Over the holidays, my aunt told me that for her wedding thirty years ago, she spread Vaseline all over her face to "protect it" from the makeup artist her mother had hired. Just before she walked down the aisle, she planned to easily swipe it all away so she could be bare-faced. The makeup artist of course noticed that her face had an unnatural sheen, and had her wipe it off before proceeding to pile on makeup. A few moments before heading down the aisle, she ducked into a bathroom to wash it all off. In a strikingly similar story, my grandmother hired a woman to do my mom's hair and makeup for her wedding day, but my mom took one look at the woman's winged neon-purple eyeshadow (this was the '80s after all) and politely requested to do her own. She applied lipstick and mascara, then wrapped her hair in a loose bun and tucked baby's breath from her bouquet around it. In the photos, they both look beautiful but, more importantly, they look like themselves.
When it comes to a wedding, there is no shortage of beauty preparations you can ("should," some say) do to prepare. I recently read a wedding book that recommended having "unwanted moles" removed nine months before the date, and a friend recently sent me an Instagram story where a newlywed advised, "The moment you get engaged, stop doing squats immediately," the implication being that strong thighs are unflattering in a wedding dress. Even The New York Times is guilty of dispatching advice to "tone up areas that may be highlighted in your particular style of wedding gown." Emily Weiss's account of her wedding beauty prep, while impressive, makes me tired, especially considering that, in the end, she was only "8/10 happy with how I looked."
Like New Year's, a wedding can serve as an arbitrary but significant marker for transformation goals, like losing weight, getting your hair dyed, or investing in costly beauty procedures. And I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with that—until it begins to interfere with your enjoyment of the day itself, or goes too far. The moment you feel bad about your body, start playing the comparison game, lose sight of the significance of the day, or max out your credit card in the name of buying an inner glow, there's a problem.
For my own wedding, I want to look beautiful, of course. I'm hiring a professional to do my makeup, buying flowers for my hair, and bought a dress and earrings I love for the occasion. But I also want to look like the person Jonah has been dating for the past six years. As a result, I'm making small tweaks in my beauty routine leading up to the wedding, while being careful not to do anything that would take away from my happiness and the core reason for the celebration (to marry Jonah, duh). Here are the steps I'm taking now to look like my prettiest, natural self on my wedding day:
About a year ago, I went from bi-monthly manicures to no polish at all for the simple reason that I can't stand doing and getting my nails done. As chic as I think a polished hand looks, the time it takes for them to dry, the frustration of chipping, and the annoyance of removing it led me to embrace a natural nail. For my wedding, I started thinking about nail polishes (I still paint them every once in a while), until I realized I don't want to be worried about a chipped nail that weekend or when I'm in New York the following week . While I'm not entirely sure yet if I want to wear them bare or polished (it will likely be a game-time decision), I want to give myself the option and avoiding polish until then will ensure they look healthy, polish or no polish!
Because I'm not willing to give up my morning cup of coffee, I did a quick Google search for inexpensive teeth-whitening solutions and found plenty of options under $15. I'm currently rotating through a few as research on an upcoming post, but my teeth already look noticeably whiter in the past month alone!
While I'm not going for any transformation, I feel my prettiest when I feel my strongest—not to mention the fact that exercise has an enormous impact on my mental health. As a result, I'm committed to sweating every day, mostly at my primary studio, Basecamp, but also at a few Classpass classes and on hikes.
Face: In addition to creating a schedule with my facialist Adrina, who I plan to see every three weeks leading up to my wedding (she doesn't have a website, but DM me and I'm happy to send you her number!), I've also purchased more of these Alba Botanic blemish patches to help me enforce a strict "no pick" ban, in addition to finding a new gentle face wash I love from Dr. Loretta.
Body: One of the side-effects of sweating every day, for me at least, is breaking out on my back. While I thankfully don't have anything outside of a few blemishes, I want to address them before I slip into my wedding dress, which shows a good amount of my back. I've been diligent about showering immediately after working out, washing problem areas with Cerave Hydrating Body Wash, and applying Paula's Choice ACNE Body Spray on my upper back each night which has helped significantly.
Late last year, I began using the brow serum NeuBrow twice a day until my brows starting growing too fast between appointments (if you know my brow woes, you know this is life-changing). Now, I just apply some to my brows and lashes at night after washing my face to ensure they're full.
P.S., For those following along, I still love my microbladed brows, and the ink has barely faded. This is in addition, especially since it's too expensive for me to microblade regularly.
I went back and forth between whether to leave my hair natural or have it re-dyed blonde for my wedding that I finally put the question to social—and you all answered in droves! While the poll I posted to my Stories was split fairly evening, I received countless DMs from you advising that natural is always best if you're between two options. You wrote that I'd never regret looking back at my wedding photos and seeing my natural hair, but may very well say, "What was I thinking with those blonde highlights??"
What made you feel prettiest on your own wedding day? Was it a moment? Your dress? A moment shared with your partner? Share in the comments below! x