Two critical aspects of any wedding that should be planned are the wedding itinerary (schedule) and the guest list (attendance). The itinerary planner covers all the activities that will take place on the wedding day, while the guest list outlines who will be officially invited to the wedding ceremony.
An itinerary planner and guest list ensure pertinent details are taken care of and well planned before the wedding day. This takes all the guesswork out of wedding planning. Also, it ensures everyone is on the same page, from caterers and wedding planners to bridesmaids and groomsmen.
These two planning tools should be prepared in advance, typically a month before the wedding day. Usually, you will be working with a budget and a timeframe. A wedding itinerary planner and guest list ensure that your wedding is held within these two limitations.
This article will exhaustively inform you on how to use a wedding itinerary planner and guest list templates and their importance.
How Does an Itinerary Planner Help You at a Wedding?
There’s typically a lot that will be going on during the wedding. While some activities will be standard, the order in which they are undertaken can be varied based on your preference. A wedding planner is better positioned to organize these activities to save you time and money. A planner ensures the duration of each activity is factored into the wedding schedule.
Each person involved gets to know their responsibility. This allows a smooth flow of activities from the bridal party preparation, ceremony, dinner, and reception. Therefore, most couples benefit from a wedding planner, especially if they’re under a tight budget. Additionally, wedding planners usually have contacts such as caterers, florists, stationers, vendors, and venues within their network. This ensures you avoid the frustrations of searching for all these services yourself.
What to Include in a Wedding Itinerary Planner Timeline?
A wedding itinerary planner should be detailed and include the following:
Bride gets dressed: 15 mins
Your itinerary should include enough time for the bride and bridesmaids to get dressed up. Typically, 15 minutes will be enough even if you’re to be dressed in that sophisticated wedding dress. Always consider the number of bridesmaids; the higher the number, the more time will be needed for preparations.
Solo portraits: 45 mins
Once you’re ready to unveil your costume, you’ll want to take some solo pictures before getting entangled in the melee of the day. So, use this time to get professional pictures from your photographer.
Photos with the wedding party: 30 mins
Your itinerary should also include time for group shots. Take pictures with your parents, bridesmaid, groomsmen, kids, and your partner’s parents. This will ensure you have memories with each of your esteemed guests.
Photos of the couple: 30 mins
After your solo photos, grabbing a couple’s pictures is crucial. You have this limited time during the day to have pictures with your partner, and you do not want to miss it. While this will typically take a few minutes, the rest of the time can be redirected for wedding party photos.
Prelude music: 30 mins
The background music should be playing during this time, and the wedding party should move to the ceremony. Background music will be playing as the guests arrive at the venue. Make sure to factor in traveling distance and time.
Ceremony: 1 hour
The wedding itinerary planner should include the ceremony, which is the heart of the wedding. Ensure there is enough time to convey your vows and exchange the rings. The length of the ceremony is typically dependent on your preferences but is usually an hour (or more) for a religious wedding and 15-20 minutes for a secular wedding.
Family photos: 50 mins
Next, schedule time for family portraits. Again, ensure the planner is aware of the family dynamics to determine who to prioritize and slot in each member who needs a picture with the new couple. Do not drag this activity to more than an hour. There is no better approach to thank them for their support than this moment.
Cocktail: 1 hour
After the photos, you’ll have cocktails. This is a time that everyone should get together, mingle and share some drinks. Cocktail hour precedes the reception and sets the celebratory mood. This can be immediately after the family photos if the ceremony and reception are in the same venue or 30 minutes later if the venues are different. Cocktails can be served at the bar, and caterers will pass around hors d’oeuvres and drinks during this period.
Reception begins: 15 mins
Once at the venue, guests should take their seats, and as the married couple, you’ll make your grand entrance. The wedding party will then take their seats, and the MC will announce you as the married couple. You’ll also take your first dance as a couple.
Guests invited to the dance floor: 20 mins
Next, the guests will be invited to the dance floor to join the newly married couple. This is typically after the first song. Your wedding itinerary planner should work with the DJ or band to ensure enough time to play some of your favourite hits songs.
First course is served: 40 mins
After the music, everyone shall take their seats, and the servers should be serving guests. Light meals will be served in preparation for the following itinerary.
Welcome toast: 15 mins
The wedding itinerary planner should schedule a toast to thank the attendees. You can proceed with this activity as you see fit. Your host, parents, best man, or maid of honor can make the welcoming toast.
Main course: 40 mins
Once the welcome toast is over, your main course should be served, and everyone can dig into their meal. It would be best to plan for this itinerary based on the meal-service style, family-style, buffet, traditional here-course dinner, or any other.
