There are a lot of moving parts to organize into a wedding timeline, but a realistic wedding day timeline is the key to a stress-free day! Use these tips to iron out the details and make sure things run smoothly.
STAGGER YOUR ARRIVAL TIMES
For bride or any women, getting ready typically means arriving in the morning to allow time for hair and makeup. The groom and other men typically don’t need as much time to get ready, so when should they arrive?
In our experience, groomsmen who sit around too long may be bored (or in some cases, overly tipsy) by the time the ceremony begins. On the other hand, the ones who think they only need 20 minutes to get ready will be late.
For that reason, we usually recommend the guys arrive 2 hours before the ceremony. If you will be taking photos before the ceremony, extend that to 3 hours. This allows them to get ready on site, have a bit of time to relax or have fun, and make it to the ceremony on time!
PLAN FOR LEISURELY TRANSITIONS
All of our spaces at 48 Fields are conveniently located close together, but no one moves instantaneously between events. Guests want to finish their conversation, get another glass of wine, or run to the restroom.
For example, from the time we invite people from cocktail hour into the reception, it can easily take 10 minutes for people to settle into their seats. Be sure to plan for these transition times to avoid a domino effect of delays to your wedding day timeline.
ADD IN BUFFER TIME
Transitions aren’t the only thing that can derail your day. Including buffer time at key moments can prevent inconvenient delays.
For instance, allow extra time if you’re bustling your dress, since it can be harder than you think. We recommend getting a tutorial from the boutique where you bought your dress, having a designated bustler who will be reliable, and practicing with them that morning.
You may also want to add some buffer time to take a quiet moment with just you and your new spouse. These buffers will make your day feel less rushed and keep things running on time.
CATCH THE GOLDEN HOUR
When it comes to sunset photos, every venue is different. At 48 Fields, the sun goes down behind our trees 30 minutes before actual sunset. This means the best “glow” time is at least an hour or more before the sun actually sets.
Make sure your photographer plans for this (or choose someone who has shot weddings here before) so they don’t have to pull you away from your dinner for an ill-timed sunset photoshoot.
ALLOW AN HOUR FOR CLEAN-UP
We highly recommend allowing an hour for clean-up at the end of the night. This gives your vendors, such as the caterer and DJ, time to break down their equipment. It also gives you time to gather all of your items and gifts so you don’t leave anything behind. If you have intricate or elaborate set ups or specialty rentals, you would be wise to consider extra time for breaking all this down after the reception.
You may not want to handle the clean-up personally, and that’s completely understandable! Friends and family will likely be tired and ready to leave, so don’t rely on them either. Instead, hire a planner or coordinator to gather things for you so you and your new spouse can ride off into the sunset care-free.
BONUS TIP: RELY ON THE EXPERTISE OF YOUR VENDORS
In addition to the tips above, ask your vendors how long they need for each part of the day. Venues know what works best in their space. Photographers can advise on how much time you need based on your desired family photo combinations. The caterer knows how much prep time they need. And your planner will have a wealth of advice based on wedding day timelines they have created in the past.
Don’t be afraid to add your input as well if there are things you want to include in your timeline. A well-planned wedding day timeline is the best way to ensure your wedding unfolds just the way you envision it!
Photos by Jenna Cavanaugh Photography, Leigh Anne Brader Photography, Meredith Sledge Photography, Adela Antal Photography, Bakerture
48 Fields Farm is a Leesburg VA barn wedding venue for celebrations of all sizes.
Our countryside barn and vast fields are peacefully set in the heart of Northern Virginia wine country.