Ah, warm weather. Herald of leafy trees, day drinking, and short-shorts. Or at least, it was. Now that I am departing my twenties, warm weather increasingly means one thing: wedding season.
I quite like going to weddings, which is lucky, because as you progress through your twenties, the number of invitations increases exponentially. By the time you're 29, you’ll be attending AT LEAST one per week, every week, until October. It’s awesome--who doesn't love celebrating love?--but it can also be a little stressful.
And I know I’m not the only one feeling that stress: over the last few weeks, I’ve gotten more questions about wedding makeup and hair than about anything else.
I’ve never gotten married, but I have planned, stood up in, done makeup for and attended DOZENS of wedding ceremonies. So this week, I’m bringing you the first in a series of articles about beauty for weddings, parties, anything!
Today we’re going to talk about the basics of preparing for big events: How to pick awesome hair and makeup, making sure you look incredible in photos AND in real life, handling beauty stress without losing it, and some tips on posing like a superbabe in pictures. Consider this xoVain Wedding Realness 101. First, let's get into...
The 10 Commandments Of Wedding Beauty.
1. Thou shalt do a trial run first. All the makeup artists and hair stylists of my acquaintance say that this is the MOST IMPORTANT thing that you can do, pre-event. Many even include a trial run in their prom and wedding packages. Bring photos to your trial so that you can clearly show the person you’re working with what you want or what you like. If something doesn’t work for you--say you end up more Kardashian than Katherine Hepburn--SPEAK UP in the trial run.
2. Thou shalt not pick hair or makeup that is unreasonably complicated. I’ve written about this before, but it’s still really important that you NOT make a first attempt at an elaborate Pinterest updo 20 minutes before you leave the house. The same thing goes with makeup. Stick with something that you know looks good and makes you feel gorgeous. If you aren’t sure what your look should be, do some homework! Look through some magazines and blogs (like this one) for a bunch of awesome inspiration. And if you’re still not sure, do a few trial runs, set the timer on your camera, and take some pictures to see how you’re looking!
3. Thou shalt listen to what the bride or groom wants (but not let them walk all over you). Up to a point, I think that the person who is getting married gets to determine what the people standing up with them are wearing. BUT THERE ARE LIMITS. I have heard horror stories about people asking their attendants to lose weight, get expensive hair extensions, spend huge amounts of money on hairstyles that won’t work with their natural texture, fake tan or bleach their skin, etcetera. My rule of thumb is that if it’s a small thing, bend. If it’s a big thing, an expensive thing, or a deeply-held personal thing, you’re totally justified in saying, “No.”
4. Thou shalt remain diplomatic--no matter what. I get it: tensions are high around weddings, or around any event that requires new clothes and an expensive party. I know that in the heat of the moment everything seems like The Worst, but being a heinous bitch isn’t going to get anybody anywhere. Be kind to the people working to make your hair, nails, and face look awesome. Be patient with your friends and family. You can still say “No, this isn’t going to work” or give direction without being a jerk about it.
For example: a few years ago, a friend of mine told me that I’d need to take my nose piercing out to be in her wedding, because she didn’t want it in pictures. My nostril diamond is A) tiny, and B) after 11 years, more or less a part of my face.
So how did this shake out? I calmly told her that I’d prefer to keep it in, and that I really felt it wouldn’t be distracting in photos. I then showed her a bunch of pictures to prove it, because I love nothing more than doing research and presenting evidence. This calmed her mind, I kept my nose piercing in on the day, and we were all happy. Had I have lost my temper and told her to bugger off, the result probably would have been really different.
5. Thou shalt keep in mind that it always takes more makeup to look “normal” in photos than you think it will. Minimal makeup that looks good in reality often doesn’t register at all in photos, so you may have to go a little bigger for the sake of the pictures. Since weddings involve a lot of IRL interaction, as well as a lot of photos and videos, you want to hit the beauty sweet spot of looking amazing in person AND on film. I’ll get into how to do that without looking ridiculous in the third installment of this series.
6. Thou shalt ALWAYS check how your hair and makeup looks with a few snaps from a proper camera, with and without flash. This is crucial. There have been times that I think my hair is really voluminous, only to find out on camera that my outrageous curls don’t translate and I look like a weird flat poodle. Likewise, we all remember what happened to Angelina Jolie recently when the flashes started going off, highlighting her less-than-flawlessly-blended powder. I bet you one million dollars that under normal light, she looked totally fine--that’s how these things happen.
Also, fun fact: the front-facing camera on your phone is NOT gonna work for this purpose. As we all know, that can turn even the most lovely look into PORES and OH GOD NO. Grab a real camera and have some selfie time!