Wedding party speeches: 15 mins
Now that everyone is in high spirits as they enjoy their food, it’s time for toasts. The best man will start with a few words and then move on to the maid of honour. The order of speeches can be based on your preferences. However, try to limit each speaker to 2-3 minutes.
Parents dance: 10 mins
Parent dances will then follow the speeches. This is a critical moment where the bride gets to have the last dance with their parents and the groom with his parents. However, as emotional as the moment will be, it must be brief.
Cake cutting ceremony: 10 mins
Cake cutting is a crucial activity on your wedding itinerary planner. Since most guests will still be on the dance floor, set aside a few minutes to cut the cake, photos can be taken as you cut your cake. Then, guests can take their seats to eat their cake or proceed with the dancing. Cake cutting should be scheduled close to the end of the celebration. This is because this activity can be used to signal the guests that it’s okay to leave once they have the cake.
Wedding exit: 15 mins
Once the cake is cut, it’s time to sign out and thank your guests for coming. You can exit in style as you please towards your getaway car. Have your guests wave sparkles, confetti, or other extravagant decorations. This marks the end of your wedding day, and you can start your new life as a married couple.
Wedding Itinerary Timeline Sample
8:30 am Awakening – Today is the big day, and you should be ready for everything that will come, so we recommend you to rest as best as possible, go to sleep early the night before, that will help you wake up early in a good mood and without dark circles.
09:00 am Breakfast and bath. It is very important that before doing anything, you have a good breakfast, as, during the day, it will be a little difficult to do so. Then take a bath and relax.
10:00 am: Fix everything you’ll need to get dressed.
10:30 am Hairstyle and makeup. This time can be somewhat time-consuming, so we suggest giving this part enough time. It usually takes longer than you think.
1:30 pm: Finish the Hairstyle and get dressed. This is usually when the photographer arrives to take the “getting ready” photos.
14:00 pm: First-sight session. Some want to capture the moment when they are first seen dressed as grooms, and this is the perfect time for that. Others think it’s not a good idea not to do it until the moment of the ceremony, but you’ll decide which option suits you best.
3:00 pm: Ceremony. This moment is one of the most important, and there are various activities on it. If you want to have a better description, you can see the post we made related to the time of the ceremony.
4:00 pm: Session with the court and family. At this time, you can take the photos with your family members if you wish, or you can wait until the reception to do so. If you want to do a session only with your cut, think of some nice place where you can enjoy the moment. Right now, your guests will be moving to the reception site, so don’t worry.
5:00 pm: The bride and groom arrive at the front desk. Here you can do the time distribution as you wish; you can take the example we gave earlier in our publications about the reception.
9:00 pm: Finish the reception.
How Does a Guest List Help You in a Wedding?
A guest list is an essential wedding planning tool. It is needed to estimate the number of invitations you’ll need. Also, it is used to calculate the seating arrangements for guests at tables, a headcount for vendor setup, and all other related items at your ceremony, cocktail hour, or reception venue. It is also vital for destination events where guests have to travel. Finally, creating a guest list ensures you can make appropriate airport pick-up plans and prepare welcome gifts for your guests.
Effective Practices for Making a Wedding Guest List
You should aim to create a guest list that effectively includes every person you want to attend your wedding. Below are tips to help you in creating a hassle-free guest list:
Start with a realistic budget
A secret to creating a guest list has a wedding budget. You can start by determining how much money you have to cover the wedding costs and use that figure to determine the number of invitations you can accommodate comfortably. Factor in the number of mouths you have to feed, venue costs, auxiliary events, etc. If you’ve other people contributing to the wedding budget, you may have to consult with them as they may have suggestions of people they want to invite. Next, you can create a guest list and send invitations only to the guests you intend to pay for. Then divide the figure by the number of guests you’ll invite and add that to your guest list.
Also, create a guest list that’s realistic by setting boundaries. Make it a point not to exceed the number of people you can accommodate or afford. This will require you to discuss with your partner and family and set boundaries regarding how many people each can invite. People will undoubtedly feel the need to suggest certain people. However, it would be best if you had the final say since it is your wedding. Disclose your non-negotiable terms from the get-go to avoid disputes later on.
Prioritize closed ones
Always prioritize your close relatives and people who play a significant role in your life. This includes your parents, siblings, grandparents, close friends, etc. These will usually make up your VIP or must-haves. After identifying these guests, you can work your way from there and invite others you hold in high regard.
