Once a client is booked, they will receive a whole plethora of information from you. It might be a little overwhelming at first, but your client experience will be spot on. If you are providing a service like wedding management, you don’t have a lot of time to waste. You might be jumping in only months before the wedding. I’m all about setting myself and my team up for success, so in our onboarding process, I like to give our clients a tentative timeline as soon as they book with us.
Wedding Planning Timeline
A tentative timeline is designed to help your clients with the big picture as they begin to talk with vendors. Also, you will want to get your input in before another vendor starts to steal the show. For example, the infamous DJ putting his two cents in. Creating an accurate timeline is an extremely important but also tedious task. Only practice will make you more proficient at creating them. Once you get the hang of creating a timeline, it should only take about 20 minutes, so that’s the good news.
Send Tentative Timeline Worksheet
First things first, about seven days after a client books, you will want to email them a “Tentative Timeline” questionnaire. This questionnaire will help you build a tentative timeline. It will ask things like how long they want their photographer for, do they want a champagne toast, do they plan on doing a garter bouquet toss, etc. These questions will help you build an accurate timeline. You can find our questionnaire in the Onboarding Planner Kit.
Give a Worksheet Due Date
Your clients should return this questionnaire one week after receiving the Tentative Timeline Worksheet. If they have not returned it by then, you will want to send them a friendly reminder. This will usually get them going. Send your email every week until you receive the questionnaire back. Once you receive the completed worksheet, you should try to provide a tentative timeline within one week. We will also submit the final draft to the photographer and venue coordinator. If your timeline is reviewed by the photographer or venue coordinator and they suggest some changes, you should make those changes and resubmit the timeline within one week.
Creating Your Timeline
When creating your timeline, start with a clean timeline template. A template is a must. There are several platforms you can use to create a timeline: HoneyBook, Timeline Genius—even a good ol’ Word doc can work too. A template will streamline your process. To start out, go over all the information in the worksheet. Then start backwards, and remember to use the cheat sheet provided for extra help (you can find this in the Onboarding Planner Kit). I like to start backwards because I will know what time events have to start at the reception. You will not know the arrival time of vendors yet, so don’t worry about that until closer to the wedding. Right now you just want to get a rough idea as to when events should start.
Wedding Timeline Considerations
Be sure to Google what time the sun will be setting on the day of the wedding. This is key because it will let you know if the ceremony is too early or too late. The best lighting for pictures is one hour before sunset.
You should have at least a slight understanding of photography and the best times for pictures. For example, you might get a client who wants to do a ceremony right as the sun is going down. However, this is not recommended because it would make family portraits dark since they are done after the ceremony.
Be aware of any travel time to and from venues. Be sure to account for this in your timeline.
Hair and Makeup
Hair and makeup can often run late. Make sure you add a lot of buffer. Also, confirm how long the process will take with the vendors. Adjust your timeline accordingly.
Creating a wedding timeline early in the planning process will make your life a million times easier later on down the road. When it’s time to call and confirm vendors, it will be a breeze! Keep in mind that nothing is ever set in stone and allow for some flexibility. Weddings are fluid and unless your client is a traditionalist, events can be rearranged with ease.