Tips on makeup and hair styling for your wedding day

You’re only going to be a bride once (at least we hope that’s the case) so you want to look picture perfect. Not just for your husband-to-be,  but for the photos you’ll have for the rest of your life. Although some things will surely look dated after a few decades pass, you don’t want to do a trendy look that will scream out “2014”. Think timeless.

Here’s some advice I can offer after years of photographing weddings.

1. Do a makeup trial. And if you don’t like the first one, do a second…or even third. You want to still look like YOU. Well, maybe a more made-up version of you, but if you’re a “less is more” kind of girl, you don’t want to end up with thick black eyeliner and red lipstick.

This is a look I LOVE. Natural eye, and a little more emphasis on the cheek and lip. Great for photography.

This is a look I LOVE. Natural eye, and a little more emphasis on the cheek and lip. Great for photography. And let’s talk about the pearl and rose gold hair ornament.

2. Bring photos of makeup and hair that are examples of what you’d like to look like on the big day. A picture says a thousand… Of course, your particular hair length, texture and thickness will mean you can or can’t do certain things, but you can still convey the vibe. Classic, sophisticated, hippie, boho, fresh, etc. And please don’t decide to change your hair color the week before the wedding!

3. Speak up if you aren’t happy during your trial. That’s why you’re doing it. It’s possible that he/she won’t get it completely right, so this is the time to let the artist make changes.

4. The personality of the makeup and/or hair stylist is also extremely important. You want someone calm, positive and happy. And, PLEASE make sure they can stick to a schedule. In my experience, if hair and makeup run behind, your whole day is messed up! It all starts with them. A call to a previous or client or two should help you learn that important bit of intell. I’ve had brides keep 150 guests sitting in an un-airconditioned church for an hour because the hair and makeup folks had NO sense of urgency.

5. Make sure your stylists bring enough staff for you, your relatives and your bridal party if you’re all getting “did.” Very important.

6. Let the makeup artist apply false eyelashes. They don’t have to be long and super thick, but your eyes will look much better in photos. And, again, the trial will help you get used to the feeling. Having them put on for the first time on your wedding day isn’t such a good idea. And, your makeup should be set with a loose translucent powder. Not only will it set your makeup and help it last longer, it gives a smoother, more flawless finish.

Simply beautiful. And beautifully simple.

Simply beautiful. And beautifully simple.

7. Same goes for hair extensions. While you may not need that extra volume every day, they’ll add that extra “oomph.” AND, extensions hold the curl. So while your own hair is wilting from the humidity, the extensions will look freshly curled. Trust me on that.

8. The fancier your gown, the fewer accessories you need. You want to look “done”, but not over done. Curate your look and think about every detail you’re tempted to add. Do you really need earrings, a necklace, bracelet, hair ornament, jeweled sash, etc.

Jen rocks a pretty distinctive style in her personal life, so the red lip was perfection. But do  note lack of accessories. Anything else would've been too much.

Jen rocks a pretty distinctive style in her personal life, so the red lip was perfection. But do note lack of accessories. Anything else would’ve been too much.

9. Don’t let your makeup artist apply too much shimmer on your face or body. It can actually bring out imperfections and make you look sweaty or shiny in your pictures. No bueno.

10. Don’t do a crazy manicure for the big day, e.g. nails the color of your bridesmaids’ robin egg blue dresses. It will surely look outdated in no time. Don’t forget you’ll likely have close-ups of your hands to show off your ring and/or bouquet, so a simple French manicure or a neutral pastel is much better.

I'm trusting you know which one is which :-)

I’m trusting you know which one is which 🙂

Truly, if you keep these simple guidelines in mind, you’ll have a flawless look that will look beautiful in person and in your photographs.


Nicholetta + Edward at Aliso Creek Inn

These guys met in second period English in 1998! Isn’t that great? But, alas, their first date wasn’t until 2011. Nikki calculated they’ve been dating 529,920 minutes!! She must be a math whiz ! -)

Their wedding last weekend was at Ben Brown’s/Aliso Creek Inn. I’m always happy to return to this gorgeous, pristine, canyon setting. Krystal is a pleasure to work with! The deer apparently have developed a genetically improved skull, as they continually frolic on the greens without giving the flying golf balls a second thought.

Ed brought his great-looking matte black pick-up and that’s where the cake(s) … yes, that’s plural … were set up. And we couldn’t resist taking a photo with all the groomsmen in the truck bed.

As you’ll see, Nikki looked spectacular. But I knew she would from our engagement session.


Contender for best shot o'the day.

Contender for best shot o’the day.

When you're at a golf course venue, you .....

When you’re at a golf course venue, you …..

Gorgeous with a capital G!!

Gorgeous with a capital G!!

Beautiful Nikki.

Beautiful Nikki.

Oh yea! Guys love their trucks!

Oh yeah! Guys love their trucks!

Light-hearted moment  during the ceremony. Lots of laughs (and tears) throughout.

Light-hearted moment during the ceremony. Lots of laughs (and tears) throughout.

The recessional. Such an amazing view.

The recessional. Such an amazing view.

There are a number of bridges on the course. This one is the prettiest!!!

There are a number of bridges on the course. This one is the prettiest!!!

Such a cute idea to have the cakes in the truck bed. All different, too. Nikki's favorite is blue velvet. That's a new one on me.

Such a cute idea to have the cakes in the truck bed. All different, too. Nikki’s favorite is blue velvet. That’s a new one on me.

Cute detail.

Cute detail.

This is such a romantic shot. Love it!

This is such a romantic shot. Love it!

8 aliso_creek_inn_wedding

A love that’s already stood the test of time.

