When planning a wedding, the last thing you want to do is make another decision about the big day—let alone craft a comprehensive wedding beauty timeline. Conceptualizing what you might even want to do is a stressful endeavor in itself, since the beauty options seem limitless. From traditional bridal hair, makeup, and nails, to upgrades like extensions, injectables, and cosmetic dentistry, wedding day beauty prep can feel daunting and tough to navigate—and especially stressful to map out far in advance. How do you know what you want and when to get it?
Editors asked top hairstylists, makeup artists, aestheticians, cosmetic dentists, injectors, and more about wedding day beauty prep, and how long before the nuptials to do each treatment and trial. So whether you want classic no-makeup makeup or to try everything from Botox and filler to teeth whitening, we’ve got all you need to know. All that’s left is to schedule the appointments and show up.
Ahead, see your ultimate, expert-approved wedding beauty timeline, from the night of your engagement to the big day.
Right After Getting Engaged
Research hair and makeup artists.
If you’re a beauty obsessive, you should start looking for glam inspo—and a glam squad—ASAP. In fact, Priscilla Valles, a celebrity hair extensionist and stylist whose clients include Kim Kardashian, Kendall and Kylie Jenner, and Hailey Bieber, jokes that she always advises beginning the process “the day after you get engaged.” That’s obviously a bit of an exaggeration, but only a bit.
“You should definitely start the vetting process of hairstylists as soon as you’re engaged,” Valles says—and the same goes for any glam pros you might want to see, such as hair colorists, extensions stylists, and even nail artists. Really, anyone else who might contribute to your over all bridal aesthetic. “A good way to find someone is Instagram, since everyone has a different eye for beauty. If you look at someone’s page, you really can get an idea of what their vision is,” Valles says. This way you’ll only be moving forward with artists who share your vision.
“For example, a lot of my clients request long, romantic, glamorous hair, so if you want a short, edgy, rock-y kind of vibe, you’ll look at my page and I’m probably not the best stylist for you,” she explains. “It’s all about research and then trial and error to find the right person, so definitely start as soon as you can.”
12+ Months Before the Wedding
Decide on wedding haircut and length.
While you don’t need to decide your bridal hairstyle just yet, it’s best to settle on a general vibe, length, and cut about a year in advance. “I never advise a major hair change within a year of getting married,” says Danielle Keasling, Ulta Beauty Pro team member, celebrity extension specialist, and global director of Biolage and Matrix. “I feel like the general rule of thumb for this is a year.”
As for why that is? “You want to feel like the best version of yourself on your wedding day, not look back on pictures and say, ‘Who is that, and what was I thinking?!’” Keasling says. “Try to avoid a major haircut unless, of course, you know an extension specialist, as well as utilize things like extensions for temporary color changes when you’re bored.”
See a dentist.
If you’re considering any pre-wedding dental work like Invisalign, veneers, or teeth whitening, you’ll want to see a dentist about a year in advance to brainstorm. You won’t necessarily start treatments just yet, but it’s good to know what to expect, since different treatments have vastly varying timelines.
Invisalign, for example, can take anywhere from a few months to around two years, says Richard Lipari, DDS, a cosmetic and general dentist, though he notes that treatment time very much depends on the individual. On the other hand (or tooth), in-office professional teeth whitening treatment can be completed within an hour and can be done any time before your wedding. “Porcelain veneers can be completed within two to three weeks from start to finish, but require comprehensive planning before beginning the process,” Dr. Lipari adds. “Other treatments like composite bonding can be completed in a single appointment.”
Start a pre-wedding skin care routine.
You’ll also want to start skin care prep as soon as you’re able. “Ideally, you should start making a prewedding skin care plan a year in advance; however, if you don’t have that much time, I suggest starting professional treatments paired with a home care regimen as soon as possible,” says Joie Tavernese, celebrity esthetician and founder and owner of NYC’s JTAV Clinical Skincare. This way you have leeway if you don’t like how your skin reacts to a new product or treatment.
“It is essential to give yourself enough time to see results from the treatments and products, and to figure out what isn’t delivering the results you want or might not work for your skin,” she says, pointing to microneedling, custom facials, and chemical peels as especially popular treatments for brides-to-be. You should also space your treatments four to six weeks apart, Tavernese points out. “This will ensure that you are increasing cell turnover and targeting these fresh new cells so that your treatments and products will be the most effective,” she says.
8–10 Months Before the Wedding
Book glam services.
Experts at the wedding planning site Zola recommend booking glam services 6 to 12 months before the wedding. But as someone obsessed with beauty who had a makeup snafu just a month before my wedding, I wish I’d started closer to the 8-to-10-month mark. Start sending out queries now, and plan to have your first set of trials in two to four months.
