Wedding makeup: Tips for your Special Day


Even though wedding makeup is usually very simple and neutral, it’s one of the hardest makeup looks to create, since it has to be PERFECT. After all, it is your big day!

Makeup should last all day, through all the crying, hugging, kissing, eating and dancing.  You’ll probably want to get your mascara waterproof, lips to be kiss proof, and your skin makeup to be bombproof.  (I really recommend Model in a Bottle as it makes your makeup last several hours!)

Your goal is to bring out your best features- not to prove how well you apply your makeup. So keep it simple but pretty. Sometimes less is more.

If you’re going get your makeup done by a professional makeup artist, be sure to tell him/her what you want from your makeup. If you want something bolder, or some specific color, you should be able to get it. It is after all YOUR day, and you’re the one who gets to decide how your makeup looks.

Don’t forget your decollete, if your dress shows it. A little amount of soft shimmer gives the final touch to your look.

Remember that some foundations and/or powders look different in pictures, since they reflect light differently. If possible, get your makeup checked and photographed with a flash before the big day. Also, blend your foundation down the neck some to make sure your face does not look different from the rest of your body.

If you’re getting any facial treatments, make sure to get them several days before the wedding day. Sometimes skin can look irritated for the next couple of days after treatments, and you don’t need that kind of surprise!

Get  your brows plucked and shaped (possibly even dyed) before the wedding day. If you pluck them on your wedding day, your brows may look red, swollen and irritated.

If you’re going to wear contact lenses on your wedding day, put the lenses on before applying your makeup.

Try not to stress too much (easier said than done, I know!).  Stress may cause impurities on your skin. If  you have some impurities, do not pick at them as it makes them worse! Also, put a clean pillowcase on every night and drink plenty of water (avoid sugars, excess milk, and carbonated beverages).  Your body and skin reflects what you eat, so get plenty of veggies and fruits.


Some basic notes about wedding makeup…

Makeup that lasts:  Face primers

  • Fills in pores and makes the skin look smoother
  • Makes the makeup last longer

*My favorite face primer: Benefit “The Porefessional”

Hide imperfections:  Concealers

  • Green neutralizes redness (rosacea, pimples, etc)
  • Yellow neutralizes blue (dark circles)
  • Lavender neutralizes yellowness

TIP: Apply colored concealers before foundation to get the best result.  For application techniques, see Marlena’s video on How to Conceal Undereye Circles or How to Hide Acne

*My favorite undereye concealer: Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer

Perfect  skin:  Foundations

  • Make sure foundation matches your skin tone, be sure to check it in both natural light and artificial light
  • If possible, check out how your makeup base looks in photos: Does it appear lighter or darker than the rest of your skin?
  • You can set the foundation using powder – just be sure you don’t apply it too much, so the result doesn’t look cakey. Preferably use translucent powder.

For foundation application techniques, check out Marlena’s video  How to Custom Mix your Foundation or  Face Routine

*My favorite foundation: Revlon Colorstay

Shine the light:  Illuminators/ Highlighters

  • Doesn’t everyone want to shine on their wedding day? To get that wedding day glow, apply highlighter to the tops of your cheekbones, near the tear ducts, and just under the brows.  Any more than that and you’ll be looking like a disco ball…. Keep the glitter and shimmer products to a minimum.

*My favorite highlighter: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish

Blushing bride: Blushes

  • To avoid looking too pale, use a subtle blush on the apple of your cheeks- it brings more life to your face.  A universal flattering shade is a peachy pink color…

*Best universal blush ever: NARS Blush in “Orgasm”

Sit, stay:   Eyeshadow primers

  • Use eyeshadow primer to keep your eyeshadow in place, even when you’re crying out of happiness. This will prevent creasing throughout the day.

*My favorite eye primer:   Tarte Natural Eye Primer

Cry-baby:   Mascaras

  • Use waterproof mascara, so it won’t end up on your cheeks if you happen to shed a tear (or a dozen). You don’t always have to use black mascara- for a more natural look, brown mascara can be better choice.

