DIY Wedding Makeup Tips

Photo by May Gunsul Photography

Photo by May Gunsul Photography

When my husband and I started planning our wedding, one thing I decided early on was to do my own hair and makeup. While this did save us some money, the decision was based less on budget and more on my dislike of other people doing my hair and makeup. I’m uncomfortable with other people touching me, and not knowing if they’re going to do things exactly how I want it stresses me out. I’m very particular, and I know what I like — and in general, I know how to do it myself to my own liking.

I’ve since said I wished I had hired someone else to do my hair. I had not been 100% happy with all of my trial hair run-throughs, and my nerves kicked in BIG TIME on the morning of the wedding. As a result, my hair looked okay for most of the initial photos, but started to go limp even during the ceremony, and especially by the time the reception was just getting started.

However, I’m still really happy with how my DIY makeup turned out. I invested in good-quality products, tested them all out (luckily, I had three weddings before my own to really put these products to the test!), and have been doing my own makeup for my entire life, and was 100% confident in my skills.

If you’re thinking of doing your own wedding makeup, here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Practice makes perfect
  2. Test products for endurance during stressful and sweat-inducing conditions
  3. Take photos of your trial runs – remember, your look needs to look good on camera!
  4. Prepare to apply makeup while NERVOUS and excited on your big day (think: shaking hands)
  5. You’ll probably be using more products than you usually do for your everyday makeup (my normal routine is a fraction of the products you’ll find listed below)

Meanwhile, here are the products that I found worked best for me on my wedding day:


tarte foundation

Neutrogena Shine Control Primer

The foundation for my foundation helped keep everything in place, despite getting very hot and sweaty during the reception.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation

This foundation was light enough to match my pale skin, and withstood a LOT of sweating.

Make-Up Forever Full Cover Concealer

I used this to cover up any small red spots leftover from acne, or other blemishes.

Sephora Smoothing & Brightening Concealer

This was all about covering up dark circles under my eyes, and for any highlighting I wanted to do during contouring.

Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder

I swear by this stuff. I’ve been using Coty’s translucent powder forever – probably since I started wearing makeup in middle school. My mom used it, and my grandma used it — and it’s still the best face powder I’ve ever used. It can be hard to find in drug stores, but whenever I see it, I stock up.


tarte blush

Benefit Posietint

I blended this onto the apples of my cheeks before applying translucent powder. It provided a good base, and as a stain, helped make sure I always had some color on my cheeks, even if/when my regular blush wore off.

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush

After dusting my whole face in translucent powder, I brushed this over my cheeks – doubling up where I’d already applied the Benetint stain, for a more dramatic look. (Remember, the camera washes you out!)

Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Bronzer

The fact that this bronzer smells like chocolate is just a bonus. I loved that this was a matte bronzer (no shimmer, which can look weird in photos) — and was the perfect shade to compliment my very fair complexion. I used it for contouring along my cheekbones, the side of my nose, around my hairline, and along the jawline. It gave just enough tint, without making me look weirdly tan for my winter wedding.

Benefit’s Watt’s Up!

I lightly blended some of this along the tops of my cheekbones, just to catch the light but not give too much shimmer.


cinderella compact

Sephora Perfecting Eye Primer

There are lots of great eye primers out there, but I’ve always been happy with Sephora’s in-house brand. It’s great for getting eye makeup to stay put during the day, and hold-up longer.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Gelee Powder Eye Shadow

I used the Estee Lauder shadow in silver and black to create a dramatic smoky eye. I also blended in a coppery-brown shadow into the crease of my eye, and a shimmery white shadow into the corners of my eyes. These were from a limited edition Sephora-Disney Cinderella eye palette, which is no longer available.

Sephora Waterproof Gel Eyeliner

With a fine angled makeup brush, I used this gel eyeliner to paint on the perfect winged eye. This is something I often do as part of my usual makeup routine, so I’ve had lots of practice with a steady hand to get the winged eye just so.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil

I used this creamy pencil for lining my waterline.

Ardell Lash Accents 315

I was a newbie to false eyelashes when I started planning my wedding makeup, but after some trial and error, I found that these accent lashes were perfect for me. They added length and drama, without feeling clunky or unnatural. I did have to practice applying them a few times before the wedding, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and was happy with how they looked. I applied them after all of my other eye makeup — and before applying mascara, I went over the line of the eyelashes with a little more eye liner just to camouflage where they were applied. I then curled the falsies along with my real lashes, and applied lash primer and mascara.

Tarte MultiplEYE Natural Lash-Enhancing Primer

Beyond the false lash accents, this primer helped extend the length of my natural lashes for drama and length.

Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Mascara

The finishing touch! I was brave and did NOT use waterproof mascara (because, let’s be honest, waterproof mascara just never looks as good) — but if you’re worried about tears, look for a good quality mascara with a waterproof formula.


posie tint

Benefit Posietint

The same Benefit stain I’d used on my cheeks also became my lip color. I loved that this color was bright, without being unnatural and gave me a nice bridal pink tint to my lips. Plus, as a stain, it lasted longer than a regular lip color.