In the meantime, Keasling also suggests adding extra time to your regular salon visits in the months leading up to your wedding to try out new styles. “Don’t wait until two months before and do a wedding trial all in one day, with three different looks,” she says. “Try to plan your salon visits on days that you may have events or date nights with your fiancé and take some pictures! This is a great way to not only see if you feel your best, but to see how it photographs.”
Invisalign and teeth whitening.
Seeing as you’ve already met with your dentist, you’re now more than ready to start Invisalign and teeth whitening. “Plan Invisalign and teeth whitening for at least six months to one year before your wedding day, and this will give you plenty of time to assess the results and make any necessary adjustments,” says NYC cosmetic dentist Michael J. Wei, DDS.
7–8 Months Before the Wedding
Considering injectables? Give yourself seven to eight months to figure out what you do and don’t like. “It’s best to get a big head start on perfecting your look before the wedding, so I always recommend starting your aesthetic journey at least seven months prior to the big day,” says Kristina Kitsos, a Beverly Hills injector and registered cosmetic nurse. “Since Botox lasts approximately 3 months, this allows for two trial runs to perfect your final Botox look.” There are other antiwrinkle injections to consider too, like Daxxify, which lasts twice as long as Botox. Therefore, you’ll want be sure to allow for at least one trial run for whichever you choose.
Filler is also much longer-lasting than Botox, and lasts longer in some parts of the face than others. For example, undereye filler stays put up to a year, while lip filler is closer to six months. “The less movement, the longer it lasts,” Kitsos says of the phenomenon.
All of that being said, seven to nine months allows at least one dress rehearsal to perfect your aesthetic vision. Then, if needed, you can have it touched up closer to the wedding. “It’s really important to have these trial runs so that you end up looking your best and feeling confident, especially for those who are new to injectables,” Kitsos reiterates. “I’ve seen too many people with overfilled lips and cheeks who decided at the last minute to try something new. Remember that wedding pictures last a lifetime.” Worst-case scenario, this allows you enough time to dissolve the filler if you don’t like it.
4–6 Months Before the Wedding
Bridal trials for hair, makeup, and nails
“I would recommended starting your makeup trials around three to six months before the actual wedding date,” says Deney Adam, makeup artist and Ulta Beauty Pro team member. “This allows you enough time to find the right makeup artist, schedule multiple trials if needed, and make any necessary adjustments or changes to your desired look. Starting early ensures that you have ample time to experiment with different styles and looks.”
“It’s so important to trial your wedding makeup before the big day,” says professional celebrity and bridal makeup artist J Guerra. “This gives you the opportunity to test beauty products, notice how your makeup will look under different lighting, and see how well it lasts throughout the day. Also, if you have sensitive skin, a trial can help ensure you don’t react to any of the products on the day of.”
And be sure to communicate honestly with your glam squad. “Be honest and open about what you want. Bring photos, describe your usual style, talk about your wedding theme, and don’t be afraid to speak up if there’s something you’re not happy with during the trial,” Guerra says. “A good makeup artist will appreciate your feedback and work with you to create your dream look.”
It may seem early, but according to Jessica Peisochenski, waxing expert and esthetician at European Wax Center, now’s also the time to start getting waxed. “We believe that you start to see the best waxing results starting at your third wax: you’ll start to see less hair regrowth in between waxes, and the hair will be softer and finer,” she says, adding that the longer you maintain a monthly waxing routine, the better the results become. That’s why three to six months prior to the wedding is the best time to start experimenting with waxing. “This will give you time to find the right pre- and post-wax skin care routine that’s right for you, and get the smoothest skin on your special day,” she says.
As for what brides usually have waxed? “I see a lot of brides-to-be requesting waxing services such as brows and bikini, and I always recommend they try a full-face wax since it allows your makeup to lie smoother on the face, making those up-close wedding shots flawless,” she says. “Another service I recommend to brides-to-be is an underarm wax. Starting this service six months before you get married will ensure your hair has become finer, making it less visible during regrowth. It also allows the bride to be worry-free no matter what dress style they go for, or what their honeymoon entails.”
Starting well in advance is especially important if you’re looking to change your current brow shape, Peisochenski says. “I recommend starting to experiment with your brows six months prior to your wedding,” she says. “This will allow enough time for your wax specialist to see what natural shape your bone structure provides. If you’re looking to change the shape you currently have, it may take some time for hair to grow in, making it possible to achieve that look.”
Finalize your skin care routine.
