A few years ago, I was asked to write a bridal beauty article for Martha Stewart Weddings. Whether you hire a professional makeup artist (recommended) or decide to DIY (not recommended), I lovingly offer you THE BEST BRIDAL MAKEUP TIPS …ever!
My Bridal Philosophy
There have been so many gorgeous brides in magazines, film, TV and real life – but almost 60 years later (1956), Grace Kelly (left) remains the quintessential bride – classically beautiful and absolutely timeless.
She was the epitome of what a bride should be…the most beautiful version of herself.  Grace Kelly had what I call the bridal “ahhhhhh factor”  At first glance, she takes your breathe away and you gasp (slightly). As you absorb what you’re seeing (in more detail), you release a sigh of approval (ahhhhh). Grace Kelly was the ultimate “ahhhhh” bride.  She mesmerized the world with her classic beauty…and so can you!
Save the ‘Red Carpet’ look for the guests.

Many women attending the wedding will get their glam on and attempt a red carpet look for your event …but what smart bride wants to look like the rest of her guests?  I feel the same way about brides who turn to the runway and fashion trends…I’m not a fan.
You have to be super careful with trend or runway looks. They become dated VERY quickly. The last thing you want to hear is guests murmuring in amusement at your ‘interesting’ bridal beauty choices. Do you want to be that bride? You know, the one who looks at her wedding album years later, wondering, “what was I thinking?”
Don’t believe it happens?  Go ask a trend bride from the 80’s or 90’s…ouch!

I’m a bridal makeup purist.  Women should look like the most beautiful version of HERSELF on the big day. Looking timeless is the key, but timeless doesn’t mean you can’t look modern.  Always keep the bridal “ahhhhh factor” in mind.  You want to hear that soft sound of recognition, confirming you are the undisputed star of this event.  Beautifully applied makeup that accentuates and enhances all of your best features is the only way to bring on the “ahhhhh’s”.

Make it last…
Between the cheers. tears, hugs, kisses and endless photos, a bride needs to look fabulous throughout the event. It is imperative for makeup to not only look great but to hold up…even under extreme circumstances.  With thoughtful application and carefully chosen products, you can create what I lovingly call The Bulletproof Bride™.

Prepping skin correctly is the ONLY way to ensure a flawless, long lasting makeup.  The key is well-prepared skin that is cleansed, exfoliated and moisturized/hydrated properly.  Proper skincare should be followed by a makeup primer if you have a skin challenge like oiliness, enlarged pores or a rough skin texture. There are fantastic primers that address each of these concerns.

Recommended Primers:

Choose a foundation that suits your skin type and coverage needs. Your foundation color must be an exact match to you neck and should never look heavy or obvious – even if you need full coverage. Modern full coverage foundations offer amazing, opaque coverage without looking thick or heavy. Here’s where I jump on the new technology bandwagon. Silicone based makeups float on top of the skin (not down in the pores) and create a long-lasting, water-resistant, natural look.

Recommended Foundations:

I use a lot of Waterproof, Water-Resistant and Transfer-Resistant color cosmetics in my arsenal of bullet-proofers. Foundations, eye makeup, blushes and lip colors that have these long-lasting properties will stay put and fresh looking…no matter what happens.  Just remember to choose products carefully – make sure they’re comfortable on the skin and have a natural look (not dry or cakey).

Be careful with special effects…

There are lots of sparkling, shimmering and luminizing products being marketed to brides.  Adding a special effect to one part of your makeup can personalize it and make it unique, but you have to know when to edit.  Too much glitter and glow can look theatrical…and in the worst case scenario – cheap.
Be very careful with the placement of shimmering/luminizing products on the face. They might create a magical glow in person, but they usually strobe (reflect light back like a mirror) when a photo flash goes off.  Incorrect placement will make skin look greasy in the pictures (no bride wants to look greasy).  Keep the shimmering/luminizing products away from the T-zone area (forehead, nose, chin) to avoid this phenomenon.

I LOVE glossy lips on a bride, they look fresh and youthful.  But they can be a bit messy when kissing lots of people and become high maintenance throughout the wedding day. If you opt for glossy lips, be prepared to reapply often so all of your pictures look great.

The MOST essential application tip…
The biggest rule of thumb – BLEND, BLEND, BLEND! And when you think you’re done…blend some more! Nothing looks worse in bridal photos than streaky foundation, stripes of blush (or contour) and unblended eyeshadow. Keep thinking soft and diffused and you’ll look gorgeous and have awesome photos.

Common mistakes made when applying bridal makeup…
Applying too much makeup is the fatal flaw for brides. Always do you makeup tests wearing a white shirt or with a white towel or bib draped in front of you.  It takes far less makeup to create an impact against a white background. A dark or brightly colored background will prompt you to go deeper, brighter – too far! Remember you’re face will be framed by a white dress and veil.  All intense colors or dark (smoky) makeup between these two white areas will be amplified by the “bounce “ of the flash.

