How many hours before the ceremony should the bride be ready?

The number one secret to a stress-free wedding day? Scheduling big hair and makeup time for you and your bridesmaids. 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 hair and makeup run late, everything else will be behind schedule for the rest of the day, so it’s essential to stick to a predetermined itinerary and wrangle your wedding party together (or entrust your maid of honour to do so).

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 hurried 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. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

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.

How Much Time to Allot

Some brides try to cut costs by hiring one hairstylist and one makeup artist to work on themselves 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 plan your wedding, it helps to have someone who’s not part of the bridal party on hand just if things get hectic. When you put your day-of timeline together, try to keep these guidelines in mind:


30–45 minutes per bridesmaid and mother of the bride

60–90 minutes for the bride


30–45 minutes per bridesmaid and mother of the bride

60–90 minutes for the bride

Getting-Ready Timeline Tips

When it doubt, follow this simple advice:

  • Have your stylist start on the bridesmaids 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, he or she will be able to shoot getting-ready shots, like the bride applying her last bit of lipstick or having a flower pinned to her hair. This also gives your photographer plenty of time to capture those oh-so-important detail shots: your gown on a hanger, shoes, jewellery, purse, etc.
  • If you have yourself plus four bridesmaids 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 travelling to a salon, double the travel time you anticipate.

Determine who will be getting hair and makeup done professionally.

How many hours before the ceremony should the bride be ready?

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 the 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. Choosing the right wedding photographer in Melbourne to capture every moment on your wedding day.

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 they need 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 when 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, accessorising, 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 unique 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 p.m.: Bridal party departs for wedding
  • 4:45 p.m.: Bride steps into a dress
  • 2:30 p.m.: Bride sits for hair and makeup
  • 2:00 p.m.: Bridesmaid #2 sits for makeup
  • 1:30 p.m.: Bridesmaid #1 sits for makeup
  • 1:00 p.m.: Bridesmaid #1 sits for hair
  • 12:30 p.m.: Bridesmaid #2 sits for hair

Your hair and makeup stylist should 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. Still, 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 individualised 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.

What Nobody Tells You About Getting Your Wedding Day Hair and Makeup Done

You are hanging out with your wedding party before the ceremony is one of the most memorable parts of the day. There are selfies to take and mimosas to drink, but you can’t forget about the main event: getting your wedding day hair and makeup done.

We’ll always recommend hiring a beauty professional for the day since they’re masters at styling hair and applying makeup. But your wedding day isn’t just a typical hair appointment or makeover session.

Between working with a beauty pro and getting ready for the entire wedding party, there will be a lot going on. To help avoid any extra stress, we’ve put together a list of all the things you need to know when it comes to getting your wedding day hair and makeup done. 

It’s an Early Start

Be prepared for an early morning —especially if the wedding party has a lot of members. The more significant the wedding party(and the fewer the stylists), the longer the process will take. Expect both hair and makeup, respectively, to take 30 to 45 minutes per bridesmaid (and mother of the bride) and 60 to 90 minutes for the bride.

Factor in even more time if there’s only one photographer expected to document both partners’ getting-ready moments. We know it sounds like a long day, but it flies. Use downtime to take photos, have a bellini and a bite, and enjoy those particular last few hours before the ceremony. We have the best wedding photographer in Yarra Valley to capture your beautiful moments on your wedding day.

There’s a Primping Pecking Order

The bride will likely want to get her hair and makeup done last to ensure she’s fresh for the day —and the maid of honour will typically want to go as close to final as possible. As a bridesmaid, don’t be surprised if you’re assigned a 7 a.m. start time, even if the ceremony starts at 3 p.m. And don’t panic—there will probably be time for touch-ups if something fades or falls out of place.