7. Thou shalt not rely on difficult-to-photograph makeup like glitter to make your look. Glitter is awesome, whether it’s in your hair, on your face, or on your dress, but it is tricky to get to show up in pictures! Keep it as a gorgeous accent, but don’t rely on it for your ENTIRE beauty look.
8. Thou shalt carry the required products in your purse (rather than expecting to borrow them from others). Yeah, you need to bring a bag to weddings. No excuses. Do not trust that anyone else will have a lipstick or powder in your shade that you can gank in the bathroom. Obviously you can’t be prepared for ALL contingencies, but carrying some lash glue if you’re wearing falsies is a pretty safe bet. Be prepared and come correct. We’ll cover some absolute must-haves next week.
9. Thou shalt keep the temperature and venue in mind. If it’s hot, or if you’re going to a beach wedding, wear your hair up. If someone is getting married on a windy cliff, don’t wear sticky lip gloss. Outdoor weddings mean sunscreen, because there’s nothing worse than a burned neck. And even though this isn’t strictly a beauty tip, always bring a pair of flats to slip into. Barefoot on the dance floor is never a great idea, no matter how cute your pedicure is.
10. Thou shalt look like YOURSELF. It probably goes without saying, but a week before a wedding is NOT the time to perm your hair, chop it all off, dye it pink, get major bangs, or take a trip down peroxide avenue. As with other big events, weddings are apt to make stress-cases of us all, and we do NOT make good choices when we’re stressed. Keep your look steady for the ceremony--classic you, if you will--and make changes afterwards.
But more importantly, you don’t have to look like what a magazine’s idea of a perfect bride looks like, or do your makeup the way that your grandmother thinks is appropriate. You just gotta do YOU. At the end of the day, the photos that you’ll post to Facebook are great, but if you don’t feel happy with how you look, those pictures will always be tainted with The Sads. Makeup should be an extension of who you are and how you feel inside. It shouldn’t be a mask or something to cover yourself up, especially not on a happy occasion like a wedding.
So, now that we have a thorough grounding in the basics, let's talk about something everyone stresses over.
How To Look Amazing In Wedding Pictures
While I was off in Wisconsin, my friend Charlotte said something really wise. “I like the pictures of us where we look happy,” she told us as we sat in the hot tub. “When we’re all trying to look pretty, the picture is fine, but when we all look HAPPY, then it’s amazing.”
This is totally true. Genuine happiness always radiates through pictures, and a real smile looks SO much better than a “pretty” but forced one. Sometimes for article pictures, I’ll actually laugh out loud to no-one when I’m taking a picture that needs a smile, because it looks better than plastering a scary grin on my face.
I'm not saying you need to cackle like a loon every time a camera points your way--just that if you think of something funny and smile accordingly, you're going to give great face.
I also have an easy trick to avoid dead eyes in photos. When I’m staring into the lens of a camera, I don’t think about the photographer on the other side. I think about who’s going to be seeing the picture after it’s taken. If I’m taking pictures of myself, I imagine that I’m looking directly at you guys, our lovely readers. I always look happy, because I’m happy to be looking at you! If I’m at a wedding, I imagine that I’m looking out at whoever is getting married--these pictures will end up in an album someday, so I kind of will be.
When it comes to posing in pictures, if you’re the one getting married (or in the wedding party), you’ll probably receive LOTS of direction from your photographer. But what can you do to assure that you look as amazing as you can?
As Tyra taught us, the best thing that you can do for your face is find your angles. This means spending some time in front of a mirror, turning your head around and seeing how your face looks best. I like my face the best in 3/4 profile, which I always try to get in pictures.
As for full-length photos, remember that good posture is ESSENTIAL to looking magnificent on camera. Keep your shoulders down and back, your neck long and your chin straight. Stand up tall and proud. Think about your outfit--are there details you want to show off? How can you pose to maximize those?
A lot of people are divided on the pose which Allegra calls The Teapot: one hand on the waist, one down, leaning back with on knee bent. This looks good most of the time, but it shouldn’t be the only way that you feel confident standing. Try shoulders back, arms straight down but relaxed, body slightly turned towards the camera. This shows off your outfit and makes you look glorious and confident at the same time!
Ultimately, how you stand is up to you and the people you’re in pictures with. All the pose-planning in the world won’t help you if your best friends decide to lift you up and run away with you! Don’t stress out too much about standing so that your arms look ultra-great. Be present in the moment, have a good time, and trust that the happiness you feel in the then and there is going to shine out of your face like rainbows. Like Roald Dahl said, THAT is how you look truly beautiful.
NEXT TIME: Beauty crisis management and the essential items that you MUST have in your bag at weddings.
Do you have any wedding commandments to add to my list? What’s your go-to wedding makeup look? What’s your favorite way to pose in pictures? Any hilarious wedding makeup or hair stories?