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  • Writer's picture Natalie Budnyk

Like Literally Always a Bridesmaid

When you hit your late twenties, something nobody warns you about is that you will have to go to SO. MANY. WEDDINGS. Also, you've always heard that weddings are expensive for the couple getting married, but the expenses don't stop with the happy couple.

As a wedding guest, you'll need to buy a gift (or more than one if you're going to a bachelorette/bachelor party and a shower), a new formal or semi-formal dress (because photos will be taken, and people will remember that dress if you try to wear it again), maybe plane tickets for get togethers including, but not limited to, the bachelorette party, the shower and the wedding itself, and if you don't do it regularly already, grooming like hair, makeup and a manicure. One of my friends who is stressed about that last bullet point asked me for some help on the do-it-yourself glam approach because she has two weddings to go to next months. So, here I am to reassure her (and you) that it's pretty easy to make yourself look presentable on a budget if you have the right approach.


This one is somewhat optional, especially if you have a go-to "fancy hairstyle" already, but below are some links to my favorite formal up do's. They're easy to do by yourself and don't involve learning how to do something crazy like dutch braid around your whole head (spoiler: it's hard).

If you're going to an outdoor wedding or anywhere that wind could be a possibility, try your hardest to get all of your hair off of your neck (for sweat purposes), and skip the romantic tendrils (for crazy hair-in-your-eye photo purposes). Oh and for God's sake, pin your bangs back, they're not going to look good after you dance to Fall Out Boy with a martini in a mason jar because the mother of the bride didn't trust any of you with a real martini glass.

This one is a really good solution if you have layers that are prone to falling out of a regular braid. Also it uses a buttload of hair ties, so it's not going anywhere.

The Rockette French Twist (Long Hair - Short Hair)

The woman in the Long Hair video has a really good technique for getting some height into your hair before you attempt the twist. That's super important whether your hair is long or short. She also suggests some dry shampoo and hairspray brands that I'm not familiar with. My favorite products for volume are Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo, Ouai Texturizing Hairspray, and Bumble and Bumble Prêt-à-Powder. They all come in travel sizes at Sephora, so they're perfect for destination weddings!

The idea behind a wet set is that your hair will dry in a curl shape, altering the fibers for a better hold than if you were to try to force the curls into dry hair with a hot tool. My hair is super straight and never curls with a curling iron. I did a wet set for a friend's wedding, and it stayed curly for probably 15 hours. You should definitely test this before the day of the wedding so that you know it will work with your hair, but it can be a surefire way to hold curls if that's the look you're going for. You can brush it out for a more vintage vibe, or just run your fingers through it for that sexy poodle look (honestly my favorite).


I'm a huge advocate for doing your own nails. I only ever go to a nail salon when it's a bonding experience that one of my friends suggests as an excuse to hang out. More on that in a future post!

For a wedding, you likely want to stick to a neutral nail color (especially if you're in the wedding party). My favorites are both from Essie: Mamba (the Kim Kardashian of nail polish) and Allure (a semi translucent, milky white). Essie, OPI and Revlon have the best nail polish formulas, in my opinion. Revlon actually might be the best out of those three, and (bonus!) it's the least expensive. If you're going to a fun wedding and want to do red like a classy gal, OPI Big Apple Red is the best. It's the closest I have found to the discontinued American Apparel one that Lady Gaga's nail artist told me was her favorite one time (that is not a joke). Another fave is Revlon Bewitching 620, the perfect berry color.

The key to making this actually look good is to buff and shape your nails first. I live and die by these old school 7 Way Nail Buffers. Do all 7 steps on each nail, and use a regular old emery board to round off the edges of your nails. Gorgeous. Then make sure you use a good base coat before you do two coats of color. Follow up with a top coat. All four layers of nail polish are important, so don't skip one! My fave base coat is Essie First Base, and the best top coat is undeniably Seche Vite, but I like the Revlon one too. For some reason, OPI's top coat leaves little bubbles on my nails sometimes, so I actually don't recommend that one.


Okay, this category is a lot harder to recommend things for because everyone has their own style. Also, depending on how formal the wedding is or where it is, you'll want to do something a little different. I think the overarching goals when doing your makeup for a wedding are that you want to look pretty and put together, you want your makeup to last, and you want to look great in photos.

Let's start with some of the "don'ts" of wedding makeup:

- Don't get a facial less than a month out from the date of the event. Facials can cause more blemishes to appear, and your face will usually take some time to heal from extractions and peels.

- Don't try something new the day of. Weddings are not a time to try a new routine for anything. You should test out all your looks (except that new dress nobody has ever seen) beforehand so that you know they will work.

- Don't forget to carry the lipstick you put on the morning of in your clutch. You will undeniably need to reapply it right before photos. You also shouldn't use a liquid lipstick unless you know it won't need to be reapplied at all. They tend to get very cakey if you do a second application. A good way to test wearability is to put the lipstick in question on when you wake up on a weekday, and don't reapply it at all. See how it holds up by 6pm. If it faded elegantly, then you're good to go. Two formulas that I have found are great for this are NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment and, shockingly for the price, L.A. Girl Matte Flat Finish Pigment Gloss.

- Don't use a white powder to set your makeup. Remember when THIS happened to Angelina Jolie? To avoid the mistakes of 2014, make sure your powder has a little bit of a tint to it. It should still be called "translucent" because those look the least cakey, but the white ones are a thumbs down for flash photography.

On to the "dos" (or "I dos" in this case):

- Do prime your face before makeup. You don't want dry skin, so make sure to hydrate it with a primer first. Some good ones are Glossier Priming Moisturizer and Bioderma Hydrobio Serum.

- Do use a long lasting foundation and concealer that you don't have to set too heavily. For full coverage foundation, I live and die by Fenty Pro Filt'r, and for concealer, Tarte Shape Tape is a cult favorite for a reason. These should be applied directly to the face and tapped out with a damp Beauty Blender. That will make your skin look more like skin. If you don't like a full face of makeup, skip the foundation and just spot conceal with Shape Tape.

- Do use a waterproof mascara. Even if you "never cry at these things", you don't want to risk the chance of THIS happening. Some great ones are L'Oréal Voluminous Carbon Black, Too Faced Better Than Sex, and, for a more natural look, Glossier Lash Slick (which is technically water resistant, but it also has a really weird formula that won't run, so you'll be fine, LC). If you use liquid liner, make sure that's waterproof too! I like Stila's Stay All Day.

- Do set your makeup. This is so important. If you don't have a setting spray already, go get one now just to have in general. Urban Decay and MAC make the best ones: All Nighter (and the pollution blocking one for you city slickers) and Fix +. These should be sprayed on your face generously after your makeup is applied (before mascara though if it's not a wedding and you're not wearing waterproof).

- Do wear blush and or bronzer. If you put foundation and concealer on and don't add any other color back into your face, you're going to look super flat in photos. Peachy blushes and bronzers with some gold particles in them are really nice for spring/summer weddings. Benefit's GALifornia and Sleek MakeUp's Face Form Contouring Blush Palettes are great for this look. For fall/winter, I usually switch to a darker or more blue undertone blushes (because I'm an 80's lady) and a matte bronzer. On your cheekies, try Flesh Beauty's Tender Flesh Blush in Rub or Fever, or for a more affordable option, try Palladio's Herbal Matte Blush in Bayberry. And to bronze up your winter vampire face, the best matte bronzers of all time are objectively Milk Makeup's Matte Bronzer and Benefit's Hoola Matte Bronzer. So get those. And be stunning.



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