Fancy or casual, winter or summer, big or small—no matter your wedding, you deserve to look good. And it’s not just about the photographs (although they matter). On your big day, you should look as beautiful as you feel about celebrating your love.
However, achieving wedding-level beauty is easier said than done. For gorgeous memories and pictures, you need professional hands, precise planning, and a decent amount of time. To help, read Zola’s inclusive guide on wedding hair and makeup timing for a breezy yet beautiful celebration.
Are you hosting four or six bridesmaids? Assigning a uniform updo or individual hairstyles? Providing manicures to the whole party, or just yourself?
When it comes to weddings, styling requires more than throwing on some mascara and running out the door. You have to consider every single beauty need, from eyeshadow colors to cultural traditions. By breaking down every to-do and demand, you can plan and time your wedding styling accurately. Let’s dive into the who, what, and where of wedding beauty.
Of course, the star couple deserves all the glamour on their wedding day. But wedding parties include more than just the soon-to-be newlyweds—and those participants usually need professional hair and makeup, too.
Traditionally, the spouse-to-be provides their party with basic (or extenuated) beauty services. Depending on your celebration, styled participants might include the:
Remember: The more guests who receive beauty services, the more time you’ll need to prepare before the wedding. And no matter your plans, you must communicate which beauty services each attendee will get. No bridesmaid or mother-in-law should be left clueless on their hair prep.
Almost every bride hires a hairstylist and makeup artist for their wedding (for some excellent options near you, check out Zola’s prescreened vendor database). But your wedding style can go beyond just the essentials.
Looking to treat the whole wedding party? Perhaps facials will set a relaxed and glowing mood. If your culture has a specific look or adornment for weddings, then factor that into your overall beauty needs. Overall, your beauty prep could include any of the following:
Unlike your typical haircut, your wedding beauty services can move outside the salon. Many professional stylists provide mobile services or house calls for wedding customers. Depending on your party size, service needs, and ceremony venue, choose from these location options for day-of wedding styling:
Professional Salon: If your chosen stylist has a salon or home base, ask about renting the space on your wedding day. This takes the weight of providing a professional setup off your shoulders. Just make sure the salon is relatively close to your ceremony location. The longer the commute, the more likely your hair or makeup could get messy.
Ceremony Venue: Larger indoor venues—churches, industrial spaces, manors—might have the space for hosting a bridal beauty party. This option works especially well for destination or remote weddings. Check ahead of time that the venue has all the necessary equipment for your desired services (chairs, mirrors, etc.).
Home or Private Residence: Have a small wedding party? Then turn someone’s home into your make-do wedding salon. If located close to the ceremony venue, your house could easily work as a meeting spot before the wedding.
Here’s where things get a little tricky. Since hair and makeup can’t be prepped overnight, all participants must get their beauty treatments on the wedding day. And for larger parties or lengthy procedures, that means the day can start early.
So how long does wedding hair and makeup take? It’s a simple question with many answers. Let’s break down the factors that go into timing out beauty services for all bridal party members and more.
Depending on a wedding’s style, formality, and budget, the makeup needs can vary widely. If the newlywed-to-be alone plans on a simple look, then they might only need about 30 minutes total. If six bridesmaids, two mothers, three flower girls, and the bride all need personalized glamour shots, then a makeup artist could need hours before the ceremony.
For traditional wedding makeup (upscale but not overly intricate), factor in these average times for each beauty recipient:
One overall rule? The more complicated the makeup, the longer each person will take. Personalized looks, intricate eyeshadow, stencils, or jewel adornments will tack on more time for each person.
For your typical wedding hair, allot this time for each party member or guest:
Remember: Fancier or complicated hairstyles require more time. A wispy low bun might only take 20 minutes, but a curled or braided updo could take much longer. Decide ahead of time which styles will fit into the schedule for each recipient.
