Doing Your Own Wedding Makeup
Ask any bride what she's most nervous about in the lead up to her wedding and you're likely to get a list as long as the to do’s she's been working on the last few months.
There are many, many things to worry about in the lead up to the ‘big day’. There are many, many, many things to manage and lock down, things to double check, triple check, and have a back up plan for.
If you’re lucky enough to have a wedding planner, or like I did, wonderful family members who were willing to do all the hard work with a smile, you may be able to sail through your day with a clear mind and really enjoy it and take it all in.
But not everyone is that lucky, and I am totally aware of that, and hugely grateful for the assistance I had. But still. With all that on your plate, all that to think about, stress about, and mull over, would any bride in her right mind opt to do her own wedding makeup as well?
New wife in the corner over here, to say, yes, yes I would. A million times over in fact!
I made the controversial decision to do my own wedding makeup pretty soon after I got engaged. And you can bet I kept it a secret as long as I could! It seems ridiculous in hindsight to think of something as small as whose going to do your wedding makeup, can be such a secretive matter, but for me it was. And there were a couple of reason for this.
The first was that I was honestly scared of other people’s opinions. The couple of times I had suggested I may consider doing my own makeup, I had been met with concerned looks of oh dear really, I think maybe thats not a great idea.
The second was much more pertinent. I wasn’t quite sure if I could do it. Because of that lingering fear I did have a couple of makeup trials, I wasn’t totally unconventional, but the results of my trials only made me more convinced that this was something I wanted to do on my own. Whatever the results! Has anyone else every felt that way? A bad makeup day at your own hands is one thing, a bad makeup day at someone else’s is just a little tragic.
The truth is, I could. And you could do. And anyone could. I’m by no means belittling the hard work and skill and dedication that professional makeup artists bring with them, not at all. I just wonder if a wedding really calls for that level of skill.
You’ve probably heard it till you’re sick of hearing it, but the truth is, you want to look like yourself on your wedding day. And you manage to look like yourself every day, don’t you? Unless you do, in which case probably, a makeup artist really is the best choice for you.
I have to put in a bit of a disclaimer here. I am aware that people opt for hiring an artist for other reasons: relaxing on the day, feeling pampered, not having to go out and buy a whole stash of makeup (although even with a professional you often do have to bring in your own key makeup bits, just to ensure you get it just right for your skin type/tone, the look you want). Or simply, not wanting to brush up your own makeup skills.
I guess I’m writing this not to try and convince anyone, but simply to say, if you, like myself, are just a normal girl who likes makeup maybe a little too much but certainly aren’t a pro, you can do your own makeup and not regret it.
I’m not going to lie and pretend that it didn’t add a little extra stress to the lead up. It did. But when I finally pushed my nerves aside and did a few trial runs… I was really, really happy with the results. Because I got to decide how I wanted to look on my wedding day. Like well and truly 100 per cent decide. Not give a makeup brief but feel like there were bits here and there I would have done differently. Not 90 per cent happy. 100 per cent happy.
I was a lot, lot, lot (shall I say it again just to drive the point home?) happier than I was with the professional trials I had done. The difference was unreal.
The truth is, it matters less what trends you’ve got going on on your wedding face, highlights, bronzers, whatever it may be thats the flavor of the times. It matters that you feel like you like what you seem in the mirror and the photographs. As long as you love your look, the chances are no one else is even going to have given it a second thought.
Everyone looks beautiful and radiant in a sparkling white dress, on a very happy occasion. But no one wonders why you opted for a bronze smokey eye or a cut crease.
I love my wedding photos because I simply look like a more polished version of what I look like on a day to day basis. My makeup is a little more full coverage and I’ve got lashes on, but the difference pretty much ends there. My hair is a little more tweaked and set, but the style, down to the parting and my habit of using hair grips, is exactly the same. And that’s perfect. That’s me. And I don’t need to be someone else the day I get married.
There were so many other little considerations and advantages to me as well.
For me, having that private time in the morning where I got my makeup done before opening the doors to everyone to get my hair set, to hang out, and for the general rush of the day to begin, was so, so helpful in keeping me calm and preventing overwhelm. I got up extra early to make sure I had a good two hours to really sit down and take my time with my makeup, and sort of mirror my daily morning routine, and not be rushed at all. That made such a difference to my day!
And you know what? With good makeup, you can never start too early in the day, and still feel and look fresh by the time the cameras come out.
But whichever side of the decision you find yourself on, these are the products that I used on my big day and that really helped me feel my absolute best, all the way from 8am in the morning to midnight, weather, tears, mad dancing and all!
Primer: A cult classic, the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer was an obvious and easy choice for me. It goes on clear, it works for almost all skin types, and it feels really light on the skin. The world of primers can be vastly confusing and it’s really hard to know if you’re using the right one without going out and repeatedly trying a million and carefully observing your skin oner the day, by the hour.
So do yourself a favor and opt for a primer thats tried and tested by the experts, and not too niche. A good all round every girl primer will serve you well, and for me that was Smashbox.
This is one of the big ones. You really want to get the right consistency, feel, and shade, and that can look different for everyone. Some of the big names out there just didn’t do it for me personally. Definitely try the lot rather than going off recommendations. Get sample pots or in store trials if you can, and don’t invest in a ton of expensive foundations unless you’re quite certain they may be one of the final contenders. Try foundations you wouldn’t normally expect to try because you may be surprised by what you find.
And even if you don’t have perfect skin, because who does, don’t feel like you need to go for a full coverage just because of the photography. Photographers and videographers are great at editing and filming in a way that is going to highlight your beauty and set it off just right, so don’t worry about being 100 per cent perfect at the expense of feeling caked up and unnatural. You’re likely going to look flawless in the final results even without that heavy painted on foundation.
