The wedding season is almost upon us. But I am writing this not just for any VH-lover who’s getting married this spring/summer, but – of course – for my co-author Sarah Stacey, who is rather marvellously tying the knot for the very first time in May at what Gill Sinclair and I are gigglingly and affectionately referring to as ‘My Big Fat Horsey Wedding’ (since our friend has been horse-crazy from way back…) Aside from supplying 200 vintage cups and saucers for the event, my role includes organising the hairdresser (no mean feat in this case, since Andreas Wild had already had all his allocated hols from John Frieda) – but not something I was about to fail on, since Sarah’s other idea was that I should do her hair on the day. Which was Not. An. Option.
However, as the former Beauty Editor of Wedding Day, I’m pretty well-positioned to offer advice on the countdown to A Beautiful Big Day. So: the white dress, the glow of pearls, the aura of love in the air, the sheer adrenaline that rushes through her body as she walks down the aisle – all this, of course, helps to make each bride beautiful. All this – and rather more: the hairdresser, the make–up artist, the precise shade of wedding–day lipstick, the pre–wedding facial and massage, the manicure (the better to show off the ring), the pedicure (ditto those extravagant honeymoon Jimmy Choo sandals).
Unless the wedding is taking place on the spur of the moment then the wise bride starts planning her look–good schedule almost as soon as the engagement is announced. So here’s a top–to–toe bridal beauty countdown…
As Soon As You Set A Date…
• Book your hairdresser. (Er, or in Sarah’s case, get your friend to move mountains to do this for you.)
• Kiss your fiancé.
• Set a date and then run, don’t walk, to your hairdresser. No kidding – even if the wedding itself is a year or more away. Top bridal hairdressers really can be booked out that far in advance. You needn’t decide on the style yet – that’ll depend on your head–dress/tiara/jewellery – but you want to be reassured that the stylist you want has your big date in his or her Blackberry. Think, meanwhile, about whether you want your regular hairdresser to do your wedding hair – or whether you’d rather head for one who specialises in more sophisticated, ‘up’ styles. Ask friends for recommendations.
Three To Six Months Before The Big Day…
• Start working that body. Unless you feel you already have a perfect body (are you out there, Elle Macpherson?), then you’ll probably want to put in some extra work on your shape. Most local fitness centres and gyms have trainers who can advise you on specific exercises to tone parts that you’re less than happy about. The bonus? The feel–good hormones released when you exercise will help keep you calm…
• Make a date with your make–up artist… I’ve heard tales of one bride who didn’t book the church till she knew that her ‘pet’ make–up artist was free that morning! Like bridal hair pros, leading make–up artists get booked well in advance. Many will make house calls. But if you’d prefer to do your own make–up, book in for a series of makeover session with some of the different brands in your nearest department store, where most have an artist who makes a speciality of wedding make–up.
• Have a skin analysis… If you’re going to upgrade your skincare – and isn’t your skin worth the investment – now’s the time? (Never introduce new skincare choices in the immediate run–up to a wedding; stress makes skin more prone to sensitivity.)
• Even if you’ve never had one before, start booking monthly facials – with the final date scheduled for a fortnight before your wedding.
Two Months Before
• Schedule a run–through. By now, you should have chosen your dress and headpiece. Bring a sketch or a detailed description back to your hairdresser, together with any jewellery that you’re going to be wearing on the day, as this will all affect the overall vision you’re creating. Be sure he/she knows what the neckline of your dress is.
• If you’re doing your own make–up then start practising regularly so that it’ll be perfect on the day, and you know exactly how long it takes.
• Put mega–shine into hair. A couple of months of weekly hair masks, together with end–trimming, can rescue even the most straw–like of tresses.
• Get body skin gleaming. Start using a body brush or scrub at least once a week to slough away dead skin cells, starting at the feet and working upwards. Follow with a rich body moisturiser.
• Have another run–through. Why not schedule this to coincide with your hen night? This time, have a trial make–up session as well as a hairdo rehearsal – and that way, your friends can not only give you opinions but you’ll be all ready to hit the town! (Though do leave the veil at home…)
• If you’re having your make–up done by a pro, make sure he/she tells you which shade of lipstick and powder will be used, so you can buy your own, for touch–ups.
• Have your colour done…(Unless you have grey hair, in which case leave it till a week before the wedding, to minimise regrowth.) This gives plenty of time for correction, should anything go wrong. Have your last trim now, too – or at the beginning of next week (and make sure it’s a minor one).
• Book your final facial. In the event that you suffer any flare–ups, skin will have time to settle down again.
One Week Ahead
• Get de-fuzzed… To stay super–smooth and hair–free all–honeymoon–long, waxing is your best option.
• Confirm your bookings…Be sure your make–up artist/hairdresser know where they have to be on the day.
• Have a final self–tanning treatment… Or do it yourself. That way, there’s time to exfoliate away tell–tale darker patches with a hard nail brush or pumice.
The Day Before
• Have your manicure….(That way, there’s no chance of ruining the dress with a spill.)
• Get an early night. And resist the temptation for a nerve–soothing drink, which can leave you puffy–eyed the morning after. Before bed, stick to your usual regime and avoid any last–minute beautifying face masks, as you may be vulnerable to a last–minute rash, or hair masks, which may leave hair too limp to work with tomorrow. Have a relaxing aromatherapy bath and get your mother/maid–of honour to give you a neck rub, to unkink shoulders.
On The Morning…
• Have a weep… It’s no good saying don’t get emotional…But if you can get your tears out of the way earlier in the day, you’ll feel better for it. (And so will your make–up artist.) Failing that, try a trick I learned off Linda Evangelista herself: wrap an ice cube in cling–film and run it backwards and forwards to make any puffiness disappear.
• Layer on your chosen scent. Treat yourself to a bath infused with your favourite fragrance (or your fiancé’s), and then pamper skin with the matching talc and body lotion. That way, as the body warms up during the day, scent will be time–released into the air. Finish with a spritz of matching perfume or eau de toilette – well before you get dressed, as it can stain a white gown.
• If you’re heading for a salon to have your hair coiffed, remember to take your veil/head–dress with you. Wear a kimono – or clothes that don’t need to be slipped over your head.
• If you’re prepping for the ceremony at home, it’s best to start your hair first, enabling your make–up artist to work their magic while it’s pinned off your face or in rollers. Then, when the make–up’s perfect, your hairdresser can finish styling. NB Don’t deviate from the look you’ve already planned and rehearsed, as last–minute changes rarely work and you won’t have time to put mistakes right.
• Take a touch–up bag with you. Either carry a little silk dorothy bag with your essentials in, or ask someone to carry pressed powder, lipliner and lipstick. (You don’t need extra blusher; brides naturally glow.)
• Try to grab a few moments alone. Look at yourself in the mirror – and after all those months of preparation, you’ll finally start to feel like the beautiful bride that you are…