Setting your timeline

Time flies when you are having fun - so plan on it!

Timelines can be tricky.  Not only is it a daunting task – so many things to do and so little time! – but it can really take some finesse to make everything run smoothly.

You know what I am going to say next don’t you?  Your Day of Coordinator will be happy to assist you in creating your timeline.  But in case you still haven’t hired one (ahem, me) here’s a little help for you.

Make-up – ask your professional how long they need but most will say they prefer 45 minutes per person, longer for the bride than for bridesmaids and others.

Hair – this is definitely a best question for your stylist.  I recommend at least an hour.

Flower distribution – Huh?  Think about this – corsages for moms, grandmothers and any other special women.  Boutonnieres for the groom, groomsmen, dads, grandfathers, ushers, and any other special men.  These people will all have to be tracked down.  The pinning itself will take a couple of minutes per person – I do this all the time and it can still be hard sometimes.  Allow at least 30 minutes and more for large wedding parties and families.

Pre-ceremony photos – half an hour for each of you if separated, an hour if you are doing your photos together.  This excludes get ready photos of you both.

Ceremony – allow half an hour for your ceremony (longer if it is a church ceremony) even if you know your ceremony is shorter.  It is always wise to pad a little time in case you start late…guests caught in traffic, make-up took a little longer than you thought it would…very few ceremonies start on time.

After ceremony photos – you may be thinking you are going to take most photos before the ceremony or maybe you don’t want a lot of posed photos.  But no one told Grandma that.  Your family is going to want to have pictures taken with you.  It never fails.  Trust me when I say plan on this.

Cocktail Hour – Well the name says it all doesn’t it?  The Cocktail Hour was designed as a way for your guests to be entertained while you and your new husband pose for photos with your families. 

Dinner – allow an hour for a plated meal, 1.5 hours for a buffet (and possibly longer depending on your guest count).

Toasts – I suggest 5 minutes per person toasting.  Not all toasts will last that long but some may be longer.  If you have a lot of people giving toasts, respectfully ask they keep it to a minimum time.  Also make sure your DJ or Emcee knows who should be giving toasts and how long you want them to last.

Cake Cutting – Cake cutting will take 10 minutes, maybe less.  Remember it isn’t just about cutting the cake – your guests will want to gather around and watch and you will be posing for photos.

Garter and Bouquet Toss – the popularity of these two traditions are on the rise with more couples choosing to do one or both.  They don’t have to be done together but allow at least 10 minutes each.

The Grand Exit – it isn’t as simple as walking out the door. Your guests will need to gather their things, grab your toss item, and line up.  You and your new husband may want to take a moment to freshen up.  Plan at least 15 minutes from the time the announcement is made until you exit.  If you are doing sparklers for your exit, you might want to add another 5 minutes – those can take awhile to light.

Don’t forget things like travel time if your ceremony is at a different location than your reception.  Sure it may only take 10 minutes to get from A to B but remember you have 100 people all leaving and arriving at the same time.  If your gown needs to be bustled, depending on the type of bustle, this could take up to 20 minutes.

As always, remember to think of your timeline as a loose guideline.  If you schedule everything too tightly you will not have the Carefree wedding day you and your family deserve.

Be Carefree,



About bethecarefreebride

I am passionate that everyone should enjoy your wedding day - stress free! Read on to learn how to be the Carefree Bride.
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