A typical wedding morning goes like that: the makeup artist is doing their work, music is on, the bride is having a glass of champagne and everyone is happy and relaxed. And then – suddenly – a moment comes when the bride realises “Oh £$^%, I am late!!”. After that, of course, the bride rushes to the ceremony and there is no time for the morning portraits. So if you want to have your morning bridal/bridesmaids portraits, how can you make sure you’ll have time for them? Simple:

  • Plan for everything to take longer then you expected.
  • Set milestones for the morning.

It’s not unusual for a makeup/hair artist to come later then agreed, and to take longer than agreed to finish their job, so plan for that. Give them half an hour leeway, and make sure they know the time by which they need to finish. Also, it will probably take you at least half an hour to put your dress, shoes and jewellery on, not the five minutes you would have thought. And the final point to note: we will need to be at the ceremony room half an hour before the ceremony begins, which means we will typically need to leave for the ceremony half an hour before you do. The milestones are: time to finish hair/makeup, time to be in the dress ready for morning portraits, time for the photographers to leave for the ceremony, and time for you to leave for the ceremony. It’s usually best to work them out backwards. Let us give you an example; for the example we will assume the ceremony starts at 1pm, and it takes 30 minutes to drive from the morning prep location to the ceremony location. For your actual timeline, please replace the times with your actual driving time and ceremony time. So, going backwards:

  • Ceremony starts at 13:00
  • You want to arrive to the ceremony location 15 mins early to have the time to talk to the officiant before the ceremony – that gives you arrival time 12:45
  • Driving time is 30 mins, so you should leave for the ceremony at 12:15
  • Give yourself 5 mins leeway for traffic, etc. – so your actual leaving time is 12:10
  • Photographers need to be at the ceremony location 30 mins before the ceremony begins – that’s 12:30 for our example. Add 30 mins driving, add 10 mins leeway for traffic and parking – so photographers are leaving your morning prep location at 11:50

Ok, so we’ve established the first two milestones: photographers are leaving your morning prep location at 11:50 and you are leaving at 12:10. Note that if you are getting ready and having the ceremony at the same location, then there is no driving and no leeway for trafffic, but everything else stays the same. So in that case, photographers would leave your room at 12:30, and you would need to leave your room at 12:45. Continuing our example, and going further backwards:

  • Morning portraits will take around 20 mins, so if photographers leave at 11:50, then the morning portraits session should start at 11:30
  • Putting your dress, shoes and jewellery on will take at least 30 mins, so you should have your hair and makeup done by 11:00
  • Give the hair/makeup artist 30 mins leeway (they will often need it) – that gives us 10:30 as the hair/makeup finishing time. That’s the time you give to the hair/makeup artist (but don’t tell them about the leeway, otherwise they will use it all, and there will be no leeway).
  • Finally, photographers need to come an hour before you finish your hair/makeup to take photos of your dress, shoes, etc, so photographers arrival time will be 9:30

So here it is, your example timeline for the morning:

  • Photographers arrive at 9:30
  • Hair/makeup finished by 10:30 (with leeway until 11:00, but don’t tell anyone)
  • You are in your dress, ready for morning photos by 11:30
  • Photographers leave at 11:50
  • You leave at 12:10
  • Ceremony starts at 13:00

Those are the times you will put in your pre-wedding questionnaire morning timeline section.

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