Wedding Makeup: A Guide by Rochelle O’Brien

guide to wedding makeup

A Guide to Wedding Makeup by Makeup Artist, Rochelle O’Brien

Rochelle O’Brien is an award winning makeup artist based in the Midlands. I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside her at a few weddings and she’s graciously agreed to write a little guest post about wedding makeup. Some hints and tips along with some great advice whether you’re doing your own makeup, or looking for a professional. If you’d like to receive an e-mail when the next in my series of featured wedding suppliers is live, there’s a simple form at the end of this post. 

Okay…now, over to Rochelle for the good stuff!

You have the perfect dress, venue, and groom and you want to look picture perfect for your big day. Your bridal makeup is the finishing touch to your look. But there are so many options; do you book a professional makeup artist, do you go to a salon or beauty counter or do you take the plunge and do your own makeup. There are advantages to all of those options and I have set out below some advice to help you decide how to get that polished look.

For Brides Doing Their Own Makeup

A good canvas for bridal makeup is essential and this starts with your skin. If you haven’t yet got a good skincare routine in place, now is the time to look into what you might need to do to get your skin in tip top condition so that your makeup will look smooth and flawless.

It’s worth visiting a skincare specialist as soon as you can, so that you can get specialist advice and they can guide you as to what products to use and what regime to follow. If you have any problems such as dryness or rosacea, this can be addressed so that you are well on the way to getting your skin as good as it can be for your wedding day.

If you have decided to do your own makeup, then these tips will hopefully help you.

  • Bridal makeup has to last you through the whole day and night so a good base is essential. Use a primer suited to your skin type (mattifying if you are prone to shine or moisturising if your skin is a little dry).  This provides a good base for your foundation and will help the makeup last through all those tears, kisses and dancing.  I like Mac Prep and Prime ( and the Step 1 Primers from Make Up For Ever (
  • Use a foundation suited to your skin, something with a dewy finish for dry skin or a more matte base if you are prone to oiliness. Some foundations can cause ‘flashback’ in photos where your face will look white and often this is due to a high SPF in the foundation.
  • Use concealer to conceal any blemishes which are still apparent after you have applied your foundation and then make sure to set with a pressed or loose powder. This will absorb any oil throughout the day and is an extra layer to make sure your base will not move.
  • A good eye primer is essential to prevent any eyeshadow creasing and my personal favourite is by Benefit ‘Stay Don’t Stray’. This is a skin coloured liquid which you apply to the eyelids before eyeshadow.
  • Choose matte or satin finish eyeshadows rather than anything too shimmery. These will look timeless and elegant.   Too much shimmer can look very dated.
  • For a long lasting blush, layer cheek colour by using a cream blush first with a pop of powder blush on top.
  • Finally, you can set your makeup with a makeup setting spray and my personal favourite is All Nighter by Urban Decay.

bride having eyeliner applied

Booking a Professional Makeup Artist

There are so many bridal makeup artists available now and like anything else, prices vary from budget to high end. Artists who are just starting out will charge less than someone who is very in demand and has many years of experience in doing weddings.

The advantages of booking a professional are that you won’t have to worry about shaky hands applying eyeliner, if a spot crops up overnight then you know you have a professional on hand to sort it out, and you can relax knowing you are in safe hands.

Here are some do’s and don’ts to think about when looking for a professional MUA:

Do book your artist as soon as you have set your wedding date. Good makeup artists get booked up sometimes years in advance. If you have your heart set on a particular MUA, get them booked asap!
Do ask your friends and family for recommendations. Your wedding photographer is also a good person to ask as they work with MUAs all the time and see the work close up. Personal recommendations are always helpful.
Do take pictures of makeup styles you like to your makeup trial. It helps your MUA to see what you envision for your makeup.
Do try and wear a white or ivory top to your makeup trial. This helps to see how the makeup will look if you’re wearing a top in a similar colour to your dress.
Do take someone with you to your makeup trial if you can. It can be a little nerve wracking if you haven’t had professional makeup before and having someone you trust with you can help, especially if you’re nervous about speaking up if you don’t like something.

Don’t be swayed by the cheapest option. You really do get what you pay for with bridal makeup and while it might seem a bigger outlay than you expected at first, so much goes into working as a professional MUA and it really is worth booking the best person you can afford. I have lost count of the number of times a bride has come to me after having a trial with a cheaper option that has not gone well.
Don’t be afraid to tell your makeup artist if you don’t like something. A good MUA won’t be offended at all if you don’t like what they do the first time round. It’s your day and you need to be comfortable with the makeup they do for you.
Don’t be tempted to skip a makeup trial. This is so important and it is your time to meet your artist, get to know them and for them to get a feel for your wedding day and the style you want to go for, not to mention getting the bridal makeup spot on!
Don’t choose an artist who has only one brand of products in their kit or who uses only drugstore makeup. A good makeup kit will consist of different products from many brands, both high end and high street as well as professional artist brands.
Don’t be tempted to go for a look that is too on trend or fashion led. The idea is to look like a more polished version of yourself. Classic timeless looks are the best option so that your wedding photos will look good in years to come.

finished wedding makeup closeup

On the Wedding Day

So the day is finally here, your hair and makeup team are due to arrive any minute and the nerves are fluttering in the background. How can you get the best out of the bridal preparations?

  • Pick a space with good natural lighting, by a window is ideal.
  • If there are lots of people getting ready with you or many people coming in and out of the room, perhaps consider moving to a quieter room where you can have your hair and makeup done without interruption. There will be many people asking questions and wanting your attention whilst your hair and makeup is being done, but if you can relax for an hour while you are being pampered and ask people not to bother you, you will feel better for it.
  • Have something to eat, even if it’s just a banana. It’s a long time until you sit down for your meal and an empty stomach isn’t good for nerves.
  • Prepare your skin how you would usually or however makes you feel good. Or you can completely leave it bare faced and let your MUA do the work for you.
  • Have some quiet music on in the background, nothing sentimental that will make you cry though!

Finally relax and let your trusted hair and makeup team get to work on transforming you into the gorgeous bride you’re going to be.

To find out more about Rochelle, visit her website here >>

relaxed wedding portrait