On my wedding day, I did not only my own makeup, but also pretty much all of my bridesmaids’ makeup. Anna was my right-hand woman and assisted me, and my maid of honor, Kirsten, applied the fake eyelashes, but there was not a single makeup artist in sight.

Sounds crazy, right? I was a little bit stressed out, and had my bossypants on, but we all looked exactly how I wanted. I think it really is quite attainable to do your own makeup on your wedding day, and brides-to-be shouldn’t be sucked into the wedding planning vacuum and immediately feel they need to hire a makeup artist.

Don’t let someone talk you out of it

Many makeup artists tried to talk me out of it, they all said the same thing–you’ll be too stressed, too nervous, too emotional. However, after a makeup trial at Sephora (and coming out looking like the corpse of a drag queen), getting my makeup done at Dior (with lacklustre results) and having the girl at the Nars counter try to convince me that her scary clown makeup demonstrated her skill, I knew that finding a makeup artist do my makeup on my big day to my standards, was just not going to happen.

Now don’t get me wrong–there are amazing makeup artists out there, but they are few and far between. Your wedding day is the last day in the world that you would want to emerge looking like someone else, with too much makeup on. You want to look like you. I’m sure you have a vision of what you want to look like on that day–since you want to look and feel your most beautiful, you don’t need to feel that you have to leave that in somebody else’s hands.

Do your research

I truly believe that even if you aren’t skilled at makeup, you can have great wedding makeup with good products and few practice trials. I researched what I wanted to look like for months, and found these videos especially helpful. Go to a few makeup counters, and ask them to create a bridal look for you. You might feel silly, but believe me, they will quickly teach you what you like and what you don’t like, what you want to emphasize and highlight, and what kind of products and colours work best for your face.

Know your look

This is my version of wedding day makeup–I’m not saying it’s how every bride needs to look, it’s how I wanted to look. Brides need to think about what kind of makeup they wear every day (dramatic?–do you wear a cat eye or a red lip everyday?, natural?– no makeup-makeup, or hardly any makeup at all?, glamorous?–wear a smoky eye no matter what the occasion?). My advice is to take what you do on a regular day, and amp it up a bit with great, long-wearing products. If you feel most comfortable with a cat eye and a red lip, and that’s how you want to look on your wedding day, do it. There are no rules you need to follow. If you try to adopt a totally different person’s look for your big day, you will not only feel uncomfortable, but you probably will look back at your photos and wonder what you were thinking.

For me, personally, I hate wearing foundation (I feel like my skin is suffocating)–I only wear tinted moisturizer unless there is a big occasion. I knew that for foundation I wanted great, natural-looking coverage. For the eyes, I don’t do anything crazy for everyday–just usually natural colours in peaches and browns, with a pretty pink cheek and lip. These qualities were the basis for my look.

Don’t be scared

I think what scares people the most about makeup like this, is they are doing it wrong and that it is for a big occasion. As long as you select the right products, and blend, blend blend, you will be fine. You will also need to get over the fact of how much makeup you are putting on. This isn’t the day to just apply just a touch of blush. Want rosy cheeks? Pile it on. I’m not joking. If you want your eyes to pop, make that eyeliner thicker, get the more dramatic fake eyelashes. Don’t be scared. You need to exaggerate for it to show up on camera.

Be sure to monitor your trials with photographs. Get a friend to take some photos of you to see what shows up on camera, what colours work, what looks bad, etc. so you can tweak it.

Also, I know that a lot of brides will think, I’ve already spent so much on my wedding, I can afford to get some cheaper cosmetics. Honey–no you can’t. You are the face of the day whether you like it or not, and it is a long day. You want/need to look good for hours, without having to worry about your face while you are rushing around from the ceremony, to pictures, to the reception. Higher quality cosmetics will have more staying power and more pigment (you’ll use less product and your face won’t look cakey) so splurge, and go for the good stuff.

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