These brides ditched the glam squad to take charge of their wedding makeup look Here are beauty products they loved and the things they'd do differently

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Getting married might be one of the few - maybe the only - times in your life when you use a professional makeup artist to get you looking picture-perfect. Not these brides who decided to take control of their big-day look. Here they spill the contents of the bridal makeup bag and skincare secrets and share their advice for any bride contemplating doing the same.

The traditional Pakistani bridal look: beauty journalist, Manahil Zafar, 26, got married in an indoor venue 

Why did you decide to do your makeup?

“There was quite a short amount of time to find someone between our engagement in July and our wedding in my home town of Milton Keynes in December 2023. I knew I wanted a traditional Pakistani look; red and gold clothing paired with red lipstick and smoky brown eyes and as I am a beauty fanatic and know what works best for my skin, I felt it was the less stressful option.”

What skincare did you use?

“I believe a hydrating serum is key to that coveted bridal glow. I’ve used Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum, £50 for years and I think it’s the main reason my skin looked amazing on my wedding day. Next were three different primers which were key to keeping my makeup in place. Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base, £54 which adds a little more hydration to the skin, Elf Power Grip Primer, £7.50, which is a traditional silicone-type primer, and Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter, £39 to create luminosity and a filtered effect to the skin.”

What makeup did you use?

“Long-wear foundation is a non-negotiable for a wedding. Finding the right undertone is key for Asian skin and I think Nars Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation, £41  has the best shades. It also doesn’t budge and is buildable.

"Under my eyes, I used Huda Beauty Faux Filter Color Corrector, £26 to brighten my eyes and then Too Faced Born This Way Multi-Use Sculpting Concealer, £30.50. I finished my base off with Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Powder, £38, which I also kept on me for any touchups - I only needed one thanks to all those primers.”

“Smokey eyes are a traditional Pakistani bridal look. I blended shades from the Too Faced Born This Way Mini Eye Shadow Palette, £30 and teamed it with Maybelline Tattoo Eyeliner, £4.99 which is really creamy and pigmented. I wore Tatti Lashes in TL10, £9.95 and finished with L’Oreal Paris False Lash Telescopic Mascara, £11.99.

“Asian bridal makeup is focused on a matte red lip to compliment the dress and the jewellery. I layered Mac Retro Matte Lipstick in Ruby Woo, £22 and Mac Silky Matte Lipstick in Lady Danger, £25 and kept these on me in case I needed to touch them up during the day.”

Top tip for any bride doing their wedding makeup?

“Use a blusher that gives a bit of intensity, it photographs much better. I applied Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush in Happy, £22 with Milani Baked Blush in Luminosos, £11.75 over the top for mine.”

The destination wedding look: Beauty PR, Sarah Williamson, now 39, got married in Tuscany 

Why did you decide to do your makeup?

“We got married in quite a remote part of Italy in 2012 and trying to source someone there was too difficult. Plus, I’ve always loved applying my makeup, I just needed a little practice for my wedding. I booked some lessons with makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes - we’ve been friends since we were young. Lots of makeup artists offer this service if you're not using one on the day and I’d highly recommend it for help picking out colours and learning application techniques.”

What skincare did you use?

“My routine was much simpler 12 years ago, when I got married. I just cleansed, moisturised and because we got married outdoors I wore SPF under my makeup. I used Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Illuminating Primer, £41.50 to give my makeup some staying power and I still use it now. I layered Mac Strobe Cream, £32 over to help create glow without looking too shiny”

What makeup did you use?

“I wore a slightly heavier coverage foundation than I would normally wear but it worked really well in photos - Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, £36. I dusted over some translucent powder, which I never use in my normal makeup, to help my makeup set and eliminate any shine.

“I used bronze tones on my eyes to compliment my blue eyes and a few false eyelashes to add extra definition. An eyeliner flick is my signature look so I had to have one on my wedding day, I used the Laura Mercier Caviar Eyeliner, £22. I also used a white eyeliner along my waterline to brighten my eyes.

“On my cheeks, I used the Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks in Calypso Coral, £32 which gave me a really natural, fresh glow. I wore a nude-toned YSL lipstick which looking back was too pale and didn’t accentuate my natural lips. If I were doing it now I would use Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Original Lipstick, £28 instead.”

What would be your tip for a bride doing her wedding makeup?

“ I would recommend finding a wedding scent as I’m a great believer in scent association and memory. I treated myself to Byredo Gypsy Water EDP, £150 for 50ml for my wedding day so every time I wear it or smell it now it instantly takes me back to that special day.”

The low-key natural bridal look: co-founder of luxury candle brand Maeva Rae, Frances Prescott, now 62, got married in a village in Slovenia 

Why did you decide to do your makeup?

“We got married in a small village in Slovenia in 2002 but didn’t know anyone there. I had a few makeup artist friends who were coming to the wedding and they offered to do it for me but I wanted them to enjoy the day so I did it myself.”

What skincare did you use?

“I bought the iconic Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, £38 and used that as a primer. I still use it now. My mum bought me Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, £65 in the run-up to the wedding. This was one of the first serums around and kept my skin beautifully hydrated.”

What makeup did you use?

“Tinted moisturisers weren’t around as much then so I created my own using Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Foundation, £39.50 and sheered it out by mixing it with moisturiser. I kept some tissues in my bag to use as blotters in case I got too shiny.”

My eyes were really simple. I used Rimmel London Eyebrow Pencil in Taupe, £7.99 , which is the best and I still use it now. I smudged some Rimmel Soft Kohl Eyeliner Pencil in Brown, £2.99 and then used clear mascara on my lashes (I had them tinted before the wedding) and on my brows.”

I used Stila Convertible Colour Lip & Cheek Cream, £18 on my lips and cheeks for a dewy flush that didn’t look too glossy or shiny in pictures - again, I still use it now.”

What's your tip for any bride doing her wedding makeup?

“Factor in enough time; I ended up rushing everything. I had wanted to do a soft smoky eye but there wasn’t time and I ended up with a low ponytail with a flower in it instead of the loose waves I had planned. If I did it again I would still do my makeup but I would definitely get a hairdresser.”