As a bride-to-be myself, I’m acutely aware of the expectations (and costs) that go into planning the big day. One such expectation? That your wedding hair and makeup will be absolutely #flawless. After all, those wedding photos are irreplaceable and will likely get lots of love on social media. Plus, who doesn’t want to feel like Beyoncé for a day with their own personal glam squad?
The reality, however, is that those personal glam squads can come at a steep price, with many wedding hair and makeup artists charging hundreds of dollars for their services. For some brides, including myself, that cost can be hard to fit into a tight budget. Thus, I'm contemplating doing something totally wild: doing my own wedding hair and makeup.
To understand what it's really like to do your own hair and makeup on your wedding day, I reached out to a few people who opted to take their look into their own hands. Below, seven real brides explore whether they have regrets about their decision to skip the typical wedding-day glam experience. They outline a few good reasons why you should—and should not—do the beautifying honors yourself.
Perfection doesn’t matter.
“People proudly show their wedding photos [and] they look so perfect,” Melis Sawerschel tells Brides. “I didn’t want to look perfect—I wanted look like myself. In the past, I’ve had not-so-satisfying experiences with hairdressers for friends’ weddings and special occasions.” Each time, Sawerschel explains, her hair and makeup didn’t feel reflective of her personality.
“Given how often all brides stare in the mirror that day, it was more self-reflecting to see myself instead of a cakey face and feeling like a perfect doll made for that day,” says the 32-year-old, Zurich-based entrepreneur. “The wedding itself is already an emotionally overwhelming and life-changing occasion. I’d suggest enjoying those feelings throughout the whole journey rather than being concerned about applying that weird face mask 15 days before your wedding or chasing your fake lashes on your wedding day. Being yourself is really the feeling you need that day, so don’t exaggerate your makeup and hair—just do it a bit more precisely than you do for a night out.”
Your budget is dwindling.
When Dorian Smith-Garcia got married in an intimate ceremony at a Tokyo hotel in 2014, she was supposed to have her hair and makeup done professionally. But last-minute budget concerns forced her to reconsider those plans. “Originally I was planning to have their in-house makeup and hair people do [it],” Smith-Garcia, a 36-year-old marketing consultant and bridal influencer, shares. “But I’m pretty adept at makeup and hair, so after realizing it wasn’t going to work financially, I opted to do my own.”
She has zero regrets about that decision, though she does suggest that other brides weigh the pros and cons carefully. “In general, I will always recommend that a bride have someone else do their hair and makeup because there’s so much going on the day of your wedding—anything that helps to lighten your stress load is ideal.”
The money could go elsewhere.
For Kristy Finch, it wasn’t ever a question whether she would do her own hair and makeup for her large wedding, which took place at a performing arts center and had a guest list of 250. “I never understood why people spend the extra money to ‘not look like yourself’ on your wedding day,” says the 56-year-old media director. “Save the money for another cute outfit, swimsuit, or negligee to take on your honeymoon. I think brides nowadays need to step back and realize what this day really means—does everything really need to be that perfect?”
Doing what you want is more important than what people expect of you.
“My primary motivation was wanting to be comfortable and not look clownish,” says Danielle Hayden. “Even with the pushback I got from people who insisted I should have my makeup done professionally, that I would look nicer, that I would regret it, and yadda yadda yadda. I’m happy I did what I wanted, including foregoing body makeup to cover up my tattoo.”
Her hair, however, was a different story. “My spiral curls would have been better, have lasted longer, and my hair would have been smoother if I had gone to a professional for styling,” says the 30-year-old writer based in Seattle. “If you’re going the DIY route only to save money but really want someone else to do it, I say go ahead and spend the money. If you’re doing it yourself because that’s what you really want, then by all means do it and screw what anyone else thinks.”
You can make time for practice sessions.
When Katie Biggs had a city hall wedding in New York City, she felt confident in her decision to be her own hairstylist and makeup artist. “I have short hair so I’m limited in ways to style it,” explains the 27-year-old SEO director. “And I have been interested in makeup for many years so I know what suits my face. My advice to other brides would be to practice your hair and makeup a bunch of times before the big day so that you’re fully comfortable and have played around with what suits you best.”
You don’t want to risk hating the professionals’ work.
After paying to have her hair and makeup done—but not scheduling a trial session first—Fahrin Kermally ended up getting quite the surprise when she swiveled around in that chair. “I wasn’t facing the mirror and didn't see my makeup until it was complete,” she says. “It looked awful. It was a lot of makeup and very dramatic—way more than I normally wear and not my colors either.”
When she got home, her best friend was in the backyard preparing for the ceremony. “As soon as she saw me, she knew,” Kermally says. “Before I said anything, she said, ‘Just wash it off and do it yourself.’ That’s exactly what I did, and I felt so much better when I had it off my face.” She did her own makeup as she would’ve done for any other special occasion. “It was perfect,” shares the 42-year-old freelance writer. “I regret not having a trial or not seeing the makeup until it was done. I regret flushing that $80 down the toilet. But I’m not upset about how I looked at my wedding.”
You don’t trust anyone else with your curls.
"I have curly hair, and I wanted to wear it down and natural for my wedding, but I don’t trust anyone else but myself to style it,” explains Kat Iwinski. “I felt totally confident instead of worrying about how a new hairstyle or makeup finish was going to end up looking in photos.”
Being the master of her hair and makeup destiny meant that she could breathe easy on the big day. “It made for a super chill day pre-ceremony,” says the 29-year-old flight attendant and writer. “I slept in, washed and styled my hair, and let it air dry while I was hanging out with my friends and family. Do whatever is going to make you feel the most confident and the least stressed. Even if your T-zone is a little shiny and your blowout a little flat, absolutely zero people will remember anything but how happy you two seemed and what a fun party you threw.”