Mac Clear LipGlass

I like a little shine without the stickiness. I used Mac’s clear lipgloss to pump up the shine and color on my lips. I like that this gloss is not sticky. My maid of honor kept this in her dress pocket for me, so I could reapply during photos and right before the ceremony.

Photo by May Gunsul Photography

Photo by May Gunsul Photography

For the comments: What was in your wedding makeup bag?


The 5 Things I’d Do Differently on My Wedding Day

082When you get engaged and start planning a wedding, everyone (and I do mean everyone) will tell you to be prepared for things to go wrong. For all your well-laid plans to fall apart. For disaster to strike. My mother even went so far as to question why I was even making such specific plans for every little detail, since things were going to go So! Horribly! Wrong!

As a former TV news producer, though, I was prepared to take it all in stride. I treated planning my wedding much as I would have treated producing a newscast. You make your plans, down to every last detail. Get everything in place well ahead of time. Then when “breaking news happens” (ie, things go wrong), all you have to do is simply address the new problem because everything else is already done.

But as fully prepared as I was for things to go wrong on our wedding day, when that day finally rolled around … well, it was all kind of perfect. I mean, the only “problem” is that there was a small smudge on the front of the cake, which had occurred in transport. But guess what? The cake was still delicious. I really didn’t care about a smudge.

There isn’t much I would change about our wedding day, but now that a few months have passed, my husband and I did discuss the tiny things we’d do differently, if given the chance. Perhaps take these into consideration when planning your own nuptials:

1. Eat more.

I was pretty proud of myself for managing to sample all of the hors d’oeuvres served at our cocktail hour. They were delicious, and as it happened, I was able to squeeze a few minutes by myself, even while I was in the middle of all my guests. Sure, I was the bride snarfing down steak bite skewers and brie en croute, but so what? I ate at my own wedding!

For the lunch, we had a buffet — and my husband and I were the first ones to go through. So unlike some horror stories you hear, where the bride and groom never eat, we did eat. I just wish I’d taken the time to go back for seconds. I think a lot of my hesitation was having to navigate getting up and down from my seat in my ginormously poofy wedding dress – but our food was really good, and I wish I’d had just a little bit more. Also, I would have gone back for a second piece of wedding cake.

2. Drink more.

Following up the first thing – DRINK! We had an open bar for three hours during our reception, and a catering manager from our venue who offered multiple times to fetch us drinks. But I was just so dang dehydrated, all I wanted was water. I did manage one glass of wine, and some champagne with our toast. But by the time I was finally ready to grab another drink, the bar had closed.

Similarly, we offered up a hot chocolate station for our guests – one that my husband and I never actually saw until we got the photos back from our photographer. It looked amazing, and we both wished we’d taken the time to partake.

3. Hair Pro


I made the decision early on in the wedding planning process to do my own hair and makeup for the wedding. This was less about budget (though it did save us a good chunk of money), and more about my own personal comfort. I hate having other people do my hair and makeup. I’m very particular and I know what I like and how I like it.

On the makeup side, I’m still 100% pleased with how everything turned out. I used the perfect combination of products, and love how I looked. Plus, it lasted the entire day. From 7am until the after-party that went past 9pm — my makeup held up. (Here’s a look at what I used!)

My hair, on the other hand … not so much. I’d done plenty of trial run-throughs of my hair style ahead of time, and was relatively pleased with the results. But I’m less confident in my hair-styling skills than I am in my makeup skills — and my nerves took over BIG TIME on the day of the wedding, as I was trying to do my hair. It looked okay for our pre-ceremony photos, but even as I walked down the aisle, some of the curls had started to come undone, and by the time the reception started, it was a limp, frizzy mess.

I wish I’d had someone more skilled and less nervous to do my hair that day, so it might have held up better.

4. Pause


Everyone warned me this would happen — and unlike the “unavoidable disasters” advice, this one did hold true. And that is your wedding day will go by so fast. I wish my husband and I had taken just a little more time to be together away from the crowds during the day. There was one particular moment, where we snuck away with our photographer to take some more photos. And I just wish we’d taken more time then. I wish I’d bothered to go back to my room, fix up my hair and powder my nose. And then have a more leisurely time with our photographer taking some photos away from the reception crowd.

Likewise, I wish we’d spent more time immediately following the ceremony alone, just the two of us. Of course, we were followed by our coordinator, our photographer, our videographer, and our entire bridal party — to take off mics, sign our marriage license, and head down to cocktail hour for the formal introductions. If I could do it over again, we’d have kicked them all away and made them wait somewhere else, so the two of us could have had just a few minutes alone together to bask in our new marriage.

5. Forgotten Photos


It’s hard to get every photo you want on your wedding day, no matter how meticulous you are. And believe me, I was meticulous. But even with the detailed list I’d given my photographer, we all got swept up in the big day and a few photos never happened: our rings, my something old/new/borrowed/blue together, a photo of my husband and I with BOTH sets of parents, a snapshot with my aunt and uncle. Nothing major, but just a few images we wished we’d remember to have taken.

As for my desire to have a few more photos of the two of us? I’m thinking perhaps we’ll get dressed up in our wedding clothes again for an anniversary photo shoot.

For the comments: What are some things you’d do differently at your wedding?

All photos in this post by May Gunsul Photography