My experience with DIY weddings is that couples are pretty great at finding hidden gem DIY wedding venues, booking awesomely unique vendors, and creating amazing ambiance with personal touches.
Why are they awesome at these things? Well, it's because DIY couples are incredibly resourceful. They are smart, and they figure out how to get things done.
There's one area though that I see a lot of DIY couples struggle with, however, and that's the wedding day timeline. Most often, I see wedding timelines that are about ten line items long, and truth be told, these are woefully short for a DIY wedding.
The fact is there is just not a ton of great planning information out their for DIY couples beyond cost-saving tips and DIY decor ideas. So couples often end up thinking they are making an awesome timeline based on their research, and then on the day of the wedding things still slip through the cracks.
If you think about a short, ten-to-fifteen item timeline, it makes complete sense at a traditional wedding venue. Ceremony, cocktail hour, cake cutting, etc. are the "main events" that a couple needs to know about at a venue where a team of staff is handling everything behind the scenes.
At DIY weddings, there is no magic team behind the scenes organizing everything on their own. That job (and all the small tasks that need to be done to make sure everything goes smoothly) needs to be organized in advance by someone - generally the couple or their wedding coordinator.
So today I'm giving the overview of what to do if you want to make sure you timeline is completely adequate for your DIY wedding. I'm going all DIY wedding coordinator on this blog here, and sharing one of my very best tricks of the trade. Get ready :)
STEP 1: Start with the standard items for your wedding
Pick the standard items that you want to do on your wedding day. Think about things like first look, pictures with your immediate family and wedding party, the ceremony, cocktail hour, introductions, first dance, speeches, bouquet toss, etc.
Then talk to your vendors, and work with them to assign times to each of these big items.
There are also plenty of samples of this part of the timeline, and here's a great post about getting the big timeline pieces in place by my one of my favorite wedding blogs, A Practical Wedding.
STEP 2: Fill in your timeline with the details (psst...this is the crucial step!)
Now this is the step that a lot of folks miss. Again, it's no fault of their own because no-one is writing or sharing information about it (until today!).
Once you have the big items in place, you want to go back in and fill in all the smaller details of the wedding day. For example:
- What time are the vendors supposed to arrive? If it's not on the timeline, no one is going to know if a vendor is late or missing.
- When should the bridesmaids have their bouquets? If it's not on the timeline, the bouquets may miss the pictures (true story - happened at our DIY wedding).
- Do chairs need to be moved from the ceremony space to the reception space? If so, when and who will do it?
And as you add these smaller details, make sure to add times for them and people to handle the various tasks. This way whoever is coordinating or acting as the point person for your wedding day knows all the tasks that are supposed to happen (not just the big events).
STEP 3: Create your "getting ready" timeline
This is particularly for all the ladies out there. You definitely want to have a getting ready timeline for hair and make up even if there are just a couple people in your wedding party.
The morning-of the wedding is SO MUCH FUN, and time can fly by at the blink of an eye. So to make sure you and all your ladies are ready when you are supposed to be, make a hair and make up timeline to stay on track. This way you can show up to the ceremony relaxed, and bliss out on all the wedding love.
And it's not a bad idea to let guys know when they should start getting ready, too, so they don't get lost in the excitement of a pre-wedding corn hole tourney.
So that's it! It can seem like a lot at first, but once you get into it, things just start clicking into place.
Want to learn more about coordinating your own wedding? Get The Wedding Day Kit to see what to do in the weeks before your wedding to start coordinating it!