From Nails to Skin–An Expert’s Guide to the Ultimate Wedding Beauty Timeline


You’ve celebrated the engagement, found the dress, perhaps even secured the venue, but the next thing on your list is your bridal beauty look. Your wedding will be one of the biggest (and most photographed) days of your life, and you deserve to look and feel your best on your special day, but where do you begin when it comes to booking the hair, the nails, the facials, and everything else?

First things first, don’t panic. We’ve thought of everything you need and reached out to some of the top names in the beauty industry for their top tips to wedding perfection. Below is a handy countdown guide for you to use as your personal checklist, so if you don’t know the difference between a french and reverse mani, haven’t considered a bespoke fragrance, and don’t know how fake tan without causing streaks, keep scrolling for our concise wedding beauty timeline. The only thing left for you to do is book your appointment. 

Believe it or not, this first step in your bridal beauty countdown comes almost a year in advance, and ideally will be thought about as early as the dress. Putting together your finished look includes everything from the outfit to the shoes and jewellery, but it also includes your make-up too. “While a lot of women are learning how to do their own makeup for the big day and Bobbi Brown run a service educating women on how to apply and use the right products, if you want to book a professional make-up artist, you’ll want to do that a year in advance before they get booked up,” advises Amalie Russell, Editorial Make-Up Artist at Bobbi Brown.  

“The key is to make sure that you’re comfortable with however you choose to wear your makeup on the day, whether you seek out a professional or feel more confident doing it yourself. But it’s always best to have a plan together as by the three month mark, it’s really crunch time. The idea of a consultation is to make sure the process isn’t overwhelming for brides, especially if they’re not used to wearing a lot of makeup. I start by breaking a look down into components like perfecting the skin first (one of the most important parts of the wedding look to control flashback). We look at the right foundation shades, creating highlights and definition, and being guided through like what works best for your face. There are many other steps to creating a flawless look, and the finish should look less like you’re wearing makeup and more like second skin.”

And a top tip to creating the perfect base? Hydration, hydration, hydration. “Nailing bridal beauty is pivotal to your special day, and looking your best really starts with skincare in every aspect and regard,” advises Ozohu Adoh, Founder of Epara skincare. “Having fresh skin on the day adds to confidence and enhances the makeup look. A good way to ensure the base feels light, bouncy and hydrated is by starting with a good cleanser on the morning of the big day. Our Cleansing Oil is packed full of ingredients that leave a velvety smooth feeling to skin and almost instantly evens out complexion. Next, my personal favourite finishing product to add a “glow from within” is a hydrating mist. Easily applied throughout the day for a burst of hydration or before makeup ensures your skin underneath is catered to throughout the day.”

 And for the brides who are torn between a traditional look and experimenting with something new, what are the most common make-up styles that brides request? “Ever since lockdown happened a lot of brides decided against full make-up in line with small and intimate weddings,” notes Russell. “A lot of people had to learn how to do their own makeup and went for something more familiar, often going for the “wow factor” with the outfit and keeping the make up beautifully classic with a little twist. A luminous glow is my signature, but whatever your style, long-wearing glossy skin always works. It can easily transition from day to evening with just a touch of powder, and lipstick will always be a great tool because you can use it as a stain or a blush, so opt for a shade with a bit of pigment or colour that’s in the same family of your bouquet, like a rosy pink or a tangeriney coral.”

As tempting as it may be to leave your cut and colour until just before the wedding, most hair stylists’ best advice is to plan in advance and keep it simple. Tradition might dictate that an elaborate up-do is what constitutes a “bridal hairstyle”, but modern brides are tearing up the rule book for an effortless style that looks and feels uniquely them. If in doubt, start discussing ideas with your hairdresser at least 3 appointments ahead of the day, they can tailor a showstopping look to suit your needs and track how a cut will change as your hair grows.  