You should take time to reflect on who would be appropriate to invite. Do not leave this process for the final days of preparation. Instead, constantly review the list to see who may have been excluded from the guest list and why they were left out. A perfect guest list takes time, do not be in a hurry, or it might mess up other aspects of your wedding.
If you have recently attended other people’s weddings, you should consider reciprocating the invitation. It is considered common courtesy. Of course, this is if you can comfortably accommodate them; if you’re having a close-knit wedding, you can send them an explanation, and they will surely understand.
Consider travel requirements
Before making your final guest list, you should always consider the guests’ travel requirements. Determine each guest’s travel requirements so that you can make necessary arrangements and communicate with them on whether they will be able to attend with the existing travel-related hurdles. You can help with bookings, accommodation, directions, etc.
Set a deadline
Always set a deadline for replies. If the guests don’t respond within a specific deadline, reach out through a phone call and get their answer. This is important so that the wedding itinerary planner can make the necessary changes to fit the number of people who’ve confirmed to attend.
Go with your gut
If you’re unsure who to invite, your gut feeling may lead you in the right direction. Ultimately, you can invite everyone, so you will have to decide to remove some people from your guest list. On the other hand, if you do intend to have an intimate event, don’t be afraid to make it so. It is always more fulfilling to prioritize your needs when choosing who to invite than succumbing to the needs of your family, which may lead you to invite people you’re not even close with.
Free Guest List Templates
Templates can help create guest lists. Our readers can download guest list templates from our site for free. You can customize the templates to fit your wedding theme. They are also easy to update as it is common to have last-minute guest list changes.
Who to Cross Off from Your Wedding Guest List?
It is your wedding, and you’re in charge. So if you’re not comfortable with certain people, there’s no need to invite them. Below are examples of people you can leave out of your guest list:
MIA family members
You can leave out family members you haven’t had contact with for years. A wedding is not a family reunion but a celebration of your marriage with people close to you and your partner. So, don’t feel obligated to invite anyone related to you.
Friends you haven’t heard in years
If you haven’t been in touch with a friend for years and have no reason to expect to hear from them, don’t invite them. Due to the busy wedding itinerary, your wedding may not be the best place to catch up and make up for the lost time. So, it is best to leave such friends off your guest list.
Do not invite your colleagues because you work together or share an office. A wedding is an intimate event, and it is best to limit your guest list to people you’ve established personal, not professional, relationships.
Wedding invites from a long time ago
Remember, just because someone invited you to their wedding many years ago, you’re not obligated to invite them to your wedding. This is unless you still have an existing close relationship with them.
Similarly, don’t feel obligated to invite your neighbors. If you have a close relationship with them, you may want to include them in your guest list. However, if you have a casual relationship with them or don’t know them very well, it is best not to include them in your wedding guest list.
Friends with a track record
If you know that your friend has an issue with substance abuse or unruly behavior like causing fights after a few drinks, and you’re not sure if it is still the same, leave them off your guest list. This ensures you can enjoy the party without having the stress of potential commotions.
Kids of family and friends
Leaving out kids from your guest list is a way of minimizing your attendance. Let your family and friends know in advance if this is the case. They might enjoy the kids-free time and make the wedding memorable.
Plus-ones you’ve never met
Not everyone must bring a plus-one to the wedding. Consider leaving out plus-ones you’ve never met or those not in a relationship. However, it is good to extend the courtesy to your closest friend, maid of honor, and best man to bring their significant other.
Friends of your parents or in-laws
Leaving out your parent’s friends is another way to limit your guest list. If this is your decision, let your parents know so they can communicate with them. Don’t feel obligated to invite your spouse’s family members if you don’t have a solid relationship with them. However, be considerate and treat each case differently.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I create a wedding timeline?
You can utilize the services of a wedding planner to ensure you get every activity factored in. However, ensure you research first how to efficiently schedule your wedding day. First, read blogs, articles, and websites on wedding planning. Then, note down your schedule on an MS document or Excel sheet and fine-tune it with time.
Will a first look help my wedding timeline?
Yes, a first look helps. Many photographers and videographers who offer pre-wedding shoot services help the couple have their first look before the ceremony. This ensures you get all the traditional wedding photos before immersing yourself in the day’s activities, especially for evening weddings where daylight is unavailable. However, some couples choose not to have a first look for different reasons like religious beliefs, not wanting others to see them before the ceremony, etc.
Should I have an extended wedding reception?
You can have an extended if you so wish. A standard reception will last 4-5 hours, but it can be longer. It is recommended to have an extended reception if you have an extensive guest list. However, you must be prepared to keep the guests entertained