It’s official: fiancé and I have different definitions of what constitutes too much make-up. Day-to-day it’s not an issue, as I’m too lazy to work much more than a swipe of mascara and a touch of blush. But in wedding world – where it’s my bridal duty to glam myself into oblivion with all manner of products – we’ve got a problem on our hands.
Allow me to rewind to the early days of our relationship, when an article I was writing involved a beauty lesson with Jemma Kidd (I know, tough job). I emerged feeling oh-so polished, with flawless skin, subtle eyes and a hint of a red lip. Fiancé’s reaction? “Wow, she really piled it on.” Experiments with lash extensions and fake tan were met with similar snarky remarks – and a moratorium on hugging after the bronzer left Turin Shroud-like marks on our sheets.
With this in mind, I had decided to do my big-day make-up myself. I’m not bad with an eye pencil, and at least we’d avoid a shock moment when I walk down the aisle. But, as time ticks by, my confidence starts to crumble. Am I supposed to invest in all-new products and, if so, in which colours? What if I can’t sleep the night before and wake up with industrial-grade bags under my eyes? Red-carpet photos of Natalie Portman and Anne Hathaway looking bright-eyed and perfectly primped taunt me. Suddenly, offloading the cosmetic stress onto a professional doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.
Which is why I find myself in a salon chair early one morning, ready to drop a small fortune on a hair and make-up test-run. The hair part is a breeze, as the stylist creates my dream coiffure: a low side bun of soft curls, complemented by my amazing Jenny Packham headpiece. Success! Next it’s on to the make-up artist, where I lay down a few ground rules: a bit of evening-worthy drama on the eyes – and absolutely NO FOUNDATION.
“No foundation?” she gasps. “But, you need it for the pictures. The flash will make you look shiny if you don’t have anything on your face.” She squeezes a silky, flesh-tone potion onto the back of my hand. “How about this, which is more of a tinted moisturiser?” It looks harmless, and I don’t want to insult her expertise, so I tell her to go for it.
Half an hour later, I’m looking fabulously (and tastefully) bridal. My skin’s warmed up and I love the eye make-up. I confirm my wedding-day appointments on the spot and head to meet fiancé for lunch. Which is when the whole issue erupts.
“You’re beautiful, so please don’t take this the wrong way, but are they kidding me?” he asks in place of a greeting. “You’re orange.”
“It’s just tinted moisturiser,” I reply, stunned and parroting the make-up artist. “It’s a must for the pictures!” (I have to admit though, when I sneak a glance at myself in a shop window, my face looks several shades darker than it had indoors).
“What I love is that your looks all work together – the dark hair and eyes and your colouring complement each other,” fiancé explains later, when emotions have died down. “What’s more important, looking perfect in the pictures or in person?” I want to tell him he doesn’t get it – but it’s hard to argue when someone says they love you just the way you are. And he has a point: it’s a wedding, not a photo shoot.
Later that night, when my moisturised face starts to itch and I leave bronze streaks on my clothes, I decide I’ll keep the glam eyes but ditch the face tint. Because on our wedding day above all others, I really do want to look like me. And besides, how awkward will those photos look if the groom gets covered in orange smudges when it’s time to kiss the bride?