Here's When You Should Get a Pre-Wedding Spray Tan

Timing is everything when it comes to this beauty service.

woman with an engagement ring wearing a white robe

Photo by Lisa Poggi

While good skin care and a skilled makeup artist can certainly work wonders on your complexion, nothing contributes to that coveted bridal glow like a flawless spray tan. But even if you book an appointment at one of the most reputable salons, you won't be able to achieve radiant, golden skin if your spray tan isn't applied within the proper timeline.

Specifically, if you get a spray tan done too early, your bronzed skin might fade into a patchy mess by the time your wedding day rolls around. And if you get it done right before your big day, you run the risk of walking down the aisle looking like an orange Oompa Loompa from Willy Wonka. When timed perfectly, however, a spray tan will give you a healthy sun-kissed glow that complements your features, creating a beautiful backdrop for your bridal makeup. With all this in mind, then, the question that's likely on everyone's mind is: When should brides schedule their spray tan sessions to ensure picture-perfect results?

Following the expert advice of Alexandra DiMarchi, a certified spray tanning artist, we put together the optimal timeline for when to get a spray tan before your wedding. Read on for everything you need to know.

Meet the Expert

Alexandra DiMarchi is a certified spray tanning artist and the global tanning expert for Tan-Luxe. She regularly tans celebrities such as Halsey, Shay Mitchell, and Molly Sims, and her work has graced the pages of Vogue, Allure, Rolling Stone, and Playboy.

The Best Pre-Wedding Spray Tan Timeline

If you’re wondering when to get a spray tan before your wedding, DiMarchi says 48 hours prior is a reasonable amount of time to let the tan develop and settle into your desired shade. “I find that two days before the wedding is a great sweet spot to get a spray before your special day,” she notes. “That way, you are able to do your first quick rinse to stop the tan from developing, then take a full ‘everything shower’ the day before the wedding.”

This is also a favorable timetable since many experts advise their clients to wait at least two to four hours before showering after a spray tan, although most tanning technicians suggest showering after eight hours. That's because in the hours immediately following your spray tan, the DHA (a sunless tanning agent) will need some time to react to the amino acids present on the top layer of the skin, ultimately causing your complexion to progressively get darker. So even after that initial shower, your tan will still need about one to two days to achieve your desired look.

“Tans always look the best one to two days after they've developed because it takes a full 24 hours for the product to set, followed by the richest glow and color payoff, with ample time to rinse off the excess product so it's not overly saturated or pilling,” says DiMarchi. Plus, if you wait until the last minute to book your spray tan, you might run the risk of your tan looking too dark. 

“The absolute latest a bride should get her spray done is the day before the wedding so she has time to rinse and stop the development process,” adds DiMarchi. “If she has to get it done the day of the wedding, you can make it work, but you need it to be the last beauty service you get and you'll want to be selective with your spray tan artist to make sure they are not using too heavy of a hand when applying the product, so it's not overly dark!”

What to Avoid When Getting a Spray Tan

Unless you are working with an extremely experienced spray tan artist who you’ve seen many times before and trust implicitly, never ever get a spray tan the morning of your wedding. “The solution could overdevelop by the time of the wedding and look too intense, and you are running the risk of the color bleeding onto your dress, even with a clear solution,” shares the expert.

What's more, for a day as big as your nuptials, try and avoid self-tanning products if possible. A good spray tan artist will give you the best tools and techniques to help you preserve your tan at home, an extra perk you won't be able to receive with even the best at-home products. “If a bride is really pressed for time, they can use fast developing solution at home, like Tan-Luxe Express Water,” notes DiMarchi. “But again, do this the night before so you have time to rinse.” And remember: spray tan solution does stain, so make sure it’s completely rinsed off before putting on your wedding dress.

Lastly, when it comes to spray tans, every single day matters, so don't book your appointment too far in advance. All tans start to gradually fade with every shower, or if you’re in a hot and humid environment where you’re constantly sweating. “I have had some clients leave for destination weddings so far in advance—like 7-10 days before—and by the time the wedding comes around, the tan has totally faded and it was a waste of a tan for the bride!”

Helpful Tips 

Now that you have a grasp on the best timeline for your pre-wedding spray tan, we asked DiMarchi to help share a few pro tips to ensure your best glow yet. Take a look below!

Book Your Spray Tan Last

The week before your wedding is typically when you’ll book many of your pre-wedding beauty appointments, and your spray tan should be the very last service you receive (so plan your schedule accordingly). “Other beauty services like nails, lymphatic drainage massages, and facials can make your tan look uneven, so get all of those before you get sprayed,” says DiMarchi.

Avoid Wearing Tight Clothes After Your Tan

Avoid wearing tight clothes to and from your spray tan appointment and make sure you don't have too many errands to run post-spray. “I suggest my clients wear loose fittings clothes post spray and no undergarments,” says DiMarchi. “Your bra can cause uneven lines as your spray is developing.”

Protect Your Nails

A spray tan can change the look of your nails if you’re not careful, but thankfully, DiMarchi has a hack that prevents your nails from getting stained by the solution. “If you are getting white or sheer nails for your wedding, apply a layer of lotion to the nails to protect them. Then have your spray tan artist go over your nails with a makeup or alcohol wipe so the formula doesn't develop on top of the white color and make them yellow," she advises.

Schedule a Trial

For spray tan first-timers, a trial can give you a sense of what to expect in terms of color and longevity. “I would recommend doing a pre-wedding spray tan trial two to three months prior to the wedding so you can see how the color develops and decide if you want something lighter or a bit more glowy,” says DiMarchi. “This is also when you might be thinking about your makeup look and nails, and doing those test runs, and you'll want to see how they complement each other.”

DiMarchi also suggests coordinating your spray tan trial with your bridal makeup trial to ensure you’re happy with how your makeup looks on your freshly tanned skin. “If you are working with a makeup artist for your wedding day, get your spray two to three days before so you can let the color fully develop and do your rinses,” she says. After a few days, the makeup artist should be able to accurately shade-match your skin based on your final results. 

Try On Your Dress

If opting for a trial, it’s also a wise decision to try on your wedding dress after your spray tan to get a better sense of your overall look with your wedding dress and tanned skin tone. “You'll want to get your spray before you try on your wedding dress, too, during that trial period, or at least have some color on your skin if you do plan on ultimately getting a spray before your wedding,” says DiMarchi. “As wedding dresses are traditionally white, a super dark spray can be a massive contrast against your dress, and you don't want the tan to look hyper-contrasted against a white or light-colored dress."

In general, getting a spray tan can be tricky and somewhat intimidating, especially for first-timers, but with these tips in mind, you can achieve a natural-looking bronzed complexion that will leave you feeling confident and camera-ready.

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