Creating a wedding day timeline is crucial when ensuring your wedding day runs flawlessly. It may seem like a small thing, but we can assure you that a proper wedding timeline can easily be 10+ pages. It needs to include each moment you have been dreaming about since you started planning your wedding. Not to mention – the vendors working hard to make it a reality. Over the past couple of weeks, we have been sharing some wedding planning tips and inspiration for larger guest lists. If you are planning to throw a giant celebration with all of your family and friends, we’ve got a few tips to make sure that your timeline fits your guest list size!

large wedding ceremony at Hutton Brickyards

Before we share a few things we have learned when it comes to planning large weddings in the gorgeous Hudson Valley, a quick introduction in case you are new to Elite Wedding and Event Planning. We have been planning weddings in the Hudson Valley for almost a decade now. If you are looking for a ballroom, we are not for you. Instead, we specialize in building wedding designs from the ground up. Whether your wedding day vision leads us to a barn wedding venue, industrial loft, or a private estate, we are ready. You can learn more about Elite Wedding and Event Planning here, or learn about ways to work with our team here.

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline for Weddings with Large Guest Lists

Although we are going to share a few tips, timelines for large weddings are really very similar to small weddings. The biggest problem that we see as wedding planners, especially when we are booked for wedding coordination (commonly referred to as month of or day of coordination) is that couples don’t realize how much extra time you need with a larger guest list.

First, consider budgeting in the extra time you may want to mingle with your guests. Oftentimes, the wedding couple will want to say hello to each table during their wedding reception and it takes significantly more time to greet 30 tables than it does 5 tables.  While you consider creating your wedding day timeline for your larger guest list, we usually recommend that for something like a toast, double the amount of time you anticipate it will take. When you budget extra time and allow for things to run longer than you expect, you prevent ever feeling pressured to skip something because you are running over on time (or miss out on that precious dance time at the end of the night!).

wedding signage with timeline for guests

Photo Credit: Confetti and Lights

Transportation Logistics with a Large Wedding Guest List

On the wedding day, you need to buffer more time between the ceremony and cocktail hour, and then from cocktail hour to the reception since there are so many more people to manage and move from one area to the next. This is especially true in Upstate New York, or for any destination wedding weekend where you might be providing shuttles and other methods of transportation for your guest list. We can be as organized as possible, but it will always take longer to organize five shuttle buses than it does to fit everyone into one.

Planning with a large wedding party

The larger the guest list, the larger the wedding party (most of the time). If you are planning on having a large wedding party, you will likely need to start the day a little earlier to ensure that you have enough time for everyone to have their hair and makeup done. You don’t want this “getting ready” time to be stressful, so budgeting the correct amount of time is so important.

getting ready photos with the bridesmaids

You’ll also want to schedule extra time for wedding party photos. Not only does a larger wedding party take a little longer to keep organized, but you’ll also want individual photos with each member of your wedding party which takes extra time as well. If you don’t want a large gap between your ceremony and cocktail hour for photos, you can consider getting an early start and taking wedding party photos after a “first look” with your soon-to-be spouse. This has definitely risen in popularity over the last few years and to be honest, it really does help relax your wedding day timeline.

groomsmen wedding photos

Creating a Wedding Day Timeline

If we haven’t stressed it enough, being as detailed as possible in your wedding day timeline will save you many headaches. When in doubt, add more buffer time. Especially with a larger wedding guest list! Although you can expect everything to take longer with a larger guest list, working with an experienced wedding planner can help you find ways to cut the amount of time things take as well (for example, recommending two bar stations instead of one, or helping you choose dining options that work best for a larger guest list). Extra staff can make a big difference as well.

sparkler exit with large wedding guest list

If you are looking for a wedding planner to help you create your wedding day timeline (and everything else that goes into planning a wedding), we would love to hear from you. We are booking fast for 2022 so when you are ready, contact us here to book a call.