremony ends
7:00pm – Food truck opens, some music begins
7:-7:15pm – Receiving line? Maybe?
8:00pm – Announcement, first dance
8:-8:30pm – Alternate toasts and spotlight dances
8:30pm – Couple’s toast, announce truck is closing and pops are served
9:00pm – Food truck closes
9:-11:00pm – Dancing, games, general merriment
11:00pm – Final song and sendoff
Midnight – All vendors out

You’ll notice that I’ve lumped together all of the traditional wedding reception pomp into one 30-minute period at 8pm. This idea comes on the heels of hive member StL.Ashley’s thread about her own cocktail-style reception (read about it here). She talked about how great it was to get all of the ceremonial stuff out of the way quickly, and said her guests seemed to like the fact that they didn’t miss anything. I really love this idea, and I’m hoping we can pull it off well. We’ll have two (maybe three) toasts and three dances to get through, so I think we can get it done in a half hour.

Milos + Natasa Horvat

Even if we have to dance at the speed of sound.

I have a few concerns, though. Is two hours enough dance time? I mean, we like to cut a rug in my circle. And is it weird that the groom and bride will be around for the “dinner” period between 7-8pm, then get formerly announced at 8? I feel like we’re trying to play peek-a-boo with a teenager; disappearing behind a door or something with 5 minutes to go, then magically reappearing at 8 o’clock when people are supposed to clap and cheer at our mere presence in the room. It’s weird right?

What were your awkward timeline concerns? How did you handle them?

25. June 2014 by Taryn
Categories: Logistics | Leave a comment

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