If you feel you MUST wear white on your wedding day, consider the shades of off-white available

It’s wedding season once again! And I think it’s safe to say that there are almost no other days in a woman’s life when she will be under such scrutiny by so many people — and have it all recorded for posterity in pictures, and sometimes video.

In addition to all the pressures of planning a life with your fiancé, planning a party and trying to appease two families (or more in these modern times), there’s a little voice in your head that says “oh my goodness, everyone’s going to be looking at ME!” As, indeed, the assembled audience of family and friends will be doing just that.

With all those eyes trained on you and all those cameras pointed in your direction for the entirety of the event, you’re going to want to look your best – and bridal beauty starts long before your wedding day.

First and foremost — RELAX!

The one thing that is almost guaranteed to make you have a serious breakout in the weeks or days leading up to your wedding is stress. If you do get a sudden breakout with little time to go, please visit a dermatologist instead of trying home remedies. S/he can provide you with a cortisone injection, if required, for large cysts, and prescription-strength meds to calm even the most troubled skin.

If you are one of those people prone to stress-breakouts, or you really are not happy with the condition of your skin, in addition to making the rounds of bridal salons to buy The Dress, book an appointment with your dermatologist to discuss skin care at least 6 months or more before your wedding day. Resolve to wear your sunscreen and be kind to your skin, so that your bridal radiance comes from within -- instead of from a careful application of cosmetics. This is also a good time to meet with your dentist to discuss whitening options.

Plan final appointments for skin treatments including facials and eyebrow waxing no later than 10 days before the big day (unless the aforementioned big zit shows up). You want your skin to be calm and clear in photos.

The next best thing you can do to look good for your wedding is to carefully consider the colour of your dress.

White wedding gowns are a fairly new tradition in the grand scheme of weddings; it is generally accepted that Queen Victoria started the trend when she married Prince Albert in 1840. Until that time, fashionable brides wore their “Sunday-best” dresses as it was considered wasteful to wear a dress only once, and white was a completely impractical colour for all but the nobility to wear. In the Middle Ages, even members of the nobility would rent the sumptuous and elaborate gowns and robes they wore to weddings.

There are very few of us who look good in stark white — especially in the vast expanse of it found in a modern wedding gown. Sure, we might wear a white shirt from time to time, but think about how you do your makeup when you put it on; are you wearing a stronger lipstick and/or more blush to perk up your skin?

If you feel you MUST wear white on your wedding day, consider the shades of off-white available -- diamond white, candlelight, ivory, cream or champagne. The average bride will find that these hues are more flattering to her skin tone than stark white. You won’t look washed out and have to pile on makeup in order to look “normal” in your photographs.

However, don’t feel limited to white or some variation of it. When trying on gowns, look at those with coloured embroidery or beading, sashes in shades to match your bridesmaid gowns or overlays in contrasting colours. Beautiful gowns are also available in a variety of pale shades that are still “bridal” but don’t scream “prom” when you look at them. Try ice blue, rum pink, taupe, gold or dove grey.

Or buck the trends, be individualistic and wear whatever colour you like. Take a look at the wedding issue of Renaissance magazine for inspiration for coloured gowns. Flip through a magazine for Hindi brides and be dazzled by the beauty of the colours and beading of the intricate wedding saris.

Choose a dress in a colour that warms and enhances your skin tone and that you love. That alone will go a long way toward giving you that bridal glow that will make you look more beautiful for the entire day and afterward in your photographs.

Even if you are one of those women who prides herself on NEVER wearing makeup, I urge you to consider wearing some for your wedding. One of the main reasons for this refers back to the white dress. That vast expanse of white is going to be reflected back onto your face by the light and the effect will be enhanced by flashbulbs going off around you. You could end up looking white as a ghost and ill in your photographs.

It isn’t necessary to do a “full face” for your wedding, especially if you are not used to wearing makeup. The basics will do -- tinted moisturizer and/or concealer to even out skin tone, lots of waterproof mascara to open up the eyes, sheer powder to tone down shine for photographs, natural shades of blush and lipstick in nude or brownish-pink shades.

You may want to consider having your makeup professionally done. Get recommendations for makeup artists in your area from any of the many websites devoted to brides and wedding planning run by bridal magazines — try The Knot in the United States, Wedding Bells in Canada, or Modern Wedding in Australia. Ask to see a portfolio, get prices for yourself and your wedding party and select someone you feel comfortable with. Make sure you get a makeup trial included in the price.

If you are a Caucasian bride who feels that a tan will help her deal with the white dress issue, I strongly urge you to consider a fake bake over a tanning salon or lying out in your backyard. Not only will you be saving your skin for the rest of your life, you’ll also avoid the possibility of sunburn at the worst possible time.

Planning a bridal beauty routine will only add a few steps to your overall wedding planning, but doing so will let you pull out those photos in years to come and say “I looked GOOD!”


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