“For wedding inspo I tend to stay away from Pinterest’s ‘bridal hair’, and start by looking at different red carpet looks because they’re so much cooler and inspiring,” says Lilli Bridger, Hair Stylist at Larry King Salons. “Think of a celeb whose style you love and go from there–collect different images and decide which parts you like (or don’t) and build on that. I’ve loved seeing brides with extra long hair, extensions, and natural textures like Tish Weinstock’s gothic bridal look, and Daisy Hoppen’s naturally long hair braided in ribbons to create extra length (and love that the ribbons complimented her Simon Rocha dress).

Whenever I’m working with a bride who is considering a cut like some face framing pieces, I cut them into her hair well before her last haircut ahead of the big day. That way, I get them to photograph themselves as the look grows out so we know exactly what length is their favourite before it’s time for the final cut. This can also be transferred into the whole cut, colour or even hair extensions, but working with a client is always a process, so I wouldn’t recommend seeing a new stylist just once before the wedding day, at least a minimum of 3 visits before.”

And, just before you think of the emerging trend of starting the day with one hairstyle and cutting into a short bob halfway through, you’re going to want to consider how much time you’re taking away from your day reminds Bridger

“I think you need to question whether you want to spend an hour away from the party to change and cut your hair. The day goes by so quickly that even missing an hour can feel like a lot.”

And her top tips for a look that will last? “Invest in a great shampoo and conditioner, and a heat protecting leave in conditioner. You wouldn’t expect great make up without great skin care! I’d also recommend staying away from extreme heat like tongs and straighteners, so the Dyson air wrap is a wise investment.”

Say cheese! Your wedding is going to give you plenty of reasons to smile, and if you’re self-conscious of your not-so-pearly whites, the year before your ceremony is the perfect time to start thinking about cosmetic dentistry. “Always start with a dental consultation,” recommends Dr Rhona Eskander, Owner of Chelsea Dental Clinic and Co-founder of PARLA. “If necessary, this usually involves alignment of the teeth through orthodontics like Invisalign, which is my preference as it is discrete, flexible and fits in with the modern day patient, but whitening is also a must for a brighter smile.

Depending on the patients needs, treatment can take around a year or longer, some cases maybe shorter but it’s always best to have this checked with your dentist. Whitening involves taking moulds of the teeth and having bespoke trays made. The dentist then fits the trays and shows you how to use the product (I like the home whitening by Philips Zoom), and little droplets of gel are placed in the bespoke trays and worn for an hour or so twice a day or overnight for up to two weeks. 

As we get older our enamel wears down revealing the yellow dentine, so the whiter your teeth are the younger you look. Moreover as we grow older we lose a lot of fat and bone, and if your teeth are well aligned and have a sufficient buccal corridor that means that it provides more support and lift to your face. Everyday is different and not everyone achieve that Hollywood white, it realy depends on the compliance of wearing the trays and the thickness of your enamel, but you can help the process by avoiding colourful food and drink–think beetroots, turmeric, coffee and red wine. These pigments stain.”

We often remember where we were or what we were doing with the trigger of a familiar smell, so what better opportunity to mark the occasion of something as special as your wedding day than with a new signature scent. According to Eva Carlo, Perfume Expert for The House of Creed, increasing numbers of brides are seeking out bespoke fragrance appointments to find the one, and it can be just as significant as finding the dress.

