Wedding Timeline Planning (Part 2)

If you've read part one of your Wedding Day Planning journal, you're in the right spot. This is part 2 of creating your wedding day timeline. As a reminder, we're working our way backwards from the timeline to help you develop your wedding planning strategy. Knowing your end goal, helps you make sure you have what you need on your wedding day.

If you recall, I typically break down the timeline into three sections: Prep, Ceremony and Reception. As such this journal entry will be about the ceremony portion of your timeline.

Just as a recap here is how I divvy up the wedding day timeline into sections that I prepare over the six week time frame that we work together.

The prep consists of the "getting ready" activities, pictures and team arrival times/setup.

The ceremony section usually outlines the guest arrival times, décor details and formal ceremony logistics.

Everything from the cocktail hour to dinner and the party time falls under this section. Once you've gotten to this point, everything is a breeze and moves pretty seamlessly with the help of your event manager, MC and catering captain.

The ceremony portion involves your guests, your wedding party, floral designer, officiant and DJ/MC. If you've taken care of the first part of the timeline, your videographer and photographer will also be involved but more on standby at this point. This section should outline the time your guests arrive and a detailed order of events for your ceremony.

You'll want to make sure you communicate the guest arrival time to your catering captain to make sure they put out your water station, especially if you are having an outdoor ceremony and in the summer.

Let’s breakdown your ceremony timeline. Normally all details are set one hour before your guests arrive so your photographer can document the details. Normally the couple isn’t able to see this set up so it’s nice to have them record this portion so you can reminisce on it post-wedding. You can expect your earliest guest to arrive 30 - 45 minutes before your ceremony.

  • Ceremony (20 - 45 minutes long)

  • Processional

  • Recessional

  • Marriage license signing

  • Family photos

  • Bridal party photos

Let’s talk about the processional. Typically the processional consists of your officiant, grandparents, parents (groom’s parents first), wedding party, ring bearer, flower girl and bride/father of the bride.

The recessional looks like the processional but on a scrambled rewind :) First the bride and groom, wedding party, kids and parents/grandparents. From there the bride, groom, officiant and two witnesses head to your coordinator who has your marriage license to sign the paperwork- this takes about 5 minutes. Your coordinator assistant typically lines up your family and wedding party so they can prepare for taking pictures.

This is immediately followed by photos. Your photographer should have a shot list prepared by you for this portion to ensure this party moves quickly. My clients least favorite part of the day is this part, taking scheduled photos. If you’ve hired a professional photographer with a second shooter to manage this part, they will complete this portion efficiently.

Pro tip: Remember to communicate all your decor details to your coordinator. This list typically includes directional signage, welcome sign, gift table with card box, water table for refreshments, aisle runner, flowers and table under the arch for the ceremony style you’ve chosen. This depends on the type of ceremony you’ll be enacting. If you’d like to know what you’re options are, here is a journal entry on all the amazing ceremony options that are out there.

From there, your coordinator will ensure you have a cocktail in your hand so you can enjoy the last few minutes of the cocktail party before heading into the reception festivities.

The last part of this three party series will be all about the reception. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the ceremony planning portion of your day, please send me a note!