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How to Create a Wedding Timeline


A Bride and Groom Exchange Their Vows

Now that everything is checked off we have to talk about organizing the Wedding.  Now we have “The big bad Itinerary.”  Try not to make this any harder than it really is.  This itinerary is meant to  help you have an overview of the day.  If everything goes off exactly as planned, GO, Buy a Lottery Ticket, because obviously the Universe is with you, You will no doubt win.  OK back to reality!  Your itinerary will help you, your Bridal Party, and Family know where they need to be and when so you will not be running around that morning trying to find Great Aunt Jane for family pictures.

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How to put together an Itinerary?

Start backwards from the end of the reception with major chunks of time. 

 The reception doors must be closed and everyone out by 11pm, then you have to shut the party down with enough time left for tear down, unless you have made arrangements to do it the next day.   You should give at least two hours to tear things down, whether you are doing it yourself or having someone else do it for you.  If you are at a Reception Hall at a Hotel they usually cut the party off at midnight which then allows their staff to clean up.  The Hotel is not responsible to clean up your Decor, that is your responsibility.  You will have to put all rentals back in the boxes they came in.  Linens do not have to be folded, usually they are put into laundry like bags to return.  CAUTION:  Make sure you know how linens are to be returned.  Are they going to pick them up or are you responsible to return them?  Also, be careful if they have to sit for a day before getting them back to the rental put them in a cool dry place.  If you throw them in the garage after the big outdoor tent wedding, 80 degree temperature and 90% humidity, they will mildew and you may be held responsible for the added cleaning fees!

Now you know when it ends, you have an open bar for four hours (even if you have a limited bar this is the general amount of time), one hour is cocktails, bar will close for an hour then re-open for three more hours.  Let us say that you shut the night down at midnight minus three hours, you are at 9 PM that the dance floor opens.

You will want to give yourself an hour to an hour and a half for dinner and cake.  This will also depend upon the number of people being served and whether it is plated or buffet.  Buffet will take a little longer so ask your caterer.  They will have a good idea of their ability to get people fed.  So for argument sake, it is a plated dinner and we give them an hour for dinner and cake.  That brings you to 7:30 PM for dinner to start.   This gives you a little cushion.  7:30 minus time to allow  for guests to enter and be seated, your Bridal Party Introduction and “For the First Time Ever, We Introduce Mr. and Mrs… ,” your big entrance to the  dining room and  the one hour worth of cocktails.  7:30 minus one hour and a half brings you to 6 PM.  Are you getting how to do this?

6 PM the Cocktail hour begins.  The ceremony is in the little town you grew up in that is 20 minutes from the Reception.  You have to give your guests time to get from the ceremony to the reception.  Uncle Bob drives slow, give them a half an hour to drive.  No doubt, people will mingle after the ceremony, you will have them throw rose petals at you when you exit the Church.  The ceremony will take thirty minutes (You know this because you asked the Minister.) 6 PM minus thirty minutes to drive, 5:30PM minus a half an hour to mingle, pictures, throw petals, now you are at 5 PM minus thirty minutes for the ceremony, Ta Da, 4:30 ceremony start time.

Now here comes the tricky part.  Make a list of everything you need to get done that day:  Hair, Make up, pictures of getting dressed (Are you getting dressed at home or are you getting dressed at the ceremony venue?)  Are you seeing each other before the ceremony?  I will say at first some girls are definite on this but I will tell you honestly seeing each other before the ceremony makes life so much easier.  You can get all you pictures done.  Also the moment you see each other can be quite touching.  This moment will be yours!  You will have time to talk and share how you are feeling.  It will probably be the last time in the day that you get a private moment together.  Talk with your photographer, they will have a timeline of how long it takes them to get things done.  Usually 4:30 wedding will start pictures at 1 PM, which means you have to be dressed and at the location ready to go at 1PM.  Family when do they need to be there, 3PM should do it.  Hair and make up appointments should be made with plenty of time to get EVERYONE done and back on time.  Talk with your stylist on how long things will take, judge from there. 

