Congratulations on starting your destination wedding planning journey! It can be tough to visualize how your special day will play out with so many details to keep track of. But don’t worry – here’s some advice to help you through the process of planning your wedding day timeline.

When should hair and makeup start?

A well-organized schedule will help you visualize your day and reduce stress. Most vendors usually offer templates, and I can share some helpful suggestions based on my experience working with brides.

Let’s start with timing for hair and makeup. Depending on the size of your bridal party, aim to have your hair and makeup artist arrive about 4-5 hours before the ceremony. Factor in 60-90 minutes for the bride’s hair and makeup, and 30-45 minutes for each bridesmaid or mother of the couple. Your makeup artist will start on your party first and save you for last!

Bride and maid of honor standing on the beach in dressing robes with hair and makeup done

When should the photographer arrive?

This is the perfect time for those detailed shots. Your photographer will capture your dress, shoes, wedding rings, and any other special touches while your makeup artist works their magic. Let them know what time your first look will be so they can make sure you’re ready for that special moment too.

Once you’re all dolled up, it’s time to slip into your beautiful wedding dress!

bridal details including sunglasses, shoes, jewelry, and wedding rings

bride getting ready putting on her ear rings

Should you have a First Look?

This is a personal decision! Some brides prefer saving the big reveal for the walk down the aisle, while others opt for an intimate first look. A first look lets you take couple photos with fresh hair and makeup and can help calm any pre-ceremony nerves.

Schedule the first look about an hour before the ceremony, allowing at least 30 minutes for this special moment and photos. Keep in mind that it might still be hot outside, so your photographer will work quickly to keep everyone comfortable.

wedding couple embracing eachother  for a first look

Enjoy Cocktail Hour with a First Look

Here’s a pro tip: If you want to enjoy some of that cocktail hour with your guests, definitely consider a first look. It allows for those romantic shots before the ceremony and reduces your time away from the party afterward for newlywed photos. Plus, sipping champagne with loved ones is a great way to start the celebration!

wedding couple toasting champagne on the beach

Final Pre-Ceremony Thoughts

You’ll have about 30 minutes for a quick refresh, collecting thoughts, and any final makeup touch-ups with your bridesmaids. Meanwhile, your groom and the photographer will be capturing those precious ceremony and reception details and guest arrivals, and of course, your groom’s anticipation.

Here Comes the Bride! – Ceremony Time

Most ceremonies in Punta Cana take place in the late afternoon to allow for beautiful sunset newlywed photos. Aim for a 4:30 to 5:00 PM ceremony if the sun sets around 6:30 – 7:00 PM. Symbolic ceremonies, common at resorts, are usually a breezy 15-20 minutes.

bride and groom holding each other during their wedding ceremony

Capturing the Celebration – Post-Ceremony Photos

After the ceremony, get ready for group shots! Depending on your guest count, this could take 10-20 minutes, followed by another 10-15 minutes for wedding-party photos. Cocktail hour is happening simultaneously, giving your guests time to mingle. Then you’ll be whisked away for some intimate newlywed shots for about 30 minutes.

groom kissing bride's forehead at the beach
newlywed couple hugging on the beach at sunset
wedding couple walking down the beach holding hands

Your Reception

Once you return, it’s time for your grand entrance, first dance, and those special dances with parents. Plan about 30 minutes after cocktail hour before dinner is served!

Dinner and speeches usually take between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours depending on your guest count. And don’t forget to cut the cake!

With the formalities done, it’s time to soak up your evening with loved ones!

Final Thoughts

  • Use your timeline as a detailed planning guide.
  • Share your schedule with all vendors for a smooth day.
  • Relax if things don’t go exactly to plan – enjoy the ride!
  • Most importantly, be present in each moment and savor the celebration!

Sample Timeline

Your day may differ, adjust this to fit your needs

  • 11:00 am – Hair and Makeup Artist starts
  • 1:30 pm – Photo/Video team starts
  • 1:30 pm – Photos of the Bride’s details
  • 2:00 pm – Groom getting ready photos
  • 2:30 pm – Bride getting ready photos.
  • 3:00 pm – Bride is getting dressed. Portraits
  • 3:30 pm – First Look
  • 4:00 pm – Ceremony Decor & Guests arrival, Groom Waiting
  • 4:30 – 5:00 pm – Ceremony
  • 5:00 – 6:00 pm – Cocktail hour
  • 6:00 – 7:30 pm – First Dances/Dinner/Speeches/Cutting the cake
  • 7:30 pm – End of Reception – Party Time (Bouquet & Garter Toss)

Let Us Capture Your Day

I hope this helps! As the #1 wedding photography company in Punta Cana for 10 years, we’d love to capture your special day! Check out our work here and feel free to reach out for package info or any other wedding planning questions.