My friend, the legendary makeup artist Bobbi Brown, had a family issue that prevented her from doing my makeup on my wedding day. Luckily, Bobbi’s #2, Alison Raffaele Tatem, was able to step in to create the look Bobbi had imagined. But Alison and I had a slight problem—a last-minute trial run didn’t fit into our schedules! We made it work on my wedding day, but, through the experience, I learned a valuable lesson: Working out potential makeup kinks that could trip you up on your wedding day is crucial to getting the look you want.
“In a world of booking everything online, you really need to find time for a trial run. It will make the wedding day smoother for everyone, and result in a happier, less stressed out bride,” explains Raffaele Tatem. “A makeup artist who has not seen the bride’s skin beforehand, for example, may not know if it’s super dry, requiring moisturizing products to avoid flakiness.”
Working out potential makeup kinks that could trip you up on your wedding day is crucial to getting the look you want.
Looking back on my wedding photos, I am happy with my makeup (thank you, Alison!)—but admit that I would've loved a more defined lip, something that could have been resolved with a practice run. Avoid this, along with other wedding makeup mistakes, by checking out the expert advice below.
Meet the Expert
- Alison Raffaele Tatem is a makeup artist.
- Kelli J. Bartlett is the artistic director at Glamsquad.
- Molly Greenwald is a celebrity makeup artist.
- Ricky Wilson is a makeup artist on the Dior International Pro Team.
- Laura Geller is a makeup artist with her own makeup line.
- Jenna Kristina is a brand ambassador for Maybelline New York.
- Fulvia Farolfi is a makeup artist for Chanel.
- Ramy Gafni is a makeup artist and creator of RAMY Cosmetics.
- Rae Morris is a celebrity makeup artist.
Mistake: Not doing a trial run
A practice test will allow you to decide if the makeup artist is right for you. “There are so many factors that influence your choice of a makeup artist, from their personality to their aesthetic to their ability to execute the type of makeup you desire,” says Glamsquad artistic director Kelli J. Bartlett. “A road test ensures you find the right match.”
Mistake: Wearing dramatic makeup when you normally don’t
Your wedding day is not the time for your makeup artist to experiment with a bold new look, especially if you typically don’t wear much makeup. “You can take your makeup up a step, but keep it in tune with how you usually do your makeup, so you look like you on your wedding day, not someone people won’t recognize!” says celebrity makeup artist Molly Greenwald.
Mistake: Using too much blush
Some makeup artists take the expression “blushing bride” to a whole other level. “You want the bride to look radiant, but it’s important to keep in mind she’ll most likely be nervous and create her own natural flush,” says makeup artist Ricky Wilson, who is on the Dior International Pro Team. “I always start with a decent amount of blush on the cheeks, then take the foundation brush I just used that contains a bit of leftover foundation, and go over the blush to tone things down.”
One we like: Rosy Glow Petal Awakening Blush by Christian Dior, $44, has finely milled particles that adjust to your skin’s chemistry to create a natural flushed look.
Mistake: Not using a finishing powder
“A makeup artist should always use a finishing/mattifying powder to set the makeup. Without it, your makeup could separate and fade quickly throughout the day,” says makeup artist Laura Geller. “Plus, camera lights can make your skin look shiny—a mattifying powder will help control this.”
Mistake: Experimenting with new products
“Your makeup artist should never introduce a new product to your face on your wedding day,” says Greenwald. “Or you’ll risk a skin reaction, including redness and rashes. Do a practice run with all the products you intend to use at least a week or two in advance.”
Mistake: Not applying primer
Some makeup artists forgo primer, yet it’s a must. “Primers smooth the skin’s surface, allowing your face, eye, and lip makeup to last longer,” says Geller. “Without them, you increase the chances of your makeup creasing and wearing off faster.”
Two we like: Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow Face Primer, $55, is made of light-reflecting microspheres to blur away lines and create a flawless finish; Laura Geller Spackle Treatment Mattifying Make-Up Primer, $32, controls oil and prepares skin for a smooth makeup application.
Mistake: Choosing products that won’t last
A wedding is usually an emotional all-day, into-the-night, event. “The last thing you should be thinking about is fixing your makeup after crying during the ceremony or dancing all night,” says Maybelline New York US Brand Ambassador, Jenna Kristina. “Choose long-wearing products to minimize touch-ups, and always wear a smudge-proof, waterproof mascara containing water-repelling silicones, even if you don’t normally wear waterproof mascara.”
