If you’ve just got engaged, we guarantee you’re already thinking about how to look your very best on the big day. But, bridal beauty doesn’t begin when you’re in your dressing gown surrounded by your maids. Start now, plan ahead, and you’ll be in the best shape of your life by the time you walk down the aisle.
Just got engaged: Head for a manicure
If he’s got down on one knee and you’ve got a gleaming sparkler on your finger, congratulations! You’ll no doubt be spending the next few weeks showing off your engagement ring, so head for a manicure to bring out its best. If your man picked a dazzling diamond, set it off with a bright coloured mani. Or, if you’ve got coloured stones, stick to classic nude nails to let those gems do all the talking.
Read more: The best manicures to show off your engagement ring
Just got engaged: Treat yourself
Take some time out and settle your butterflies with a spa treatment or two. Relax your muscles with an aromatherapy oil massage, or treat yourself to a detoxing body wrap to leave your skin taut and toned.
1 year to go: Start weight loss and fitness programmes
With one year to go before the big day, there’s plenty of time to get in to shape. The key to success? 1. Start early to avoid a panicked juice cleanse at the last minute. 2. Don’t see it as a diet. Instead, think of it as a shift towards a healthy lifestyle, and a more beautiful you.
Set a realistic weight loss target, and remember that losing weight slowly means it’s more likely to stay off for good. Join a gym and block book fitness classes like hot yoga or body combat – laying down your hard-earned cash acts as more of an incentive to go.
But, it’s also important to remember that your man fell in love with you as you are. Don’t feel pressured into losing weight: what’s most important is that you’re happy and confident within yourself, whatever your shape.
1 year to go: Get serious about skincare
If you’re guilty of sleeping in your make-up or picking at blemishes, it’s time to up your game and embrace a skincare regime with military precision. Stick to the basic routine of cleanse, tone, moisturise, and add in products like serums, eye creams and facial oils to enhance your complexion further.
Product we love: Vichy Aqualia Thermal Dynamic Serum adds an injection of moisture to dry skin. Apply before moisturising day and night to see noticeably plumped up skin. We also love the Origins Ginzing range for fool-proof cleansing.
1 year to go: Think about whether you will grow your hair
Many brides-to-be choose to grow their hair for their wedding day. And, with the incredible possibilities flowing locks bring, we can’t blame them. Bear in mind that hair grows at a rate of around half an inch a month, so boost your growth from within with hair supplements and a high protein diet. Remember, the key to hair growth is a healthy scalp, so use a scalp-cleansing shampoo once a week.
Product we love: Hairburst vitamins are an all-natural supplement containing selenium and zinc to strengthen hair, and biotin to encourage growth. Expect to see results after three months.
1 year to go: Start using an SPF
Did you know that 80% of all skin damage is caused by the sun. If you don’t already use a moisturiser containing an SPF, you need to start now. Right now. And, with so many facial moisturisers now containing SPF 15 as a minimum, there’s no excuse not to protect your skin from ageing UV rays.
Product we love: Clinique Super Defence SPF20 Moisturiser works for dry, oily and combination skins.
10 months to go: See a dermatologist about skin problems
If you suffer from acne, sensitive skin, extreme dryness or other medical skin problems, seeing a dermatologist could dramatically change your life. Leave plenty of time, though: skincare takes time, with experts recommending at least 3 months to see the benefit of new products.
8 months to go: Book regular facials
Even if your skin is pretty good, book in for monthly facials well in advance of your wedding for maximum complexion wow-factor. Speak to your therapist about what you want to achieve, and they can help assess any skincare issues you have. Over time, monthly facials will keep your skin far cleaner than a regular at-home cleanse, thus preventing breakouts, dryness and other skin problems.
7 months to go: Begin taking multi vitamins
Even with a healthy balanced diet, it’s hard to take in all the essential vitamins and minerals we need to look in top-notch condition. If there’s room in your bridal budget, buy the most expensive multi vitamins you can afford, as you really do get what you pay for. “Selenium tablets work really well for skin, hair and nails, but you need to start using these well in advance of the wedding,” advises body therapist Danielle Hudson.
Product we love: Centrum women multi vitamins, available from Boots, are perfect for an all-round dose of goodness.
6 months to go: Organise some stress relief
Planning a wedding can, at times, be exhausting. Factor in some me-time to keep stress levels at bay. Take a long, candlelit bath with a glass of prosecco, or head to your favourite salon for a blow-dry.
Product we love: Aromatherapy Assosicates De-Stress Mind Bath and Shower Oil contains frankincense, wild camomile and rosemary to clear your mind for a great night’s sleep.
6 months to go: Book your wedding make-up and hair
There’s absolutely nothing bridezilla about booking your hair and make-up artist well in advance. Don’t feel pressurised to say yes to someone you’re not absolutely sure about: choose carefully and ask to see pictures of their previous work.
5 months to go: Start drinking plenty of water
We know you’ve heard it a thousand times before, but keeping hydrated really is the secret to looking your best. As well as flushing out toxins, improving your digestion and in some cases helping weight loss, knocking back plenty of H2O can work wonders for your skin. Trust us, it really works.
4 months to go: Dry body brush and exfoliating
Brighter skin really does come from within. Purse-friendly and oh-so-easy, dry body brushing improves circulation, sloughs off dead skin cells and keeps cellulite at bay. Begin now, and you’ll wonder why you ever waited this long to start…
3 months to go: Consider teeth whitening
As well as looking dazzling in your photographs, a bright white smile will boost your confidence like nothing else. A range of options are available when it comes to teeth whitening: at home kits, tailor-made whitening programmes from your dentist, or cosmetic whitening are all available, so make sure you choose a reputable product or clinic.
Product we love: Rapid White two-week tooth whitening system promises to get your pearly whites eight shades whiter in just 14 short days.
