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Warning: these items can throw you off schedule.

You worked hard for weeks, putting every small pieces on the wedding timeline. You cross your fingers and hope it works.

But ... it may or may not ...

There are many things that can easily throw you off the schedule. Bad news is they are so common that they can happen to anyone. Good news is because they are common, you can address them quite easily. We are going to tell you what they are and how to deal with them.

"Do I have to ditch my current timeline and start a new one?"

No, you don't. While some of them must be addressed from the beginning, some can be fixed within a few minutes. Then you can give the update to your vendors. So technically, this article is for anyone at anytime.


Makeup (or even hair)

This is one of the most common issues, about 3 out of 10 weddings have it. A makeup artist (MUA) can estimate how long it would take. However, if the MUA says 3 hours, you shouldn't set exactly 3 hours for that. Chances are you will be constantly interrupted (people ask you questions, your parents need something, people call you, etc.). In addition, on the wedding day, you might not like the makeup (or hair), and the MUA has to change till you like it.

What are the solutions?

First, schedule a trial with your MUA. If you don't (or can't) have a trial, you and your MUA will solve a puzzle for the first time on your wedding day. If it is the case, you must give it an extra 30' on the timeline. Second, get someone to be the point of contact on your behalf. All you need is to sit still like a statue and let the MUA finish as quickly as possible.


Buffer Time

This guy is extremely dangerous. I've mentioned it in previous article (5 things that make your wedding successful) and probably will do again in future as I see it keeps on coming.

What is it and why is it dangerous?

First of all, it is dangerous because only few people are aware of it. That's why I see it again and again.

Secondly, simply put, it is just a short gap between two activities, usually 5' to 15'. The reason it must be on the timeline is: you can't start one thing immediately after another. You and the vendors need time to move and prepare for new activities. So how should you do it correctly? Below are two examples:

Example #1: You want family photos right after ceremony. The ceremony is from 3:30pm to 4:00pm. The family will last 15'.

Example #2: You get ready at a hotel from 11:00am to 12:00pm. The driving to the venue takes 15'.

How to make a timeline correctly

The explanation for this is simple: in example 1, you need about 10' to make announcement and gather people; in example 2, you need about 15' to pack, wait for elevator, and walk to parking lot.

There is no single answer of how long the buffer time should be. But as a general rule of thumb, if you you need 5', make it 10'. If you need 10', make it 15'. Be generous to this guy. And remember to put him in between every activity.


Travel Time

This one is usually underestimated. In order to know the actual driving time, you can check it on Google, but must be at the same time, same day of the week as your wedding date. If your wedding is on Friday and requires travel at 3pm, google it on Sunday at 8pm will give you wrong traffic information. Instead, google it on Friday at 3pm, same week day, same time. In case you don't trust Google, give your travel time an extra 15' for every 30' indicated by Google.

Note: be aware of major event that can take place around your venue on your wedding day as well.



There was a time when it took our clients and us 20' to find parking in downtown San Francisco because it was packed everywhere. If your venue is in a busy area, pay more attention to this.


Guests and family

Some people have the tendency to be late for wedding, and we have no idea why. There were a few weddings where the reception (and ceremony) started 30' late because half of the guests were late. Or family session was delayed because the parents were late.

Dealing with this is quite sensitive. One common way is to invite them earlier than normal if you know they have that tendency. How earlier is up to you, but don't upset your on-time people. For family members, you can make a fake schedule exclusively for people who are habitually late.

Note: we think it's a good idea to give your guests a heads-up regarding travel time and parking as well. You know, to help them to be on time. Guests don't usually plan ahead for a wedding like you.


If you have questions regarding your timeline, you can email us and we will look at it with you.