“Perfume is one of the most powerful emotional memory recall gems, and your life is landmarked by different smells, so perfumes are the best diary entries–you may not recall the date and time, but you will feel all the emotions of that moment,” poses Carlo. “When it comes to that special day the scent you wear and that of your surroundings will be the most powerful memory triggers, so it should be chosen with as much care and excitement as the dress and venue (although scent gives you more freedom as it is invisible). You may wear a signature perfume and want your groom to subconsciously recognise that at the altar, and it may make you feel comforted and relaxed if you are finding the whole experience overwhelming. The scent you wore on your first date when you fell in love may be a heady surprise for your husband-to-be; he may not recognise it consciously but won’t forget the memory recall power of smell.
If it is a perfume that you wear that day for the first time, then you are creating a new memory that has no history beyond that date. As weddings are about the union of two people, this can be a fabulous concept to explore in fragrance. Even if you wish to remain very individual at the ceremony, each of your scents should complement each other and not overwhelm the other person with your scent. As soon as you start to gather your moodboard consider, what is the inspiration for the wedding? Use that as the inspiration for your scent or as soon as you have the dress! Think about how you want to feel, what you want to say about yourself at that moment. Book in for a consultation so an expert can help you translate that into suitable perfumes and try your favourites on the skin for a couple of days before committing to a purchase. Also, like your make-up and hair, be open to trying a few consultations if you don’t find it right away; perfume should be a slow purchase, but we quite often hurry it too much. Think of at least a few hours to several days, not ten minutes!

There has been a trend for musky and woody fragrances of late. They give you the feeling of
cocooning and deep-rooted security that undoubtedly has had much appeal for the whole world lately. However, there is also a trend for vegetable and deep celebrations of nature lately; as the planet becomes more fragile and uncertain, maybe we want to feel more connected to mother nature, so herbal, floral, grassy and earthy tones are of much interest. These notes are wonderful at making us feel grounded and can be very dreamy, as well as reassuring, and can be bursting with colour, which is another thing to think of when you are choosing scents; Perfumes may be transparent but they speak of colours very loudly. White, reds, violets, greens etc are very easily interpreted in a scent, as well as moods.”

Oily or dry, blemish-prone or clear, most will agree that what our skin looks like on our wedding day is just as important as our hair or make-up. With pictures in mind you’ll no doubt be looking up facials for the ultimate bridal glow, so what do the experts recommend to guarantee fresh skin? Your best bet is working with a therapist over time advises Izabela Pawlitka, Aesthetic Therapist at the Dr David Jack clinic. 

“Clear, hydrated and glowing skin is the ultimate wedding day asset for a bride, and a course of in-clinic facial treatments will make sure your skin is at its best. Start at least three months in advance to allow for a few treatments. Skin adjusts over time, so you’ll need more than one session to reap the benefits and give plenty of time for any unexpected reactions to settle. But if you suffer from any skin condition like acne, rosacea, or malasma then it is advisable to see a skin specialist at least 6 months before the big day to start the process. It would usually requires a combination of advanced treatments and possible prescription ointments to support your skin condition to start with. Once you skin condition has been managed you would be able enjoy facial treatments knowing that your skin is not going to flare up.

Most brides we see in the clinics would start wedding prep with a course of three medical level results driven facials combined with a course of three SkinTech Studio express treatments like the Korean Skin Glass Facial to rejuvenate and refresh skin, reduce facial tension and ultimate snatch and glow. This South Korean inspired facial is the Mecca of anti-ageing skincare, designed to deliver a preternaturally luminous glass skin glow that lasts over the longer-term. By combining cutting-edge techniques with Dr. David Jack’s signature facial methods, to deeply cleanse, nourish and hydrate the skin, it works to repair the barrier and achieve the hallowed ‘glass skin’ glow; dewy, iridescent, plump radiance that reflects optimum skin health.

‘Feeling confident in your skin’ means feeling your best on the day, but it’s also important to support those stressful leading months with some skin supplements as well as supporting your nerves system with adaptogens, 360 approach is always a winner.”

Prices for a bespoke course of three advance facials at the Dr David Jack Clinic start at £1250.

Over the last couple of years the popularity of the “tweakment” has exploded in popularity, and as such it’s no surprise that more brides are considering their options in the run up to the wedding. It pays to be cautious though, as with any medical procedure it’s important to do your research, and not to leave anything you’re trying for the first time too close to the day. In order to limit the risk, Dr Yannis Alexandrides, Plastic Surgeon MD FACS and founder of 111 Harley St. & 111SKIN, notes that the most popular choices among brides are non-invasive procedures that aren’t too harsh on skin. 