2 months to go: Make-up trial run
Book a trial session with your chosen make-up artist two months in advance to finalise your big day look. It’s important to speak up if you’re not happy at all with anything, from the products used to the way she flicks your eyeliner. Our best advice? Go for a more glamorous version of your usual look. On the day, you want to feel like you – and you want your groom to recognise the woman walking down the aisle.
2 months to go: Hair trial run
Likewise, arrange a hair trial session with your stylist. “Take along as much as you can,” says Adrianne Jones, senior creative director at Michaeljohn. “Pictures of styles you like, your dress fabric and colour – the more detail you have, the better. Try a few different looks, taking digital photographs from every angle.” And, don’t forget your veil and other shortlisted hair accessories.
1 month to go: Choose your perfume
It might not make an appearance in your photographs, but research has shown that 10% of our attractiveness is down to how we smell. Warm vanilla notes, musky hues and sandalwood scents are scientifically proven to make the most seductively smelling perfumes.
Product we love: Unleash your natural inner sultress with Molecule 01, the scent that adapts to your own unique pheromones – perfect for driving your groom a little wild.
3 weeks to go: Have your final facial
Leave three weeks between your final facial and the day itself for optimal skin radiance – and to give you time to tackle any unexpected breakouts.
3 weeks to go: Drink EVEN MORE water
Yes, that’s right – it’s time to drink even more water. Up your H2O intake to 3 litres a day to plump up your skin for a money-can’t-buy glow. Sitting in your gym’s steam room will also boost your skin at the last minute – like we needed another excuse.
2 weeks to go: Final hair trim
We’ve all seen the scene in Bridget Jones. Now is not the time for a radical change. Stick to what you know and love to avoid disaster a la Bridge.
2 weeks to go: Remind your groom to get a haircut!
If he hasn’t already done so himself, give your h2b a friendly nudge in the direction of the local barbers.
2 weeks to go: Final eyebrow shape
Defined eyebrows can totally transform your face – just look at bold-browed babes Cara Delevingne and Elizabeth Taylor for some perfectly arched inspiration. Whether you favour waxing, threading or plucking, be sure to book yourself in for a final appointment two weeks before.
10 days to go: Anti cold sore medication
We tried to think of something worse than breaking out with a throbbing cold sore on our wedding day, but we couldn’t. Avoid this total nightmare and speak to your doctor about taking a course of cold sore prevention medication the week before. The medication course usually lasts 7-10 days, and is ideal if you’re prone to cold sores when stressed.
1 week to go: Avoid alcohol
Abstaining from alcohol for the week before your wedding will not only help you sleep better and ward off any annoying hangovers, but it will do wonders for your skin and hydration, too. And, that first sip of champagne will taste all the more fantastic. Also avoid salty food, which can lead to puffiness around the eyes.
1 week to go: Exfoliate and moisturise your body
Exfoliate, moisturise, repeat! Choose products you know and trust, especially as the clock ticks ever closer to your wedding day. And, just because your legs might not be on show doesn’t mean you don’t want them to be as smooth as silk.
Product we love: Laura Mercier Almond Coconut Milk Scrub is a treat for your senses as well as your skin. Slather on Aveeno Daily Moisturising Lotion while your skin is still damp to lock in moisture.
1 week to go: Final wax
Going for a final wax one week before the big day is the perfect amount of time to allow any red blotchiness to calm down, but hair still won’t grow back.
4 days to go: Fake tan
If you’re planning on adding a little colour for under that big white dress, leave a few days for the colour to settle down. The last thing you want is an orange attack – or smudges on your dress. “Always have a trial first and go for the lightest option for your skin,” says spray tan guru James Harknett.
4 days to go: Do an at-home face mask
Don’t go for a salon facial this close to the big day – the possibility of a bad reaction or breakout leaves us in a cold sweat. Instead, whip out your favourite face mask that you’ve used plenty of times before and had great results with.
Product we love: Origins Active Charcoal Mask tightens pores and whips out any pesky blackheads.
3 days to go: Deep condition your hair
For silky, nourished locks, you can’t beat a rich hair masque. Don’t scrimp: you really do get what you pay for. For even more moisturising power, use your conditioner before you shampoo.
2 days to go: Manicure and pedicure
We don’t know about you, but after a regular manicure, we’ve always knocked a notch out of it within hours. Avoid the trauma of a chipped nail right before you walk down the aisle and opt for a gel manicure and pedicure. “I prefer wedding nails to look chic and feminine,” says Maybelline’s nail expert Michelle Humphrey. And, don’t forget your feet. “Flaunting your dream wedding shoes means your feet need to be in pristine condition,” advises foot care expert Margaret Dabbs.
The day before: Wash your hair
If you’re having an up-do, don’t wash your hair on the morning of your wedding. Freshly washed hair is too slippery to hold grips and clips, which could result in a rather deflated ‘do. Instead, calm your nerves with a relaxing bath the day before.
The night before: Get 9 hours sleep
When it’s just 12 hours to your big aisle moment, the best thing you can do is get some beauty sleep. If your nerves make it tricky to drift off, try a cup of herbal tea and a sleep-inducing lavender room spray.
Product we love: Molton Brown’s Ylang Ylang Room Fragrance is just the ticket to the land of nod.
On the big day: Hair and make-up
This one goes without saying. Wear a dressing gown or a top with buttons or zips so that you can get changed without spoiling your style.
On the morning: Eat something!
Your stomach might be a bag of nerves, but it’s vital to get some breakfast down you during the big get-ready. Chia seed and almond milk pudding, peanut butter on toast and poached eggs with smoked salmon are all healthy, light, and regal enough for a bride.
Now there’s just one thing left to do… go and enjoy your big day!