by Robbin Montero

            With all the details that can overwhelm a wedding couple, I urge you to make a wedding day time line. About two months before the wedding, write down all the plans for the big day. Create a rough draft and double-check by calling the vendors before you attempt a final draft. Be generous with allotted times so one activity doesn’t impede another. Make copies for both sets of parents, the bridal party and vendors so everyone will know what is expected of them well in advance of the final days preceding the wedding and on the wedding day.


Ladies first

            Begin with the bride’s hair and make-up three to four hours prior to pictures being taken, and depending on how many members of the bridal party will also have their hair and make-up done. Then plan thirty minutes for the bride to dress. Dressing on this day takes longer than normal. Even “on time” people should allow extra time.



            The photography session begins at least two to two and one-half hours before the wedding with photos of the bride, her family and her bridesmaids, usually taking a minimum of one to one and one-half hours to capture those images. The photos of the groom, his family and groomsmen typically take about one-half hour. Figure in realistic travel times if the photographer must go to several locations.

            The florist will need to deliver the bride’s flowers before her photo session. Allow time for deliveries to the bride’s mother’s home, the wedding site and the reception site. Make advance arrangements for the church to be open for the florist at delivery time. If your florist is decorating the cake, be sure the cake is at the reception site and ready for the florist.

            The videographer begins by taking still shots and background scenery shots about one hour before the ceremony. Some videographers interview guests before the ceremony.

            One of the biggest mistakes couples make is not allowing enough time for bridal party transportation. Most limousine services have a three hour minimum that begins with taking the groom and groomsmen to the ceremony location. The limousine then picks up the bride and bridesmaids (if the bride is having pictures done at some place other than the church). The limousine waits at the church and then takes the bridal party or just the bride and groom to the reception. Call the transportation company for help calculating realistic transportation times.

            Figure at least one hour to an hour and one-half for hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at the start of the reception. Keep in mind the bride, groom and families will be taking pictures for about thirty minutes following the ceremony.

            Talk to the caterer about how long the dinner service will take. Two hundred people cannot be served and finished eating forty-five minutes. Consider having toasts before dinner or just before cutting the cake. Father-daughter and mother-son dances are done shortly after the first dance by the bride and groom, or to open the second set of music. The bouquet giveaway should take place half an hour to an hour before the newlyweds depart.



            The most important thing to remember on your wedding day is to go with the flow. It is impossible for everything to happen on a stop watch schedule, so don’t try to schedule things down to the minute. Someone needs to be in charge, but the bride and groom have no concept of time and will be busy hosting their party. If you don’t have a wedding coordinator, designate someone trusted to help with the flow of events so you can enjoy your day.


 “Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding.  Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.” 

©2009 Robbin Montero


This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero’s expressed written permission.