“Thermage FLX radiofrequency is our most popular non-surgical/non-injectable treatment offered at 111 Harley St. This is a great treatment for brides as it not only helps to tighten and smooth out skin around the delicate eye area, face and neck, but it also helps to promote collagen production. This treatment really appeals to brides as they are extremely busy in the lead up to their big day and Thermage FLX is a one time treatment with zero downtime, so very easy to build into a hectic schedule.

We also recommend the ClearLift treatment–a laser that relies on fractional laser technology to smooth skin and improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots, sun damage and hyperpigmentation. Unlike Thermage FLX, you do need a course of 4 treatments over a 3 month period and it addresses a multitude of skin concerns, but the results we’ve seen with ClearLift are great, and once you’ve finished the protocol your skin will appear smoother, your skin tone will be more even and radiant. Picture perfect for your big day!”

Another needle free alternative gaining traction (and with a very loyal celebrity fan base) is the EmFace. Unlike the Thermage FLX and ClearLift treatments that focus on the skin, the Emface works to lift and sculpt the face under the surface–think of it like a workout for your facial muscles.

“At the Dr Rakus clinic we always recommend a course of Emface before the big day, It’s the perfect treatment for brides,” says Clinician Dr Galyna. “First of all it’s incredibly safe with no downtime so you won’t risk any unnecessary complications before your wedding! And secondly, the results are very natural and subtle, so your loved ones won’t have a clue what you’ve had done to get the glow. 

Emface works by defining your features and giving your skin a strong collagen boost, ideal for those who want to wear very little make up and no artificial contouring. Applicators combine RF (Radiofrequency) and HIFES (High-Intensity Facial Electrical Stimulation) technology to tighten skin and tone facial muscles by specifically stimulating and toning the elevator muscles in each area of the face, lifting the facial skin, decreasing wrinkles and contouring the face. Some brides are really worried about taking photos and Emface ensures that even most anxious brides will feel their best. We recommend a course of 4 treatments just 4-6 weeks before the big day, but as the procedure is so gentle, you can start a few months in advance for even better results.”

Prices for Thermage FLX Face start from £2995, ClearLift Face from £385, and Emface starts from £800 pounds with a complimentary consultation needed.

Updating your colour can be a great way to refresh your look ahead of your nuptials, but getting it right requires some clever planning and a consultation with a trusted salon. Whether you’re thinking about a subtle change or a colour overhaul, there are abundance of new hair colour trends to discuss with your stylist, just ask Seniz Alkan, Colour Director, Neville Hair & Beauty.

“When it comes to colour, 2023 has already given us three major trends. If natural and cool bases are your thing, then “mushroom brown” (named after the famous Portobello) is the ideal colour for you. Achieved using highlights, this transitional shade between blonde and brunette has been filling our feeds for a while now. It’s popularity kicked off in 2022, and for 2023 we are seeing a slight move-on. The 2.0 version of mushroom brown has a sandier and ashier looking tone to it, and best suits people who have a warm tones in their skin complexion. Please note that shine is a key component in this colour’s beauty.

Next up is “Cherry Cola”, the latest Tik-Tok hair obsession that combines a harmonious and playful blend of rich brown and fiery red. Depending on skin tonality, the red can be adapted to complement the individual e.g intensified or toned down according to your preference. Like with any colour, the more variations there are, the more popular the colour will be. I find this colour looks best on clients with light coloured eyes as it really makes them pop. When considering this colour, I would advise coming in for a consultation armed with as many inspiration pictures as possible to ensure your colourists understands the specific colour tone you are after and of course carry out the mandatory patch test. It’s important to bear in mind that reds are the hardest colour to keep but also the most challenging to get rid of.

