Wedding Day “Getting Ready Schedule”

Wedding day timelines can be very confusing for couples; there are many details, considerations and most people don’t know how long the pre-wedding prep may take.  A good wedding day “getting ready schedule” can put out fires and help couples be organized and feel relaxed during the entire day!   Here are some tips for creating an appropriate “getting ready schedule”, see this post also on The DC Ladies. Please note that since every wedding is different, it is best to go over your timeline details with your wedding coordinator, hair/make-up stylists and photographer/videographers.


Photography by Krista A. Jones, Bright Occasions Real Wedding
Photography by Krista A. Jones, Bright Occasions Real Wedding

Breakfast, Lunch

It’s so important to eat on your wedding day and especially to have a healthy breakfast and lunch (or brunch depending on your timing) so you don’t go into the ceremony feeling light headed.

BRIDES – If your wedding is later in the day, I suggest having breakfast before hair/make-up.  It might be nice to do breakfast with your mom and/or dad.  Then plan to order in lunch to be delivered to the getting ready location.  Typically a variety of sandwiches and healthy snacks work well!

GROOMS – Since guys need less time for getting ready, I suggest having breakfast, brunch or lunch together; it’s also a nice idea to include your parents as well!  If you are getting married in a city area, you may be able to go out to eat and then head back to the hotel to finish getting ready.

Location Matters 

The easiest and most relaxing option for getting ready is typically the hotel where you will also stay during your wedding night.  This means you will actually check-in to the hotel the day prior. It saves time from having to check-in during the wedding day. In the DC area we have some amazing hair and make-up artists who will come to the hotel to get you wedding ready. Most often ladies use the wedding suite and gentlemen are in another room/suite. I do still have some couples favoring their childhood home for sentimental reasons. Others choose to go to a salon and/or combination of a salon and venue (if there is a room available) for getting dressed and final touches.

How much time?

On a normal day, getting ready for ladies takes some time and guys can be ready relatively quicker. This is very true on the wedding day. A general rule of thumb:

LADIESBrides will typically take 1-hour for hair and 1-hour for make-up, or 2-hours total per person.  Female attendants/Moms will take approximately 30-45 minutes for hair and 30-45 minutes for make-up, or 1-hour to 1.5 hours total per person.  If you have several attendants and one or two moms getting ready, you have to account for several hours.

GENTLEMENGrooms and Male Attendants/Dads will typically take 30 minutes to 1-hour total for showering, shaving, getting dressed.

Documenting (photography, videography) Getting Ready

Some couples want the entire day documented; but most have their photographer/videographer capture the end of getting ready.  For ladies that is putting on the dress/jewelry and for guys that is putting on their jacket, tie/boutonniere.  Typically the photographer/videographer will arrive 1 hour to 30-minutes prior to putting on the dress/tie.

TO SAVE TIME : Hire two photographers and two videographers to capture the ladies and gentlemen getting ready at the same time.  Otherwise, work with your coordinator and photographer/videographer on the timing, as they may have to go back and forth.

DISCUSS WHAT WILL BE DOCUMENTED: Make sure you discuss with your photographer and videographer what you want them to capture.  Also ask them how much time they will need and include that in your timeline.


Depending on your wedding ceremony/reception location (and where you will be getting ready and if you will take photos prior), be sure to factor in the amount of time it will take to travel from point to point and how you will get to the location(s).  Also if you are not seeing each other prior to the ceremony, work with your coordinator and transportation company to stagger the departure times.