I opted for the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation because it was honestly the best match, the silkiest, and the most perfecting foundation (without being over the top) that I had personally come across. It’s not super high coverage so a little bit of layering went a long way without making me feel overly made up. It’s now become my firm favorite and far outweighs any other foundation I’ve ever tried.
Your wedding is probably not the time to experiment with new concealers unless you’re unhappy with the one you may currently use. I for one, love my everyday concealer, NARS Creamy Concealer. It’s a great color, blends beautifully, and can really be built up to cover almost anything. It also blended really well with my foundation (an important thing to test out well before the big day).
If you’re happy with your concealer don’t go crazy trying to find an even better one, as the combination of your foundation and concealer should do the trick. If you’re not happy and wondering where to start, go to the experts and try out at least a couple, because concealers, like foundations, really do come down to personal preference.
I always vote NARs, both the creamy and matte are amazing, and I believe the Tarte Shape Tape is a very similar, very strong contender, although I haven’t tried it extensively. Concealer can totally eliminate the need for color correctors (which I didn’t personally use at all, and which may well be confusing to many) and a heavy foundation, so pick this one wisely. It’s also a great idea to stick it in your bridesmaid’s or mom’s handbag, with a little beauty blender, to touch ups if you need any.
As for powder, I would say the same, stick with what you know works and doesn’t go crazy cakes on your skin type. I opted for the influencer favorite, the Laura Mercier - and it worked a dream. Highly recommend.
Lips: Your lip shade can really make or break your look. The right color will bring your face to life, and the wrong color can throw off your whole look, be aging, streaky, or just plain wrong. You don’t want to go wrong with your lip choice but the only way around this is try, try, try.
Get into the groove of the lipstick hunt a few months before so you can really test out as many shades and formulas as you are able to, and test drive them by wearing them all day, photographing them in different lights, and getting honest feedback on whether it works for you or not.
For me I finally found my perfect wedding lipstick in Charlotte Tilbury’s Miss Kensington, a slightly poppy nude pink, with a super, super creamy formula. I still use it every single day.
I really went to town with eyeshadow! I like having an eye heavy, and lip light look, and I do like to play around with my eye makeup and go the whole hog with lashes, when the occasion calls for it. That said I didn’t go particularly crazy but I did use a lot of colors to created what I hoped was a well blended and classic slightly pink toned smokey eye.
In photos, the eye makeup came out a lot less dramatic than it looked in real life, so that was something I learnt along the way. But going just a little heavier on the eyes than I would have thought was necessary did help them pop as well, and made me feel like it was a really special occasion.
I used a combination of the cult classics, Naked 2 and Naked 3. There were so, so many palettes I test drove in the months up to the wedding, including a whole bunch from Tarte, and I honestly almost drove myself crazy trying to decide.
In the end I realized it was all going to be much the same at the end of the day, for someone who is pretty much an amateur. What mattered more was technique and application, as most mainstream brands are going to have pretty good staying power and not too much fall out. I was really happy with the color selection using two palettes rather than one, I got to have that classic smokey eye as well as integrate a bit more pink and rose tones into it (very subtlety though). So practice your technique, watch videos, play around till you feel confident with it, and don’t stress too much about the palette itself.
Like I said with the concealer thing, in my own humble opinion, don’t go crazy trying new eyeliners. If you have one that works on your eyelids, dry or oil or creasy as they may be, then stick with it. It can take a lot of time to find just the right eyeliners for your eyes needs, and there are a plethora of options out there, so finding a new eyeliner if you’ve got one that works just doesn’t make sense to me.
At the end of the day a brown or black line is… a brown or black line! I used my everyday favorite, the Graphic Liner from Makeup Forever (I’ve tried a ton and its amazing, highly recommend!) and a brown and blue kohl smudgy pencil from Makeup Forever as well, as needed.
Simple, easy, just work on the technique as always, and you can do anything you like, even the notorious cat eye, with just a little bit of practice. Believe in yourself!
I used a blend of mascaras that I had been test driving for about a month (together) and that left me happy and not wanting for anything. There are so, so, so ridiculously many great mascaras out there. You can’t go wrong really.
I personally used a combination of Too Faced’s Better Than Love, and L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise mascara (possibly my favorite at the moment). You don’t need to go expensive even though yes I do love the Too Faced one, but anything, anything by Maybelline will be amazing pretty much. And if you’re wearing lashes, either false or extensions, the mascara doesn’t make a huge amount of difference, you just need to sure to apply it in a way that blends your natural lashes to the your… not so natural lashes!
I went for the classic Eylure because I knew I couldn’t go wrong. I had considered trying Huda Beauty but at the higher price point I felt a bit guilty buying a whole bunch to try out (and you do need to try them out beforehand) and that too, multiples of the ones I liked. Keep a few spare at hand, and try different ones for length and volume.
You’ll be suspired how much they transform your look. Applying my lashes was the only thing I got help from on the day (my brother’s lovely girlfriend stepped in and did it for me, she even creates prosthetics for film, so she has a very skilled and steady hand!), and I’m glad of it. You want to make sure you can do it right and if you’re even a tiny bit nervous, ask someone else who can.
Zoeva or Morphe, or any of the big name brands, and you can’t go wrong. Find a set you think is pretty and go for it! Just make sure you have enough to cover all your needs on the day without having to re use your brushes for multiple products.
And there you have it, the summary of why I did my own makeup, how I feel about it now, and what I used. The only important thing at the end of the day is feeling beautiful and your absolute best, so if thats at your hands or the hands of a talented makeup artist, so be it, you do you! Good luck!