To see how to apply mascara like a pro, check out Marlena’s video  How to Apply Mascara or How to Curl your Lashes Like a Pro

This will lash forever:   False lashes

  • Easy way to enhance your eyes without using too much makeup is to wear artificial lashes. If you are afraid that lash glue will leave you in trouble, you can get yourself lash extensions for the big day.  The most natural looking lashes have an invisible base like Ardell’s Invisbands

*The most natural lashes (and easiest to apply):  Ardell #301’s

Hugs & kisses :  Lips

  • Choose a lasting lip color. If it doesn’t last, make sure it matches your groom’s outfit, because he’ll be the one wearing it eventually…  Lipstains work really well as they give a nice color to the lips that you need for pictures, plus it lasts for hours.
  • Choose a lip liner the same color as your lipstick/ gloss. Lip liners prevent the lipstick from bleeding.

TIP: Apply lip liner to whole lips before applying lipstick. It makes the color last even longer.

*My favorite lipstains: Palladio Lipstains

*My favorite inexpensive lipliners that work really well! NYX Lipliners


Remember that the wedding day is supposed to be YOUR (and your groom’s) special day, so if you want to have theme wedding, purple eyeliner and orange wedding dress, just go for it!

Profile photo of Jangsara


Comments are now closed on this article.

great article! one problem i have with foundation is that it looks good on my skin, but in photos my face appears lighter than the rest of im not sure what im doing wrong, as i match up the foundation to my skin and it still comes up bright..any ideas?

You may want to try using the “night setting” on your camera instead. I have the same problem with my fair to medium skin and bronzer doesn’t seem to help. Typically when brides hire photographers, the photographers will use diffusers on their flashes so their clients don’t look like ghosts. I hear foundation with SPF could be the reason too but I think it’s just a myth…

Thanks for your thoughts Elise! I’m tan with olive complexion, mac NW35-40, so I’m not sure what to do..maybe I’ll try the flash approach, as in real life, my face looks ok..even without flash its fine. im using revlon’s colorstay atm and love it, except for the lighter face in pics :/

I know the problem and it is quite a frequent one. Apparently that happens because the foundation worn reflects the camera’s flash (or possibly even any other light) where as the skin from neck down absorbs light and hence looks darker. Foundations with SPF are usually worse as they contain minerals that reflect sun light to protect your skin from damage.

Thank you so much for this article. I wrote this BIG letter to you on your “Indian wedding inspired make-up” with all these question for my Big day…. I got a lot of advice from everyone,which was very sweet n kind of them….but I was still hoping that you or your team would reply to my mail. But I didn’t know you would go through all the trouble of coming up with this article. Thank you so so so much.
You proved me right again… You are a beautiful person and your team is a reflection of you.
Keep up the good work. Best wishes always.
Much Love

Very nice article – I did my own wedding makeup (I’m not an artist), the reason being I’m quite particular about my makeup (read: a control freak!) and didn’t want to risk someone else doing it! A bit scary, so I know how hard it is to find the right advice. This is a very useful piece.

@Kiran – the professional’s can correct me here if I’m wrong – but one major thing I discovered is to avoid SPF. By it’s very nature, it reflects light particles away from your skin. So, when you have your picture taken, especially with a flash, your face lights up!

Many moisturisers contain SPF, so try to avoid one on the day – if you can (where I’m from, we don’t have a problem with the sun so much!).

hope that helps…

Hi Jackie, thanks for your suggestion! Im using Revlon’s colorstay atm, i used to use Mac studiofix but that has spf in it, so might try see how this goes..thanks again!

bummer, just had a look, my revlon has spf too..i live in australia, im not sure which liquid foundation does not have spf in it..any brands you lovely MUGs out there can recommend? Much love!

Hi Kiran,
> You’re welcome!
> I used Clinique Even Better foundation, which is spf 15, on the day and I avoided using anything else with spf i.e. moisturiser etc.  I have revlon colourstay too – but I see that is only spf 6…. so I wonder what else could be causing your lighter complexion??  I know that when I use a moisturiser with spf25 under my makeup, it reflects quite a lot of light.
> Some finishing powders, especially MUFE HD, reflect severely in flash photography.  I know too, from experience, that those under eye concealers are best used in moderation for the same reason! 
> A bit of experimenting might be called for here!
> best of luck!

