Updated: Mar 8, 2021
Learn with these easy wedding planning steps how to create your timeline!
1. Make a list of all your vendors
Take a piece of paper and start writing down all your vendors: Photographer, Florist, Catering, Venue, Hairstylist, Make-up Artist, Master of Ceremony. Also write down all the people that are going to help you on the day itself: your maid of honor or your best friend, the best man, an uncle, a sister. Anyone that is not a vendor but that will help you close your dress, support you when you are feeling nervous, drive you to the venue, etc.
2. Open a new Excel File
I know... Excel is not a sexy tool but for creating a timeline, it is perfect! Start by creating your table with following titles on top: Timeline, What, Who, Location, Pax, Items, Contact Person, Comments.
Timeline: This is where you will write down at what time the "what" column starts. What: Here you will write, as explicitely as possible (but keep it short) what is going to happen.
Who: Write here who is doing the "what".
Location: It's important to fill in this part, with an adress (important for later).
Pax: (Pax means persons/people) This is the amount of people involved in the "what" and "who" (important for later!).
Items: Here you write down, as detailed as possible, what items are required for "what" and "who". (this column will later become your checklist!).
Contact Person: For each "what" and "who", write down at least one contact person and their phone number.
Comments: This is pretty straightforward. Type in this column anything that could not be said in the other columns. You can write important information for your vendors like "at this moment, the caterer should be ready with the snacks and welcome drinks".
3. Start filling in your columns
Imagine your wedding day: you first wake up, have a shower and your breakfast. What happens next? Start by filling in the "What" column chronologically. If you already know the times, add them under "timeline". Don't stress about forgetting parts, you can always fill in later!
Think of the arrival of the maid of honor, or the First Look, the arrival of the guests, dinner, opening dance, etc. Don't forget to make time in your timeline for lunch! This is extremely important as so many couples forget to take the time to eat! You need energy for your big day and please don't assume that you will fill up with petits fours and cake later during the day, because you won't. You will be so busy hugging everyone and talking to all your guests that you will barely have time to eat your dinner.
Bit by bit, keep adding the locations to your spreadsheet, the amount of people, what items are needed, and the phone number of the contact person.
Why are the "Location", the "Pax" and the "Contact Person" columns so important? These are extremely important for your vendors. Your caterer and your venue in particular, need to know at all times how many people will be on the premises. Your photographer and/or videographer also need to know how many guests will be at which part of the day. Moreover, your vendors need to know the phone numbers of the contact person. For example: if your florist cannot find the venue, you don't want them to call you! If you write down the number of the venue, they will call them right away instead of calling you. (Yes, they could have googled the phone number of your venue, but people are lazy...).
4. Use colors to organize your spreadsheet
It's now time to divide your spreadsheet in different parts. The part will include information that is important for your family & friends, venue & catering & decoration, other vendors. Basically, for your family and friends, the whole spreadsheet is always important so I never use a specific color for that. However, every time the photographer hairstylist or florist have to do something, I mark them in one color. And everytime the venue or the caterer has to do something I mark it in another color.
Moreover, the very important "what"s, I mark them in red. For example, the First Look, the ceremony, the cake cutting. Those moments are really important and they shouldn't be missed by any of the vendors.
The colors will help your vendors to read your timeline more easily. It's not important for your hairstylist to know that at 9pm your caterer has to prepare the cake. By simplifying the timeline for your vendors, they can focus on their tasks.
5. Go over your timeline with EACH vendor
I cannot stress this enough. So many couples make up a quick spreadsheet and just send it to their vendors. Most of the time, half the information is missing and your photographer or florist cannot work with that. It's important to, if possible, meet in person, or at least have a Skype Call where you go through each step with each vendor. Next to the timeline you make for yourself and for your family and friends, each vendor will make their own notes. The venue will for sure make their own timeline, so they will have many questions to you when you go over your spreadsheet. They think about details that you probably will forget. Share your spreadsheets with the experts so that they are 100& ready for your big day!
When you hire a Weddingplanner or a Day-off Coordinator, they will manage your timeline for you to avoid having to contact every single supplier to make sure your day will go smoothly.
6. Prepare your Checklist
If you have filled in the columns "ITEMS" thouroughly, you can now just copy paste that column and make your checklist out of it. Double check each item with your vendor (make sure you know who is bringing the DJ Table: the DJ or the Venue?)
Finally, you will probably have to adapt and tweak your timeline until a couple of days before your wedding day. Things always change and you should be prepared for that. Even though many couples wait to make a timeline until the last month before the wedding, I suggest you start with it as soon as possible. Even if you don't know yet whether you are hiring a DJ or a Band, whether you are having 3 or 6 courses... It's good to have a chronological mock-up of your wedding day. You then work around your timeline throughout the wedding planning process.
If you would like an expert to have a look at your wedding timeline, have a look at our Last-Minute Wedding Planning Services
Good luck with your Wedding Timeline!