24 October 2017Last updated

Beauty | Grooming

Bridal beauty

Buck the trend on your wedding day and don a unique but oh-so-classy look to stand out as you say ‘I do’. Louise Emma Clarke rounds up your options

By Louise Emma Clarke
2 May 2016 | 11:46 am
  • Source:Getty Images

Transport yourself to the 1960s. You are a wedding guest and sat on a chair in your mini dress, knee-high boots, and veiled hat, waiting for the bride. As she comes into view, you spend a moment taking in her appearance. She’s wearing a nude lip, isn’t she?

Celeb weddings

Don’t channel Priscilla Presley, Elizabeth Taylor or Lulu – the modern woman is all about bright and bold.

It’s highly likely – after all, pale pink or frosty beige pouts were all the rage in the roaring Sixties, thanks to the likes of Twiggy, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot pouting away in commercials, feature films and from the pages of magazines. This translated to wedding trends with frosty, pale lips, seen on Elizabeth Taylor when walking down the aisle with Richard Burton in 1964, Priscilla Presley marrying Elvis in 1967, and Lulu saying ‘I Do’ with Maurice Gibb in 1969. It was a decade where fashion was breaking every rule, with hemlines and heels rising – but lipstick staying demure.

The years ticked on, but bridal beauty trends stayed modest. In fact, even when bolder lips became a big beauty trend in the 1970s, rock-and-roll brides such as Bianca Jagger played it safe with a muted lip at her St Tropez wedding to Mick in 1971.

Fast-forward to the 1980s and wedding dresses made such an impression with their big sleeves and frills that lips couldn’t possibly compete. And in the 1990s and 2000s, laid-back, natural beauty was top of the agenda for brides including Jennifer Aniston, Beyoncé, and Victoria Beckham, who posed for the pages of glossy magazines with pouts painted in nude shades.

If there’s one trend that has endured decades of bridal beauty it is a pared-down lip. But why? Rhiannon Downie-Hurst, Founder of the UAE’s leading wedding inspiration website, says: ‘The classic bridal make-up look (in the Western world at least) has always been soft, romantic and demure. I think there are a number of reasons for this; one being that while make-up has always been important, the dress is always the showstopper and bold make-up may have been seen as a distraction from the bride’s gown. The overall look on a bride’s wedding day, in some cultures [as history shows], is that of purity – so bold red lips and smoky eyes would have been a stark contrast to that notion.’

She adds: ‘However, as times change and brides are becoming more expressive, make-up is also evolving and becoming more daring. In some cultures – like the Indian one – make-up has always been bright and colourful, along with the attire. In other cultures, brides are sticking with the softer look overall, but they may be more inclined to try a deeper lip hue for a daring pop of colour.’

She continues: ‘If a bride is wearing a ballgown and having a Cinderella-themed wedding, a sultry smoky eye with bold red lips won’t work. On the other hand, a bride wearing a Marilyn Monroe-esque, form-fitting gown, with glamorous hair, may not gravitate towards a blush lip and subtle eye make-up. A bride should do what feels best for her – and if that means wearing a Fifties-inspired tea-length gown with deep red lips, I say go for it!’


Red is in, pared-down is out, so opt for bold lips over soft and demure shades to look stunning in your photo album.

Top stylist Rachel Zoe ( agree: ‘Don’t be scared to wear bright lipstick at your wedding day. Depending on the time of year, I like a poppy coral, soft red or even a berry tint. With a dramatic lip, go lighter everywhere else and 
add mascara to your lashes so your eyes pop.’

But a muted lip isn’t the only tradition that modern brides are increasingly turning their backs on. Take, for example, the classic updo, which has been the traditional way to style bridal hair from the 1950s and 1960s – but which new-century brides are increasingly shunning in favour of relaxed, natural waves.


No, it’s not just for the beach – ditch the traditional bridal updo and wear your hair down with natural, relaxed waves.

