I'm at that age when everyone is either getting married, having babies, or quitting their jobs to Eat, Pray, Love their way around the world. While it's fun to see everyone enter a new phase of life, this also equates to a lot of weddings and celebratory occasions. And after two years of postponed ceremonies and a slew of quarantine engagements...phew! I needed to be fully equipped for all of the back-to-back weddings on my social calendar this year, starting with what was in my makeup bag. (If I'm going to be spending my life savings on attending all of these events, I'm going to look good doing it!)
While many makeup products work great for everyday wear, weddings call for more specific features—think mascara that won't smudge when you 'happy cry' and setting powder that can absorb sweat during those sweltering summer ceremonies. It's also worth considering travel-sized beauty products you can take with you to destination weddings and bachelorette parties. Look for versatile options, like neutral eyeshadow palettes and simple lip colors that complement a range of different wedding guest dresses.
To help you prepare for all the nuptials that are still to come, I'm sharing a few of the must-have makeup items I couldn't have made it through wedding season without. If you want your cheekbones to shimmer under the venue lights, I swear by the Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder. Need something to make your look last all day? I love the Benefit Cosmetics 24-Hour Brow Setter and the NYX Matte Finish Makeup Setting Spray.
Read on for the best makeup products for wedding guests.
Best for Outdoor Weddings
Chanel CC Cream Super Active Complete Correction SPF 50
Weddings were aplenty this spring and summer, so I turned to this tinted moisturizer for every outdoor ceremony. I love the fact that it's infused with SPF 50, so I can rest assured that my skin is protected from the sun. I use it as my face foundation and the first step of my makeup routine–its moisturizing and illuminating formula sets the perfect base for the rest of my glam look. The best part is that a little goes a long way with this CC cream. All you need is a thin layer of product for a full-coverage look.
Price at time of publish: $55
Best Brow Tool
Benefit Cosmetics 24-HR Brow Setter Brow Gel with Lamination Effect
Never underestimate the power of good eyebrows! This clear gel easily shapes brows and locks them in place for up to 24 hours, making it a must for weddings that last all day and night. I'd especially recommend this for bridesmaids, as you'll want your makeup to stay put for every photo op on the big day. I typically apply this after filling in my brows with a pencil applicator to polish the final look, but it's also a great option for those who want to achieve a laminated eyebrow effect.
Price at time of publish: $24
Best for Long-Lasting Looks
NYX Professional Makeup Setting Spray Matte
Between crying happy tears and sweating it out on the dance floor, it's essential to finish your makeup look with a setting spray before the wedding festivities begin. I especially love this option from NYX for its long-lasting effects and compact size (a must for destination weddings!). The breathable formula controls shine and holds makeup in place for up to 16 hours, so you can let loose at the reception without worrying about touch-ups.
Price at time of publish: $10
Bobbi Brown Highlighting Powder
For me, a great highlighter is the cherry on top of my makeup routine. I just love a little extra shimmer and shine! This Bobbi Brown highlighting powder has been my go-to for years because it adds an eye-catching pop without distracting from the rest of my look. I apply this to my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose for an added glow and radiant finish. I also love that this powder comes in a wide range of shades and is free of parabens and phthalates.
Price at time of publish: $52
Best Smudge-Free Formula
Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara
This unique firm-hold tubing mascara formula is like something I've never seen before. Instead of smearing or running when it gets wet, the mascara comes off in fiber-like pieces that slide right off your lashes–you don't even need soap or eye makeup remover to take it off at the end of the night! So when those happy tears hit as the couple exchanges their vows, you can trust that your look will stay intact (just bring the mascara in your purse for touch-ups).
Price at time of publish: $25
Tarte Clay Play Face Shaping Palette
This is my go-to palette, especially when I travel, because it offers multiple products in one. It features matte eyeshadows and contouring powders that multitask as universal eye and face-shaping shades. I love that I can use this to achieve both a simple neutral look and a bold smokey eye depending on my wedding guest outfit, while also bronzing my cheekbones and other facial features for a sharp finish.
Price at time of publish: $50
Best Lip Color
Kylie Cosmetics Matte Lip Kit in 'Candy K'
I think that a good lipstick is the best way to instantly elevate any makeup look, but I also lean toward more subtle and natural-looking colors. That's why I love this simple light pink shade from Kylie Cosmetics, along with its vegan formula and long-lasting matte finish. The best part? Since it's made to withstand smudging and last up to 24 hours, I typically don't even need a touch-up after the reception dinner and drinks.
Price at time of publish: $32
Best for a Glam Look
Ardell Demi Wispies False Lashes
If you want an extra bold eye makeup look, then false lashes are the way to go. The Demi Wispies from Ardell are my go-to option for every black-tie event, as they add a ton of volume and length without being too over-the-top. Tip: If you're wearing black eyeliner, use black eyelash glue for a clean and seamless finish.
Price at time of publish: $11
What to Look for in Makeup Products for Weddings
When it comes to makeup for weddings, the first thing to consider is a product's wear-time. From the ceremony to the after-party, the event can last for hours on end—you'll want to use products that will last through all of the festivities. That's why I always finish with makeup setting products, such as the NYX Matte Finish Makeup Setting Spray and the Benefit Cosmetics 24-Hour Brow Setter.
Depending on an event's venue, location, season, and dress code, your makeup look will change from wedding to wedding. Therefore, it's a good idea to look for products that can be used for various styles and aesthetics. Neutral lip colors and eyeshadow palettes can do no wrong, as they'll match effortlessly with any dress or formal jumpsuit. Two-in-one products, such as an eyeshadow and bronzer combo or a lip color that doubles as blush, are also convenient and useful for destination weddings–I especially love the Tarte Clay Play Face Shaping Palette.
How can I make my wedding makeup last all day?
Preparation and aftercare go a long way when it comes to a long-lasting makeup look. Start by cleansing and moisturizing your skin, then apply a toner and primer before putting on foundation and the rest of your makeup (the Urban Decay All Nighter Face Makeup Primer is always a solid choice). I also recommend using a setting powder after contouring or applying concealer and bronzer to ensure a shine-free finish. Once your glam look is complete, finish with a high-quality setting spray to hold everything in place.
Of course, it also helps to opt for smudge-proof and water-resistant formulas to ensure that your look can withstand the happy tears or any makeup mishaps that can happen throughout the day.
What are the essential items for a complete makeup look?
You can wear as little or as much makeup as you want to any wedding–do whatever makes you feel most beautiful and like your true self! That being said, there are a few key products that I always include in my makeup routine for special events.
For my facial makeup, I apply foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, and an eyebrow pencil or gel–plus highlighter for an added glow. As for my eyes, I'll adjust my eyeshadow look to match my outfit, then apply liquid eyeliner along my upper lash line and finish with mascara. If I want an ultra-glam look for formal weddings, I'll replace mascara with Ardell Demi Wispies False Lashes. I always use setting powder or setting spray over my final look to ensure that my makeup lasts all day and night. Lastly, I finish it all off with a gorgeous lip color!
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Chloe Caldwell is a Commerce Writer for Brides who specializes in shopping and lifestyle topics. She has more than five years of journalism experience writing about all things fashion, beauty, travel, and wellness.