5 Important Wedding Makeup Tips From Brides Who've Been There

woman with flower head piece


Weddings are stressful—that part, we know. Among all the champagne toasts and lovely speeches are decisions that, especially at the time, seem crucial. Included are things like the flowers, the dress, and, of course, the makeup look.

But where to begin? Choosing a makeup artist to help you look and feel your best on a day with a billion photo ops is nerve-racking, to say the least. And there's the look itself—what foundation will stay on all night? What lipstick will make you look like you… but better? What mascara won't run down your face during the ceremony? To help with a few of these questions, offer solace during a stressful time, and even recommend a few artists in the process, I reached out to five brides who've been there (and made it out successfully). Only, they have a few tips they wish they'd known before the big day. Below, find their best advice.

1. Keep your artist on hand for touch-ups

"I had just started working at CMG a couple of months prior to my wedding, so naturally I enlisted the help of my new Byrdie friends! I already had an artist on board—a celebrity makeup artist friend I met during my days of freelance styling, Kendra Richards. I knew I could trust her, and better yet, I knew she did Cindy Crawford's makeup from time to time, a total win. I created a mood board on Pinterest with all my favorite dewy glow, long lash looks (emphasis on long lashes). I wanted to keep things simple as I was having a beach wedding in May, and I didn't want to do anything outrageous. So I went for glossy cheeks, light pink lids, a subtle cat eye, and lash extensions galore.

"We used mostly Charlotte Tilbury products as my skin is a huge fan of her Wonder Glow ($55) and Light Wonder Foundation ($46). We used Chanel's Longwear Cream Eyeshadow ($36) on my lids and Ilia's Illuminator ($34) on my cheeks—which I swear by on any occasion. I was very happy with the overall look, but I was not happy with myself for telling my artist she could leave after we finished. I was so ready to get down that aisle, I wasn't really considering the windy (and might I add freezing) weather, which tends to make my cheeks a little blotchy. Luckily my maid of honor had some of my concealer in her purse and a little powder for touching up. But if I could go back in time, I would have had my makeup artist stay to do a quick fix after saying 'I do' and perhaps make my eyes a little smokier and more dramatic for the party." —Sarah

2. Do a makeup trial beforehand

"I had a hairstylist friend do my hair and makeup. She gets paid to do hair but knows her way around a makeup brush and has done a few weddings before, so I trusted her. Overall I felt beautiful, but I kicked myself for only doing a hair trial, not a makeup trial. I was just being too casual about the situation because she is a friend and I wanted something very easy and natural. But an hour or so before I walked down the aisle, I had the harsh realization that one persons 'natural' could be another person's glamazon. She did indeed use earthy tones, but my smoky eye was a lot more intense than I anticipated. I mean, it was a smoky eye! For someone who doesn't wear much makeup these days, I was a little taken back when I looked in the mirror. I told myself you have to wear a lot of makeup for the pictures, so it's okay and it's really not that much. It was true—it looks a lot more subtle in the pics—but if I had done it over, it would've been in real life, too. (Do a makeup trial!)

"I was completely in charge of my lip situation though. A wise makeup artist I know advises brides to wear the lipstick they wear regularly on their wedding day because you want to look like yourself. (I opted out of getting a spray tan for this reason as well.) So I wore Glossier Generation G in Crush ($18) like I do most days, and I loved it.

"But the thing that I think is the most important out of all of this is your skin. I wore the natural-looking Benefit Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation ($36), at my makeup artist’s suggestion, but I also took skincare supplements and upped my masking for months before the wedding to at least three times a week. I did one before I got my makeup done. It helped keep all my makeup in place, and even though I forgot to put on highlighter, my skin looked extra glowy all night." — Jane

3. Brows matter

"When I did my first makeup trial with the person I was using for my actual wedding, I showed him another photo of myself with my makeup done that I (thought) I liked and wanted to emulate. He quickly pointed out that my brows (which I try to keep looking natural) were not filled in enough relative to how much makeup I was wearing, leaving my face looking unfinished. I took a second look at the photo and realized he was 100% right. So I guess the lesson is even if you like a natural lip, eye, or whatever, make sure all aspects of your makeup look right together, not just alone." — Nicole

4. Make sure you feel comfortable with your artist and the price

"One thing I wish I'd known before was how expensive the trials can be. After all was said and done, I think I must have spent close to $500 on trials before the wedding day even happened. I suggest having a phone call with the artist prior to committing to a trial or deposit to get a sense of her personality.

"I ended up not loving the makeup from my first trial and spent over $300 with her for nothing. Luckily, I ended up using the artist from my second trial, and while she was slightly pricier for the day of wedding, she was such an amazing addition to the day, keeping my whole family calm! Not only did our makeup look flawless (and stay on all night), but she helped bustle my dress, made me feel amazing and confident, and like myself.

"At the end of the day, it wasn't just about the makeup, it's important to enjoy being around the artist. Your wedding day is overwhelming and stressful enough that the last thing anyone wants is to feel uncomfortable." — Jessica

5. Don't forget about the skin under your makeup

"If I could go back in time, I would have, first and foremost, seen an esthetician to come up with a proper skincare routine and plan for facial treatments. There are so many events and clinking of glasses that you understandably get tired, which can show on your skin.

"I'm generally not a makeup wearer, so I wasn't married to any brand but was really concerned about how every makeup artist kept telling me how I would need more makeup than I thought for the pictures—that kind of freaked me out. Another thing I ran up against was a lot of makeup artists wanted to use purplish hues in my eye shadow to enhance my green eyes. It felt like a bad seventh-grade dance all over again. In the end, I ended up entrusting them in the amount of makeup, but not the colors. The amount did translate into photos, but I personally couldn't wait to get home, wash my face, and wash all the hair spray out of my hair.

"In terms of choosing a makeup artist, I was really limited in terms of who to go to, given the location of my wedding and how far I was willing to travel the day of. Ultimately, what I remember about the day is that it was a really fun party, and I had a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich for breakfast and still fit in my dress.

"I ultimately decided what I cared about (my accessories) and tried to remain flexible with what professionals recommended given their knowledge." — Chelsea

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