Simply Wed: Bridal Beauty

Simply Wed: Bridal Beauty

By Casey Nilsson
One of Brandon Ward’s flawless brides.

Back in high school, I had a big event worthy of a big amount of makeup. A minimalist at best — and a splotchy-face-but-I-don’t-care at worst — I was leaving the fate of my face, and my entire night, in a makeup artist’s hands. And boy, did she blow it.

I left the salon fighting back tears, ran home and did my best to scrub away the rouge, dark eye shadow and heavy black eyeliner before throwing on my fancy dress and bolting out the door. For the first hour, I felt like a chapped circus runaway; thankfully, a good friend with a stash of makeup cornered me in the women’s room and fixed me up.

It wasn’t until last July, when I participated in a pinup experience with LuLu Locks and her Providence Pinup team at Suite Tart salon in Providence (read about my experience here) that I learned how to trust a makeup artist. Brandon Ward, Suite Tart’s beauty extraordinaire, is a straight up magician with a makeup brush. He toned down my redness, brightened my eyes and even brought a little color to my cheeks so I looked great in photos — and in person.

Because isn’t that the biggest catch of wedding day makeup? We want to look flawless in our photos, but also in person. I feel like that’s not the easiest balance to strike.

Despite a wealth of makeup artists with great reviews in the greater Providence area, I still fear for my face on my wedding day. I’m weighing the pros and cons of doing my makeup myself (Pros: it’s basically free; I won’t look like a drag queen; I’ll look pretty in person. Cons: I’ll probably look washed out in photos; when else in life will I be made up like a movie star?).

Thankfully, Ward — who is stationed at Jennie Kay Beauty in Middletown during the wedding season —was willing to offer up his professional opinion, as well as must-have beauty recommendations that’ll keep brides fresh and radiant all night long. He should know: Ward’s been about face for thirteen years, working behind-the-scenes at New York Fashion Week, on Broadway and at our very own StyleWeek Northeast in Providence. And, some gossip, since we all love it: Ward currently works with Suzanne Collins, the perennially glowing author of The Hunger Games trilogy.

ENGAGED: Alright, should we or should we not attempt DIY makeup on the big day?

WARD: If you’re hiring a professional photographer to follow you around and take pictures of you on this special day, the answer is definitely yes. But if you are going to the beach to elope, then my answer is most likely going to be no. There are many styles of weddings, so not everyone requires this type of service. Some people are very proficient at doing their own makeup but enjoy the luxury of being taken care of from head to toe on their wedding day.

Ultimately it’s your decision, but just remember that you will have to look at these pictures for the rest of your life. Don’t you want to look your personal best in them? I would recommend doing a makeup trial with your artist sometime before the big day just to make sure you are both in agreement with how you will wear your makeup that day. It is not uncommon for brides to try more than one artist before finding the one. There are a lot of makeup artists out there, so get a referral if possible so you don’t waste your time having to weed through the less experienced artists.

Even if we do get our makeup professionally done, is there a product you recommend we stash away on the big day?Image

While the appearance of a radiant glow is desirable for bridal makeup, there shouldn’t be too much shine in your T-zone. Whether you have dry skin or oily skin, be mindful of using too much shimmer on your nose, chin or forehead. My favorite powder for eliminating shine is MAC Blot Powder. It’s specifically designed to absorb oil and leave your skin looking matte and photo ready.

And if we’re feeling rebellious and do it ourselves? Any special products that’ll enhance our everyday makeup routine?Image

When it comes to mascara, I find that everyone has their own personal favorites and there are some really great choices out there in many different price ranges. Most importantly for your wedding day, you’ll want a waterproof mascara — no matter which brand you choose. My personal choice for wedding day tear-proof lashes is L’Oreal Voluminous False Lashes because I like its drier texture and lash building abilities. It’s easy to find at most drug stores and is around $7. Another great mascara, if you feel like treating yourself to a more pricey luxury brand, is the Lancôme Hypnôse mascara.

ImageFor primers, Laura Mercier Foundation Primer can make all the difference in the way your foundation looks and wears. This primer comes in a few varieties to accommodate different skin types. For oily skin, there is an oil-free version, if your skin is drier and you would like to have the appearance of more dewy skin, use the Radiance Primer. This light weight primer will help keep your foundation on all day.

I’m loving the way certain ladies pull off that dewy, angelic look. How can we achieve it ourselves?

ImageTouche Éclat by Yves Saint Laurent is one of my favorite makeup tools for any photo shoot, not just weddings. This product conceals, brightens and illuminates the complexion and creates a natural-looking, radiant finish wherever it is applied. It is great as an under-eye concealer, but I also use it to highlight the cheekbones, define the contours of the lip and brighten other dark spots. This magic wand comes in the form of a click pen with a brush on the end, so it’s easily stowed in your purse to make touch-ups quick and easy throughout the day. Whether you hire a makeup artist for the day of your wedding or do your own makeup, you will want to have one of these in your makeup arsenal.

If you’ve hired someone to do your makeup, they will do their best to use products that are waterproof and long-wearing, but unless you’ve hired them to follow you around, you will need to touch up your makeup throughout the day. You will want to have your blot powder, concealer and lip color with you, especially during photos. Have one of your attendants keep an eye out for shiny spots and smudged lipstick.

Ward invites Engaged readers to email him at with any beauty-related questions, or visit to learn more about his beauty services.

Casey Nilsson is the copy-editing extraordinaire for Rhode Island Monthly magazine. She’d like to marry her dreamboat, throw a personal, romantic reception and avoid angering any immediate family members — in less than eight months and for about $8,000. Follow her thrifty, DIY journey here or on Pinterest @cnilssonRIM.

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