Mistake: Not knowing when to put the brush down
Makeup applied with a heavy hand can look outdated, overdone and deem the bride unrecognizable. “Think pretty and classic,” suggests Chanel makeup artist, Fulvia Farolfi. “That means avoiding brightly colored eyeshadows, tons of lashes, and thick colored lipsticks.” Agrees makeup artist Ramy Gafni, creator of RAMY Cosmetics. “It’s best to take a clean, minimalist approach and amp up the makeup on just one or two of the bride’s features.”
Mistake: Using too much foundation
Before the digital revolution, brides were often heavy-handed when it came to foundation application so their skin looked flawless in pictures. “But with today's advanced technology, a less is more approach translates better in photographs,” says Wilson. “Try using a lightweight, long-wearing, foundation for a natural look.”
Mistake: Over-the-top highlighter
Highlighters that are too glittery or sparkly will put the focus on the highlighter and not your skin, creating a shiny, greasy flush, whereas the right one will give you a light-from-within glow. “Choose one with either a rosy or golden tone and a super-fine sparkle so it reflects light without being detectable,” says Bartlett. “Try taking a few flash photos in a dimly lit or dark room to see if your makeup artist has applied too much.” Apply highlighter to select areas, like near the tear ducts, high up on the cheekbones, and on the shoulders, adds Gafni.
Three we like: Yves Saint Laurent Touché Eclat Shimmer Stick Highlighter, $34, comes in a cream-to-powder stick formula and in nine shades; Glamsquad Enlightened Highlighter, $22, contains a finely milled mica and shea butter to create a buildable, blendable formula; Ramy The Pure Nude Highlighter, $28, is a waterproof cream highlighter that looks natural and won’t budge.
Mistake: Ignoring the backdrop
“If a bride is getting married barefoot on the beach at 2 p.m., her makeup artist shouldn’t be doing a black, smoky eye with a burgundy lipstick. If the ceremony is black tie and takes place in a castle, the bride shouldn't look like she's getting hitched in a garden,” says Wilson.
Mistake: Forgetting ears and chest
“The emotions of the day can have an effect on the skin, resulting in a red chest and ears, not a good look on your wedding day,” notes Farolfi. “After your hair is done, apply a skin-matching concealer to your ears, and a light layer of foundation containing a touch of shimmer to your chest, using a foundation brush. Blend well, then fix with a setting spray so you don’t get your gown messy.”
Mistake: Applying false lashes
Think twice if your makeup artist pushes false lashes. “They’re often a mistake, especially if the bride is not used to them,” says Gafni. “Lashes can be cumbersome, uncomfortable, and may come undone during the wedding. Opt instead for lash extensions or a killer mascara.” Celebrity makeup artist Rae Morris agrees, “Overextended lashes can cause undereye shadows if the bride wears them during an outdoor, midday wedding.”
Mistake: Creating the same makeup look
"'Cookie-cutter makeup' may be a sign your makeup artist doesn’t have a lot of experience when it comes to weddings,” says Raffaele Tatem. To avoid this, look at his/her social media accounts and ask yourself the following questions: Are they showing behind the scenes of weddings they’ve worked on? Do they have a professional website showcasing a wide variety of their wedding work? (Good signs.) Is the makeup in the photos similar in style or heavily retouched? (Bad sign!)
Mistake: Suggesting a fake tan
Sometimes a makeup artist will advise their client to get a spray tan on their face a few days before the wedding. “Not a good idea,” says Morris, “The face will never match the body and look completely unnatural.”
Mistake: Not using age appropriate makeup
“When you’re dealing with a mature bride, for example, it’s important to keep the glitter and the extra glowy luminizers to an absolute minimum,” says Morris. “If fine lines are a concern, steer clear of anything metallic or shimmery as it will only enhance wrinkles.”
Mistake: Not asking enough questions
Yes, you want your makeup artist to ask a lot of questions. “The more conversation and sharing, the better,” says Raffaele Tatem. “For example, ‘How do you normally wear your makeup?’ or ‘Do you prefer lipstick or lip gloss?’ or ‘How do you usually fill in your brows?’ These simple questions will help you get the results you want.”