Wedding Makeup, Part III: The Formal Look

Here's a glamorous look guaranteed to turn heads.

In this most glorious week of wedding makeup, we've covered looks for casual and semi-formal events. But now it's time to turn our attention to makeup for the fanciest, poshest weddings imagineable.

An event like this may be black tie; it may even be white tie. In my family, we’d call it “Hightum.” Translation: “Bust out the long gowns and family diamonds, we’re going in at full glamour.” It’s basically the Oscars with someone in a veil, so your makeup needs to be super fab with FULL-ON SMOKY EYES.

I’ve written about how to do smoky eyes back when I had my ginger-blonde hair. I hope you’ve been practicing since last September, because we’re going to make it happen again.


We’re doing the peepers first this time. After ascending to Beauty Base Zero (which we discussed in the casual wedding makeup tutorial), apply some EXTRA loose powder under your eyes. This will catch any dark shadow that drifts down.

Apply eye shadow primer if you need it. Next, apply a matte or satin eye shadow in a shade that matches your skin all over your eye. Lashes to eyebrows, everyone. Make it happen. I’m using MAC Eye Shadow in Shroom, because it is the perfect color and it makes a great base.

Take a medium brown eye shadow about two shades darker than your skin tone and apply it all over the mobile lid (this is Wedge by MAC). Take it up to your crease OR where your eyeball meets the bone of your eye socket. Blend well.

Take a smudgeable black pencil eyeliner and line 3/4 of the way along your top lash line. Define your crease and the outer corner with a matte black eyeshadow. I’m using MAC Eye Shadow in Carbon, because NOTHING smudges better or lasts longer. The dark will look like it’s fading inwards and turning brown.

Now it's time to blend! Make sure your crease and the corner gradient is blended really well--watch the video I made on the subject for some pointers. Take some extra black shadow and make sure the eyeliner is blended in for maximum smudgy effect.

Next, brush off the extra powder. I repeat: BRUSH OFF. THE EXTRA. POWDER. Do not leave it sitting on your face!

Run your brown eyeshadow underneath your lower lash line, blending well. Then take your black eyeshadow and apply it about 3/4 of the way under your eye, like you’re applying eyeliner. Blend it into the brown to create a cool gradient effect that's softer than flat black.

If you don’t like to fully tight-line your eyes, I direct you to my previous article for how to get around this. For everyone else, line your waterline with waterproof black eyeliner. I really like Stila's Smudge Stick for this. Make sure you get in between your eyelashes, too--use a liquid liner with a delicate tip to do this if the pencil won't work.

Then we highlight! This is the only shimmer in this look; it really stands out against the matte shadow. I use a shimmery white in the corner around my tear duct, under my lower lash line to join the dark “smoke” up with the inner corner, and underneath my the arch of my eyebrows.

As a final touch, line your top lash line with black liquid liner, extending it as far in toward the tear duct as you're comfortable with.

You can leave it here if you like, OR you can add fake eyelashes. I’m wearing some long yet natural looking lashes for extra batting potential.

Define your brows in the way you like best, then apply LOTS of waterproof mascara to top and bottom eyelashes. My favorite waterproof mascara is MAC Splashproof Lash for its absolute INABILITY to come off my eyelashes, no matter what.

This eye makeup is super dramatic--but also really beautiful. It photographs awesomely, and oh man, it's a knockout in real life.


Fancy events make me feel a little uncomfortable sometimes, so I’ll be wearing my favorite blush--the shade that makes me feel most confident. That’s Desire by NARS, of course, and I apply a tiny bit of it to the apples of my cheeks.

I highlight afterwards in the same way I did for the semi-fancy wedding: some highlighting powder above my cheekbones, around my temples in a C shape, and down the bridge of my nose. I also apply a teeny bit above my Cupid’s bow to make my lips look more full.

If you want to contour for an event like this, do keep it minimal. There will probably be lots of photos, yes, but there will also be a lot of people seeing you in real life and a lot of different lighting situations to stumble into. I cannot overstate how STRANGE aggressive contouring looks in the harsh light of a bathroom. Keep it simple, and keep your face looking like your face.

Finish with Urban Decay's All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray. Be VERY CAREFUL about spraying this over eye makeup. Hold the bottle further away from your face than you feel like you should to prevent accidents.


Your lip color should compliment your outfit, and also your life. Since my gown is a cool green, my eyes are really major and my hair is very dark (with a fringe in my face), the addition of bright lipstick would be, to quote Tim Gunn would say, A LOT OF LOOK.. Instead I use Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balm in Demure, a pale shimmery pink that is a great way to do nude lips without looking like the undead in photos.

You CAN do bright lips with smoky eyes if you want to. Just make sure that the color you pick is in harmony with your outfit and doesn’t compete for too much attention with your beautiful eyes or your hair.

Here’s how fancy I look when I’m all done! I'm ready to put my diamonds on and hit the party.

To cut down on the stuffiness factor, why not tuck a flower behind your ear? Fancy weddings are no reason not to have fun!

What do you wear to formal weddings? What's your go-to lip colour to wear with seriously glamorous smoky eyes? Did your family teach you words that doesn't really exist? It turns out "Hightum, tightum and scrub" aren't things that most people know about!