Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics in “Sound of Silence” ARE definitely a little dark, especially as they pertain to wedding planning. However, although not exactly on-spot regarding topic, the song’s idea of being in the dark and lost applies to one very big, very important aspect of planning: creating a timeline.
A timeline is just what it sounds like: a schedule of events for the day. For a wedding, it contains the progression of what will happen, who will perform that activity and when it will occur.
A timeline is one of the most essential components of a wedding. Not having a timeline can mean that your event stops dead in the middle of the reception because a vendor was confused about what was to happen. Not having a timeline can mean that your event never starts because the officiant was unaware of where he needed to be.
HJ’s timelines span many pages and often contain a precise, to-the-minute list of what is happening when. It’s not uncommon for our timelines to consist of five or more pages; it’s not uncommon for them to be extremely intricate. For example, I just started a timeline that contains three-minute intervals for some of the day’s events. Why? Because it takes precisely three minutes to walk from the ceremony location to the reception venue (I know, I walked and timed it myself!). Those three minutes are important to note so that the caterers, photographer and myself know where guests will be at all times and what time to have everything ready for their arrival.
One of the biggest misconceptions about a timeline is that it should start when the bride walks down the aisle and end when the couple departs the reception. In fact, the majority of work for an event happens before and after these events occurs. Therefore, these important times must be included on the schedule. Florists, bakers and photographers need to be told what time to start or deliver their work. The caterer and band need to know when to stop playing and start cleaning up.
Creating a timeline is not an easy task, and is by no means accomplished in one go. Start creating a timeline for your wedding a few months in advance and revisit it every week to add to or change its components. As your date approaches, check it more frequently to ensure that its contents are accurate and all-encompassing.
And then…share it!
The final, crucial step to creating a timeline is giving a copy to everyone involved in the wedding. This includes all vendors, but also family members and the wedding party. Having every actor in your big day informed of the day’s plan makes mishaps and problems less likely, and your having fun and no worries more likely.