And The Bride Wore Falsies


All brides want to look fabulous, right? Be careful what you wish for, says Lindsay Frankel. Wedding make-up can be too perfect.


When my then-boyfriend-now-husband proposed six years ago, we happened to be in the middle of our friends’ wedding reception (it wasn’t planned, I think he was just overcome by the love in the room, and possibly the free Champagne). The bride that day also happens to be a make-up artist by profession, so unsurprisingly she looked flawless – dewy, polished and perfect without being overtly ‘made up’. She looked effortlessly gorgeous, even though she later told me she’d been prepping for days.


Looking naturally amazing, without seeming like it took any effort to get there is precisely what most of us daydream of, if we are the sort to daydream about our wedding day. I had never been that type of girl (“He proposed at me!” was how I had clunkily announced our news – well, it wasn’t like I’d ever practised) and yet, one of my first thoughts when he asked was: ‘YES! A valid reason for hiring a professional make-up artist!’


Not being a particularly natural bride (see above) I was happy to forgo the mortgage-sized dress bill or once-in-a-lifetime Louboutins purchase (Dress: £150, random vintage website; shoes: £80, LK Bennett sale). But I still wanted to look as good as I could and have always loved make-up; which is how I ended up forking out more than the combined cost of my entire outfit on getting my face done by a pro.


Attempting to channel my bride friend from that day, and having sourced a make-up artist who was highly rated by all my glossy magazine colleagues, my brief was this: “Can you make me look still like me, but a just really good version?”


I need to clarify that what came to pass was absolutely NOT the make-up artist’s fault. She did a trial, I told her I loved it. I DID love it. The problem wasn’t her, it was me: turns out I just don’t suit being impeccably turned out.


In the photos of me setting off from my hotel for the register office, my make-up does indeed look flawless. I can see that, theoretically, I look pretty, but I can’t look at those pictures without thinking that I look more like a doll than a person; I know I was excited, nervous, impatient to see my husband-to-be… but you can’t see any of those emotions beneath the mask of make-up.


Being so perfectly groomed made me feel on edge. I cringe when I remember hugging guests tentatively for fear of smudging my foundation; when the registrar proudly gave us the nod for our post-vows kiss, I was paralysed by lipgloss paranoia (Will it smudge all over my face? Or all over his face – and which would be worse?). Once my hair started to unravel and I gave up on re-applying my lippy I got a whole lot more relaxed.


As it turns out, one of my favourite pictures from our wedding day is of me and my friend B, on the dance floor towards the end of the night. My lipstick has come off, my eye make-up is smudged, the mask of heavy foundation is long gone, leaving shiny forehead and bright red cheeks in its wake. Pretty much the only thing left are my false eyelashes. Make-up wise, I am a disaster and yet, beaming at the camera with B peeping over my shoulder, pulling a comedy face – we look like we’re having such a laugh. We look happy. The look on my face in that picture is how I remember feeling that day.


Although, I did learn one crucial make-up lesson that day – a falsie goes a long way. No matter how dishevelled you are, as long as you’re wearing some professionally-applied fake lashes, you can get away with anything else. Oh, and the other lesson I learnt? A wedding isn’t about lipstick, anywhere near as much as it is about love.




Lindsay Frankel is a writer and the Assistant Editor on Red magazine.

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