How long will your wedding last? The simple answer to this question is as long as it takes to get through the whole event, from start to finish. Of course, this isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. And if you want things to go smoothly, you’ll need to make sure your entire wedding timeline and checklist are carefully planned out beforehand. While you don’t necessarily need to do this for every minute of the day. After all, you can’t schedule every hug and dance. There are some key elements that will help keep your wedding running smoothly no matter what.


1) Vendors

You can easily do a quick Google search for wedding + vendors and you should be able to pull up a list of popular vendors from your city. Look through these vendor’s websites, find one that really stands out to you, and see if they have a package that you like. If not, look through some more websites until you find one that suits your needs. Once you have found a few different wedding planners or wedding coordinators, compare their packages and start making calls/emails with your top picks.


2) Ceremony Location

Where you have your ceremony is a big decision, since it’s arguably one of the most important parts of your wedding day and wedding timeline. Ideally, you’ll also want a location that can double as a place for you and your guests to hang out while you wait for other wedding events to begin. On top of that, if you have any last-minute issues or delays, there should be someone on site who can help resolve them. Though many couples like having their ceremony at an outdoor location such as a park or beach (which also saves on costs), don’t overlook churches; they make for lovely and historic spaces in which to wed.


3) Reception Location

reception location in wedding timeline

Finding a reception location can be one of your most challenging tasks when planning a wedding timeline. And depending on where you’re located, there are different procedures to follow in order to secure your location. But, most importantly, make sure you set aside plenty of time for choosing and booking your reception location because it will no doubt be one of your biggest budget items. While searching for venues online or in magazines is certainly an option, nothing beats seeing these venues in person.


4) Decor & Lighting

Wedding planners can take care of these details, but if you’re hosting your event in a space you didn’t rent, find out what’s included. You may be able to bring in your own tables and chairs or decorate with flowers or other things. If there’s no room for DIY projects, plan to hire a caterer who can provide linens and china at an additional cost. Depending on where you live, permit fees may apply for getting any alcoholic beverages into your venue—in some places, you’ll need to buy them through a licensed vendor who is bonded and insured for public liability purposes. If alcohol will be served during dinner or dancing after dinner, check with local liquor control boards to make sure they allow BYOB at such functions before finalizing plans.


5) Food & Drinks

Food and drinks are a key part of any wedding. And while you may only want to focus on one detail at a time, thinking about your selections for each item—food, drinks, favors, etc.—as part of your overall timeline can help save you time and stress. Start with what you know for sure: If your wedding is in three months, it’s likely that you already have a venue locked down. But how long do vendors typically take to reply to messages? What does your tasting schedule look like? And once everyone has confirmed their attendance or booked their flight, how many days do you need before you’re able to send out invites? These are just some questions that will help organize your food and drink selections into an overall timeline.


6) Music & Entertainment

music in wedding timeline

The music and entertainment at your wedding is a one-off, if not THE most important part of making your day feel complete. A lot of couples struggle with picking out songs, especially if they’re having a more intimate or smaller ceremony. That’s why it’s incredibly important to find a DJ or band that you trust will play all your favorite songs, keep people on their feet all night long and most importantly—make sure everyone has fun! Your time on earth is too short to spend stressing over something as trivial as planning your wedding playlist. As long as you hire someone who knows what they are doing, you can rest easy knowing that everything will be taken care of for you. Trust us on that one!


7) Transportation & Parking

Transporting everyone to and from your venue is one of those logistics that can often be overlooked. As with everything wedding-related, you’ll want to create a full wedding timeline, right down to transportation. Of course, you don’t need to go overboard here; maybe only arrange for transportation on arrival (and departure) if guests are responsible for making their own way to your event. Just be sure you know where vehicles are coming from so they can arrive on time. Or figure out ways for guests to get there on their own if it’s easier than hiring professional drivers. Also, remember how much parking will cost at your venue—you might need more cash on hand than expected!

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