A Bride's Guide to Creating a Hair and Makeup Timeline for the Wedding Morning

Pre-planning is so important.

shelby preston wedding getting ready
Photo: Jake and Heather Photography

If there's one thing every bride wants on the wedding morning, it's a seamless, relaxed getting-ready process. No one wants to feel rushed into their wedding dress or scooted out the door a second too early, and the best way to avoid that feeling is to create a wedding-day timeline that's realistic and generous. Here are the necessary steps to create a hair and makeup timeline for your wedding day.

Determine who will be getting hair and makeup done professionally.

Your list may include not only you and your bridesmaids, but also your junior bridesmaids, flower girls, and mothers on both sides. Keep in mind, there's no obligation for you to provide professional hair and makeup for all these ladies, but it is a nice gesture if you're able to, and it'll make your bridal party appear more unified.

Secure your hair and makeup team.

Once you have an idea of how many people are on the list, you can work with your stylist to determine whether he or she needs to bring in extra staff to get everyone ready in the most time efficient way possible. If you have more than about five people on the list, your stylist will likely need assistance.

Figure out when you'll need to be in your wedding dress.

Generally speaking, most brides will need about 30 to 45 minutes from the time they step into their wedding dress until they're ready to walk out the door. If that sounds like a lot to you, remember that you're dressing, accessorizing, and stopping for a few photos in the process. Plus, you'll need a few moments to gather your things before you can head to your wedding.

Put together a backwards timeline.

The most efficient way to build your getting-ready timeline is to work backwards from the time you'd like to walk out the door. You can discuss specifics with your stylist, but most hair and makeup pros will suggest 30 minutes per bridesmaid for hair and another 30 minutes for makeup. For the bride, an hour window should be allotted for both hair and makeup application. For little ones and junior bridesmaids, 15 minutes should be enough time to make them feel special with a lip gloss application and hair touch-up. They can also be taken care of while you're putting on your dress.

Here's a sample timeline for a small bridal party with one stylist:

  • 5:30 PM: Bridal party departs for wedding
  • 4:45 PM: Bride steps into dress
  • 2:30 PM: Bride sits for hair and makeup
  • 2:00 PM: Bridesmaid #2 sits for makeup
  • 1:30 PM: Bridesmaid #1 sits for makeup
  • 1:00 PM: Bridesmaid #1 sits for hair
  • 12:30 PM: Bridesmaid #2 sits for hair

Your hair and makeup stylist should be able to help you create a backwards timeline based on the time you need to have everyone ready by. It may get more time consuming or confusing to plan with a larger bridal party, but a professional stylist won't hesitate to tell you when you need to bring in additional help to get everyone ready on time.

Give yourself more time than less.

Getting ready for your wedding shouldn't feel like a rushed ordeal. By allowing plenty of time for each person to get the individualized attention she needs, you can avoid that feeling of panic that comes when a schedule is running behind. If you're able to create a realistic wedding-morning timeline, you'll be much more relaxed heading into the day.

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