Creating the Getting Ready & Picture Timeline

You’ve got your girls, you’ve got the hair styles and makeup looks in mind, but how in the world do you ensure there is enough time for all your bridesmaids, your mom, future mother in law, and any other girls you’re including with the getting ready portion of the day have enough time to get dolled up?!


This part throws everyone for a loop so no worries! We completely understand that its hard enough to get yourself ready and out the door, let alone several girls, for one of the most photographed day of your lives!

The best place to start is by confirming 2 things… First, get a list of who is FOR SURE getting their hair done and a list of who is FOR SURE getting their makeup done. These two numbers are crucial to making sure your artists know if they need to bring extra help. Also, it’s important to have this number nailed down prior to your wedding day. Adding girls last second can throw off the entire timeline. Second, ask your hair stylist and makeup artists how long it will take them for each girl. Some artists are faster than others and that is completely fine! You’ll just need to know that number ahead of time in order to start creating your timeline. For example your hair stylist may say it will take them about 45 minutes per updo, but makeup may take 30 minutes per girl.

Once you have these two things secured set that aside and switch gears for a minute (bear with me!).

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This brings us back to your hair and makeup timing! If you need 45 minutes for hair and 30 minutes for makeup you will be starting at 12:30, meaning all your girls need to be finished by then too!! Depending on how many girls you have, and how early everyone is willing to get up in the morning, you may be starting sooner than you expected! Figure this time out as soon as possible and then have a conversation with your hair and makeup artists about if they should bring more people, what time they feel comfortable starting etc. etc. with that 1:45 end-time. in mind.

Side note: I prefer to arrive when the bride is starting her second service. Meaning if you’re getting your makeup done at 12:30 and then hair done at 1pm. I will arrive at 1pm. This gives me enough time to get some candid getting ready photos, but also those details of rings, shoes, dress, etc.

And there you have it!! The secret is to work backwards for your timeline! Of course, we are always here to help so if you have questions feel free to comment on here or email me directly at I’m happy to help!!!

It is easiest to build the timeline for the start of the day by working backwards from the time you know is absolutely set in stone, your ceremony time of course! Let’s say your ceremony starts at 6pm. You will want to plan to arrive at the ceremony space about 45 min–1 hour before it starts so you can freshen up, get off your feet, and have a minute to relax before the big moment!

This means whether you’re doing a first look or not, you’ll want to be finished with pictures and leaving for the ceremony at 4:45/5pm (assuming your picture location is about 15 minutes from the ceremony). Be sure to include this travel time AND extra time to load up on the bus. It takes longer than you think to get a full bridal party of drinking guys and girls in heels with bouquets etc. onto a bus :)

Continuing to work backwards, here is where you’ll want to find out from your photographer about how long they would like for pictures. I prefer 45 minutes with the couple and 45 minutes with the bridal party. That being said I am totally comfortable in shooting in anywhere between 20 minutes to 2 hours. This is where you should definitely ask your photographer what they are comfortable with and feel that they need. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS try your best to plan for what your photographer tells you time-wise. You don’t want to make them feel rushed, as that can show in your pictures.

Say you’re doing a first look followed by 45 minutes of pictures, and then 45 minutes of bridal party portraits. Continuing with our example wedding this means you will be starting photos around 3:15/3:30 (if everything is at the same photo location).

This would mean you would be starting your first look at 3:05ish. Add in some travel time to the first look… leave your getting ready location around 2:45pm. I would recommend giving yourself plenty of time for all those last minute out the door things… get a bite to eat, brush your teeth again, get a bunch of photos of your mom getting on your dress, do a dress reveal with your bridesmaids, take your time getting on earrings and your purse together etc. etc. All of this in mind you will want your hair and make up finished by 1:45 at the latest.

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