The Bride’s Complete Wedding Beauty Checklist

Kelly Dougher
weding day checklist The Brides Complete Wedding Beauty Checklist

Photo: Karl Walter/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

If your wedding is fast approaching, you are probably now all too familiar with the pressure brides face to look perfect on their big day. The truth, however, is that you don’t need to look perfect: you just need to look like yourself. That said, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to present the best version of yourself to your partner, your guests, your wedding photographer and (of course) to Instagram. Memories fade, but selfies are forever.

To that end, we’ve put together a comprehensive checklist of everything you need to do, beauty-wise, before your wedding. Since some beauty tasks are best left to the last minute and others need advance planning—or just a little time to work—we’ve planned out everything you need to get done starting from two months before your wedding, right up to the big day.

Two Months Before…

Start getting your skin and hair in tip-top shape. This is the time to improve on any beauty habits that are currently lacking: drink more water, always wash your makeup off before bed, moisturize, wear SPF every day and treat your hair gently by laying off the heat styling if at all possible. If you’re planning to get a haircut before your wedding, do it now—that way if there’s a mishap (or you end up disliking your cut), there’s some time for it to grow back.

Now is also a great time to get your brows professionally shaped. Whether you prefer to wax, thread or pluck, a professional salon visit can make all the difference. Then all you need to do to keep them looking great for your wedding is occasionally tweeze stray hairs.

As for your skin care routine, if you already have something in place that works then great! Don’t change it— introducing too many new products can backfire and irritate your skin.

However, if you want to step things up a notch now is a good time to integrate one or two new workhorses into your beauty routine. Try a gentle chemical exfoliator a few times a week, choosing carefully depending on your skin’s type. BHAs like salicylic acid are amazing for oily, acne-prone skin; we love the classic  Stridex Daily Care Acne Pads ($5). If your skin is a little more delicate, or you have fine lines and wrinkles you’d like to minimize, try an AHA like glycolic acid. We love Peter Thomas Roth’s Glycolic Acid 10 Percent Hydrating Gel ($48) as it’s super gentle, yet gives amazing results.

And if you aren’t already using one: definitely incorporate a serum into your skincare routine. While serums do tend to be more expensive than creams (owing to their higher concentration of good-for-you ingredients), you don’t have to break the bank to get great results. Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum ($18) is packed with retinol, Vitamin C and copper to help those ingredients absorb. It usually takes 6-8 weeks to see the full effects of regular serum use, so by the time your wedding day arrives, your skin will look plump, hydrated, and glowing.

One Month Before…

If you haven’t figured out your hair and beauty look for the big day by now, you want to get that out of the way. The last thing you want to do is be worrying about your beauty game the week (or day!) before your wedding. Whether you’re doing it yourself or having a friend or professional do it, it’s always good to decide on at least two potential looks. If you need inspiration, you can always spend some time scrolling through Pinterest for ideas.

Then do at least one test run of each look, both the hair and makeup. Make sure your test run lasts all day: you want to be sure that your makeup won’t get shiny, that your lipstick won’t constantly be transferring, that your hair style won’t end up giving you a headache, and that your eyeliner and mascara truly are smudge-proof and waterproof. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner ($20) is your best bet for eyeliner that won’t budge, and Covergirl LashBlast Volume Waterproof Mascara ($9) will give you dramatic lashes that won’t smear.

Finally, be sure to take photos of your beauty look, with and without a flash, so you know it looks just as good in photos as it does in person. If your face has a white cast in photos, your SPF or face powder may be the culprit; switch them out for something that doesn’t contain silica or zinc, and thank your lucky stars that you caught it before the big day!

And remember: keep up that skin care routine, stay out of the sun, and avoid making any big or damaging changes to your hair for the rest of the month.

Two Weeks Before…

By now you should know how you’ll be wearing your hair and what you’ll be doing for your makeup, so make sure you have everything you need. You don’t want to realize that you’re missing the hairspray you need or the nail polish that you have your heart set on the day before your wedding. Sure, you could run into the local beauty store or pay for next-day shipping, but why risk it? That’s just unneeded stress.

Gather all the materials and products you need now, or be sure that, if you’ve ordered them online, they’ll arrive in plenty of time. Also make sure you have extra of things like bobby pins, hair spray, sunscreen, powder, and even deodorant on hand. Thinking ahead if your best friend—even if you don’t end up needing one of these things, a bridesmaid or guest might!

One Week Before…

The home stretch. The week leading up to your wedding is sure to be hectic and stressful, so make things as easy as possible when it comes to your beauty routine. Don’t attempt any fancy new skin care products, self-tanners, or hair dyes; keep it simple and pamper yourself instead.

Fill up as much of your spare time as possible with little spa-like treatments. Make a bubble bath fun with a gorgeously sceneted bath bomb—Lush’s Tisty Tosty Bath Bomb ($6.35) is a gorgeous, wedding-appropriate fave. While you’re soaking your troubles away, treat your hair with a luxurious deep conditioner—we love L’Oreal Oleo Therapy Deep Recovery Mask ($9).

If your skin is dry, give it a boost with a hydrating face mask; Fresh Rose Face Mask ($62) is a lovely choice that really, really works. If your complexion is irritated (stress is a jerk like that), calm it down with a soothing treatment like Boscia Cool Blue Calming Mask ($24). If it’s breaking out, try a drying mask like Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque ($4).

If you’re aiming for a natural glow on the day of your wedding, now is also the time to start using a gradual tanning lotion (if you haven’t already) such as St. Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Body Moisturizer ($30).

Most of all, though, stick with what’s tried and true for your daily routine—and get plenty of water and sleep.

Two Days Before…

If you want to have a tan for your big day, make sure you do it right! Don’t harm your skin (and risk an unsightly burn) by lying out in the sun or going to a tanning bed. Instead, opt for a spray tan or even do it yourself at home with a sunless tanning lotion.

Just make sure you know what you’re doing—this isn’t the best time to try self-tanning for the first time. Follow these tips for the perfect sunless tan, and use a sunless lotion that gives an even, non-orange glow such as Tanwise Dark Bronzing Sunless Mousse ($13). Doing this at least a couple days before your wedding ensures you’ll have enough time to fix any mistakes, if—god forbid!—they happen.

The Day Before…

If you’re getting your nails done before your wedding, try to do it the day before; any earlier in the week and you run a much higher risk of your polish chipping. Plus, if you make a group appointment at a salon, this will give you a chance to sit back, relax, and have fun with your bridal party in the midst of pre-wedding craziness. You could also give yourself a relaxing DIY pedicure at home.

In the evening, simply wash your face, slap on your favorite moisturizer, drink a giant glass of water, and go to bed early. If you have any surprise zits, just make sure to apply some Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($17) and the offending blemish will shrink by morning.

The Day Of…

Congrats, it’s your wedding day! Grab a nourishing breakfast (may we suggest a healthy summer smoothie?) and sit your butt in the hair and makeup chair. Now is the time to feel really happy that you figured out your beauty look ahead of time.

Stop any unexpected beauty disasters in their tracks by keeping a well-stocked makeup bag on hand that contains items like bobby pins, bandaids, concealer, powder, and tissues (your maid of honor, mother, or bridesmaid can be put in charge of this). Make sure to follow our trusty lipstick hacks so that your pout stays perfect all day. Finally, don’t stress out—have a great time, and smile!

More from Daily Makeover: 15 Essential Bridal Makeup Tips for Your Big Day.