OK, you have the tools now start scheduling.  Oh yeah don’t freak out when you run ahead or run behind, that is a wedding! 

ADVICE:  Cut your cake when you are introduced, helps get it ready to be served.  Toasts: Start the Dinner First, during the Salad course first toast, Dinner served 2nd  toast.  Don’t make your guest just sit there starving to death waiting to eat.  They will be focusing when the food is coming not on the beautiful sentiments from your Maid of Honor and Best Man.   

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Here is a sample of the itinerary we hand out to everyone involved in the wedding:

Important Locations

  • Ewing Manor
  • S. Towanda Ave & E. Emerson Street, Bloomington, IL 61701


  • Niml’s House After Rehearsal Dinner Gathering for out of towners
  • Tom & Kelly Nimls
  • 8 Mary Drive, Bloomington, IL 61705
  • 309-123-4567 (Home)
  • 309-123-4567 (Kelly’s cell)
  • 309-123-4569 (Tom’s cell)
  • Email:


Hampton Inn

  • 320 S. Towanda Ave, Normal, IL 61761
  • 309-452-8900
  • Dom Bill, Richard Walters, Derrick & Michelle, Maureen, Keith & Jane, Adam, Carissa & Jim, Sheeila, Nance & Edward, Shane, and Jesse & Ashely, Luke

Eastland Suites

  • 1801 Eastland Drive, Bloomington, IL 61704
  • 309-662-0000
  • Mom & Dad, Brian & Lisa, Rick & Melissa, Mary & Derrick, and Pat & Bobby


Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano (Rehearsal Dinner)

  • 1501 N. Veterans Parkway, Bloomington, IL 61704
  • 309-661-8322


Oh Baby Salon

  • 909 S. Eldorado Road, Bloomington, IL 61704
  • 309-662-2229

Destihl Restaurant & Brew Works

  • 318 S. Towanda Ave, Normal, IL 61761
  • 309-862-2337


Wedding Participants



Lisa Arnette   123-123-1234

Parents of the Bride            

  • Donald  123-456-7890 & Marianne 123-456-7890


Parents of the Groom               

  • Tom & Kelly Nimls



Laura Hoppers (Sister-in-laws)                           

  • 123-456-9874

Suzi Hoppers (Sister-in-law)                            

  • 123-123-1540


Meagen Winston (Friend of the Bride)                

  • 214-123-1234


Brook Helke (Sister-in-law)                                 

  •  123-456-7890



 Brad Nims (Brother of the Groom)                     

  • 123-456-7891                                  

Chris Nimls (Brother of the Groom)                    

  • 123-456-7890                                      

Kenneth Beaver (Friend of the Groom)                    

  • 123-456-7893                                      

Ryan Smith (Friend of the Groom)                     

  •  123-456-2222

Flower Girl                               

Cindy Jones (Niece of the Bride) 


Ring Bearer                             

 Christopher Jones (Nephew of the Bride)



 Fred Smith  (Nephew of the Bride


Darren Jones (Friend of the Groom)                  

  • 123-123-1230

Michael Jones (Friend of the Groom)                  

  • 123-456-7890

 Guest Book Attendant     

  •  Thomas Smyth (Nephew of the Bride)
  • Parents 123-456-7895


 Ted Ked (Bagpiper)                                          

  • 309-310-6961

 Jordan Pettis (String Quartet)                            

  • 303-263-5152


 Mark Romine                                                    

  • 309-862-2130


Wedding Planner                      

 Margaret Moore                                                

  • 309-706-1686


Wedding Decorators                

Miranda Davis                                                  

  • 309-261-2559



 Suzi Smith                                                       

  •  309-123-1234


Wedding Weekend Schedule

Wednesday September 15, 2011

  • Marriage License
  • Hair and Make-up appointment @ Oh Baby Salon 2:00 p.m.
  • Wedding Dress pressed/alternations 3:30 “A Perfect Fit” fix hem
  • Marianne arriving (driving from Kentucky)

