A Breakdown of the Perfect Getting-Ready Timeline

Getting Ready Timeline

PHOTO BY PICTURE ME & U

The number one secret to a stress-free wedding day? Scheduling ample time for you and your wedding party to get ready. By including enough prep time in your wedding-day schedule, you'll arrive at the ceremony venue relaxed and ready to go, with plenty of time to spare. If stuff like hair and makeup runs late, everything else will be behind schedule for the rest of the day, so it's important to stick to a pre-determined itinerary and wrangle your wedding party together (or entrust your person of honor to do so).

To help you make it to the ceremony on time, we've put together a getting-ready guide and sample timeline for you to follow.

getting ready timeline tips
Michela Buttignol/Brides 

How Much Time to Allot

Some brides try to cut costs by hiring one hairstylist and one makeup artist to work on themself and the bridal party. While we're totally on board with saving some funds, you need to plan accordingly time-wise. If you cram, you run the risk of throwing yourself off schedule, and if you do start to run behind, a wedding planner can get things back on track. If you planned your own wedding, then it helps to have someone who's not part of the bridal party on hand just in case things get hectic. When you put your day-of timeline together, try to keep these guidelines in mind:

Makeup

  • 30–45 minutes per person
  • 60–90 minutes for the bride

Hair

  • 30–45 minutes per person
  • 60–90 minutes for the bride

Getting-Ready Timeline Tips

When in doubt, follow this simple advice:

  • Have your stylist start on the bridal party first, while the makeup artist begins with the bride.
  • Book the photographer to arrive one hour before the bride is ready to go. That way, they will be able to shoot getting-ready shots, like the bride applying their last bit of lipstick or having a flower pinned to their hair. This also gives the photographer plenty of time to capture those oh so important detail shots: your wedding outfit on a hanger, shoes, jewelry, purse, etc.
  • If you have yourself plus four people in your bridal party all getting hair and makeup done, allot at least four hours of getting-ready time. That may seem like a lot, but it's just enough.
  • If your bridal party is a bit bigger, ask your stylist to bring an assistant to cut down on time. Do the same for makeup. Make sure any additional charges are discussed ahead of time.
  • If you're traveling to a salon, double the travel time you anticipate.

Sample Timeline

Take a look at our getting-ready order of events below for some extra help with the planning process. For our example, there's a 4 p.m. ceremony start time and the bride has four people in their bridal party.

10:00 a.m. Bride's makeup and bridal member No. 1's hair.

10:30 a.m. Bridal member No. 2's hair.

11:00 a.m. Bridal member No. 3's hair and bridesmaid No. 1's makeup.

11:30 a.m. Bridal member No. 4's hair.

11:45 a.m. Bridal member No. 2's makeup.

12:30 p.m. Bride's hair, bridal member No. 3's makeup, the photographer arrives to take getting-ready and detail photos.

1:15 p.m. Bridal member No. 4's makeup.

2:00 p.m. All hair and makeup complete. Wedding party photos are taken.

FAQ
  • When should I start getting ready for my wedding?

    For the bride and a bridal party of four, we suggest starting to get ready six hours before the ceremony begins. This will provide ample time for hair, makeup, and photos. Add an hour and a half for each additional bridal party member (or subtract the same amount of time for smaller wedding parties). Don't forget to include travel time (and then double it) if going to a salon for services.

  • What should I wear to get ready for my wedding?

    Wear clothing that can easily be taken off without messing up the hair or makeup. Robes or tops that zip or button down the front are best since they don't have to go over the head and face to be removed.

  • What should I eat when getting ready for the wedding?

    Since getting ready will span several hours, make sure that you and your bridal party, don't skip breakfast or lunch. Opt for an energizing combo of whole grains and fats or satiating protein and fiber mix for breakfast. Have a few light snacks like nuts, crackers, and fruit on hand, and don't forget to drink plenty of water to hydrate.

Related Stories