There Could Be Some Awkwardness Over Who Pays for What

Here’s the deal: Whether the bride or the wedding party foots the beauty bill depends on a case by case basis. Some brides require their crew to get their wedding day hair and makeup done professionally, in which case covering the cost would be a courteous gesture. However, if the bride doesn’t specify her preference because it’s not in her budget or indifferent, but the wedding party insists on hiring pros, they should pay for it themselves. Long story short, have this conversation about who pays for what early on so the actual wedding day remains as stress-free as possible.

Everyone Will Want to Charge Their Phones

It may be wise to have enough outlets for everyone’s phone in the prep room because—you and your wedding party will want to snap photos, check-in with loved ones (or vendors), and keep busy in the hours leading up to the wedding. If the room is short on outlets, consider bringing some power strips so that everyone’s phones have enough juice to last them through the last dance.

Get Dressed at the End

How many hours before the ceremony should the bride be ready?

Getting-ready robes aren’t just cute wedding party favours—there’s a convenient reason to dress the squad in robes or button-down pyjama sets. They’ll catch stray makeup, hair spray or condensation from your getting-ready cocktail, so your wedding or bridesmaid dress doesn’t have to. Since they’re easy to slip off, you don’t have to worry about pulling them over your head and undoing your stylists’ hard work. 

The Bride Might Want to Have Her Hair and Makeup Done First

While it’s typical for the nearly wed to get hair and makeup done last so that it’s the freshest, there are some exceptions. If your hair or makeup look is intricate or delicate, it might be wise to go first so that you aren’t rushed. Work with your beauty pro to come up with a timeline that makes sense for the day. 

Remember to Tip Your Pros

Professional hair and makeup aren’t cheap—and that’s a good thing. Your stylists are experts and charge what they do for a reason. The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study reveals the average cost per person per service is just over $100 —and then there’s the tip to consider. Suggestions are appreciated for a job well done across all service industries, and hair and makeup are no exception. Prepare to tip your beauty pros 15 to 25 per cent at the end of their service, just as you would in a hair salon, and consider giving a little extra if there’s a crisis requiring a last-minute redo.

You’re Allowed to Change Your Look

Your makeup artist and hairstylist take pride in seeing their clients happy, so they won’t be offended if you ask to have a tweak made or, in the most extreme case, your look redid (time permitting, of course). The bride may have had a chance to go through a trial run or two before the big day, but that’s usually not the case for the rest of the wedding party. If you don’t feel comfortable or believe you haven’t gotten your money’s worth, feel free to speak up (politely and within reason).

It’s Surprisingly Emotional

Speaking of touch-ups, you might need one after crying a few happy tears. Getting ready to walk down the aisle in a room full of your favourite people can make you (and them) pretty emotional. Keep tissues on hand and always opt for waterproof mascara, whether you’re the bride, mother of the bride or a bridesmaid.

Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.

The Importance of a Getting Ready Space

One thing I vividly remember on the morning of my wedding day was how chaotic it felt. Many brides stay overnight at their parents’ house the night before. Chances are any spare bedrooms are filled with out of town guests.

On the morning of your wedding, you may find yourself feeling like Kevin McAllister from Home Alone, wishing everyone would disappear! Okay, you don’t mean that, but the reality is with so much commotion (not to mention emotion), it can be pretty overwhelming.

Home vs. Salon vs. Hotel

Getting your hair and makeup done can take a few hours. Therefore, it is essential to have an area that offers a calm and relaxing zone where you can take a breath. Between home, hotel, or salon, where is the best getting ready space to achieve maximum tranquillity?

It’s obvious to say that overall you will be more relaxed having your hair and makeup done on-site. That means your glam squad comes to you. 

The worry of rushing around diminishes, as there are no complicated transportation schedules needed, and you can create a “home base” of sorts. This allows the bride, bridesmaids, moms, and whomever else joins in the fun the ability to relax all in one place.

Getting Ready at Home

Below are a few key things to consider for your getting ready space.