I found out during Christine’s father’s toast that his adorable couple has been together since 8th grade! Mr. Reedy read a letter that Ryan wrote to her when they were in middle school, professing his love . Ahhhhhhh.

Christine and Ryan got married at beautiful Three Arch Bay in Laguna Beach. The wedding and reception were on the clubhouse lawn, but we had an opportunity to dash down to the sand with the bridal party. Christine had told me she wasn’t a ‘fussy’ bride. But what she WAS was a spectacular one. A simple dress that suited her perfectly, accented by a beautiful cameo brooch that belonged to her grandmother. And when the weather started cooling, she donned a vintage sweater, also belonging to her grandmother.

Christine got ready at the home of a family friend. These shelves in the bedroom lent themselves perfectly to a shoe/bouquet still life. And let’s talk about how cute those shoes are!

And here’s the vintage brooch that Christine put on her gown’s sash. The shell was carried by the ring bearer at the ceremony.

Our beautiful bride.

With bridesmaids before going to the ceremony location.

Of course, the perfect mode of transportation was a golf cart.

Cute beachy details. I’m a big fan of tables other than rounds. Everything looked great.

They look married to me!!!


Christine told me this is one of her favorites shots o’ the day.

A different approach to color. I brought out the blue.

I do love monogrammed cakes. Iva Lee’s did the catering, and the food was delish. Can’t pass up a lemon square.

Good job Ryan! The man in the background with the video camera is the esteemed IMAX filmmaker, environmentalist, and fellow Lagunan Greg MacGillivray. How cool to have a wedding video created by him!

Time for cake! Red velvet, I see.

A wedding at The Ebell Club in Long Beach

I’d never photographed a wedding at this venue, but I’d been looking forward to it for a long while. A beautiful, historic building in Long Beach, with a gorgeous exterior, balconies, and beautiful rooms inside.

Christina is a very crafty girl, as evidenced by the amazing bouquet she made! I’ve seen examples online of brooch/pin/ring ‘flowers’,  but never saw one in real life. All that metal makes for one heavy bouquet! But it you can buck up, it’s worth it. What a statement.

If you couldn’t tell, she loves pink, and the candy table was awash with the color, accented by vintage books with titles about love. All details covered.

Stunning, yes? And you don’t need to spend lots of money on vintage jewelry. Christina used a combination of old, new, expensive and not-so. (Even Forever 21 pieces.) Gorgeous results.

Set up for the dinner/reception. Love the extra tall windows.

Couldn’t resist the petal toss!

Love to do editorial-look shots with the bridal party.

Beautiful facade on The Ebell.

Heather & Andy’s Laguna Beach Wedding

Heather and Andy got married at the Laguna Presbyterian Church, which is stunning. They also have the best bridal room in town! Always a pleasure to have some space and light to capture the ‘pre’ images we love to shoot. Andy set the bar pretty high … he had three gifts for Heather delivered to the bridal suite prior to the ceremony. What a guy! They both also just completed a sommelier certification program. Although I didn’t sample them, I’ll bet the wines they selected to serve guests were stellar!

Kudos to Stacy of Orange County Hair and Makeup, Beverley at Laguna Flower Stand and, as always, the gang at Hotel Laguna.

This is clear evidence that ‘birds of a feather …” Have you ever seen a more gorgeous group of bridesmaids?

What a pretty church.

The bridal party outside the church.

Okay, collective sigh. Just doesn’t get any better than this.

Using effects to make a good photo great. Or … what’s really happening backstage.

As I’m sure you know, a photographers’ job doesn’t end when the last guests leave the reception. It’s really just starting! This post is specifically to show readers what is possible in post-production, and one of the factors that separates the amateurs from professionals. An effect can’t save a bad photo, and granted, a little goes a long way. But, in a wedding album, it’s nice to have variety. Some images just seem to lend themselves to an particular ‘effect’. A simple conversion to black & white is in that category, as is desaturization, sepia, a vintage feel,  and something I love called ‘creamtone’. With sophisticated post production software, the variations are endless.When I first view a group of photos, my creative eye ‘sees’ what would be the perfect effect to apply, if any. The photos I’m showing you all have effects and in the caption I’ll tell you what I’ve done.

Nicki and Phil’s wedding was terrific. They got ready at La Casa del Camino … always a great spot for photos, and the fact that the beach is so accessible is a big plus. The lobby has lots of opportunities, and I especially like the courtyard, where I staged their ‘first look’. The ceremony and celebration (as David Tutera calls it 🙂 was at Tivoli Too, also in Laguna Beach.

This is the moment I always look for, when the bride is saying to herself "I'm a BRIDE today!" The effect is a cream tone.

Desaturated to emphasize the beautiful silhouette of the gown -- and Nicki!

This is right after the first look. The narrow courtyard has golden tones, so I popped the wall.

Another angle (from the second story window); same effect(s) as the previous shot.

Next up: a short walk down the stairs to the sand. It was the middle of the day, so harsh shadows were abundant. I found this spot of shade, and the effect you see here adds some green, which makes the rocks more textural. It's called Surreal Moment.

Can't explain why, but I saw this image as one that needed to have a vintage feeling. Looks like a Polaroid you'd find in a shoebox in the garage!

I love the officiant's face smiling behind (and between) the couple! I popped the green and black in this shot.

There's a lot going on in this picture, so I wanted your eye to go to the couple. I vignetted the image, making the edges a little darker, bumped up the purple, and increased the black.

The bouquet toss. I lightened up the tossed bouquet a bit so it visually separates from the top of the tent more.

The fact that this works at all is because I was standing on a chair, so I could catch Nicki's Mom's happy face. I just shifted the exposure a bit and increased the black.

Just a good old fashioned black and white. I like a lot of contrast in mine. This was in the photo booth ... you can't leave me out!