Timeline Prep Like A Pro: Getting Ready

There are so many elements to think of on your wedding day–things you probably wouldn’t even know to think of. Things like: having gifts prepared for your wedding party, making up an extra small bouquet so you have a bouquet to throw during the bouquet toss, having someone hold on to your vows so you don’t get to the ceremony only to realize that you don’t have them, a contingency plan for those who don’t show up after RSVPing (and those who show up unannounced), just to name a few. Having a wedding planner/coordinator will help you navigate some of these waters a lot more smoothly. But with all that happens on a wedding day such as walking down the aisle, exchanging vows, marrying the love of your life, and partying the night away, you have to get ready for it all first, right?

In this “Timeline Prep Like A Pro” series, you will be receiving tips on how to take command of your wedding day schedule to maximize your time and make it as hassle free as you possibly can! Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to get ready for your big day.

When I meet with couples to discuss their wedding day, I usually like to sit down and make a tentative wedding day timeline with them. I like to start with the ceremony time and work backwards. The time you should start (and finish) getting ready depends on a few different things: where you are getting ready, where your items are, how long it will take your hair and makeup to be completed, how difficult it is for you to get in your dress, and which kind of photos you are wanting to take prior to getting ready.



Getting ready at your venue is great way to have everything you need all in one place. You won’t have to worry about packing everything up and transporting it from one place to the next (and not worry about the possibly misplacing things in the process). Also you won’t have to worry about accounting for travel time and risking being late to your ceremony because you’re already there! And you’ll be able to stay in the same place and take it before your first look or walking down the aisle.

If you choose to get ready offsite (away from your venue), then that can provide a lot more flexibility. Depending on the size of your bridal party and who all you will want with you as you prepare for the day, getting ready at an alternate location may be the most ideal. Some venues may not be able to accommodate the size of your bridal party and some may not have the space for you to get ready. Also getting ready offsite can give you more options for background optics in your photos. If you get ready offsite, be sure to factor in travel time, the possibility of running behind schedule, and traffic.

Have all of your items with you

It’s always great to take an inventory of everything you need to get ready prior to the wedding day. If you’re in the middle of getting ready only to discover that your shoes or earrings are sitting on your bed at home 50 miles away–then that can seriously throw things off schedule. And from a photographer’s standpoint, it would be very helpful to have any details that are important to you set off to the side. Details such as special trinkets, family heirlooms, a charm that you might be planning to pin on your bouquet, the necklace that’s been passed down from generation to generation, etc. are things that I will be photographing as you get ready. Having these items already set aside somewhere prior to my arrival will keep me from having to interrupt you while you’re getting ready so you can track them track down.

Hair and Makeup

I can’t even begin to stress how important it is to do a hair and makeup trial prior to your wedding day! Not only will you get a good idea of what you will look like on the wedding day, it will give you an idea of how much time you will need to allot for getting it done the day of. I would recommend scheduling your hair and makeup trial on the same day as your engagement session. You will have your beautiful face with your wedding day makeup photographed you will be able to see what your make up looks like in photographs. Two birds, one stone!

It is also important to note that, I base my arrival time on where you would be in the makeup process on the wedding day. I tend to come towards the end of your make up being done.

Getting your dress put on

One important part of the getting ready planning process is knowing how long it will take to put your dress on. There are some dresses that are easily to slip on and then there are other dresses that are not so easy. I have seen some dresses that may take anywhere from 20-30 minutes to put on just because of how intricate and delicate the dress is. Knowing this beforehand can help you allot the necessary amount of time so that you don’t run behind schedule.

First look or no?

If you opt for a first look, you will want to have an earlier start time to get ready. This is because you’ll have a significant portion of your photos prior to the ceremony (instead of after) so you’ll need to allow for more time. Those of you who won’t be having a first look may be able to take a bit more time to get ready and then can fit in whichever family or wedding party photos before the ceremony as time allows.

Hope these tips help you as you plan for your wedding day! Stay tuned for more wedding day timeline planning tips!