… just to clarify, I did actually use a moisturiser, just one w/out spf!

@Elise – it could well be a myth, I think I’m going to have to go home & do my face half n half to see if its true! Will let ya know how it goes :)

Just wanted to add that the difference can depend more on the ingredients, than the level of spf. There are topical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens. The chemical suncreens are designed to sink into the skin with your moisturizer, using ingredients like oxybenzone or avobenzone. Topical sunscreens use ingredients like zinc that are designed to sit on the surface of the skin and block the sun. These can flash white in photography, as well as foundations that have talc. MUFE finishing powder I have not had a problem with it flashing white because it is silca powder, which looks white but is actually translucent and at least very, very tiny. But I am generally lovely corpse pale so that could just be me. Use a lighter hand with it becasue less is more with that stuff. Just make sure you do your make up for the wedding, then the last step is to hit your entire face and chest with a powder. Sometimes it’s just the fact that there is make-up on your face and no make-up on your chest and shoulders that makes the difference. Hope that helps and at the very least the rambling was entertaining.

Revlon Color Stay is fine with only a SPF 6 . but just make sure you arent using a SPF cream under it as well.i have used it for years on my brides and I have Never had a issue. I absolutely LOVE the flawless coverage.

thanks for a great article! i loved the part at the end about making it “yours” too. my only regret is that I did not wear lilac nails like i wanted to. the ladies at the nail place talked me into pale pink since it was my wedding, but purple would have been so more me! well if that is my only regret, I am pretty lucky!

Hi, I really want to know what the best face setting powder is for photography. I am planning to do my own makeup for wedding (whenever that is lol) and just need a good face powder which will look really nice in photos without flashback/greasyness etc. I am NC30 thank u x

Honestly, the best thing to do? Try some stuff that you already have (if you have any) and go out and take photos in the lighting conditions you expect your photos to be taken in. (If you have a friend with a really nice camera, this is the time to bribe them with lunch. ;) )

That way you can see what works on you, what doesn’t work on you, if something looks the way you imagine, etc.

If everything you have is a failure, then look at the properties of the items – shimmer? SPF? Mineral base? Color? – and try something that doesn’t have some or all of those properties.

(Plus, folks, also remember that these days, most professional photographers probably are willing to include some retouching or color correcting work post-photos being taken, so if you get a fantastic photo that you love except that your face has a weird glow in one spot, it’s probably something that can be saved. Depending on the degree of difficulty, it might cost you some, so you do want to do your best to start with, but if there are those photos that just don’t come out but are otherwise perfect – there’s a LOT we can do with photo editing these days. :) )

Marlena what would you consider to be the best eyeshadow brands (expensive and inexpensive) to use on different skin tones?

Jangsara: would you please do a swatch of the Palladio lipsteins.. The other day I bought one that I thought it might be nude and it turn out to be kinda red. Thanks.

Marlena ur AWESOME!! I love ur tutorials and everyhthing u do on the website! ur very dedicated and ur work showss!! keep it up!!!

I love that you love Revlon Color Stay. I have used it on my brides for years. nothing compares to it. its a silicone base and it lasts ALL DAY!!

Awesome awesome tips!! Im getting married in about a week and a half so this was great!! I was definetly stressing and I broke out but its slowly going away =( I think Im going to be picking up the Benefit Porefessional, Ive been hearing good reviews on it and Im running out of my current face primer.. eeks! Thanks for the great tips!

Any way we could get a run-down of the eyeshadow colors used in the pictures? Those are some beautiful looks!

Hi Marlena,

I Just Love Your Make Up Tutorials And Advice =}

Im Getting Married In November And I Was Wondering If By Any Chance You Knew Or Could Recommened Me A Make Up Artist That Works In Los Angeles.

Thank You

Great tips , i’ve learnt new and useful things, that i will give them a try :)