Wanted: Makeup Advice, or How Not to Look Like Dame Edna on My Big Day

Maybe I should rename this blog Vain Bride or Shallow Bride, because this post, just like the last one, is about looks. Now, let me preface this by saying the wedding must really be getting to my head, as most close friends can attest I don’t brush my hair regularly and any makeup I wear usually ends up on my teeth. (I told you my chompers are big, but did I also mention they’re always in the way?) So, I can safely say I am generally not looks-obsessed, but the prospect of a wedding has kind of turned me into one of those beauty pageant moms, except in this case I am both mother and daughter. I accept the analogy makes no sense, but neither does any of this.

A few months ago, I received an unsolicited email from some online service called OurWeddingDay.com. (You recently engaged gals out there will be shocked at how quickly they find you, too.) After a close reading of this email, titled “10 Tips for Wedding Photography Makeup,” I not only felt inspired to start this blog, but also came away with two important messages: 1) I’m hopelessly pasty and 2) a professional makeup artist is at least as essential to any wedding as the officiant, although a professional can only do so much to treat congenital pastiness.

Until then I had been determined to not hire a professional makeup artist or hairdo artist on the day of the wedding. When I’ve had makeup and hair done for other weddings, as a bridesmaid, I have always been disappointed about looking like a drag queen with a Grandmother-of-the-bride bouffant. This seems to be the result no matter what I tell the beauty professionals, so I fear even my own wedding will be no different. Poor Special Someone, it’s enough he’s marrying someone who calls herself the Skeptic Bride, but he really didn’t sign on to wed a Dame Edna lookalike.

I’m still pretty set on doing my own makeup — such a rebel I am — though it might not be a bad idea to get a test run at one of the mall counters or Sephora or some place. Anyone have any advice on this? Favorite makeup counters? Favorite drugstore products? Good techniques for making makeup stick around for the whole night? I NEED YOUR HELP. And not just for the wedding – this is something I’ve needed help with ever since the first time I came home from work looking like a two-bit whore, mascara smeared all under my eyes. I would prefer not to be Goth Hooker Bride, though I guess that’s a preferable alternative to 75 Year-Old Transvestite.


Love Bites

I used to think it was pointless and sad for brides-to-be to go on strict weight loss regimens and sometimes even resort to plastic surgery in preparation for their weddings. After posing for engagement pictures and seeing them posted on Facebook, I fully understand the reasoning behind it.


Of course I’m no great beaut anyway, but don’t start blaming our photographer: she’s wonderful. Her quickly growing business is called Emily Rose Portraits and I highly recommend her to all those in the Tampa/Orlando areas and all those who, like me, are willing to fly her up for a wedding – her rates are so reasonable that even with the cost of plane tickets she’s a steal compared to most DC-area photographers. If she reads this, she may feel compelled to jack up her prices, so act quickly all you pre-maritals (and you post-maritals, too – she does beautiful portraits of children and families).  She was in town this past week visiting family and offered to take our engagement photos. I hope to post some on this blog eventually, even though they make me want to:

1) get braces again (am deeply regretting not wearing my retainers religiously all those years);

2) tone up and slim down (somehow without changing a thing about my lifestyle);

3) start brushing my hair and perhaps even start using “product” (a more difficult prospect than one might think);

4) start wearing HEAVY cover-up; and

5) take smiling lessons (someone must teach these – perhaps an enterprising former beauty queen or someone).

I know the engagement photo session cannot promise to turn tragically unphotogenic couples into supermodels; it’s merely about capturing how happy you look and how excited you are about getting married. Emily did a great job of that. It’s not her fault I look like a shark about to chomp on Special Someone’s head in most of the pictures — that’s just what my face does. But now that we have these engagement photos behind us, hopefully by the time the wedding’s over and we’re looking at those pictures, I’ll be used to it. I won’t be all “Oh my gosh, I look like Jaws! All memories of our wedding are ruined!” Instead I’ll be all “You can tell from the nonstop appearance of my huge-ass teeth that I was smiling the whole night!” That said, I’m still really hoping Special Someone’s dental plan at least partially covers orthodontics.

Lake Weddingbegon

As the income gap in this country continues to widen, something like the top one percent of earners control around 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. This estimate may seem rather conservative to anyone who has ever created a wedding registry. I am now convinced that the earnings of Martha Stewart and whoever invented OXO Good Grips account for a good third of our GDP.

Back in the old days, I am told, you didn’t tell your wedding guests what you wanted them to buy you. It would have been considered rude. Instead, friends and relatives picked out platters that you never would have bought for yourself or gave you cash envelopes. Gift receipts? Please! If you didn’t like Aunt Esther’s vase, you just put it on the neighborhood yard sale table or donated it to the Salvation Army. Ideally, though, you kept all your gifts for sentimental reasons and even if they lacked functionality, they still found a home in a china cabinet.

Wedding gift-giving has really changed since my parents got married thirty years ago. Not to sound like the Garrison Keillor of wedding nostalgia, but it seems to me that economic “growth” in America has actually led to less choice. Betrothed couples tend to register at the same stores — Macy’s, Crate and Barrel, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and a few others — for the same few utilitarian brands — Cuisinart, All-Clad, Kitchen-Aid, and of course, Martha Stewart and OXO Good Grips. We register at these stores for convenience (anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world can send you a present from PotteryBarn.com) and for these same brands because they are generally high-functioning and good values. But if you visit the homes of other newlyweds, you will not notice much variety from one kitchen to the next.

Despite our expressed preference for useful (and not so useful, see Exhibit A: OXO Mango Pitter) kitchen gadgetry, one somewhat antiquated thing most of us do is register for china. (Here, china is a broad term meant to include “sets of plates, cups, bowls, and saucers” but does not necessarily imply these items are official china.) But how many times are you really going to use your china? Maybe the plates will make an appearance a couple times a year. But are you going to set every formal table with a cup and saucer? Even if we were to some day host Thanksgiving or Christmas, I think we could do without teacups for the entire family. Of course, all families are different and some are more formal than others, but in general entertaining has become a much more casual endeavor over the years. The wedding gift business acknowledges this casualness on the one hand (Exhibit B: we registered for measuring cups; I want them, but can you imagine a more boring, utilitarian gift?), but also cleverly ignores it by making prospective married couples feel they haven’t hit adulthood until they own 16 sets of the same china pattern.

We have free will and can choose to forgo this whole registry nonsense. But upon further reflection, gifts are great! Who am I to be griping about getting things I actually want? For example, the Kitchen Aid pasta maker attachment: at around $100, it is something I would never buy for myself. But if someone else buys it for us, not only will I be grateful, I might actually use it and invite them over for homemade pappardelle. I just hope they don’t expect to eat it off a gold-rimmed Kate Spade dinner plate.