10 Dos and Don'ts of Wedding Day Hair & Makeup

Get tips on how to look your best on the big day from luxury wedding planner Beth Helmstetter.

Beth Helmstetter of full-service event design and planning studio Beth Helmstetter Events shares her expert advice on making sure brides look their best on the big day – and stay on time for the ceremony!

bride in white robe with hair and makeup done getting ready photo beth helmstetter events
Photo: Lauren & Abby Ross

Your wedding hair and makeup schedule, when done right, can create a relaxed environment where everyone feels beautiful and has time to get ready at a pace that’s right for them. When done wrong, however, your wedding hair and makeup timeline can create utter chaos, leaving no time for pictures, no room for error, and ultimately starting the wedding day off with stress rather than joy. 

That said, here are the top things to keep in mind when creating your wedding hair and makeup schedule:

1. Do Get the Input of the Professionals 

Ask your hair and makeup stylists how much time they need per person. Then, talk to your wedding photographer about when he/she needs to start with photography. Build the timeline around their input, leaving blocks of time for each bridesmaid and double-checking to make sure you haven’t left anyone out or don’t have someone scheduled for two slots at the same time.

2. Do Leave Room for Error

Pad the schedule to account for late bridesmaids, touch ups, or someone not loving their hair or makeup. Because your bridesmaids are rarely involved in the trial runs, it’s common that one or more might not like what your stylist does. While ideally they go with the flow and you should not encourage redos, allowing extra time in case anyone wants to redo their look will help avoid stress and keep the timeline on schedule.

3. Do Schedule the Most Responsible Bridesmaids First 

If you start your day off late, it will make everything else that much more stressful. For that reason, be very strategic when scheduling your bridesmaids. Do not put the friend who is always late in the first slot. Instead, put your most considerate and responsible friend first. Because this bridesmaid is likely to get her makeup done early in the day, try to leave 10 minutes at the end for her to get touched up.

Bridesmaid Helping Bride with Shoes

Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross; Planning & Design by Beth Helmstetter Events

4. Don't Schedule Yourself (or Your Mom) Early in the Day 

Do not schedule you or your mom first in the day. If you need to set your hair or need to prep your skin earlier in the day so your stylist can finish later, that’s fine, but under no circumstance should you be fully ready with hair and makeup at 10AM for a 4PM ceremony, or whatever the case may be. The same goes for your mom. Make sure you are prioritizing the time spent a stylist spends with you and the mother of the bride over all other attendants, so you can both feel fresh and confident for photos and the wedding itself.

5. Don't Get Timeline Input from the Bridal Party 

Do not allow your bridal party to see their hair and makeup timeline too early to avoid any issues with scheduling the bridal party makeup timeline. Doing so will potentially result in complaints and requests to reschedule. If you have a wedding planner, he/she can handle these requests, but if you’re doing this alone, do not open the timeline up for discussion. Someone has to go first. 

6. Do Hire Additional Stylists 

The best way to ensure the day doesn’t start too early is to hire multiple hair stylists and multiple makeup artists. Most stylists have a team they can call in as needed. This one addition can cut hours off of your day, allowing you and your bridesmaids more time to enjoy the morning as well as be that much more fresh when the wedding begins.

Samira Wiley in Off-Shoulder Wedding Dress

Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross; Planning & Design by Beth Helmstetter Events

7. Do Remember Hair & Makeup Can Happen at the Same Time 

Depending on your stylists and their preferences, remember that a bridesmaid can typically get both hair and makeup done at the same time if needed. This will speed up the process a bit and the bridesmaid will feel that much more complete when assessing the finished look. 

8. Do Make Sure Someone's Monitoring the Time 

This could be your wedding planner, the hair or makeup stylist, or again it could be your most responsible friend, but someone must watch the schedule to be sure everything is running as planned. This person needs to be ready to step in and micromanage if anyone is falling behind to keep the entire wedding timeline on track.

9. Don't Start Photography Too Early 

While there’s nothing wrong with makeup-free images, if you have any insecurity regarding this, I recommend scheduling the photographer to come in a couple hours into the day rather than starting the moment the bridal party arrives. While getting-ready shots are gorgeous, most people feel more confident with a bit of makeup on even while they’re sitting in their robes getting their hair done.

Bridesmaid Helping Bride Button Dress

Photo by Lauren and Abby Ross; Planning & Design by Beth Helmstetter Events

10. Do Give Yourself Enough Time to Dress 

Getting into your wedding dress not only takes more time than most people think, but it’s definitely a moment you’ll want to savor and your photographer will want to document. Planning your hair and makeup schedule appropriately will allow this part of the day to be that much more enjoyable and keep the wedding on time as scheduled.

No matter what, remember to think through the hair and makeup schedule thoroughly, especially if you have a big bridal party. Enlist the guidance of experts, leave time for mishaps, and over-communicate with your bridal party. Doing these things and all of the above will ensure a stress-free start to your wedding day and who doesn’t want that?!

For more advice, discover what things you shouldn't tell a bride on her wedding day to avoid unpleasant situations, learn how to deal with rain during your wedding day, and find out what to pack in your wedding day emergency kit.