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Importance Of Vendor Timelines


Emily Sullivan was a special guest in our webinar series last month and a big topic in her discussion was the importance of vendor timelines. She was kind enough to put together a dedicated post on this subject including great tips on how to go about building vendor timelines.

Importance of Vendor Timelines

Nothing in the wedding planning process has a bigger impact on the relative success or failure of the event than a well thought-out vendor timeline. Orchestrating the arrival and departure of the key players can seem like an out of control logic puzzle. However, it’s better to face the tough timing questions before the event and lay them out for vendors and couples alike, than to discover on the wedding day that something doesn’t fall into place.

Begin with the Venue

We start our timelines with the venue because the accessibility of the location drives what we can and can’t do in the days and hours leading up to an event. Timelines really need to begin at least a day or so before the wedding to account for the delivery and storage of linens, rentals and décor. They should also end a day or so after the event to permit the pick up and return of items.

There is nothing worse than getting a call from a vendor trying to deliver key equipment, only to discover that the venue has another event or isn’t open to receive it – you can prevent issues like this with a comprehensive vendor timeline.

Consult the Creatives

The venue schedule provides the framework in and around which you can construct your schedule. We tend to consult the photographer next, as each creative has his or her own way of approaching a wedding day. I solicit advice to determine how the photo schedule will work in relation to the rest of the logistics and try to work that time frame in as early in the event planning phase as possible.

Once you know the photo and venue schedules, you can work the rest of the start and end times in around them. The pieces usually fall into place from there. Don’t forget to account for load-in and setup, and make sure you plan for things to arrive in a sensible order (i.e. the cake table and linens before the cake and the centerpieces).

The Cushion

Inevitably, no matter how well we plan, there are things that are out of our control on a wedding day, so building a cushion is critical. The key is to find ways to build in time in case of emergency, without going overboard and creating irritating, long and boring stretches of “nothing.” You can’t plan a three-hour cocktail period just because you’re concerned that formal photos will take extra long.

The first cushion during the day that we recommend is built-in to the “getting ready” period. We allow additional time between hair and makeup and when the couple needs to be dressed. We discourage our clients from waiting too long in the day to have beauty services completed, as we don’t want them to run over and be stressed right before the ceremony.

Familiarity is Bliss

Once you’ve worked with certain creatives a few times, you get a feel for how they work and what they need in terms of the timeline. It gets easier when you don’t have to start all over from scratch every time.

Plan to complete your timeline approximately one week before the wedding if possible. You’ll want to finalize two versions: one comprehensive with tons of detail for you and your vendors, and one for the couple and their wedding party members with just the basics of where and when the most important things are happening.

Use Prismm’s Multiple Timeline Feature

Prismm provides easy to use collaborative timeline tools!  Build and manage multiple timelines and view them side by side for even more organization. Collaborate with your vendor team as well as your client on each of their respective timelines to keep everyone current and organized on all aspects of the event. Prismm makes it simple and stress free to manage your timelines all in one place, with all data updated in realtime!

Take the time to perfect your vendor timeline creation process. I guarantee you will see the results on the wedding day.

Emily Sullivan is the owner of Emily Sullivan Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in New Orleans and serving couples everywhere. 


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