Almost every soon-to-be-newlywed schedules professional hair and makeup for their wedding day. But for some couples, the celebration calls for more. While extra grooming services might occur before the big day, they’re still part of your overall wedding beauty timeline.
Consider if your budget and schedule can include these services, either for you or your entire wedding party:
Lashes: Lash lifts and extensions have grown increasingly popular. They give that extra “pop” to your eyes in photos and in person. Lash extensions need at least 48 hours to settle before any event, and their application can take up to two hours. Lash lifts are best given two to five days before an event, and the service takes 30 to 45 minutes.
Nails: Manis and pedis are the ultimate group spa activity—everyone gets to chat while being pampered. For pristine nails on your wedding day, book any service one or two days prior to the ceremony. Standard manicures take 20 to 30 minutes, while pedicures take 30 to 45 minutes. (Pro tip: Gel manicures are the safest guarantee against chipping.)
Eyebrows: Some couples assume their eyebrows can be plucked or even waxed the day of their wedding. However, these treatments easily leave behind redness and irritation—big nos for your wedding day. About three days before the ceremony, book your final eyebrow waxing, threading, or shaping (or DIY at home). Most brow services take less than 20 minutes.
Hair Removal: Whether it’s your underarms, upper lip, or legs, many couples opt for hair removal treatments before walking down the aisle. Schedule any major hair removal (waxing, chemical treatments, etc.) about three to four days beforehand, so you can avoid any bumps or redness. Full-body waxing takes about 45 to 60 minutes, although that can vary.
Tanning: If you want to look sunkissed for your beach wedding, spray tans are the way to go. Book a full-body session with a reputable salon (no orangey tones) about two days before the ceremony. Spray tanning appointments usually last 30 minutes at most.
Cultural Touches: From Indian henna to Yemen bathhouses, there are countless wedding beauty rituals across cultures. If your celebration includes these traditions, make sure to factor them into your grooming schedule.
From florals to facials, there’s one factor that controls all wedding decisions—your budget.
As you start making plans, you must decide how much money will go towards beautification on your wedding day. Depending on your budget, the prep time for hair, makeup, and other services can shrink or grow. Before booking any appointments, consider these budgeting decisions:
Party Size: Are you providing day-of hairstyling for all bridesmaids, mothers, and yourself? Or are you paying for only your services? The more people in your party, the larger the potential cost and time.
Total Services: Sure, a full-out makeover before your wedding sounds amazing. But beauty treatments add up fast. Only schedule what you know you can afford, either for yourself or bridal party members.
Stylist Numbers: One easy way to speed up prep time on your wedding day? Hiring multiple stylists. Compared to one stylist, two professionals can get you and your bridal party out the door in half the time. If it fits your budget, consider doubling up on helping hands.
Rates: Does your makeup artist charge a flat rate per person? Or do they charge by the hour? For lengthy or complicated styles, a time-based rate could quickly become expensive. Check which pricing options work best for your party.
Leg waxing? Check. Facials? Check. Makeup for you and all bridesmaids? Check (times six). You know all the primping, planning, and polishing you’ll need before walking down the aisle. But how do these parts fall in line? What does your wedding beauty schedule look like on the calendar?
To simplify, we’ve broken up your beauty timeline into two parts—before the wedding and on the wedding day. Let’s explore the typical schedules and guidelines for each.
Your wedding look doesn’t magically come together on your wedding day—it actually begins months beforehand.
For a seamless wedding day (and killer photos), planning is key. Don’t leave your wedding look or stylist up to chance. Start early, and your wedding day will feel like a spa vacation.
Here’s a general schedule of all beauty services and consultations needed before a wedding day:
6 to 12 Months Prior: The sooner you can book your glam squad, the better. When you give a hairstylist or makeup artist more time, they can better assess and adapt your desired look. Research professionals up to one year before your ceremony, and book as soon as possible.
3 to 6 Months Prior: Once you’ve picked your stylists, schedule your trial sessions with each (usually one month before the celebration). If planning on any major haircuts or beauty transformations, this is the time to do it.
