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Letter to Brides: Why Hair & Makeup Trials Matter


A couple of years ago, my dear friend gave me an incredibly thoughtful gift—a personal photoshoot with one of my favorite photographers in town. Other than having my photos taken as a kid, I truly haven’t had many opportunities to get professional photos. Needless to say, I was more than excited. It saw it as a chance for me to look and feel my best, and capture the sentiment to reference for years to come. 

Before the photoshoot, I tried my best to prep accordingly. I put together a couple of outfits; I pinned photoshoot ideas on Pinterest; I hydrated appropriately; I got plenty of sleep. I even hired someone to do my makeup. I thought this was the perfect formula for a happy shoot. Now having seen the photos, I wish I’d done things a bit differently. Don’t get me wrong, the photographer’s work was and always has been beautiful. The main reason I didn’t feel great about my photos is primarily due to my hair and style of makeup. 

Full disclosure, it didn’t even cross my mind to get my hair done that day. During my makeup appointment, the artist asked me what I was going to do with my hair. I responded with the usual, “I’m wearing it down.” (Side note: This is how I wear my hair every day.) Of course, after that, it was out of sight, out of mind. I didn’t think about my hair anymore until after the photographer sent over the photos.

Bride getting ready

Here’s the thing: I strive for a neat appearance, but I don’t fix my hair every day. I also wear fairly light makeup to the point that people oftentimes think I don’t wear any. When I saw my photos, it dawned on me that while I may have slightly disheveled hair every day and wear natural makeup, I didn’t have to portray the everyday me in my photos. For special occasions, whatever they may be, it’s ok to step outside of the box and do something different. And believe me, looking back, I would have done something different. I would have made a hair appointment rather than sport my less than par beach waves I achieve by scrunching my hair in my hands and using sea salt spray.

I also would have gone for a different approach with my makeup. At first, I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. Compared to my typical look, it was certainly an enhancement. For the photos; however, the natural look wasn’t enough.

It immediately made me think of a conversation I had with a friend a mine from a few years back. We were getting ready for her wedding and long story short, she decided to do her makeup. I noticed she was applying it rather heavy, and before I could even say or ask anything, she let me know her heavier application was intentional. Her explanation—you want your face to have some color in the photos. Not only that, but she wanted it to be seen during the ceremony itself. She told me she learned this styling trick when she performed on dance teams as a kid. At the time, my au naturel self told me this was way too much, but years later, I stand corrected. I completely get this thought now.

Bride getting ready and putting on earrings

So what’s the point in telling you all of this? 

Your wedding day is a moment in time that you will revisit for years to come, whether it’s through photos or videos. I’m not sharing all of this to keep you from choosing a more natural look for your wedding day if that’s what you prefer. I think when it comes to your makeup and hair, the key is knowing what it is that you truly want. I also think it’s about knowing what makes you feel beautiful and incredible. For me, I now understand that stepping outside of my everyday look is important in making me feel this way. It would have been helpful to know this before going into the photoshoot that my friend spent an arm and a leg on, but live and learn, right?

Preparation certainly helps, but take my advice, do some trial runs before you reach whatever decision you make for your wedding day. Before attending any hair and make-up trial, it’s important to square away the following details:

  • The dress purchase. Also, it’s not a bad idea to bring this with you to your appointments.
  • Your wedding date and location. The season and wedding whereabouts matter a lot, especially when it comes to choosing types of make-up and hair products to best support the climate.
  • Your style and color palette. 

As you prepare for one of the most important days of your life, I hope that you will find what makes you feel beautiful both inside and out. Congratulations on your happy ever after!

Featured image by Kay Kroshus

Bride and bridesmaids getting ready and posing with champagne
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