The Ultimate Casual Wedding Makeup Look

Just because you're on a beach doesn't mean you have to forgo glamour.

So far this wedding season, we've covered the "10 Commandments of Wedding Beauty" and some essential items to have in your bag whether you're a guest or a bridesmaid.

This week, we're getting into wedding makeup. Yay!

Let's begin with the basics. It is a truth universally acknowledged that special event makeup is quite different from everyday makeup. Because weddings involve a lot of face time and a lot of photos, you want to hit the sweet spot where your makeup looks amazing in real life and equally amazing in pictures. This means no aggressive contour (works in photos but not reality) and no incredibly minimalist makeup (works in real life but not in photos).

First, we’re going to talk about getting to Special Event Beauty Base Zero, the baseline from which all other wedding makeup shall spring.

On clean skin that has been washed, moisturized and SPF-ed, apply your primer. This will extend the wear of your makeup, as well as providing a smooth surface for your foundation to go on top of. I like Smashbox’s Photo Finish Hydrating Primer a lot, because it makes my skin feel velvety smooth and keeps my makeup looking fresh for ages.

Once your primer is dry (wait a minute or two), apply your foundation or BB cream. You’re going to want to wear this for the sake of photos so that you don’t look blotchy or red. Urban Decay’s Naked Skin foundation is my favorite forever, because it’s buildable but natural looking.

If you don’t want to go full foundation, Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer is totally amazing. It gives beautiful coverage with a dewy finish.

Whatever you wear, make sure you blend it well. Get it all over, even on your eyelids. I use my fingers, but you can use a sponge or a brush if you like.

I know someone is going to ask, and the truth is that I don’t use eyeshadow primer. I make sure to put some normal primer on my eyelids first, and that works for me. However! If you need this product, be sure to apply some!

Next, apply concealer to any spots or dark circles you may have. I wrote about my favorite under eye concealer, and my favorite skin concealers if you need a refresher on how to apply. For weddings, I use Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer on my spots AND under my eyes, because it’s waterproof and I am not about to mess up my face if I cry.

Finally, powder. For big events where you will be photographed a lot, powder is essential--without it, “shimmery angel” ends up looking like “greasy pizza.” Shine is best placed strategically, rather than left to its own sebum-y devices to show up wherever it likes.

Whatever powder you use on your face, make sure you also brush it on your ears (if exposed), your neck (always) and your chest (if visible). This makes sure that if you get caught with a flash, your face won’t show up six shades lighter than the rest of you. It is an ESSENTIAL makeup trick. Don’t use a sponge for this--use a big, fluffy brush and be sure you blend it well. Nobody wants a big ol’ swath of unblended powder on their forehead or across their boobs.

Congratulations, you are now at Special Event Beauty Base Zero.

Let’s now talk about the importance of wearing a little more makeup than you think you’ll need for pictures, something that I have become an EXPERT on.

I am not sure why, but cameras eat makeup for breakfast. You’re going to need to apply a bit more of it and make it more intense to have it look “normal” in pictures. Observe.

This is how I wear my makeup when I’m running out to meet friends: some concealer, a bit of blush, highlight powder, light brown eyebrows, mascara and tinted lip balm. In real life, this makeup looks excellent. But in photos, as you can see, it vanishes into nothingness.

This is how I do a minimal makeup look for pictures: I’m wearing some light foundation and powder, slightly heavier blush and more highlighter, two coats of mascara instead of one, darker and more defined brows, a little pencil eyeliner dotted under my lower lashline and a darker pink lip color. This look registers on camera as being quite minimal, even though in real life I am obviously wearing quite a bit of makeup.

This is why doing a trial run before the big day is so important--you can check to see if your look works in real life and on film. The best way to test if you’re wearing the right amount of makeup is to grab a camera and take some quick pictures. If you look awesome, you’ve got it right! If you look like you’re faded, add a little more.

Now that we’ve ascended to Special Event Beauty Base Zero, let’s get into today’s wedding look!