Thursday September 16, 2011

  • Drop off welcome bags to hotels for guests.
  • Bob & Lisa (Midway) and Bill (Bloomington) arrive

Friday September 17, 2011

  • 11:00 a.m. Oh Baby Salon Manicure and Pedicures
  • 4:30 p.m. – Rehearsal @ Ewing Manor Meet in the Courtyard
  • 6:00 p.m. – Rehearsal Dinner @ Biaggi’s Italiano Restaurante
  • 8:30 p.m. – Out of Town Guests Meet and Greet @ Destihl

Saturday September 18, 2011 

Getting Ready

  • 9:00 a.m. – Straight razor shave for Richard, Kenneth and Robert
  • 9:45 a.m. – Hair and Make-up @ Oh Baby Salon



  • 12:30 p.m. – Bridal party arrives at Ewing Manor
  • 1:00 p. m.  Kaitlain takes pictures of bride and bridesmaids getting ready
  • 1:00 p. m. Mark takes pictures of groom and groomsmen getting ready
  • 1:30 p.m. – bride and groom meeting
  • 1:30 p.m. – start group pictures (bridal party and couple)
  • 3:30 p.m. – family pictures begin (parents, grandparents, and siblings)


  • 3:45 p.m. – Bagpiper begins playing 45 min before ceremony start
  • 3:45 p.m. – Guest begin arriving


  • Sign Guest Book – Timothy Hajka
  • Ushers distribute programs and seat guests
  • 4:15 p.m. – Prelude music begins (String Quartet)


Ceremony – 4:30 p.m.

  • Seating of the Parents – String Quartet playing
  • Aunt Kim is seated escorted by the groom and then takes his placeGrandma Nimls is seated by Tom Nimls
  • Kathy Nimls is seated by Ben Nimls takes  his place beside groom
  • Marianne is seated by Bob Harold


  • Pastor and remaining Groomsmen take places at the alter

 Order (closest to Groom)

  • Brad Nimls
  • Chris Nimls
  • Ryan Waters
  • Kennth Beaver


  • Sara Harris
  • Meagen Webb
  • Blake Hamill
  • Laura Harris
  • Entrance of the ring bearer
  • Entrance of the flower girl

Brides Processional – String Quartet playing

Marianne leads the audience in standing for the entrance of the bride

Katy & Don walk down the aisle

  • Everyone sits
  • Greeting
  • Declaration of Intention
  • Family Response and Commitment
  • Community Response and Commitment
  • Prayer
  • Exchange of Vows (I do’s)
  • Blessing and Exchange of Rings
  • Blessing of the Marriage
  • Recessional – Bag piper leading guests to cocktail reception area


After Ceremony – 5:00 p.m.  Ceremony and Reception was in the same location


  • Bride and groom head to the library for a quiet moment and legal ceremony
  • String quartet playing as guest arrive at cocktail area
  • Waiter circling within the crowd with cocktails and appetizers
  • Open bar available for guests


Reception – 6:00 p.m.

  • Dinner bell rings and guests are invited to be seated
  • 6:30 p.m. – Prayer
  • 6:35 p.m. – Salad Served/First Toasts
  • 7:15 p.m. – Kim and Richard finish dinner and start thanking guests for coming
  • 7:30 p.m. – Dessert Bar open
  • 7:35 p.m. – First Dance, Father/Daughter and Mother/Son Dance
  • 8:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. – Open Dance
  • 10:30 p.m. – Final Dance
  • 11:00 p.m. – Reception ends


Sunday September 18, 2011

Goodbye Brunch at Nimls House

  • 10:00 a.m. – guests arrive

The weekend went by like a gust of wind!  �

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So, you are getting married.  Keep it in perspective.  Enjoy the moment!

2010 Margaret Moore,
Want to use this article in your E-zine or website? You can as long as you include this complete statement:

Event Planning entrepreneur Margaret Moore with Simple Elegance Events and Wedding Designs publishes this weekly e-zine. Get your FREE  “My Dream Wedding without the Nightmare”  at

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