One of the most important tasks to ensure a timely wedding is to create an itinerary for the day of the event. An itinerary is often referred to as a timeline in the wedding industry. It sets the times when the wedding's elements will occur, such as photos and transportation, and details who will perform each task. An itinerary helps everyone be informed about where to be and when and keeps everyone on track.
Access the Free Printable
The attached printable itinerary can be modified to suit your specific wedding day by inserting the times when events will occur. To access it, click on the main image or image caption for this article. It will open as a PDF, and you can modify and save the document as needed.
How to Modify the Itinerary
Each element listed on the itinerary has a separate time that can be added to suit your wedding. Note, however, that some elements might occur simultaneously. On the sample itinerary, events are listed in the general pattern that they occur on a typical wedding day. The hairstyle schedule and the vendor list have addition/subtraction buttons to their right, making it easier for you to add or remove items as you need.
To use the timeline:
- Review each event to ensure that it will occur on your wedding day. Delete those items that will not.
- Make a list of unique events that you have scheduled for the day. Consult this list and consider when you would like those to occur and insert them into the timeline at the appropriate point. You do not need to add a specific start time for these events, just place them in the general order of when you plan on them occurring.
- Insert times for each event on your itinerary. To start:
- Start with the set time that the first event is to occur. On the sample, this is hair and makeup for the bride and bridesmaids. These times are usually scheduled well in advance and, therefore, exact start times are available for them. Contact the salon to see how long appointments will last to determine the amount of time to put between these and subsequent events.
- Identify the average travel time to the salon from the starting location. This will help you identify how much time to allocate to transportation to and from the salon.
- Consult your vendor agreements and contracts to determine the times that each vendor will arrive and depart. Most vendors establish these times well in advance based on their knowledge of how long it takes them to arrive at a specific location, what they need to do at the location, and other elements of their services that they need to provide. For example, an experienced florist typically knows exactly when she needs to arrive at a church to set up flowers prior to a ceremony's start. She will provide this information on her contract, which you can then use in your itinerary. Therefore, these contracts can provide the majority of the times and information you need for your timeline. If a contract does not specify a time, call your vendor for this information.
- Complete other required time slots as necessary using your knowledge of the event. Keep travel distances and the amount of time you anticipate or have been told the event requires.
- Insert those times that you know are established and final, such as the time the reception must start and end. This will help you complete the majority of your timeline.
How to Use the Itinerary for Planning
From a planning perspective, a timeline helps ensure that every element you have chosen and paid for will occur on time and when necessary, that you remain within allotted rental times for your venue, and that you remain within the times that vendors are contractually obligated to work on your behalf. Additionally, the itinerary ensures that you have not forgotten an element or let something slip through the cracks: by scheduling something on the timeline, you have indicated that it is completely planned, paid for, and ready to occur.
Begin creating your wedding schedule several weeks or months prior to your wedding and only add those elements that have been finalized. This gives you ample time to review, revise, add to or remove items as your planning progresses. Finalize your itinerary a few days before your wedding and share it with all vendors and the bridal party.
Although every wedding is unique, most have several elements in common. These are often considered "must-haves" because they almost always occur. These include:
- Bride's hair appointment
- Photographer arriving and taking pre-ceremony photos of the bride
- Floral delivery to the wedding party and setup and delivery to and reception locations
- Transportation of the bride and groom to the ceremony and from the ceremony to the reception
- Ceremony start time
- Reception start and end time
To be complete, a basic wedding day itinerary should include these items. This helps ensure that the main elements of the wedding have been finalized and scheduled.
The start and end times of events, such as the processional, must be established according to the both vendor schedules and additional tasks you need to complete throughout the day.
Some events have set times as provided in contracts or information shared with you. These events include:
- Florist arrival times
- Cake deliveries
- Hair and makeup appointments
- Photograph arrival and departure times
These events are usually easy to schedule because they occur for set periods of time.
Setting Task Start and End Times
To set the start and end times for additional tasks that must be completed, consider:
- Event type and timing: For example, pre-ceremony photos occur after the bride has been fully dressed but before she departs for the ceremony. Since the bride's appointments for having her hair and makeup done and when transportation must leave to deliver her to the ceremony have set times, there is only a specific amount of time remaining between the two events. This time can be divided between her getting dressed and taking pre-ceremony photos.
- Length of time needed: This information can often be discussed with the vendor or individual in charge of the event. For example, any photographer will tell you that pre-ceremony photos usually take 15-20 minutes.
- Necessity of end times: Not every task needs to have a specified ending time, especially when another event determines the next task. For example, pre-ceremony photos end when the bride's transportation leaves to take her to the ceremony.
These considerations will help you determine how much time you have for an event, which can help you determine its start time.
Make sure to insert those special and unique elements that you have planned for your wedding. For example, if you've scheduled a dove release, the doves must be delivered at a special time and then released at a specific time.
Include these events by reviewing all of your wedding documentation and contracts and making a list of elements that you have chosen which are not traditional. As you begin your timeline, consult this list to ensure that you include these special events.
Allow for Unexpected Events
People are may not be on time and wedding mishaps can occur. Therefore, it is always wise to leave a few minutes of a buffer between major events. Usually, five to 10 minutes suffices. Add this extra time where possible, especially around the following areas :
- For an event involves numerous people: Gathering groups of people always seems to take more time than anticipated. If you're planning a wedding morning brunch with the extended family, be sure you have left time for late arrivals or a lengthy good-bye.
- For photographs: Inevitably, photographs take longer than estimated due to locating the needed subjects, posing them, and the photographer's adjustments.
- For transportation: Traffic is out of your control. Even if the route you plan on taking is always clear, it's possible that an accident will have occurred five minutes before you pull onto the road. Plan for this by adding an extra five to 10 minutes for each trip.
With the exception of heavy traffic, which most prepare for, professional vendors rarely run into problems. Therefore, you only need to allow for extra time for those events that you are responsible for initiating.
Create Your Itinerary
Every wedding is unique, and so too should be its timeline. Creating a usable itinerary for your wedding requires several weeks, if not months, of work and multiple revisions. When complete, however, you'll have a schedule that'll help your perfect day run perfectly.