Having tied the proverbial knot in 2017, I can confirm that planning your wedding is a nerve-wracking business. Of course it is! Think about it: you’re being asked to do something you’ve (probably) never done before, and yet get everything exactly right and completely perfect, lest you ruin one of the most important days of your life. The stakes are high and you are an amateur. A lot of people are out to exploit that vulnerability, but not us here at the Trowel. We are your fag smoking auntie wearing a Cotton Traders fleece covered in dog hair who will bluntly tell you to get a grip whilst reassuring you that all will be well.
Start off with deciding what sort of wedding you want/can afford. Have exactly what you want, by the way: We are not the taste police and if you want a full on bedazzled Barbie affair then more power to you. Next, pick a venue. Then pick a dress. The order of these things is important, otherwise you end up the mad woman releasing doves wearing a tulle ball gown in a pub garden.
Once you have a clearer image in your head of the sort of wedding you want, of which traditions are important to you and which you can’t be fannied with, then you can get started on hair and makeup.
First thing’s first: don’t let the quest for perfection get to you. You’re told you need to look not just very nice but BREATHTAKING and that everyone is meant to just GASP and CRY when they see you and that is allot of pressure, which allows you to be talked into things like:
An elaborate hair up creation with crystals and butterflies and 500 bobby pins
A deep mahogany spray tan
Little ringlets at your temples like Fiddler on the Roof
A tippexy French manicure
A very caked on ‘natural’ look with loads of heavy contouring and 90s browns.
A meal replacement protein shake ‘plan’/ juice detox
A cathedral length veil
A foray into Botox
A tiny diamante hairclip that costs £200
Here’s the actual truth: Do what you need to do to look and feel as good as you possibly can, but you will still look like yourself. You will not transform into a willowy wedding nymph emerging from the mist. This is momentarily disappointing but in the end a very good thing as the person marrying you would be very alarmed if the wedding nymph turned up instead of you.
So anyway, what to do? As I said, we are not the taste police, so you get to decide how you want to look so the advice here applies to all. The main thing you need to bear in mind is that it is a very long day, with lots of eating, drinking, kissing and sweaty dancing. You’re also going to have your picture taken lots, which calls for probably more makeup than feels entirely comfortable, and what’s more will need to work sympathetically in both daylight and under flash. Unless you are a professional makeup artist, or a very adept hobbyist, you are either going to have to hire one or seek out some advice and brush up on your skills.
If you hire a makeup artist, then it’s very much worth paying for a makeup trial. I found mine via an online agency, which allowed you to browse their previous work and get an idea of prices - ideal for the phone shy. I had my trial done before my hen night, which was a good shout as I didn’t waste a full face of makeup on a night in and it was an excellent test of longevity: a plastic penis straw trial of fire, if you will.
Give the make-up artist notes, not only just after she’s finished doing your face, but in an email later once you’ve lived with the makeup a bit, so you can both refer back to it come your wedding day. The email will also embolden you to be a bit more frank, I find. Think about not only how it looked but how it lasted: you’d want to say for instance, if the winged liquid eyeliner went smudgeroo by 8pm, or that the lipstick faded really patchily. Did your hair stay in place or will she need to use further reinforcements? Did you look up in the toilet mirror fifteen Sauvignons in at about 10pm and hate it all and wish it was something different? (if so, what?) You’re not being bitchily critical (because you will be polite, won’t you?) - you’re just giving notes on what is ostensibly a dry run.
Another very fine option is to book in for a bridal make-up lesson. Bobbi Brown is the first brand that springs to mind, but MAC, Charlotte Tilbury, NARS and Trish MacEvoy all do ‘em. Shop around, as with some of them (Hiya Trish!) you can redeem the cost of the lesson on products. Also worth bearing in mind: a stand alone shop rather than a bar stool in a department store concession might feel a bit less exposed. I really like the notion that you would have lots of lovely products to keep which could then remind you of a happy day.
Whether you’re going professional or DIY, one thing you won’t regret is being extra diligent in looking after your skin in the run up to the day. If you are like me and prone to being a bit slatternly when it comes to skincare, now is the time to really try and be consistent - not just your face but your limbs as well. Cleanse, exfoliate, moisturise and serum it all tae fuck, as the Scots say.
Have fun thinking about fragrance as well - you could go with your signature scent if you have one, or treat yourself to a new bottle of something fancy. I bought a bottle of Diorella which is a big, old school Lily of the Valley scent. I also had one of those little atomisers for top ups. I don’t wear it often now, but when I do it really transports me to the day, which is very cheering.
On D-Day you will need a bag of stuff for touch ups and wardrobe malfunctions (and perhaps a pre agreement with a nice mate who doesn’t tend to get too pissed to help you). I brought a big large tote bag that I just stashed with said helpful mate on the day. This bag of dreams contained:
Safety Pins, needle and thread, stain removal wipes (these were a godsend when I dropped a bit of lamb down my front during lunch, lemme tell ya), nail file, Nurofen-Gaviscon-Immodium (the holy trinity of first aid) plasters, lip balm, bobby pins, hairbrush, hairspray, mints, mirror, face powder, deodorant, perfume, eyeliner, lipstick, stick concealer and my white wedding converse for when the heels got too much.
On the day itself, you will be absolutely shocked by the amount of goodwill in the room towards you. Everyone is all dressed up, drink in hand, ready to have a good time - and they all know and love you. It’s quite astonishing how powerful this energy is. So, feed everyone generously, make sure the booze flows freely and don’t keep your guests hanging around for too long without either of the two. It will all be OK, and you will look great. Mazel Tov!