The Relaxed, Casual Wedding Look

Maybe you’re outside. Maybe you’re on a beach. Maybe you've jetted away to a destination event. There’s a relaxed dress code for this wedding, but you still want to look gorgeous.


Begin at Special Event Beauty Base Zero. Then take your favorite blush and apply it slightly heavier than you’d normally wear it. If you need a blush tutorial, you’re in luck, because I made a video just a few weeks ago!

The shade of blush that you use is really up to you. I’d recommend a slightly warm-toned blush to go with the warm color palette of the rest of this look. I’m wearing Tarte Amazonian Clay blush in Glisten, a warm apricot-pink with a slight gold shimmer.

Remember what I said about placing your shine strategically? That’s exactly what we’re going to do now. Grab your favorite shimmery highlighter and lightly brush it over your blush and up your cheekbones, around your temples and up over your brows, then down the bridge of your nose and lightly on each eyelid. Then go back in and add a little more shimmer along the top of your cheekbones and along your temples in a C shape. I prefer powder highlighter over liquid because it applies more precisely and doesn’t disturb the rest of my makeup. If you want to watch how to do this, check out my video on blush application and fast-forward to 4:16 to watch it in action.

Finish with a spritz of setting spray to make sure your face stays on your face. I really like All Nighter Make Up Setting Spray by Urban Decay, which even comes in a handy travel size if you’re heading to a destination wedding. Just remember to spray it on before your mascara--I learned that the hard way.


When it comes to the PERFECT eye shadow for a casual wedding, look no further than a rich bronze. I’m using Trick from the Urban Decay Naked3 Palette, a lovely micro-glittery pink-bronze that works really well with my green eyes.

All that I do is take a medium eye shadow blush and apply across my mobile lid, blending up towards my crease (or orbital bone, if your crease isn't as obvious). Don’t take it all the way to your eyebrows, but do make sure it’s up high enough so that you can see it peeking out when your eyes are open.

Finally, highlight the inner corner and under your eyebrow with a shimmery shadow about one shade lighter than your skin tone. If you want extra color, consider highlighting with a shimmery gold shadow--not only does it look gorgeous with the bronze, but it makes your skin seriously GLOW.

Unless you are blessed with mega-thick Nestor Carbonell lashes, you’re going to want to really enhance your lashes. You have two options, depending on how steady your hand is: you can either draw the thinnest line imaginable along the base of your lashes, or use a flat brush with a teeny bit of gel liner (or waterproof mascara, lifehack alert) to do what I call the press-and-wiggle.

For the press-and-wiggle: Take your thin, flat brush and apply your product. Press the edge flush against your eyelashes, wriggle the brush a little to deposit the product, and pull it away. Ta-dah! Easy! Do this all the way across your upper lid until your eyelashes stop.

Define your bottom lashes with some waterproof pencil liner, too. I've written about application techniques before, but to refresh: don't draw a straight line with the liner. Draw small dashes under your eyelashes instead.

Finally, define your eyebrows with your choice of product--I recommend erring on the side of waterproof for this, especially if you’re going to be outside, because nobody wants to sweat off their brows. Apply one or two coats of waterproof mascara to your top and bottom eyelashes, and you are done!

Simple and cute!


What we want to use here is a My Lips But Better shade--abbreviated on the internet as MLBB. This is a rich lip color that is, as the name implies, like your lips but better.

Obviously your MLBB shade will vary according to your skin tone and personal preferences. I’m using everyone’s favorite lip color, Revlon Colorburst Balm Stain in Smitten, a cool deep wine pink which is a little more intense than my lips, yet still manages to look totally natural.

The final look is relaxed and effortless, yet pulled together. Don't forget the sunscreen if you'll be spending a lot of time outdoors!

You’re ready for your wedding close up, you look appropriate for the day and venue, AND you’re going to look stunning as you say hello to a million people. It’s the holy grail.

What do you think of this look? Have you been to any awesome outdoor weddings this year? What are your best tips for looking great at relaxed events?