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WEDDINGS | BUILDING A PRE-CEREMONY TIMELINE

November 28, 2022

As you’re creating your wedding timeline, it can be hard to know what time your day should start. With hair and makeup, first look and pre-ceremony photos and more, it can be somewhat of a guessing game if you’re not working with a planning team. To make the process a bit easier, we’re sharing just a few tips to keep in mind as you’re thinking about your pre-ceremony timing.

First and foremost, you’ll want to work backwards from your invitation time as a starting point. For our purposes, let’s assume your ceremony starts at 4pm and use the following guidelines to build from there:

PLAN TO BE HIDDEN AWAY 30 MINUTES BEFORE INVITATION TIME
Most couples prefer to be tucked away as guests are arriving. This is so they can ensure they are not seen before the ceremony or to ensure they do not get pulled into lengthy conversations right before the big moment. In the instance of the ceremony starting at 4pm, this means you should plan to be fully hidden away by 3:30pm.

ALLOW TIME FOR FAMILY & BRIDAL PARTY PHOTOS
Depending on how many portraits you are hoping to capture, you’ll want to allow 30 to 45 minutes for your family and bridal party portraits. To determine the exact amount of time needed, share your must have shot list with your photographer for their guidance. If your ceremony starts at 4pm and you must be hidden away at 3:30pm, that means family and bridal party photos should start at 2:45pm to 3:00pm. When in doubt, pad the timing for late guests. For our example, we will have a call time of 2:45pm for family portraits.

GIVE PLENTY OF TIME FOR THE FIRST LOOK
We typically allow another 15 minutes for the first look followed by 15 to 30 minutes of couple’s portraits. Again, this is a great detail to talk through with your photographer however. In our example of a 4pm ceremony start time, a 3:30pm hide away time and a 2:45pm family portrait time, we recommend starting the first look at 2:00pm.

DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE TIME FOR GETTING DRESSED
Getting into your wedding gown or even just throwing on your suit jacket and cuff links can be a moment in and of itself. Your photographer will likely eat this moment up, especially if a parent, best friend or sibling is helping you dress. We like to allow 30 minutes for dressing in the timeline. In our example of a 4pm ceremony start time, a 3:30pm hide away time, a 2:45pm family portrait time and a 2:00pm first look, we recommend getting dressed at 1:30pm.

HAIR AND MAKEUP TIMING
Hair and makeup timing is a bit more complex and depends on the number of stylists, how quick they work and how many people they’re serving. That said, you’ll want to talk to your styling team in detail to get this timing perfect, but for our example, let’s just assume hair takes 45 minutes and makeup another 45 minutes. Also for ease, let’s plan on timing for only the bride getting ready. In our example of a 4pm ceremony, a 3:30pm hide away time, a 2:45pm family portrait time, a 2:00pm first look and a 1:30pm getting dressed time, makeup would start at 12:45pm and hair would start at 12:00pm.

To make it a bit clearer, below is how the pre-ceremony timing would look in your final timeline:

12:00pm: Bridal Hair
12:45pm: Bridal makeup
1:30pm: Bride to start getting dressed
2:00pm: First Look
2:45pm: Family & Bridal Party Photos
3:30pm: Bride hidden away
4:00pm: Invitation Time
As always, make sure to run your timing past your photographer, your stylists and your family. And, no matter what, don’t forget to leave room for error to ensure your day is as stress free as possible. Happy planning!

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