There’s been a lot of aesthetic experimentation up until this point, but now’s the time to settle with a consistent regimen, both at home and professionally. “Good-quality skin care is a must starting four to six months prior to the big day,” says Kitsos, suggesting you incorporate the daily use of potent vitamin C and niacinamide serum into your routine. In-office, Kitsos suggests having two to three MesoGlow treatments, every six to eight weeks, before the wedding. “This works wonders to make the skin glow,” she says, adding that having IPL photofacials at four and six months prior immensely helps with brown spots and uneven skin tone.
“Skin care matters—your makeup will look best if it’s applied to healthy, well-maintained skin,” Guerra says. “In the months leading up to your wedding, pay attention to your skin and skin care routine. This might mean investing in better skin care products like a good cleanser, serum, moisturizer, and exfoliant.”
3 Months Before the Wedding
Pick your glam squad.
Now’s also the time to decide which artist you’re going with for each. “Choose your pros no later than three months before,” says Adam. “Nothing is more stressful than not having a good glam team already secured weeks leading up to the wedding date.”
It’s best to have chosen your nail artist around this time too. “I always advise brides to try a few different nail designs or color shades far in advance of the wedding so you can find your favorite look,” says celebrity nail artist Zola Ganzorigt (creator of the glazed donut mani), who has partnered with wedding planning site Zola. “Zola’s wedding planning experts suggest doing trials three to six months prior.”
1–2 Months Before the Wedding
Do final glam trials.
“If needed, have a second trial one to two months before the wedding,” says Guerra. “This isn’t always necessary, but it may be helpful if you want to make changes from the first trial or if you decide to try a different look. By this time, you should have a good idea of what you want, and the trial will help confirm your decision.”
Of course, the timeline can vary based on your schedule and the artist’s availability. “The key thing is to not leave this until the last minute. You want to give yourself plenty of time to find the perfect artist to create a look you love for your big day,” Guerra says.
Choose final looks.
Making final decisions is tough, but at this point it’s necessary—plus, you can always make slight modifications down the line. “Landing on a final look two months before your big day still gives you time to make small adjustments yet prevents you from completely changing the game plan when you go to second-guess yourself a million times,” says Keasling. “Remember, trends come and go. Wear something that’s going to feel comfortable and make you feel beautiful.”
3-4 Weeks Before the Wedding
Touch up Botox & filler.
Last-minute “tweakments,” like Botox, filler, and other injections, shouldn’t really be last-minute—think more like three weeks in advance. “Once you have the dosage and placement nailed down, I recommend doing the actual injections three to four weeks before the wedding day,” says Kitsos. “This way, if there are any little tweaks that need to be done after the first week, the bride would still have time to do them.” Three to four weeks also allows more than enough time for potential post-injection bruising or swelling to subside.
2 Weeks Before the Wedding
Get a haircut and fresh extensions.
If you’re getting a haircut or fresh extensions installed, Valles recommends having it done no less than two weeks prior to your wedding. “I always feel like getting a fresh haircut, your hair has a little bit of scissor shock—it takes a couple weeks to really fall into place and settle,” she says. “When it comes to extensions, I think the same. Have them installed two weeks before so they are fresh but not too tight.” This also gives you time to blend the cut or anything else you might want to customize before the wedding.
1–2 Days Before the Wedding
Wedding day manicure
“To ensure the freshest manicure possible for your big day, it’s best not to get your nails done (or do them yourself) more than three days before your big day,” says Juli Russell, DIY nail expert for Sally Beauty. “Plus, this means they’ll also be on point for prewedding activities.”
In fact, getting your nails done too soon could result in visible growth and more exposure to elements that cause wear, Russell says. and be sure to wear gloves while doing chores like washing dishes to ensure your mani stays fresh for the wedding.
Brow and body wax
Peisochenski recommends having your last waxing treatment 48 hours before the wedding. “It takes 24 hours for your hair follicles to close, and within that time we don’t recommend any activity that may cause sweat or friction,” she says. “If you plan to get spa treatments before your big day, consult your wax specialist with your prewedding plans one to two months before your last service and they will make a recommendation on when the best time for you to get your last prewedding service is.”
Day of the Wedding
Rest, hydration, and self-care
“On the day of your wedding, you should focus on using gentle products that hydrate the skin and give you a glow,” says Tavernese. “You want to avoid products that contain active ingredients and could cause redness.”
Otherwise, be sure to get enough sleep, stay well hydrated, and take care of yourself. “If your skin looks great, your makeup will too,” says Guerra. “Try to get plenty of sleep the night before, avoid alcohol and salty foods, and remember to stay hydrated. In the morning, keep your moisturizing skin care products in the fridge for a few minutes (especially eye creams and undereye masks); the cold temperature will help to reduce puffiness and redness.”
Also important? Wearing SPF…and having fun!
Originally published in Glamour.com