It goes without saying that, when it comes to bridal, nobody compares to Vera Wang. She’s designed dresses for everyone from Chelsea Clinton to Alicia Keys, has written an entire book on the subject, and even has the most gorgeous line of fine china that you'll probably want to add to your wedding registry (I just might!).
So when the opportunity to chat with Ms. Wang about all things bridal beauty and her latest fragrance (it smells like watermelon, jasmine, and lily of the valley, and would make a perfect day-of scent) was presented to the Glamour beauty department, I, the engaged member of the team—who, side note, is getting married in less than six months and having the hardest time with wedding planning—jumped at the opportunity to pick her brain. Here’s what I learned from the queen.
I’m getting married, so I can personally benefit from these questions, and I wanted to talk bridal beauty. You’re such an authority on weddings.
I think what people don’t realize is that we were never a bridal house! When I founded the company, we started with a bridal store, and within two weeks, we had a made-to-order custom cocktail and evening wear business. But what attracted young women, obviously, was wedding. We became synonymous with wedding. I wasn’t a wedding dress designer—I came from fashion, from Condé Nast, Vogue. I think what was part of our success is that I didn’t feel any limitations. The quality was incredible, the workmanship, the weight, the lightness.
When a bride is planning her wedding, what is the number one thing she should think about?
She should be herself. I feel that you should celebrate yourself and who you are and how you feel and how you see the world. I’ve never seen a woman on the red carpet, at a fashion show, in Hollywood, at a wedding, who—if she didn’t feel comfortable—she didn’t look her best. When you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, there’s a confidence and an ease that comes through.
And not only physical comfort, that the dress is comfortable and well fit—but also that the dress reflects you. If you’re a tomboy, you’re going to feel ridiculous in a ball gown. If you’re a ball gown kind of girl and you want that splendor and pomp and circumstance, you’re going to feel silly in a boho L.A.-chic wedding gown. When it comes to weddings, there are lots of voices in one’s head, but it all begins and ends with the bride. It’s her day.
I definitely have a lot of voices in my head! There is a lot of pressure for a bride to be a certain way and do certain things and lose track of what it is she actually wants. How do you remain yourself when you’re trying to check all these boxes?
Well, I’m not someone who believes in last-minute experimentation for a wedding. I understand it for photo shoots. I understand it for the red carpet. When you get married to a guy or a girl, they don’t expect to see someone completely different on their wedding day. They fell in love with you; don’t disguise yourself. If you’re a brunette and suddenly you come in as a blonde with roots showing, or if you never pencil in your brows and suddenly you’re penciling in your brows… If you never wear red eye shadow, this would not be the moment—unless you’re a goth bride. These things may sound obvious to you, but they are not [always].
I probably tried on close to 50 dresses before I chose one. What advice do you have when it comes to choosing a dress?
I’ve never known a bride who didn’t find the right dress. There’s something otherworldly that happens. My biggest advice is to try things on. In a way, you’re trying on personalities and each of us has many sides. You should also dress in a way that suits the style of your wedding. When I first started, weddings were quite grand affairs—that’s all changed in 30 years. If you’re getting married with a bunch of friends in Tulum—you don’t have your grandmother and grandfather and it’s a party wedding—that’s a very different way to look and behave as opposed to a church wedding in Greenwich, Connecticut. It’s so individual. In my book, I say that the minute they get the ring, brides like to go dress shopping. We’re usually the second stop, but my employees are trained to ask globally, “What kind of wedding are you having?”
Speaking of trying on personalities, you have a new fragrance! Can you tell me about your new perfume, Princess of Hearts?
I’m proud of the Princess fragrances. It came about because of my daughters. The whole idea was that princesses could be viewed in so many different ways. It’s about individuality and freedom and self-expression and a sense of fun. So it isn’t just “daddy’s little” and it isn’t just Princess Diana. We’ve had Preppy Princess. There are all different kinds of girls that rule. I’m very proud of the packaging too. The heart bottle is meant so you can throw it in your handbag.
Fragrance is a mood changer. For some it’s lipstick, but for me it’s fragrance. It just makes me feel differently. Princess defies any boundaries, which is a bigger than a fashion or a beauty statement—it’s more about women. And oddly enough, very apropos right now. Although this franchise just turned 10 years old, it’s the place I was coming from!
When you’re designing wedding gowns, how do you imagine beauty playing into the final look?
I’m a minimalist with makeup. White is very challenging to wear. It magnifies everything. If you want bright red nails that day, it’s going to be magnified because you’re in white. The same with makeup—if you’re used to a very heavy dark eye, it’s only going to get darker with white clothing on. Always do makeup and hair tests, even if you’re doing your own. Something else too: I don’t think the bouquets should be overpowering. Dresses can be elaborate, especially with different kinds of lace. Bouquets add a lot more detail and can be overwhelming. If it’s too large—if they are too many flowers in it—you can end up looking like a centerpiece.
Last question: What’s your expert advice for the day of the wedding?
I think a bride needs some private time. It’s very hard when people have flown in from all over the world, and you want to entertain them and be with your bridesmaids and family. To be by yourself for an hour is really wonderful. It puts a peace on your face.
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