Wedding Makeup

Your Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Wedding Makeup

Are you a girl who’s always dreamed of a fairytale wedding to your very own Prince Charming? Well, congratulations—you’ve found your prince! Now you need to hone in on your secret weapon for feeling like a fairytale princess: radiant wedding day makeup.

Makeup may not seem such a big deal to your groom—he loves you for who you are, not how well you sculpt your cheekbones! But it does play a major role when it comes to your lasting happiness. Not only do you want to be your most beautiful on your wedding day, but you also want to look back at the photos and feel beautiful just remembering. But since there are probably half a million ways to deal with makeup, we’ve drawn up this guide to lessen your wedding planning load—at least when it comes to your makeup!

Book Your Makeup Artist Early

If you plan to have a professional do your makeup, book him or her at least 6 months before the wedding day. The best ones are always booked full, and the last thing you want on an occasion as important as your wedding is to settle for second best!

If you don’t know a makeup pro and need to shop for one, one of the most important things is for the two of you to click. You and your makeup artist absolutely must have an excellent working relationship—after all, you’re trusting this beauty expert to make you look ravishing on your big day while also capturing your personality. You don’t want to look like someone so totally different that nobody recognizes you!

Allow about 45-60 minutes on the day of the wedding to complete your makeup session. You don’t want your artist to feel rushed. If you have a larger entourage, or you’re providing full makeup for your attendants, you may need to hire two experts. And by the way, if there’s any way that you can afford it, it’s a terrific treat for the bride to provide professional makeup for her ladies—moms and grandmothers, too!

It shouldn’t be terribly difficult to find two artists who already work together at least occasionally. The most important thing is for the two of them to coordinate so you’ll have a uniform presentation when everyone walks down the aisle.

Wedding Venue & Theme

The type of makeup look you choose heavily depends on your venue. A wedding held outdoors on a warm day—like a beach, rustic garden, or backyard setting—requires an entirely different look than a winter wedding or even a formal summer wedding that’s held at a fancy indoor venue. Here are some general tips for both indoor and outdoor wedding makeup looks:

Outdoor Wedding Makeup
  • Apply a generous amount of broad-spectrum sunscreen before the ceremony and again during the reception if you start to feel the sun.
  • Use light or medium coverage foundation to avoid a cakey look.
  • Even in the sun, dark under eye circles will show in photos, so if necessary, use an orange-based concealer.
  • Waterproof mascara is mandatory!
  • For a summery glow, stick with soft coral and pink cheek colors rather than bright pink or red blush.
  • Blotting papers are also mandatory!
Indoor Formal Wedding Makeup:
  • Stay away from too much shimmer and glitter—flash photography can make you look pale and can create shiny spots.
  • Warm up your look with a good bronzer.
  • Blend, blend, blend! You can’t have any blotches or patches of concealer on your face whatsoever. If at all possible, airbrush makeup is your best bet.
  • Choose shades of plum, peach, and rose and go for brighter tones for contrast, not darker.
Skin Type

Just as every bride is unique, so is each bride’s skin type. It’s not difficult to find the right makeup for your skin color and texture if you take a little time to learn. Never be afraid to ask for help and advice. Looking radiantly beautiful on your special day is a definite must so the more you know the better!

  • Foundation

Always use a foundation shade close to your natural skin tone. Then learn whether you need a shade with cool or warm undertones. If you have reasonably flawless skin, you might be able to use a light tinted moisturizer for full coverage. No matter whether you choose full or light coverage, though, you absolutely must use some kind of base so that your blush, bronzer, and eye colors go on smoothly.

Just as you would every day, use oil-free foundation if your skin tends to be oily or shiny, or a moisturizing foundation if your skin tends to be dry. Another golden rule is to use a matte primer so your makeup will last longer.

  • Eyes

Your eyes will be the focal point, no question, but even for the most amazing close-up photos, you don’t necessarily want to match your eyeshadow to your eye color. You want colors that make your eyes pop.

Also, using good brushes and proper blending—lots and lots of blending—is a definite must. Depending on your overall look and facial structure, you can either opt for full fake lashes or use individual lashes for a lighter, more natural look.

  • Blush

There’s no rule that says you can’t go bold with blush on your big day. Just make sure you balance the look. If your eye look is more dramatic, tone down the blush. If you want a brighter blush and maybe a lipstick that matches, keep your eyes more neutral.

As always, the general rule is that fair-skinned brides should go for paler shades, dark-skinned brides should opt for golden brown, plum and rose, and pinkish brown works well with medium skin tones. For a finishing touch, fluff on a little powder to soften the edges.

  • Lips

First off, yes, you can wear red lipstick for your wedding! Just pick the right shade for your skin. Also, in order for your lips to show up better in photos, you’ll want some kind of color and not  flesh tone shade or just gloss. So if you opt for the more traditional pink or coral, be sure to take some selfies to make sure your lips pop, even if just a little bit.

Also, choose a lipstick that goes with your skin type. You might need a primer, lip liner, maybe a moisturizing lipstick or perhaps a matte lipstick to keep the oily look at bay. If you’re not sure, once again, your friendly neighborhood department store makeup artist may be your best resource.

Now, while this is not a comprehensive guide, here are some common suggestions for lipstick shades to go with skin tone and hair color:

  • Red hair: brown undertones, bronze hues, coral red
  • Fair skin & light hair: pinks & purples (if cool undertone), oranges and reds (if warm undertone)
  • Dark skin & dark hair: red & violet
Complement Your Dress

Your wedding dress color (and all those different wedding whites are different “colors”) as well as the style of your gown should dictate your makeup look. If your dress is a classic wedding white, you can opt for an elegant and subdued look or you can go with brighter lips or eyes or cheeks, whatever you fancy.

If your dress is a jewel tone or a pastel, you might want to draw your dress color into your eyeshadow. If your dress is very bold, consider the classic black or gray eye color palette.

Maintaining Your Wedding Glow

Along with your dress emergency kit, make sure to pack a makeup touchup kit. Here’s a list of common items to include:

  • Lipstick
  • Face powder & brush
  • Makeup remover
  • Blotting papers
  • Blush & brush
  • Compact mirror
  • Concealer
  • Eyeliner touchup  

Your maid of honor should have some or all of these on hand, just in case. You’ll also most likely lose some of your lip color during dinner—or accidentally wipe it all off while wiping wedding cake off your face! Then there are all those lovely happy tears, so plan to fix your eye makeup at least once during the day.

Classic vs. Trendy

While we all love at least one or two of those glamorous celebrity looks, don’t make the mistake of some brides and ask your makeup artist to turn you into a Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton on your wedding day. You want to look perfectly beautiful, but you still want to look like you—just the most beautiful you possible.

As for trends like dark smoky eyes or dark lips, make sure you think things through. You don’t want to look back at your photos and say, “What was I thinking?!” Classic and timeless makeup is just that: classic and timeless. Your wedding photos are forever and what’s trending now probably won’t be popular on your 10th anniversary let alone your 20th. If you really are a rule breaker at heart, then break some rules. Just make sure that it’ll be your beauty that shines through in your photos, not just your wild eye palette or too-trendy lips.

Rule #1: Chill!

We know that, most likely, your makeup and hair may be your biggest concern, but you don’t want to stress too much, else it’ll show in your skin. To stave this off, make sure you allow enough time for a few makeup trials to get everything just right, then you can keep your cool on your big day.

A calm, cool, and composed bride is always a beautiful bride, so do everything you can to be happy and living in the moment, not looking in the mirror!


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