Top New York-based stylist Ryan Cotton ( explains: ‘The basic blow-dry is back in favour and even brides who have intricately beaded gowns want to keep their hair simple. The gown sets the tone, but sometimes that means going in the opposite direction with the hair so it doesn’t distract. Ethereal or distressed hairdos that are either all up or all down feel more current.’

But if making a statement with your hair isn’t your thing, how about treating your nails as an extra accessory in lieu of the traditional French manicure? US-based bridal nail technician Adair Ilyinsky ( explains: ‘The once-traditional category of wedding nails has become an important form of self-expression for many brides. Since it’s a small detail, many brides are viewing nails as a way to bring a pop of personality into their overall look. Anything goes now, and many girls are selecting a fun nail colour the way they would choose fun shoes.’

Inspired to try something different on your wedding day? We’ve consulted a panel of make-up artists, nail technicians and hair stylists to suggest alternatives to the traditional bridal look (while remaining fabulous and stylish, of course).

1. The Red Lip

I personally love a red lipstick on a bride,’ says top make-up artist and beauty journalist Ellie Balfe ( ‘I think it adds a really nice depth to the face and can work to add great definition and focus in pictures when the risk is that you could all but disappear when surrounded by so many white and creamy tones. All that pale can look a tad insipid.’

So how can we make sure it lasts? Make-up artist Lynn Taylor advises: ‘Keep red lipstick vivid and long-lasting by blotting lips with a tissue after the first application, then reapplying regularly throughout the day.’


Try You need something packed with pigment to last the course of your wedding day, and Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Lipstick in Le Rouge (Dh186, Paris Gallery) is ideal.

2. The Colourful Manicure

Just like choosing a pair of colourful shoes to match your flowers and bridesmaid dresses, plenty of modern brides 
are using their pre-wedding manicure as an extension of their wedding theme.

Nail technician Adair IIyinsky reveals: ‘Many of my clients are opting for shades of blue, red or even edgy black for their big day.

‘Others request a twist on a classic French manicure by using metallic tips or creating a crescent moon shape at the base of the nail.

‘The most devoted nail enthusiasts even do a polish change between the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. We’ve had technicians 
do up to three different looks in one weekend!’



Try A wedding day calls for a polish that will last, and if you are painting your nails at home, you will need a glossy, reliable, and chip-resistant top coat.

Start with your pick of Koko Nail Polish (Dh40, and there are plenty of different shades to pick from), and finish with Lauren B Gel Like Top Coat (Dh104, for ultimate staying power.

3. The Dramatic Eye

Eye make-up at traditional Asian weddings is bold, bright and dramatic – and brides from other cultures are increasingly taking inspiration to suit their gown and style.

‘Don’t be afraid to use lashings of eyeliner and kohl pencil on your wedding day,’ says London-based make-up artist Tabby Casto ( ‘You need to define the shape of the eye so it stands out. If you normally wear a black liquid liner, perhaps try using a small angled brush with a black eyeshadow pressed softly along the lash line – this can give you the effect of definition and strong lashes without looking too much.’



Try Clinique Kohl Shaper for Eyes (Dh105, is beautifully soft for a defined, smoky eye, while Gucci Power Liquid Liner (Dh200, Paris Gallery) is one of the best pigment-packed liquid liners for a dramatic shape and flick.

4. The Loose Beach Waves

Whether you are getting married on the beach or simply want to break from tradition, the latest trend in bridal hair is to ditch the traditional updo and opt for natural, relaxed, beach waves to complement your gown – and if Kate Middleton can wear her hair down, at a royal wedding no less, we can all wear the look with confidence.

If you are styling your own hair, you will want it to look natural and effortless – but the trick is to make it create perfect curls first, before messing it up. ‘You want to break the line up so it doesn’t look too perfect, but if you start out doing messy, it might look too haphazard. It is best to do it well and then destroy it,’ says US-based celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh. Once the curls are perfect, take the ends and turn them in the opposite direction to ensure that every piece is not going in the same direction.


Try The Eideal Curl Guru (Dh825, makes curling effortless, while infrared heat emissions seal the cuticle to reduce frizz and preserve moisture.

By Louise Emma Clarke

By Louise Emma Clarke