How To Plan Your Wedding Morning Timeline

Want to wake up at 5:00 am on your wedding day?

Neither do I!

How do you fit in your whole bridal party’s prep time and make sure you’re not rushing to the ceremony after all the guests are already seated?

What happens when your hair takes three hours instead of one?! 

Yes that actually happened to a bride…no I will not tell you who!  And she still managed to fit in some gorgeous dress shots after and got to the church with time to spare.

Today I thought I’d get down to the nitty gritty of planning timelines.  If you’re rushed and frazzled in the morning, it sets up your whole day the wrong way. 

Here are my five top tips for planning your perfect wedding morning timeline…I’ve used this system over and over again and the only time a bride ran late was the time I didn’t follow my own rules!

1. Consider Order 

When you’re laying out your plan, think about what order you’d like things done.  Typically my suggestion is to start with the bride’s makeup, with a bridesmaid first up in the hair stylist’s chair.  This way, by the time the photographer arrives, you already have a fresh face and most brides are happier with their photos this way.  After makeup is done, the bride should be next up for hair.  The bridal styles are always the most time consuming. And obviously they’re the most important!  Make sure the bride is first in line so that if something takes longer than expected, you have lots of time to adjust the timing of the rest of the party.

Real Wedding Swift Current

Photo credit Captured Photography by Nikki.

2. Add An Hour (at least!)

Figure out how long it should take for hair and makeup…then add at least an hour to your time.  Hair and makeup artists are notoriously bad at estimating their timeline (sorry to my fellow wedding professionals…but it’s true!).  Like I said before, one of my brides this summer had her one hour hair appointment take 3 hours!  Plus you never know if someone might be running late, or if you find a stain on someone’s dress, or any number of things that can throw your day off.

3. Plan for Photos

Even if you’re not one for getting a lot of ‘getting ready’ shots, you still need to allow some amount of time.  You’ll probably want a few shots with all your girls once everyone’s hair and makeup is done.  Plus a few of getting the dress on, your mom pinning in your veil, or a first look with your dad. 

Ask your photographer what makes their day easier so you can prep ahead of time for them.  Most of the time, they’ll have instructions about gathering your accessories for detail shots, or the groom’s party needing to be dressed to a certain point before they arrive.  When you’re ready for these things ahead of time, it means you don’t waste time setting up for photos you could have been ready for. 

Real Wedding: Classic and Fun

 Photo credit Captured Photography by Nikki.

4. Inform Your Tribe

Let your wedding party know well in advance when you’re going to need them.  They’ll need to make travel plans and find babysitters in order to be there for you, so give them as much warning as possible. 

Let them know what to wear for the morning, and when to show up.  Especially for people coming from out of town, the more info you give them the better!

5. Designate Jobs

All those other little jobs need someone reliable to handle them while you’re all getting beautiful! 

Think about picking up and delivering the flowers, setting out the programs and decor at the ceremony, meeting the sound person and checking the music, and a myriad of other tiny things.  Find someone who can handle these so you don’t have to think about them.  This could be a wedding planner, or a friend or family member who’s not in the wedding party. 

Just keep in mind that if you ask a wedding guest, you are making their morning a lot more full!  A wedding planner is there solely to make your day go smoothly, which includes handling the unexpected (like when the limo doesn’t start because it’s -35 degrees!).

Real Wedding Swift Current

 Photo credit Captured Photography by Nikki.

6. Add It Up

Now that you know how much time you need to allow for each part of the process, add it all up to find out what time you need to start in order to finish taking photos and drive to the ceremony.  I ask my brides to arrive about 15 minutes early at least, so you have time gather yourself before walking down the aisle (eeek!!).

If your math says you need to wake up before the sun (or any time earlier than you want to!), shorten your morning by asking your hair stylist and makeup artist to bring along an assistant or two.  You can cut time in half by allowing two people to get styled at once.  And it usually doesn’t cost any extra to have a two stylists for half the time instead of one for the whole morning.

And that’s it!  Follow these tips, and no matter how big or small your wedding party is, you’ll all be beautiful and relaxed as you pull up to the ceremony with time to spare!

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