The Ultimate Bridal Beauty Timeline
Everything I did to prep for my wedding...and I mean everything.
Generally speaking, my wedding beauty prep started off reasonably well...but flew off the rails and skidded towards insanity as “the day” drew nearer. While I didn’t do anything too extreme, I did burn all the hair off my legs, pierce my face with teeny, tiny needles hundreds of thousands of times, and work out (up to) three times a day.
By April 30, 2016, I was buffed, glossed, and whittled down to a bonier, shinier, more bridal me. And you know what? It felt great. I’ll go more into this later, but the one thing I learned over my year-and-a-half-long engagement was that being engaged is the perfect time—and perfect excuse—to start treating yourself the way you deserve to be treated. And now, just because the wedding is behind you, that’s no reason to stop. I’m sure as hell not stopping! Well, the obsessive working out has to stop, but not the pampering. Here’s everything I did in the sixteen months between saying ‘yes!’ and ‘I do!’
Sixteen Months to Go
When my husband, proposed, we had just moved to Cape Town. At that point, we were loving life and welcoming a big group of pals to celebrate New Year’s with us. I had a pretty laid-back attitude, and my beauty and wellness routine consisted more or less of poppin’ bottles and tossing back grilled meats at a “braai”—that’s a South African BBQ for you. That is to say, I did nothing but drink, eat, and enjoy being in love.
Twelve Months to Go
Before I moved away from New York, my idea of an efficient workout was one that made me feel like I was going to puke. I’m competitive to the extreme, and I thought that if I wasn’t absolutely killing myself in the gym, there wasn’t any point. While living abroad, I realized that long, mellow walks are way more effective (for my mind and body) than burpees-till-you-barf. In Cape Town, I worked out once a week with a boxing trainer and went on a long walk every day. The result was the leanest bod of my life. No pain.
Add that to that the fact that I wasn’t in an office 9-5 anymore. All those office snacks and hours spent in front of a computer were a thing of the past. I ate healthfully when I felt like it, not when I felt like I needed a break. I think that had more to do with my physical leaning-out than anything, but good things started happening bodywise one year out.
Nine Months to Go
At nine months, I started to panic about my dress(es), and it was at about this time that I purchased my second gown. (I swear, I will write something about all of that later this summer, but at this point, it’s still too embarrassing to think about.) While I had the bulk of the wedding planning done at nine months, I still wasn’t really making headway on my bridal beauty “looks” at that point. However, I did start using Revitalash on my eyelashes and brows. It made my lashes grow insanely long, to the point where strangers asked me WTF is up with them. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I don’t like wearing makeup, and I am a cryer (big-time), but I wanted my lashes to be fluffy and luxurious-looking enough that I wouldn’t need fake lashes on my wedding day. And I got exactly that! Win!
Six Months to Go
At six months I still wasn’t doing anything notable. What was I doing?! Drinking beer, hanging out with my friends, being a normal non-bridal psycho. I had just moved back to New York and was back in an office during regular hours, so my eating habits and exercise routine slipped. I wouldn’t see the negative effects of all that until…
Four Months to Go
Woah. It’s amazing how hard it is to get in shape, and how easy it is to fall out of it. At four months, it was time to really buckle down (aka when the obsessive working out started). I started going to Equinox six to seven times a week to walk briskly on the treadmill (I’m a morning person, so I just fit this in before work). I’d follow up each workout with a Green Guardian smoothie (with hemp milk and no sweetener) from Juice Generation—which tastes very green, but has lots of healthy fats, omegas, and fiber. It’s not what I describe as tasty, but it was filling and made me feel great. It was expensive, however, and on days when I didn’t work out, I had regular-fat plain yogurt with a little Fiber One. Sexy.
I also started going to regular Bari classes, Strengthen, Lengthen, Tone, and Physique 57. I’d do a class four to five times weekly. I love Bari because I ruined my knees running a marathon (see what I mean about super-intense workouts?), and it’s incredibly low-impact. I also really love Physique 57. It definitely made me look more toned and generally feel better about my body. This was all on top of my monthly Equinox membership. I should have factored gym time into my wedding budget.
Hair, skin, and teethwise, I was still in la-la land—not really doing anything. I did start using an over-the-counter retinol product, which burned the shit out of my face and was not a good idea. It also gave me these weird under-the-skin bumps, which wasn’t fun. However, my eyelashes continued to look fabulous.
Two Months to Go
Deep in the throes of a full-on facial skin freak-out, I ditched the retinol and started trying literally everything that came across my desk. Probably not a good idea! If I had to describe my beauty routine in one word, it would be: mess.
Anyway, nothing worked. It sucked. I was sad. Until I found Drunk Elephant, and then I was happy again. This stuff is miraculous. I use the super moisturizing Peekee Soap (I love that it’s a bar and therefore TSA compliant.) I also use the C-Firma Day Serum in the morning and the T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum at night. All combined, it’s just exfoliating enough to give me a glow, but also gentle enough that my face doesn’t fall off. On top of that, I use Skinceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense tinted sunscreen during the day and La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask at night. At two months, I got serious about my skin—which is probably considered too late by evil bridal snobs, but it is what it is. I also used a NuFace thingie, which sends electrical currents throughout your face to make it look more toned and happier. It is incredible, and I’m obsessed with it. I take it everywhere, and I wish I could snap TSA agents’ faces when they see it in my carry-on. We all know what they think it is.
At two months, I also got my hair color refreshed. I didn’t want it to be too fresh—I like a little root—so I did it well in advance. I usually see Rachel Bodt at Cutler (I love her; she’s incredible!), but this time I went to Bumble and bumble for highlights and an Olaplex treatment. Fancy.
