One of a wedding planner's most important responsibilities is making sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible on the big day, and doing so begins with creating a master wedding-day timeline. A well-planned timeline not only tells everyone from the bridal party and immediate family to the photographers, catering team, and the officiant where they're supposed to be and when, but it also serves as a guide for how long everything should be taking. If the bridesmaids still aren't out of the hair and makeup chairs by the time they were supposed to be posing for group photos, you know you have a timing problem.
Needless to say, there are a lot of moving parts, some of which prove trickier to coordinate timing on than others. One such example is dressing the bride. When it comes to allocating time for the bride to put on her wedding dress, you'd think the bigger, fuller the garment, the longer it would take. For the most part, though, brides can get dressed relatively quickly. "We usually allow for 15 minutes in the wedding-day timeline for the bride to put on her dress, which has proven to be enough time regardless of the type of gown," says Lindsey Nickel, owner of Lovely Day Events.
And while some gowns do require more time—if, say, the bride is also wearing a petticoat or corset, or has a particularly elaborate button back that requires a lot of helping hands—when it comes to penciling in time for the bride to finally get dressed, the biggest question is actually "when?" not "how long?" "You can absolutely get dressed too soon," says Sarah White, owner and lead planner of the I Do List. "The thing to keep in mind is that once the dress goes on, it's harder to go to the bathroom and nearly impossible, depending on the style of gown, to go on your own. Plus, you'll want to limit what you eat and drink until your pictures are over to ensure there are no accidental stains."
White recommends brides get dressed 15 to 30 minutes before the couple's first look (if they're having one) or before she's due to meet with the photographer for any pre-wedding portraits with family or her bridesmaids. If the bride wants to have first look photos in the bridal suite with her 'maids or to have a photographer present and shooting the actual dressing process, it's a smart idea to add at least 15 additional minutes to the timeline. The bottom line: The bride should be the last to get fully dressed for the ceremony, following the moms and the bridesmaids.