Wedding day timelines for out of town weddings

Bride and Groom first kiss on top of a mountain

Planning a wedding is overwhelming enough. But planning one in an area you do not live? Comes with its own set of challenges.

I have had a few couples reach out over the last few weeks asking for advice on planning out of town weddings. How do they structure their timelines? How they make sure their guests can check into the hotel and make it to the wedding on time? Etc.

I reached out to a wedding planner friend of mine and here is some of the advice she passed along:

“Creating a wedding timeline is a logistical puzzle. You have to think of each line item from everyone’s perspective. You have to make sure everything is scheduled in the right order. For example, the linens need to go on tables before your florist can place centerpieces. And the rental company needs to deliver tables before the linens can be placed. You don’t want the florist showing up too early and standing around doing nothing while he/she waits. It’s a lot to think about!

Usually, the one known variable you can start with is your ceremony time. The earlier your ceremony, the less time your wedding pros have to set up beforehand. This might mean you need to pay for access to the venue the day before or that you decide on a very simple wedding design that can be completed in the time allotted the morning of your wedding.

For after an early ceremony, try something a bit non-traditional and separate your ceremony and reception by a few hours. If your ceremony ends at 3 PM and your cocktail hour/reception doesn’t begin until closer to dinner time, it will give your guests time to check into their hotels and refresh a bit before the party starts! (This will also give you plenty of time for photos with your new spouse!)” Christa Graham

Putting some time between the ceremony and cocktail hour also allows you for time to “freshen up” before the reception. As well as time to finish up your photos and actually be able to go and enjoy cocktail hour with your friends and family!!

I am a firm believer in your wedding day is not just about the photos- but being present and enjoying it with the people you love.

Along with planning your time line- keep in mind the lighting and season. Here in MI it goes without saying that the sunsets WAY earlier in the fall/winter than it does in the spring/summer. So, if you are having a 5pm ceremony in October just know it will more than likely be dark right after it and will limit your photo opportunities (if you dont do a first look).

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