Wedding Day Timelines: 9 Top Tips

We asked some of Australia's leading wedding planners to share their favourite timeline tricks to reduce any risk…

We spoke to wedding planners around Australia to share what’s imperative for creating (and sticking to) your wedding day timeline.

1. The Indispensable Timeline/Run Sheet

“Having a run sheet for your wedding day is vital. It gives all suppliers and participants a clear understanding of what is happening when, along with where they need to be. Ensure that even the smallest tasks are added, even if you believe them to be obvious and unnecessary to have written down. Everything little thing takes time and can affect the overall flow of events if it’s not followed. Should your ceremony run 5 minutes over schedule, this may mean you miss the perfect sunset shot for your wedding photos, so it’s better to have more information than not enough. Break up your run sheet into sections for pre and post ceremony, the ceremony itself and the reception so everything is covered and checked off. If you give time and careful consideration into your run sheet you won’t have to waste your special day troubleshooting, but rather see the day blossom how you had imagined it.” Ali Hodges from Ali Hodges Events

“At least a month prior to your wedding start a timeline from when you wake up to your exit after reception on how you would like things run give this list once compiled to key suppliers on the day , Photographer, DJ, Reception Staff so they are on the same page and can ensure all is running to plan.” Ezy Events

“Go out of your way to include every single detail in your timeline. Break the day down into tasks and who is responsible for each one. Talk to your suppliers and find out how they normally do things, and how much time they need to achieve their role, so you can allow enough time for everything. Be flexible too! Always give all of your suppliers a copy of your running sheet, so you know everyone is working off the same information.” Kirstyn Tate from Igby Productions

“When creating your master schedule write down every single detail of the tasks & time for the day to the last minute. You should start your time several hours before the wedding ceremony to the end of the reception. (Working backwards from the ceremony time may be of assistance)”. 4EVA2GETHER Wedding Planners

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2. Bonus Time

“Leave plenty of time between each element. A common recommendation is to reserve an additional 15%-30% for the time you anticipate for each event. Make sure that on the day of your wedding there are no specific events that may hold up or delay the travel. For example research if there is a major event or road works/marches etc.  and be sure to use an alternate route.” 4EVA2GETHER Wedding Planners

3. Photography Snags

“Don’t start with your photographer’s requirements (or any other supplier for that matter). It’s important the team you employ all work in with the flow of your day, not vice versa. It’s best to plan the day first and then make sure the photographer, videographer and other key suppliers are there when it matters most to you. You may have to extend the photographer or videographer’s time by 30 mins to an hour, but it will be worth it if you are able to capture the key moments and reduce stress levels.” Jennifer Michael from Jennifer Michael Events

“The element that usually gets the bride and groom by surprise is the family wanting to take photos after the ceremony, especially, when you have large numbers attending. Once you take a snap with the mums and dads, next your uncles and aunts will there to greet and take photos with you too. Before you know it, there is a line of all your guests waiting to wish you well and take snaps too. If you haven’t planned this into your schedule, you will undoubtedly run late with your other wedding photos and possibly miss out on some of the photos you wanted to take in order to hurry back to be on time for your reception. Family members will also tend to get chatty with you as they are probably seeing you for the first time in a long time. It can be tough for another family member to be strict and move people along, so it is more practical to have a wedding planner/coordinator whose job will be to keep the line moving along without worrying about offending family members.” Michael Selvakumar from Whisper Events

4. Tardy Guests & VIPs

“Guests typically think that they can run a little late to the ceremony as the bride is known to also run ‘fashionably’ late. To avoid this put a start time for the ceremony of fifteen to thirty minutes earlier than you actually hope to arrive!” Jessica Murphy from Forever Yours Wedding

5. Beauty Bothers

“Finalise who is hoping to have their hair and makeup done with the bridal party as far in advance as possible. If there are a lot of extras (for example your mother, aunts and friends) wanting to join yourself and your bridesmaids in getting their hair and makeup done, it would be a smart move to book more than one hair and makeup artist. Alternatively, to help you stick to your budget, find a makeup artist who always brings their own assistants. By having enough hands on deck to make you all pretty promptly you will also ensure that you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn. With such a long day & night ahead for the bride, a good night sleep beforehand is crucial.” Michael Selvakumar from  Whisper Events

“Leave plenty of time for the hairdresser; your ‘do’ will take longer than you think. Suggested time is several hours before the ceremony.” 4EVA2GETHER Wedding Planners

6. Plan in a Planner

“A smart move is to consider hiring a professional wedding coordinator for the week of the wedding. They can bring all of your hard work together; take the pressure off and ensure a smooth running, stress-free day for you and your husband-to-be.” Kirstyn Tate from Igby Productions

“Invest in hiring a wedding planner, even if it’s just for the actual day of your wedding, to co-ordinate and oversee delivery/set up of all suppliers.” Ezy Events

7. On The Road

“Avoid using one bridal car to pick up the groom, which then goes off to collect the bride. This is a rare scenario, but I have seen it happen with what can only be described as an unhappy outcome. Minimize the time the bridal car will actually be on the road, the more it’s driving the higher the risk of it running into traffic delays. Michael Selvakumar from Whisper Events

8. Keeping It Flowing

“At the reception, work with your wedding coordinator/venue coordinator and emcee as to when you can circulate to meet your guests. If you are seriously considering doing “the rounds”, don’t try to do it all at once. Separate the rooms into sections and visit each sections in intervals such as during the entree, dinner and dessert breaks. Don’t leave all of your mingling till after the desserts, as your guests will want to celebrate with you at this point on the dance floor. This pre-meditated process will make sure you make everyone feel important without your schedule running late.” Michael Selvakumar from Whisper Events

“Most speakers usually do not stick to their given time. Overestimate speech times in your schedule, but also give them a shorter time! For example schedule five minutes per person, but let them know that they only have two minutes. Additionally make sure you allocate more time to the parents of the bride and the groom (mums and dads generally have more to say). This clever move will give will you more time on the dance floor once the speeches have been made.” Michael Selvakumar from Whisper Events

“Be sure to discuss with your reception coordinator what time dinner will be served, cake cutting, first dance and speeches will happen” Jessica Murphy from Forever Yours Wedding

9. Essential Extras

“If you are having a beach wedding be sure to check sunset and tide times. Have your ceremony start around 3 hours before sunset to maximise photo opportunities and for the perfect photo lighting” Jessica Murphy from Forever Yours Wedding

“Attach all relevant contact information relating to your suppliers (include mobile and email). Plus update your schedule when tasks or suppliers change and give the latest version to everyone associated with the wedding.” 4EVA2GETHER Wedding Planners

“A special tip for the groom: we know you love to have your pre-wedding fun, but we have little one rule for the night before the wedding which will help ease your future wife’s nerves: Don’t get drunk! 1 or 2 drinks are perfect for you, 3 or 4 we’re not so sure, 5 or 6 is getting a bit rich, 7 or 8 and you’re out the gate’” Rebecca Leo from Roar Events

Check out this Traditional Reception Timeline to help you get started.

Share any other tips you have about timelines below!


by Alicia Richardson



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