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  • Writer's picturePetite Weddings

All you should know: bridal make-up

Updated: Dec 9, 2022

Sally is owner and manager of Orchard Make-up, and is an award-winning make-up artist specialising in wedding make-up and photographic make-up, based in Cornwall. Over the past 20 years she’s helped many beautiful brides look and feel their best on their wedding day. We’ve got a stack of questions that brides regularly ask us about bridal make-up, so who better that Sally to answer these questions on bridal make-up?

Lots of the brides we speak to are nervous about wedding day make-up, particularly if they do not wear much themselves on a “normal” day, what is your advice to these brides?

I can totally understand why brides feel this way, particularly if they’ve never had professional make-up done before. For me, bridal make-up is all about enhancing each brides’ features: not creating a mask for them to wear.

I like to get a really good idea of how much and what sort of make-up my brides usually wear and what their expectations are with make-up. This means me asking lots of questions! This is a really important part of the preparation as it allows me to give my professional advice and for me and my bride to agree a very clear brief for their wedding day look. It’s fair to say that your wedding day is probably the day you’re going to be most photographed in your whole life. Of course, every bride will want to look great on camera (those photographs will last a life time and longer!) as well as in real life, so it’s getting a balance of wearing more make-up than usual, but still feeling like yourself. That’s where my skills and experience come in.

And what about brides who feel they do their own make-up well and perhaps have a very set idea in terms of how they want to look already?

This is a very personal decision and of course whatever you feel most comfortable with is what you should go with.

I would recommend having professional hair and make-up on your wedding day for a few reasons. Firstly, you’ll want to be relaxed and enjoy your wedding morning with your bridal party and the pressure of doing your own styling is one less thing for you to think about; it’s also rather nice to feel totally pampered on your special day; and, don’t under-estimate your wedding day nerves and the impact this might have on your usually steady hand!

Furthermore, brides who feel they’re good at their own make-up may want to me to use specific make-up products that they usually use, which is fine and I can do this. However, my complete make-up kit is designed to look good on the camera and to last all day and into the evening. Everyday use make-up cannot achieve these things. For example, one of the make-up products I use is airbrush foundation, which is a very fine foundation which is blown onto the skin with a gun. This is perfect for wedding day make-up, as you can layer it up, but it doesn’t feel heavy and as it’s built-up in thin layers and it stays all day.

If a bride has photographs of a specific look I like to see these and take them into account, for sure. Just a word of caution regarding photographs: they may have been highly edited, have very heavy make-up applied, but, with flash photography you won’t be able to tell. That’s why it’s important that I always look carefully at each brides’ features so I can give each bride personalised advice and guidance in terms of how I can create a look she’ll love for her wedding day. For me it’s about striking the right balance, creating a realistic look based on what each bride wants and what we can achieve.

How much time should a bride allow for her make up to be done on her wedding day?

Your wedding day make-up should be a lovely relaxed pampered experience and an integral part of your day. That’s why I usually allow an hour for bridal make-up.

Should make-up be done before or after hair?

I usually recommend make-up is done after hair, unless the bride is having her hair in rollers then dressed out at the end.

Many brides who book via Petite Weddings do not live locally to their wedding venue and travel for a destination wedding here in the UK. It can be difficult to schedule a trial – how do you prepare in advance and work with the bride on the absence of a trail before the wedding day?

For those brides who cannot manage a face-to-face trial ahead of their wedding for whatever reason, I offer a Zoom pre-wedding trial. This is where I ask lots of questions and we come up with a look that I think will suit them. The beauty of today’s technology is we can share images and bring ideas to life even when we are not face-to-face. It’s really helpful to see each bride on the screen to see how they're face moves, as sometimes a photo doesn’t always show this.

These Zoom calls are also a great opportunity for brides to ask any questions they might have as well. It’s as much about getting to know each other and feeling comfortable with a specific wedding day plan that each of my brides feels confident in.

Do brides/others need waterproof make up in case they cry happy tears on their wedding day?

Yes! For this very reason most of my make-up is water resistant including the eyeliner and lashes. Most make-up will move from rubbing or touching, so I do advise my brides to dab at the eyes rather than wipe and catch the tears at the tear duct before they run, but this isn’t always easy.

Who else should the couples book in for make-up services on their wedding day?

This is entirely up to the couple and their guests. Most weddings I’m booked for I do make-up for the bridesmaids, the mums and flower girls, but families are diverse, so I can end up do lots of different family members. If there are more than 6 people, I’ll bring another make-up artist colleague to assist me, as I want to keep things calm. Also an additional pair of hands means that the bridal party do not have to be up at the crack of dawn to get everyone done.

How do you work with brides with make-up allergies?

At each trial I ask if my brides have any allergies. If they come in for a trial in-person I can try the make-up on beforehand in case they react. Having said that, all the make-up products I use are hypoallergenic which drastically reduces the risk of an adverse reaction.

What make-up brushes do you use?

That’s a hard question! I have a bit of an addiction on brushes… I have accumulated quite a few brushes over the years, but my favourite brands are Zoeva, Crown brushes, Louise Young, Mac and Mii.

What is it you love most about what you do?

I love seeing the brides faces when they see the completed look, you can’t beat it! I have some brides who don’t feel like they can look good (wrongly!) and it’s truly a gift to be able to bring out their features with make-up and make them look and feel amazing and still be themselves. It’s a real high that I never tire of.

What geographic areas do you cover?

I tend to work in Cornwall and Devon. I am usually so busy I don’t need to travel further.

How can couples find out more about your services and book you for their wedding day?

My website has all my prices and a contact form to fill out. On my site I also have lots of photographs of past brides for inspiration, as well as some great before and after photographs on my site too that show what professional make-up can achieve. Take a look here.

For brides concerned about sustainable bridal hair and make-up products we recommend taking a read of A Beginner’s Guide to Sustainable Health & Beauty

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