I had never been involved in any aspect of planning a wedding before, so I was in a state of panic as to how the order of events would go. How much time would pictures last? How would I know when to go where? How would the DJ know when to play what song? When would we eat?
Cue the Day-Of Coordinator
Our wedding venue required a day-of coordinator. If you are unsure if you need a day-of coordinator, trust me, you do.
A day-of coordinator helps you plan and execute the schedule of events on the day of the wedding. You will meet with them a few times before your wedding to go over the logistics of the day, but they are not as involved in the process as say a wedding planner, who would have a more hands-on approach to vendor selection, design, and timeline leading up to the day-of.
Day-of coordinators know the ins and outs of the venue, and their knowledge and expertise is worth the $500-$2000 fee they may require. Our day-of coordinator made sure all of our vendors were in place, everything was set up as discussed, gave us invaluable advice and kept us all on a tight timeline to ensure the whole event went smoothly.
When we went to meet our coordinator for the first time, I was a bundle of anxiety. After our meeting, I felt so relaxed. Our coordinator knew exactly how much time everything should take, and once we gave her the time we wanted the ceremony to start, she busted out a schedule right then and there.
She also gave us a few ideas to incorporate into the reception that proved to be genius. Trust your coordinator!
8:00 a.m. – Hair & Make-up Arrives
Our hair and makeup artists came to us so we did not have to travel. The cabins we were staying in were less than three minutes by car from the venue.
My bridal party was not happy about this early of a start time, but when everything was all said and done, there was no way we could have started any later.
8:30 a.m. – Hair & Make-up Starts
You want to be sure to give your hair and make-up team time to set up their equipment, especially when they travel to you.
There were five of us for hair and make-up, and two stylists who worked on us. One person didn’t have their hair done, and two only did curls, and we still cut it close to our end time.
12:30 p.m. – Videographer Arrives to Venue
Even though this was way earlier than the ceremony start time, our videographer had some time to set up and get acquainted with the venue as it was their first time shooting there.
1:00 p.m. – Photography Arrives to Venue / Hair and Make-up Finished
After a few mimosas and a lot of hairspray, the ladies were ready to rock and roll.
1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Travel to Venue / Get Dressed at Venue
I arrived to the venue in my cute wedding-day jammies, and did a final round to make sure that everything was in order. The ladies popped some champagne, and from this point forward I was on camera (for better or for worse) until we exited the reception.
During this time period, the photographer and videographer came into the bridal suite and we got the footage of me and my ladies getting ready before the ceremony. They also went and got some footage of my husband, who arrived at the venue around 1:30 p.m.
2:10 p.m. – First Look with Dad
A heartfelt and tear-jerking moment. My mom and sister were also present for this moment, so it was nice to have this time before the whirlwind began to soak in a special moment with my immediate family.
2:20 p.m. – First Look with Groom
Another special moment when my future husband got to see his future wife in full bride mode. We opted to do a first look because we did not want to become too emotional during the ceremony, which did help.
I did not wear my veil or have my bouquet for the first look, so there was at least some element of surprise when I came down the aisle.
2:40 p.m. – Bride and Groom Pictures
We were originally going to do family pictures after the first look, but we had more time than we planned and the lighting was right, so my photographer suggested we go travel around the property to take some different on-location shots while the weather was nice.
I am glad we ended up doing this before the ceremony, because then we did not have to rush out and rush back into the reception later.
3:30 p.m. – Guest Arrival
With the exception of my coworkers, all of our guests stayed on-property within a few minutes of the venue, so we were able to offer a shuttle service.
4:00 p.m. – Ceremony
Our ceremony was sweet, magical, and lasted less than fifteen minutes.
I walked down the aisle to Nothing is Something Worth Doing by Shpongle.
4:20 p.m. – Cocktail Hour Begins / Family Pictures
After the ceremony, we took our “formal” photos with our immediate family, while the rest of the guests went inside for drinks and passed hors d’oeuvres.
After photos, our day-of coordinator brought us a plate of the passed appetizers and some fresh drinks. We did it!
4:45 p.m. – Bride and Groom Eat Alone
We went into a secret room, and ate dinner just the two of us, very quickly. I cannot recommend doing this enough. So many people forget to eat, but doing this at the recommendation of our coordinator allowed us to enjoy a sweet moment together, get sustenance before we made our big debut, and then focus on mingling with our guests while they ate for the next hour. Highly recommend.
5:15 p.m. – Welcome from the Bride and Groom
I know we had more time allotted for cocktail hour, but we ended it when the apps ran out so people could begin eating dinner. We rolled into the ceremony, did a quick first dance, thanked everyone for coming, and opened up the buffet.
Our first dance was to Lovely Day by Alt-J.
6:00 p.m. – Toasts
Toasts are always entertaining at any wedding, and ours were no different.
6:20 p.m. – Cake Cutting
The best part of the day! Cake!
6:25 p.m. – Parent Dances
My dad and I danced to the Taken by Trees version of Sweet Child of Mine, and my husband and his mom danced to Sound and Color by Alabama Shakes.
6:30 p.m. – Open Dance Floor
All the classic booty-shaking jams. Wobble wobble. Bye, bye, bye. YMCA. Rolling Stones. Whatever got the people on the dance floor.
8:20 p.m. – Last Dance
Our send-off song was Sonnentanz – Sun Don’t Shine by Klangkarussell.
8:25 p.m. – Guests Go Outside
8:30 p.m. – Bubbles Send-Off
And just like that, it was all over. (Besides the after party!) Once the ceremony was over, the rest of the day was a whirlwind. Even typing this out and looking back on it, I can’t remember what went where. Luckily, I kept the paper copy of the schedule for reference.
My advice is to any bride- or groom-to-be out there is to stay in the moment, be flexible, and be sure you have a day-of coordinator that is experienced and that you trust to guide you through the whirlwind that will be your wedding day.
We made a lot of changes to the agreed upon timeline as the day went on to accommodate things taking less time or making our guests’ experience more comfortable.
I think the only thing I would have changed is for it to have lasted longer! So enjoy every moment, because before you know it, it will all be a memory.
Let Me Know Your Thoughts
Did you stick to your timeline or did you go with the flow? Did you have a great coordinator like I did? Let me know in the comments!