1 to 3 Months Prior: Now it’s time to make some concrete styling decisions. During your hair and makeup trials, determine a clear style that you’ll replicate on your wedding day. Once set, do not make any big changes to your look (stark haircuts, dye jobs, etc.). This can easily throw off a professional’s plans. Also, decide now if your wedding party will receive any beauty services and communicate those plans with them.
2 to 4 Weeks Prior: Share a clear itinerary with all wedding party members receiving any styling, whether occurring the week before or day of the wedding. This is also the time for any secondary trials, in case you need further clarification with your stylists.
1 to 2 Weeks Prior: In the last few weeks leading up to the celebration, schedule all pre-day beauty treatments (manicures, facials, waxing, etc). Don’t leave all services for one day or right beforehand.
Your tan is set, your nails are flawless, and your skin is glowing. It’s game time. But before diving in, take a step back. No matter how simple or small, every wedding styling session needs a clear schedule.
To create your day-of itinerary, some simple math is required. Calculate the total beauty prep time by working backward from your ceremony, adding each estimated service for every person. Here are two sample schedules, centered around different ceremony times and bridal party sizes.
For a party of six bridesmaids, one mother-of-the-bride (MOB), and one bride preparing for a 4:00 p.m. ceremony with one makeup artist and one hairstylist:
For a party of three bridesmaids, one MOB, and one bride preparing for a 3:00 p.m. ceremony with one makeup artist and one hairstylist:
Every wedding has its own unique style and needs. However, there are a few tried-and-true tips that help every couple’s celebration run smoother (don’t forget sending those save the dates). And that rule applies to your wedding hair and makeup.
Whether planning a speedy session or a full get-ready-with-me bash, consider following this simple advice for your wedding styling:
Schedule Trials: Even if you want the simplest makeup and hair, you should always book a trial run with your stylists. Trials save you from making last-minute changes or adjustments, so that you look exactly as planned on your wedding day. Some couples even schedule two trials with their stylists—one for consultation and one for a dress rehearsal.
Hire a Photographer: To memorialize your wedding day, ask your photographer to take pictures of your beauty prep. The photos will make for great wedding party keepsakes and album additions.
Ask for Styling Assistants: To cut prep time in half, consider asking your stylists to bring any assistants. An extra pair of hands can save precious hours on the wedding day, helping everyone relax and achieve their desired look. It’s an extra service that’s well worth the price.
Set an Order: Opinion is split on whether the newlywed-to-be should be styled first or last. If first, it ensures the star of the show won’t be rushed, but there’s more time for smudging or mistakes to occur. If last, the makeup and hair will be freshest, but the betrothed could run out of time. Ask your stylists what order they think works best, and set a precise schedule for all participants.
Go Over Finances: Never leave payment as an after-thought. Before you book any service for someone besides yourself, you must decide the payer. No one should be stuck paying for a hairstyle that they did not book.
Add Party Favors: If providing beauty treatments for your bridal party, then make it a party. Refreshments, music, and ambiance will keep the mood light before the ceremony. And for larger parties, any sustenance will help party members stay energized throughout the day.
Come Clean: Unless told by your stylists, it’s best to show up as a blank slate. For both your trials and the real deal, you should arrive with a clean face (no makeup). Hairstylists also recommend coming with dry hair that has no product buildup.
Your wedding day is your moment to shine—literally. Every bride and groom deserves to glow on the inside and outside when celebrating their love. And to achieve that outer glow, it all comes down to planning. With our scheduling guide, you can turn your wedding style from dream to (neatly scheduled) reality.
Curious how else Zola can simplify your wedding? Let’s count the way. Our stationery suites make matching your invitations to your reception menus a breeze. And your guests will highly appreciate finding all necessary event information on our customizable wedding websites. Start with our Expert Advice, and Zola will transform your wedding planning from “functional” to “fun.”