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Save Your Wedding Day Sanity with an Itinerary

May 23, 2016 by The Marquardt Ranch

On your wedding day, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not everything else is getting done. This task generally falls to the bride, and you can’t be wondering if the caterer needs help when you’re supposed to be having your hair and makeup done.

Weddings are stressful events – but yours doesn’t have to be filled with tension and confusion. Save your wedding day sanity with an itinerary and trust everyone involved to execute.

If you have employed a wedding planner or coordinator, building your itinerary or timeline should fall under her job description. If you do not have a planner or coordinator, consider the investment. They are well worth the cost of being able to relax on your wedding day. But if you are handling this event yourself and have surrounded yourself with a team of family and friends to help, plan your own itinerary with the following guidelines.

First, know the purpose of the Wedding Day Itinerary.  This is an essential guide to the hour-by-hour execution and breakdown of your ceremony and reception. It tells who goes where when from vendors to bridal party to guests.

Second, focus on these important aspects of the day.

  1. Know the times your venue is available for set-up and the times you are expected to be finished. Remember, if you’re paying for the site from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m., that means you’re out at 11, not beginning the breakdown of the reception.
  1. Once you’ve established these times, confirm with your vendors when they will be arriving and leaving. This is a good time to find out how long your caterer expects dinner to last, when the bar will close, and what time the DJ or band will need to finish playing in order to break down equipment.
  1. Next, talk to your photographer and get an estimate for how long pictures before and after the ceremony will take. Often, the photographer’s schedule dictates how long you will have to get ready before. Typically, photographers want to begin pictures 2-4 hours before the ceremony in order to assure that you are finished and tucked away before guests arrive. For outdoor photography, lighting is also a factor.
  1. With your photographer’s knowledge, you can then begin scheduling how long the girls will need for hair and makeup. This can take up to an hour per bridesmaid and even longer if you are including flower girls or junior bridesmaids. If you have more than four attendants, ask your stylist to bring along an assistant. Since this is usually happening before anything else, it is important to keep to your timeline for getting ready. Running late for this will mean pictures start late, which could affect the rest of the day from ceremony to reception.
  1. Schedule your ceremony into the day. Typically these last about thirty minutes, but plan a buffer just in case. Also take into account if you are traveling between sites (ready, ceremony, reception).
  1. Determine a guideline for when you want events to occur during the reception. Set a timeline for cocktail/appetizers, your entrance as husband and wife and the introduction of bridal party, dinner, cake, bouquet toss, dancing, and exit.

Finally, be as detailed as possible. A good itinerary will seem overwhelming at first because it encompasses so many different parts. Your attendants don’t need to know what the caterer is doing, but the caterer does need to know what the florist is doing, and so on. Break it down in the way that makes most sense to you and share with those involved so you can get their feedback. You should begin working on this at least a month out from your wedding day. That way you have plenty of time to fix mistakes and confirm times.

Most importantly, remember this itinerary should be a helpful tool and a guideline, not a hard and fast rule book. Rely on others to keep all the pieces of the day moving and let yourself relax and enjoy it. After all, this is the most exciting day of your life – not the most stressful!

Some helpful places to download and calculate itineraries:

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