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Makeup tips for an outdoor wedding

Outdoor weddings are beautiful, but they can cause makeup disasters if the bride is not properly armed with supplies like blotting papers and waterproof mascara.

Bride with smokey eye makeup

Here are several tips to ensure your wedding runs smoothly and not your makeup.


Prep the skin

mineral foundation

Before applying makeup for an outdoor wedding, it’s a good idea to prep the skin to control the T-zone, says Amanda Shackleton, celebrity hair stylist and makeup artist. Brides should also use blotting papers to touch up, rather than adding layers of powder.

Foundation should be mineral foundation not only for the coverage but also for the “built-in” SPF, suggests Heather Adessa, CEO/executive makeup artist of Glo Beauty Bar in Mamaroneck, New York. Mineral foundation has an SPF ranging from 4 to 22 depending on the brand and consistency, she says.


Steer clear of gloss

Keep the lips matte and stay away from lip gloss, Shackleton suggests. “You don’t want a gust of wind to come along and have [your hair] stick to your gloss during the ceremony,” she cautions.


Waterproof your face

Whether the wedding is outside, inside, day or night, Shackleton says she always uses waterproof makeup. She starts with a mattifying skin primer, then applies a silicone foundation, gel eyeliner and waterproof mascara so it doesn’t melt away. As a final touch, she uses finishing spray to keep makeup in place.


Consider the time of day

The timing of the outdoor wedding also determines what makeup will look best. “Early afternoon sun is the strongest, and directly overhead, so it’s not the most flattering light and can cause shadows under the eyes,” Shackleton says.


During early-afternoon outdoor wedding ceremonies, she applies concealer with a bit of highlighter in it so the sun reflects off the under eyes and doesn’t look flat and dark. She also keeps the makeup lighter in an early-afternoon wedding than she would in a later wedding, often using a bit more color on the lips and cheeks and keeping the eyes simple. “No bride wants to be out in broad daylight with a face full of overdone makeup,” she says.

For weddings taking place later in the day, Shackleton defines the eyes more, whether it’s with extra eyeliner, eyeshadow or both. “The dusk light is beautiful, and when it starts getting dark and candles [and] lanterns are turned on, you need more definition in your makeup,” she says.

Photo tips for outdoor weddings

In addition to understanding what makeup looks best for outdoor weddings, it’s important to be aware of the most flattering lighting for photos. Alissa Pagels, manager of internal communications at George Street Photo & Video, shared some of George Street’s tips for how brides and grooms can look their best in outdoor wedding photos.

“The major differences between outdoor and indoor ceremony venues are lighting and temperature,” Pagels explains. “During an indoor ceremony, wedding photographers have to overcome low lighting and venue restrictions. Outdoor ceremonies can bring many more challenges. The most challenging is a ceremony during harsh overhead sun out in the open on an 80-degree day. Your bridal party and guests will probably be squinting, sweaty and wearing sunglasses. The sun will be creating harsh shadows under your eyes and nose.”

Pagels says a large, white tent is the ideal outdoor ceremony venue for good lighting. “White fabric diffuses light on a sunny day, creating an overall flattering glow. Plus, when the sun goes down, photographers can bounce their flashes off the top, avoiding direct flash.”

A photographer might choose to turn the bridal party around so the sun is at their backs, and use a flash to add “fill light,” she says.

A great option to avoid harsh midday sun is to move the group into open shade, like a densely wooded area or shady side of a building. The best technique is to start with optimum conditions, instead of trying to fight harsh, direct sun, Pagels adds.

It’s the photographer’s job to ensure the light is flattering, she says. “Sometimes couples might not realize they are in harsh sunlight, and it is the photographer’s job to help them understand what conditions make for the best photos.”

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