  • The good idea is to set up a quiet area in the house. That way, if things get too noisy, you can politely ask for a moment alone. TIP: Everyone usually congregates in the kitchen, so I suggest you don’t use that room!
  • The comfort of your own home is more relaxing than sitting in a salon.
  • No need to transport dresses, shoes, accessories, etcetera. Once hair and makeup are complete, everyone gets dressed in that same area.
  • Your photographer will spend most of their time with the bridal party in the morning since they can shoot hair, makeup, and bridal details simultaneously!


  • Extra travel fees attached to the overall cost for the crew to come to you.
  • You will likely only hire one hairstylist (and makeup artist) to go to your house. If you have five or more bridesmaids, take into account that each will be beautified one at a time, which could take a while.

Getting Ready at a Hotel/Bridal Suite

Similar to above, here are a few extra perks that a bridal suite may offer:


  • Hotel or bridal suites are usually decorated beautifully — hello gorgeous silk robe photo-ops!
  • Room service. Enough said. Nobody having to cook is always a bonus!


  • No scalp massages or hair washes. You and your bridesmaids will likely be told to arrive with clean, dry hair.

Getting Ready at the Salon

Going to the salon may be in your best interest, especially if you have a larger bridal party. There will be more stylists on hand, and you will get finished sooner.


  • Additional options for stylists’ choice to work with, as opposed to one hairstylist coming to your house.


  • Unless they have a separate getting ready bridal suite, hair salons are not typically ideal for shooting bridal details like the dress, shoes, jewellery, or other detail photos.
  • As a salon is a business, you will most likely have to adhere to business hours unless you can arrange an earlier open time.

What to Wear While Getting Ready

Have you stumbled across a few fantastic photos on Pinterest of brides surrounded by their bridesmaids, mimosas in hand, each wearing a cute matching robe?

No, a lot of those photos aren’t from a styled shoot. They are from a well-organised bride who planned to achieve a similar look. Besides looking fabulous and well-coordinated for getting ready shots, there’s a good reason for all the robes and button-down shirts seen on Pinterest. Can you guess why?

It may seem obvious, but wearing a shirt that you have to pull over your head after having your hair done is a disaster waiting to happen! As a rule of thumb, whenever professionally getting hair and makeup done, wear a robe or a button-down shirt. That way, you won’t need to worry about pulling a piece of clothing over your face and potentially ruining all the excellent work. At Wild Romantic, we have the best wedding photographer in Mornington Peninsula to capture every single moment on your wedding day.

Tips for a Calm Wedding Morning

Lay Out Accessories the Night Before

If you haven’t already, definitely layout your dress, shoes, and bridal accessories the week before the big day. This is an excellent idea if you are getting up early to go to the salon in the morning. You don’t want to get there and find that the veil has been left at home.

Get a Good Night’s Rest

I highly suggest finding any way possible to get a good sleep before your wedding day.

  • Warm milk
  • Lavender sachet
  • Essential Oils
  • Counting sheep
  • You get the picture.

If you know your brain is constantly switched “on”, you might want to find a sleeping solution long before the eve of your wedding. Don’t toss and turn, thinking about what you have to get done in the morning. Or worse, trying to remind yourself not to forget to tell your Aunt to do something in the morning. Sleep with a notepad beside your bed if you have to.

As an aside, the idea of a giant sleepover with all your girls (in matching PJs) the night before the wedding sounds like a fun idea. And it is, but an even better idea is to sleep alone in your room to make sure that you get a good night’s rest.

You don’t want to be up all night because your long time pal became a snorer after all these years! If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Don’t Forget to Eat.

With nerves, emotions, and butterflies working themselves into a frenzy in your stomach, you may find that your appetite is gone. It is essential to make sure you drink water and eat something before the wedding. And better, why not have mimosas and breakfast bites on hand for you and your bridal party when you wake up.

Calming Fragrance

Whilst getting ready, burn your favourite candle or room diffuser scent to fill the air with a sweet aroma. Not only will it smell lovely in the future, but your olfactory nerves will also take you back to that particular morning every time.