Kendra Hagerman
Kendra Hagerman November 22, 2016

How to Choose Your Bridal Makeup

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Bridal makeup is one of the many decisions that a bride must make before her big day. Natural, bold, vintage, classic, glamorous, boho, edgy – there are many different looks to choose from, but how do you choose? Like most wedding-related decisions, there isn’t one correct answer.

As a general rule, you’ll want to wear more makeup than you normally do. Sweat, tears, and hugs are all hard on your makeup, so you’ll want to make sure you start off by wearing enough. This will also emphasize your features in photos and ensure that your bridal beauty will shine through even in bad lighting and during ugly cries.

Love this glam bridal look - a smoky eye and bold eyebrows! Photo: @sazanhendrix.

1. Choose your makeup according to a style (Pin It)

If choosing makeup for your big day overwhelms you, start by finding looks that you gravitate towards. Search Pinterest or Google for “bridal makeup” and pin or keep track of looks you like best (pro tip: Something Turquoise has an entire Pinterest beauty board here!). Once you’ve collected at least 30 images, examine the entire collection and see what connects them – dewy skin? posy pink blush? long and luscious lashes? Whatever it is, hone in on those commonalities and you’ll eventually uncover your inspiration.

Generally speaking, there are three key bridal beauty looks with countless variations:

The Look: Feminine & Natural

  • Dewy skin
  • Medium coverage
  • Nude or pink lips
  • Neat and brushed brows
  • Peach or pink blush
  • Highlighted cheekbones
  • Light eyeliner
  • Iridescent eyeshadow in natural, earthy tones
  • Natural-style false eyelashes

I love the softness of this feminine bridal makeup! Photo: EnzeBridal Etsy Shop.

The Look: Vintage

  • Winged black liquid eyeliner
  • Medium coverage
  • Nude eyelids
  • Red lipstick
  • Light or no blush
  • Bold brows
  • Half or full set of false eyelashes

Orange lipstick on a bride.  Gorgeous! Found On: Hair and Makeup by Steph, Photographer: Ciara Richardson.

The Look: Glam

  • Smokey eyeshadow and liner
  • Heavy coverage
  • Full set of false eyelashes
  • Bronzer
  • Contoured cheekbones
  • Bold brows
  • Lipstick of choice

I would love a sophisticated smokey eye like this for my wedding. Found on: The Wedding Co., Makeup: Bianca Harris and Erin Winn of The Look Beauty, Photographer: Svetla Vesnaya of Purple Tree Photography, Hair: Aisha Ebony.

2. Choose your makeup based on your venue & theme

If you already have your venue and/or theme, consider building your beauty look around it. Whether it’s a beach or a backyard, your venue can give you cues on what type of beauty you naturally gravitate towards. For example, a beach wedding would be the perfect location for dewy highlighter, a touch of bronzer, and a soft, pink lip. A vintage style wedding would pair perfectly with a bold cat eye and vibrant red lipstick.

Brides can wear a smoky eye too! Found On: Beautylish, Makeup: Beauty By Petra L.

3. Choose Your makeup based on your dress

One of the most common ways to choose your bridal beauty is to base it around the overall style of your dress. If your dress features lace and flowing material, consider a soft, romantic look; a slinky, sexy dress calls for a smouldering smokey eye; and bold eyeshadow perfectly complements a non-traditional dress.

Bridal smokey eye with blond hair. Photo: Carlos Serrao, Stylish: Maryam Malakpour, Makeup: Sabrina Bedrani, Hair: Dennis Gots.

4. Choose your makeup based on your signature look

If you’re lucky enough to have a signature beauty look, simply step it up a notch on your wedding day. Go a little stronger and bolder with all of your makeup to make sure it shows up in photos and lasts all day.

Coloured eyeshadow for your wedding day. Photo: Erich McVey.

5. Ask a Pro

If you’ve hired a makeup artist for your wedding day, don’t be afraid to ask for their advice. After all, they’re the expert. Most makeup artists offer a consultation and/or a trial session, so this is the perfect opportunity to find out what looks best on you. Don’t forget to show them images that you like so they can get a clear idea of what you’re envisioning.

I have never seen dark lipstick on a bride, but I LOVE IT!!! Found on: The Wedding Co., Makeup: Bianca Harris and Erin Winn of The Look Beauty, Photographer: Svetla Vesnaya of Purple Tree Photography, Hair: Aisha Ebony.

A Makeup Must: Wedding Day Touch-Up Kit

Whichever look you choose, plan to have a wedding day touch-up kit. This kit should include mascara, eyeliner, blush, lipstick, and concealer. For bonus points, consider adding hairspray, bobby pins, and some blotting papers.

Bridal eye makeup vibes. Found on:


Kendra Hagerman is a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle writer who had a dreamy DIY backyard brunch wedding. Her and her husband are now the proud fur parents of Mona, a chiweenie rescue that is still getting used to the Canadian climate. You can find her on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

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