Then there’s Golden Copper, this summer most shades of red will be popular and particularly warm and rich copper tones. It is a great in between tonality for blondes looking to go darker and brunettes looking to go lighter without having to commit to transitioning to either ends of the spectrum. Celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid were seen initiating the trend back in 2022 and has since then gained momentum, with a spike expected this spring/summer. This statement colour looks best when worn root to tip and exudes shine. It is believed that this colour trend stems from the western influences seen on the catwalks. If you are wanting to try, be ready to use colour boosting shampoos to help prolong the life of your colour as they tend to fade quite rapidly. Even if you are a natural ginger or a coloured one, you can add some golden balayage around the face and the lengths to give it dimension and movement; which will tone down a little bit your colour and will give you a fresh, lighter summer look.” 

And, to avoid disaster, the sooner you can arrange a patch test the better. “I would recommend coming in for a consultation and patch test at least two months in advance to discuss the look you are wishing to achieve for your big day. At Neville our bridal consultations generally take place with both the colourist and the stylist that will be creating the bridal hairstyle as the placement of the colour is likely to be based on how you wear your hair. Once colour and styling ideas have been approved your appointment should be booked in at least a month in advance to allow for any tweaks in between should you need them. This is also to allow you to get used to your new hair colour, particularly if this is your first colour treatment.Your stylist and colourist may also, recommend some hair treatments in between to help prevent colour fade and ensure your hair looks healthy for your wedding day. Then, on the day of your appointment another brief consultation will take place to make sure that you are still happy with the agreed colour.

To keep it vibrant and shiny, it is important to install a strong haircare regimen. This not only includes regular professional treatments such as K18 peptide-powered treatment, but also a pre-treatment spray helps to prepare the hair for chemical services, and a leave in mask to rebuilds the keratin in the hair, leaving it healthy and shiny.”

Preparing for tears? Save your mascara by opting for lash extensions that can be as dramatic and impactful, or natural and subtle as you like. “Wispy lash extensions are great for brides as it achieves a beautiful feathery look that keeps people guessing if they’re real,” says Amanda Lee, Owner and Founder of Iris Avenue Beauty Salon. “They are made up of varying lengths that give eye-catching definition without feeling heavy or false. It’s great for brides that have a few events before and after the big day, as you won’t have to worry about lashes the whole time (they last up to four weeks!). Wispy lash extensions are also waterproof, so if there’s any happy tears on the day, you won’t have to worry about mascara running! Our lash artists create a bespoke set of lashes every time, tailored perfectly to the eye shape.”

If it’s your first time getting extensions, it’s worth trialling the look beforehand and getting comfortable with the shape and length. “Book a full set 2-3 weeks before the big day to ensure you’re happy with the look, and then an infill around 3-5 days before to make any final adjustments. A full set of wispy lash extensions are around £100-£150, with the infill being £55-150 depending on the amount of volume that is required. The treatment takes around 2 hours for the full set and 1 hour for the infill. Your eyes are required to be closed during this time, while the technician applies individual extensions to each eyelash, but you can also book a relaxing foot massage at the same time for some pre wedding pampering.”

We all want to achieve our best glow for pictures, but it’s not worth a rushed and streaky tan. According to tan specialist James Read, the key to your best application lies in the preparation. “Self-tanning has come a long way, and with advanced products available, you can now become a glow expert at home, finding the perfect tan, and gradually building it over time. As you prepare for your big day, there’s no doubt that you want to look your best. But, before you dive headfirst into your beauty routine, it’s important to take the necessary steps to ensure your skin is prepped and primed for self-tan application. Whether it’s your first time self-tanning or you’re a seasoned pro, there are some key tips to keep in mind.

Firstly, it’s crucial to prep your skin at least 24 hours before applying self-tan. This means waxing and shaving should also be done at least 24 hours before to avoid any irritation. Additionally, scheduling a facial  before the wedding can help to ensure your skin is in top condition for your big day.

Two weeks before your wedding, it’s a good idea to do a trial self-tan run. Remember, less is more when it comes to self-tanning, as you want to gradually build your glow to ensure it complements your overall look, wedding dress, hair, and makeup without overpowering them. So to test out your self-tan, wear a white t-shirt two days after tanning and take a glow-selfie with your phone to see if the results work for you and to avoid a Self-Tan disaster.

