Wedding day bridal beauty: Should you DIY it, or head to the pros?
by Maria MacNamara

Wedding Day Beauty 1

Photo by Nancie De Ross

When it came time to planning my wedding, the big decisions came easy. Church, reception venue, and cake? All booked within a week. Dress? The second one I tried on my first day of shopping. But deciding on who would do my hair and makeup? Now that was stressful. A few bad makeovers over the years made me consider doing my own for the big day. And while I ultimately left it to the professionals, I've compiled a list of pros and cons on wedding day bridal beauty just for you.

DIY Your Look:

Wedding Day Beauty 2

Photo by Kensington Way

If you decide to do your makeup and hair yourself, practice makes perfect. Give yourself plenty of time to experiment and set a timer to see how long it takes you to achieve your desired look. (This will be crucial on your wedding day, as you don't want to feel rushed the morning of, or panic if something doesn't turn out right on the first attempt.) Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you have all the necessary tools to get started. These include good makeup brushes, great lighting, a big mirror, and makeup that will last from the ceremony to the reception. For hair, think quality brushes and combs, curling iron and/or straightener, bobby pins, and product. (Now is the time to invest in heavy-duty hair spray.) Stores like Sephora, Nordstrom, Ulta, and Blue Mercury are excellent resources for brides; not only will you find every brush and brand under the sun, but the experts on hand will show you how to apply each product and find the perfect look for you. (Bonus? You'll have a new beauty arsenal to utilize long after the wedding day!)
  • Do your research! I love the how-to hair and beauty posts from Gal Meets Glam, Cupcakes and Cashmere, The Small Things Blog, and The Beauty Department and constantly reference this Pinterest board for all my favorites. YouTube also offers helpful tutorials from beauty bloggers and makeup artists alike.
  • Remember that wedding day makeup isn't the same as everyday makeup. Layering products will ensure longevity and photograph best; be prepared to wear more makeup than you're used to!
  • Selfie time! Take photos in both artificial and natural light to get the full effect and if possible, have a friend snap a few shots from different angles.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. You've mastered the perfect cat eye, but maybe curling the back of your hair is proving to be rather tricky. A friend or relative can help you get those hard-to-reach places and push those extra bobby pins into place.
  • Remember, doing your own hair and makeup doesn't necessarily mean you'll save money. If you need to purchase a lot of tools and product (and the really great ones aren't cheap), suddenly salon prices don't seem so scary. Weigh the financial pros and cons first before you make any decisions.

Head To The Pros:

For me, choosing to hire hair and makeup stylists eliminated the stress of trying to do it myself, especially as I don't wear much makeup in real life and keep my hair pretty simple. The key to hiring pros? A hair and makeup trial. I can't stress this enough! Although my trial cost as much as the two services on my wedding day, I walked away from the salon feeling incredibly confident that we understood each other and would achieve the same look the second time around. (And they nailed it!)

What to know for your salon visits:

  • Once again, do your research! Bridal and fashion magazines, Pinterest, blogs - the sky's the limit when it comes to finding hair and makeup styles for the big day. (Case in point: my eye makeup inspiration came from a random Victoria's Secret catalog.) I liked the side part of one hairstyle with the updo of another and having color print-outs of all my favorite looks helped my stylists recreate them.
  • When booking appointments, make sure that the stylists you work with for the trial are the same stylists you work with on your wedding day. If you're not happy with your first trial, set up another one with a different stylist and book your wedding day appointment with them.
  • Ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. That's what your stylists are there for. If your hair texture is fine, request a strong-hold hairspray and extra bobby pins to keep the style in place. If you're concerned that a foundation might be too heavy for your skin type, inquire about other formulas. For the wedding day itself, ask your stylist for recommendations for easy touch-ups on the go. (I bought the travel-size version of the hairspray and the lipstick and powder to keep in my clutch.)
  • Which brings me to my next point: Don't be afraid to speak up. Trust me, you will not offend a good stylist by doing so. (And if they are, you're better off working with someone else!) How you look is just as much a reflection of their work and the salon that employees them, so they have every interest in achieving the desired result. If they need to start over from scratch during your trial, this is a far better time to do it than on your big day! Your wedding hair and makeup will be captured in photos forever, and you should feel 100% confident and happy in the direction your stylists take.
  • Say cheese! Take photos in both artificial and natural light to get the full effect and if possible, have a friend snap a few shots from different angles to refer to later.
  • Many salons will comp the bride's hair and/or makeup services on the wedding day if she or her wedding party spend a certain amount in the salon. Make sure to ask about any perks or discounts for you and your crew!

Would love to hear all about your wedding hair and makeup trials! Send me a note at the style letters, Twitter (@styleletters), or Facebook, and follow my wedding inspirations on Pinterest.


About Maria: With over ten years’ experience in the fashion industry, Maria MacNamara has styled women all over the world, from Jimmy Choo and Brown Thomas in Ireland to J.Crew and kate spade new york in the United States. An accomplished writer and editor, she has been featured in ELLE, Redbook, and InStyle. As editor of the style letters, she has worked with major brands,she has worked with major brands, as well as local designers and boutiques. Follow Maria's style adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!