One Month to Go
With one month to go, my body was looking sick, if I do say so myself. I was a poster child for body confidence. I woke up every morning five minutes before my 6AM alarm, I had more energy than ever, and generally felt sexy AF. My skin was also crazy glowy; my hair was Texas-Barbie blonde—it was the best.
Even still, I amped up my fitness commitment. Over the past four or so months I’d occasionally walk to and from work (an additional hour of walking in total), and in the final four weeks I decided to do this every day. So most days I’d walk for an hour on the treadmill, walk to and from work, then go to some kind of toning class. It was a lot, but I felt great. I’d like to keep up that level of activity. But, you know...life.
However, I made one major mistake. In the interest of getting everything in peak condition, I gave up most snacks (a good idea, because I tend to shove my face full of whatever is within arm’s reach), coffee (a great idea because I don’t tolerate caffeine well and I take my coffee with half & half and about ten thousand Splendas), and alcohol (a very, very, very bad idea). Here’s why it’s not smart to ditch booze right before your wedding: Your tolerance will be shit, and everyone will want to do shots with you. The night of my rehearsal dinner was one of the most perfect, fun, beautiful nights until around 10PM, at which point I had one tequila shot and had to go home. You’re going to want to be able to celebrate with your friends and enjoy the party you spent however many months planning. If that means keeping the stubborn last few pounds on, rock those pounds. Trust me, you don’t want to be too hammered at your own wedding.
Beyond that, one month before my wedding I got two major facials—the first was a light peel at VMV Hypoallergenics (one of my favorite beauty brands ever), and the second was a micro-needling session with Mashell Tabe—who also happens to be an intuitive healer. After the latter, my skin looked amazing; we worked through (layer 1 of) my issues, and I felt happier, more relieved, and better than I can ever remember feeling. I’ll say more about this experience in the coming weeks, but after that treatment I was at peak bridal glow.
Hairwise, I got another Olaplex treatment at Butterfly Salon (it works) and decided to wage war against my leg and eyebrow hair. This really had *nothing* to do with my wedding, I had just always wanted to get it done, so I decided to have the lower half of my legs lasered at Spruce & Bond. I also got my brows shaped and tinted at Spruce & Bond. Tinting is the real game-changer here. I’m hooked.
One Week to Go
Crunch time!! In the last week before my wedding, I managed to get a microcurrent facial at Joanna Vargas. I think it’s generally not a good idea to get any kind of facial with extractions one week before your wedding, but Vargas’ treatment is more about making sure your skin looks firm, toned, and healthy, which mine definitely did post-treatment.
I also managed to fit in one more brow tinting session at Spruce & Bond. I’m not kidding when I say it totally changes your whole look for the better. Tinting your brows is like getting a blowout for your face. While I was there, I also went for a wax. I don’t think I need to go into detail there.
That whole thing about keeping a clear mind and thinking friendly thoughts on your wedding? I did not do that at all! I started the morning well, with a five-mile walk with my mom and three best friends. By 1PM I was standing in the garden in my pink satin monogrammed pajamas, pink robe, and white Ancient Greek Sandals slides, on the phone with my fiancé crying, “I just don’t feel like I’m on a lily pad covered in glitter, and that’s really how I wanted to feel!” Cra-zee! I went wedding-crazy. I drank too much the night before and fell asleep without taking off my makeup or even brushing my teeth. I didn’t eat breakfast, I didn’t take deep breaths and “savor the moment” like literally every fucking person I know told me to; instead I had a total bratty meltdown and acted like a tiny, very pampered baby.
Once I said the lily-pad thing (something else I promise I’ll get more in-depth on later), I felt much better. I put on an Estée Lauder foil mask, drank three full bottles of Pellegrino, and resolved to chill the eff out. I think all the stress and tension came to a boiling point, and once I let it all out, all was well. I could enjoy the day with three of the coolest, most fun girls I know.
To make my skin look extra plump, I layered on a thick glob of the La Prairie sleep mask, then used my NuFace to massage it in. Puffy cry face, be gone!
I had my makeup done in Austin by Avery Allen, and I can’t recommend her enough to Austin brides. She’s just the best there is. I told her I wanted the no-makeup look, and rather than try to convince me it would look like I’m not wearing makeup if I just wore foundation, concealer, contour, eyeliner, and eyeshadow, she listened. We used my SkinCeuticals SPF as a tinted moisturizer, my RMS Un-Coverup around my eyes and nostrils, and RMS eyeshadow in Lunar as a highlighter, and M.A.C Haute & Naughty waterproof mascara in brown. She also used some sparkle garbage I like to put on my eyes (because I’m Texas Barbie), and some fun pink blush, but literally, that was it. No eyeliner, no eyeshadow, no itchy face.
Finally, I am so lucky that one of my best friends in the world happens to be a super talented hairstylist, and also happens to be one of the funniest people I know. Michael Thomas Lollo did my hair for the wedding. He came over just about an hour post-meltdown. At one point, my dad and I practiced our father-daughter dance, and I’ll never forget finishing the dance and seeing my sweet friend tearing up over the moment (just a little, very manly tear). It’s really a standout memory from the day—I love him so much. The lesson is: On your wedding day, keep your friends close, and, well, other friends also close.
Mikey curled my hair, then swept it back into a low, asymmetrical bun. It’s hard to describe, but it was really, really pretty. I had two outfit changes the rest of the night, and he helped with both, adjusting my hair for every look.
And that’s it! Easy, right? Well. Maybe not, but it felt fucking fantastic to spend so much energy making myself feel happy, pampered, and like it actually was the best time in my life. Mikey and I call this experience “sitting on the gilded lily pad,” and I’ll tell y’all all about how to stay on it, even after the wedding is over, at a later date.