It's hard to keep a straight face when the gentlemen in the wedding party show up with really bad beard tans to a summer wedding — but it's not funny when it's the groom. Unfortunately, with the facial hair trend being what it is, this happens with more regularity than you might imagine.
Once upon a time, a man couldn't get away with going to work looking scruffy. Now it's all the rage! Guys are taking advantage of the current facial hair styles, some actually shaving their faces or trimming their beards to look scruffy, rather than fresh and clean. The result: Fair, untanned skin underneath all that hair.
More than one bride has expressed her wish that her fiancé would shave his face clean for the "actual wedding," and I'm always quick to jump in and correct her. If you're getting married in the summertime, you absolutely, positively cannot make the groom shave a beard he's had for awhile right before the wedding unless you want him to look ridiculous. It takes at least a few days — sometimes longer depending on how tan he is — for the skin where the beard was to match the rest of his face.
This isn't something you experiment with at your wedding. Once he's shaved it, the hair is gone — he can't get it back. One of my grooms badly burned the newly exposed skin on his face during a fishing trip with his groomsmen on the morning of the wedding. He also went swimming in salt water, further irritating the tender skin. By the time he arrived to get dressed for the ceremony, the skin he'd shaved was red and angry-looking.
While we toned down the color with some makeup, he wasn't happy about it and it further irritated his skin. The pictures looked better than they would have, but if you look closely, you can tell something isn't quite right. And he washed his face after the ceremony so all the pictures at the reception are pretty ridiculous. The bride didn't see the humor in the situation, but hopefully, she'll be able to laugh about it in a few more years.
So how does a groom ensure this doesn't happen to him? Plan ahead if you're not a daily shaver, but want to have a clean-shaven face on your wedding day. It's not a bad idea — fashion trends are just that, "trends." You might not want those sideburns or that mustache glaring back at you from your wedding photos 50 years from now.
If you've had a beard for a long time, give yourself more prep time before the wedding. If you're naturally fair, use sunscreen on the newly exposed areas for a few weeks, until the newly exposed skin matches the rest. But the most important thing? Talk it out with your bride — it might be that you'd both prefer your usual look of a full beard for the big day!
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island,* about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.*