Saturday, January 23, 2010

master timeline

I found this fantastic article on DIY Bride on creating a master timeline to streamline your day and plan so everything goes perfectly...

A timeline will be the single most important document you will create for your wedding. Without a realistic timeline, your wedding may have unforeseen challenges and actually create more work for you (or your family) on your big day.

As a wedding planner we create one master itinerary for our couples. The only time they will see this master plan is before the wedding. This document will include both wedding party information and vendor information (which we like to call a production schedule). We personally like to color code because at the wedding any member of our team can easily glance at the itinerary and know immediately which tasks apply to vendors vs. wedding party. This may be an option you would like to consider, because it is important to understand both vendor needs and personal needs when planning your wedding day.

Before we begin there are key vendors that you need to contact to know their schedule needs.

1. Your Photographer – knowing when he/she wants to begin your pictures is very important (taking into consideration if you are getting all your photos done before the wedding or some before/after your wedding). You’ll also want to check the length of time you contracted them for to be at your wedding so you won’t schedule events after they are suppose to leave.

2. Caterer – have a detailed conversation with your caterer to understand their needs for setup (for instance; if you are providing rented linens they may want those a day before your wedding so they can set your tables). You will also need to know how long it will take to serve your wedding guests so you can appropriately gauge the timeline at the reception.

3. Florist/Decorator – they will need to know all the setup times that they can get into the reception venue and church as well as break out times. Remember if the reception venue says that you need to be out of their facility by midnight, you can’t end your wedding at 12:00am. You’ll have to end earlier so all decorations, personal items and your entertainment has time to breakdown and remove their items.

4. Hairdresser/Makeup Artist- this person is important because you’ll get information as to when to start your wedding day and know how long it will take to be ready to get to the church to start pictures. More often, the entire wedding party is joining you, so we see entire wedding parties starting their hair/makeup at the salon at 8am in the morning so they can all be done to make to the church for photos.

Creating the Timeline

So let’s begin. Always start at the start time of your wedding and work backwards to figure out the timeline at the beginning of your day. Let’s say your wedding ceremony starts at 1:30pm (that is what is printed on the invitation). That would mean that you need to have everything done (photos, d├ęcor, etc) by half an hour before hand. So 1:00pm because the “starting time” for your wedding for all the vendors and wedding party.

Now you will work your way backwards from that point, beginning with start time and finish time for your photography and then to your hair/makeup. You’ll want to be sure to schedule setup times for your cake, caterer, entertainment, reception decorating, bartenders, and caterer.

We like to create timelines that are in 15 minute increments. Understanding that may not always be possible or realistic, but it is always a good idea to “pad” your timeline with extra minutes. For example, if it takes 20 minutes to get from your hair salon to the church, then simply allow 30 minutes in the timeline.

It will read:

10am Girls conclude hair appointments and leave for the church

10:30am Girls arrive at church to dress

11am Photos begin for bride (insert your name), bridesmaids and bride’s family

11:30pm Groom (insert real name), groomsmen and ushers arrive at church, dressed

It is our experience that weddings take a life of their own and sometimes you are ahead of schedule and then behind schedule, and then suddenly on time! It’s no big deal…it all works out in the end, but you can’t foresee one of your bride maids taking longer on their hair or a flat tire. The one constant will be the time you actually walk down the aisle, especially if you are having a church wedding. Priests and Pastors like to start ON TIME, because there may be more activities going on in the church after your wedding (confessions, mass, etc).

After the wedding you’ll want to estimate how much time it will take to complete the ceremonial activities. For instance, 300 guests and you want to do a receiving line? Let’s calculate, if it took only 30 seconds to greet every guest it would take 45 minutes! You may have backed yourself into a corner for post wedding photo opportunities.

In the timeline, you’ll want to include every single vendor you have contracted. You will want to have an arrival time and a departure time. This allows you to look at your wedding on paper and you can literally walk yourself through the day.

Finally when you have completed this master itinerary document (don’t be surprised if it is 5-6 pages long), you’ll want to remove most of the vendor information and downsize it for the wedding party to distribute at rehearsal. Your bridesmaids don’t need to know when your cake is going to be delivered at the reception venue.

You will want to include these important times for everyone:
start time Hair/Makeup
start time Arrival at Church
start time Starting time for photos: (break it out for wedding party/parents, grandparents, children, extra family members. Usually it is not necessary for grandparents to show up 2 hours before the wedding for photos).
est times General flow of the day for special events; toasts, dances, cake cutting, etc.

Finally when you have completed this beautiful master plan of your entire day, give it to someone else. NO BRIDE should be ever be holding her wedding day itinerary. If you are not hiring a wedding planner or coordinator for your wedding day, then ask a family member or friend to implement your plans. But it should NOT be a person in your wedding party. That’s right! Your MOH should be with YOU, helping YOU…not running around contacting vendors or answering the hundreds of questions that happen during a wedding.
Plan on!

This article was submitted by the uber-fabulous Saundra Hadley.
Saundra is owner and event engineer with planning…forever events

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