Keep your eye makeup palette soft and stay away from overly saturated colors.  You want to create beautiful detailing without adding harsh or obvious color. Lips and cheeks in soft mauves, roses, and peachy bronzes will compliment skin tones naturally. Only wear red lipstick on your wedding day if you normally wear intense lip colors.  There’s nothing more jarring than a woman who usually wears earthy neutral colors showing up on her wedding day with an uncharacteristic slash of crimson across her mouth.


Beautiful Bronze
No one can dispute how luxurious and magical gold and bronze tones look …especially on a bride. This look compliments more romantic gowns in lace, organza, and tulle.


Photo: Luis Aragon - Hair: Kat Aragon - Makeup: KJ Bennett
I begin by defining the eyes with a rich bronze eyeshadow applied all over the lid and blended up to the crease of the eye.  I add a soft  peach to the crease and blend it upwards toward the brow.  I finally take a pale gold and apply it to the upper and lower inside corner of the eye (near the tear duct).

I line the upper eyelid with a dark chocolate brown pencil and smudge it softly.  I use a shimmering bronze or copper pencil on the outer half of the lower lid and smudge it toward the inner corner of the eye. These colors look best on a slightly sun-kissed skin, so I softly bronze the high points of the face. I sweep it across the cheeks, upwards and back towards the temples and then dust a little along the hairline and below the chin, making sure to blend well and not leave edges or streaks. Then I mix the bronzer with a touch of powder blush in a peachy tone to add a touch of color to apples of the cheek.   I finish the look with a glossy coral color on the lips.

My Picks To Recreate This Look:

  • Eyeshadow – Makeup Geek Eyeshadows in Goddess and Bleached Blond are the perfect pairing for this look.
  • Eyeliner – Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in Pearly Brown (2L) on the upper lid and Copper (10L) on the lower. These pencils will not budge, no matter how many tears fall.
  • Cheeks – Matte bronzers work best and Too Faced Matte Chocolate Bronzers come in three shades to suit any skin-tone.
  • I like using blush colors that are clear and crisp when I mix with bronzer (you don’t want to create muddy looking cheeks). ColourPop Blush in Fox is the perfect peachy coral tone to add a subtle pop of color (sorry about the pun).
  • Lips – Armour Beauty Opaques are long-lasting, highly pigmented glosses that eliminate the need for a lipstick as a base. Ann-Margret is a sophisticated rich coral that looks great on most skin tones.
Classic Elegance
Think of refined Hollywood glamour…Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and of course, Grace Kelly.  This look compliments tailored, contemporary wedding gowns in silk or satin.
Photo: Michael Webber – Hair/Makeup: Floriane David
This makeup is all about structure and definition, with one singular touch of color. Eyes are neutral and perfected from lid to brow bone with a creamy flesh-tone eyeshadow.  The crease of the eyelid is defined with a medium taupe/brown color.
This look screams for  “lash assistance”, so I reach for the faux eyelashes.  I shy away from individual lashes, as they tend to spin or pop off at inconvenient times (not cute in the middle of a wedding celebration). ALWAYS lock the faux lashes to the naturals with at least one coat of waterproof mascara. We finish the eye with a crisp, linear line on the upper lid – nothing on the lower (except a little mascara).  I rely on the sharpness and stability of a waterproof gel eyeliner for this step.
I don’t want cheek color to draw focus away from the defined eyes and lips, so I blend cream blush with a touch of foundation to create a delicate ‘barely there’ tint to the cheeks.  The star of this look is the classic red lip.  Because this is bridal, you don’t want the red to be too bold or vivid. I prefer a rich brick red color.

My Picks To Recreate This Look:

SPECIAL NOTE: I use ONLY WATERPROOF mascara for brides and  L’Oreal Voluminous Waterproof in Carbon Black is an all-time favorite.

One thing that every bride should remember on her wedding day…
HAVE FUN!  Once the actual wedding day arrives, control over things is pretty much out of your hands. I know you hate to hear this, but it’s the truth.  Stressing at this point is a waste of time and energy.

If you’ve done your research, followed the advice of bridal professionals and hired people you trust to get the job done correctly…all you have to do is enjoy the compliments your beautiful bridal look creates!


The #MyTwoCents Blog is informational only and not a substitute for professional advice. Product(s) featured in posts were purchased unless otherwise noted. ALL reviews are unsponsored, and product links are NOT MONETIZED (no affiliate links). Outgoing links are directed to reference sources and trusted retailers. Click the star (above left) for more Legal information.

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