Ultimate Guide to Bridal Makeup for Brides and Bridesmaids

Bride and bridesmaid. Both holding flowers. Bride has red lipstick and bridesmaid has nude lipstick.Photo: Bella Austin / The Lockharts

Every bride has her own style and a vision of how she wants her wedding day to be.

And there’s one thing every soon-to-be-married woman has in common:

She wants to look gorgeous!

And there’s more to looking gorgeous than wearing the perfect dress, shoes, and jewelry. A fab wedding look also needs a great hair and makeup concept.

Ready to put the finishing touches on your wedding day look? 

Here’s the ultimate guide to bridal makeup for brides and bridesmaids.

How to Choose Your Wedding Makeup Look

Bride in white dress with four bridesmaids wearing light blue dresses. All are wearing a natural makeup look.Photo: Bella Atlanta / Abigail Lewis

Remember that scene from Clueless where Cher devises a lighting concept for her oh-so-important date with Christian? As a bride, you’ll need to develop a makeup concept for the big day (or hire a pro to develop it for you).

When it comes to wedding day makeup, you can be natural, dramatic, or glam. You can choose any makeup concept you like, as long as it makes you feel your most beautiful and gives you confidence walking down the aisle.

Related: Our 9 Favorite Wedding Makeup Ideas

Test Out Different Looks

To help choose your wedding day makeup, start by gathering inspo online. If you have a close friend that’s great at doing makeup, ask her to test out some different looks on you at home.

Another fun way to decide on a look is to schedule a makeup trial with a professional makeup artist. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, head to a department store makeup counter — if you go when they’re not busy, you may be able to score a free application!

Professional makeup artists know how to play up the gorgeousness of every skin tone and skin type, so we suggest gathering your bridal party and testing out a few different looks together. It’s a super fun way to spend a day with your girlfriends and enjoy a bit of pampering at the same time.

Embrace Your Culture

You can also rely on tradition to help steer your makeup look. A few traditional adjustments to a modern look can turn your wedding day makeup into a celebration of your cultural heritage.

For example, embrace your Indian or Pakistani culture with a mehndi or henna hand tattoo. Take pride in your South Korean heritage by adding yeonji gonji dots to your cheeks, as South Korean brides do in the traditional paebaek ceremony. If you have a Moroccan background, opt for dramatic eyeliner and colorful shadows the way brides in Morocco do.

If your culture has a signature makeup style, consider working that artistry into your overall look!

Create a Cohesive Look

No matter what makeup look you choose, it should complement the style of your wedding dress and wedding hairstyle. The big picture goal is to have a gorgeous, cohesive look where every element works together.

Take your venue and wedding theme into consideration as well. Natural makeup is ideal for rustic weddings and beach weddings, while glam, dramatic looks may be more appropriate for lavish, over-the-top celebrations.

Related: Your Full Guide to Wedding Nails

Current Bridal Makeup Trends

Makeup trends come and go, but there are a few specific looks that many brides are embracing this year.

Shimmering Eyes 

Dramatic eyes make a bold statement. Many stylish brides are opting for shimmer eyeshadows, metallic shadows, and intense color on their eyes. Just remember, if you’re going to play up your eyes, keep your lip understated with a pale or nude lipstick.

Bold Lips 

Instead of making your eyes the focus of your wedding day look, choose a bold, vibrant lip color. A bright pink lip or a deep red lip adds instant drama to a look and is the perfect complement to an otherwise natural face.

Flawless Skin 

Show the world that you take your skincare routine seriously by creating a natural wedding makeup look with nude colors and pale hues that showcase your flawless skin. Whether you prefer a matte or dewy face, all you need to show off your stunning natural beauty is a face primer, concealer, mascara, and lip gloss.

Classic Bridal Makeup Trends

Want to be a timeless beauty on your special day? Here are a few wedding makeup looks that always work.

Natural and Subtle 

Understated always works. Light eyeliner, nude tones on the eyes, rosy pink cheeks, and a natural lip color are the perfect combination for the bride who wants to look classic.

Bold Brows and Soft Lips

There’s nothing more beautiful than perfectly sculpted brows with soft red or pink lips. If you’re a brow fanatic, skip the shimmering, dramatic eye makeup and make your brows the focus of your look instead.

Dramatic Eyes and a Bronze Glow 

With the right bronzer, the right highlighter, and a makeup artist with contouring skills, you can walk down the aisle with a natural glow. Black eyeliner and a slightly smudged, smokey eye add just the right amount of drama!

Should the Bride and Bridesmaids Have the Same Makeup Look?

Bridesmaids don’t need to wear the exact same makeup look as the bride, but their looks should be cohesive. You should all look like you’re attending the same venue and the same event.

If the bride is keeping it super nude and natural, the bridesmaids should do the same. If the bride is going for all-out glam, give the bridesmaids some glitzy elements as well.

Looking for the perfect bridesmaid dresses? Shop our collections:


Factor Professional Makeup Application Into Your Wedding Budget

Bride and bridesmaids in robes drinking champagnePhoto: Bella KC / Rach Rigler

Professional makeup artists can be expensive, and prices vary quite a bit based on location, how many people need their makeup done, and how much time each application will take.

Avoid any day-of surprises by accounting for the cost of makeup services in your overall wedding budget.

Those pre-ceremony hours, when you’re getting ready for the big day with your bridesmaids, make for a fun and memorable experience. To make them enjoyable and free of stress, decide ahead of time who will pay for those services.

Who Pays for Wedding Makeup? 

When it’s time to pay professional makeup artists for their services, there are three options:

  • The bride pays for everyone

  • Each bridesmaid pays for herself

  • The bride and bridesmaids split the cost

There is also the option that your bridesmaids don’t get their makeup done professionally and don’t incur any cost at all. Ultimately, it depends on the type of look you’re going for and how skilled your bridesmaids are at doing their own makeup.

If you do want your bridesmaids to pay for their own professional makeup application, include this as part of the overall bridesmaid budget along with other common expenses such as the cost of dresses, alterations, and shoes.

Related: Bridesmaid Shopping Etiquette Guide


Maybe you’re an all-natural bride, like Megan Markel. Maybe you’re hoping to be pretty and rosy and classic, like Anne Hathaway in Bride Wars. Or maybe you want to be timeless but with the drama of a bold eye, like Kate Hudson in Bride Wars (we love that movie!).

No matter your wedding style, choose a makeup look that complements your dress and makes you feel absolutely beautiful. Whether you wear a lot of makeup or very little, the most important thing is that it lets your inner beauty shine through! 

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