 For best results, it’s recommended to apply self-tan two days before your wedding. Self-tan always looks its best on the second day, so keep this in mind when planning your beauty routine. If you’re new to self-tanning, consider using self-tan drops, which allow you to gradually build your glow over time. Gradual tan moisturisers are also a great option as they allow you to build your tan over a few days to see what works best for you, and when tanning your face, it’s important to take extra precautions. Start by applying a hydrating sheet mask to add extra hydration to your skin. After patting your skin dry, add a thin layer of face serum and then apply your self-tan. Self-tanning waters are a great option to top up your glow after the wedding and while you’re on your honeymoon.

Brides often make the mistake of washing their hands after self-tanning, creating a white-hand, tanned-arm look. To prevent this, wait at least 5 hours before washing the outer part of your hands. By following these simple tips, brides can ensure that their self-tan looks flawless on the big day, leaving them feeling confident and beautiful as they say “I do.”

With the wedding now a matter of hours away, one of the last things on your list is the nails. While you might have given plenty of thought to the skin, hair, makeup and body prep, don’t forget this integral part of routine–from carrying the bouquet to wearing the ring, your hands are about to been photographed a lot. So what are the most popular nail colours and shapes for brides this year? We asked Giorgia Cappella, Training and Educator Manager at The Gel Bottle, and Juanita Huber-Millet, Founder & Creative Director at Townhouse.

“So far this year has seen lipgloss, aura, and velvet nails making a statement, and all three trends create a different and unique effect which I expect will continue into the summer,” notes Cappella. “Nail colour is often something a bride has pre-planned and is either following inspiration they like or keeping it inline with any themes running through the dresses, flowers or decor.The colour chosen needs to compliment many factors so must be carefully considered, including the bouquet!” And thinking about the colour’s versatility is key agrees Huber-Millet. Whether you’re changing outfits, working with a bold colour scheme, or keeping it simple, a neutral nail is the perfect base.

“You can never go wrong with neutral tones, and these are a favourite for brides year-round. Pink, soft beiges, milky creams or traditional white pair perfectly with bridal attire for a polished and elegant look. For those seeking nail art, we love a soft base with delicate hand-drawn florals or go for a reverse Frenchie for a gorgeous, on-trend bridal manicure. You can never go wrong with the ever-popular French mani! Stylish and super chic, there’s a reason this look has never gone out of style–it’s simple yet sophisticated and will stand the test of time.”

With the colour chosen and the shape down, the best way to preserve your nails is booking an appointment for just before the wedding suggests Cappella, that way the look stays at its best for longer. 

“I recommend brides book their treatment in for one or two days before the wedding. We want manicures or pedicures looking fresh, having them done too early can potentially cause damage to the nails, nail growth or dryness, but having them done the day before the celebrations allows for the nails to look their best on the big day and can also be a great opportunity for the bride to relax and have a pamper amongst a stressful time.”

“Leading up to a wedding manicure the bride needs to ensure they are protecting their nails. Wearing gloves whilst cleaning and regularly moisturising their hands can ensure their nails are ready for the big day. For the best wedding manicure, a gel polish service is always advised or BIAB overlays for those with weak nails to ensure they stay strong for the duration of the festivities and honeymoon that often follows.  

Always finish a bridal appointment with a hand soak, scrub & mask to ensure any dead skin cells are exfoliated away and beautifully smooth skin remains. Gift your bride a cuticle oil to take away with them and remind them to oil regularly!”

And whether you’re opting for a spring/summer wedding or an autumn/winter, don’t forget your toes. If you’re wearing an open-toed shoe or a sandal it’s the  one detail you may have forgotten, but it’s an equally nice pamper treat for those in pumps or flats. 

“A good wedding pedi should always include a callous removal, soak, scrub, mask and massage post gel polish treatment to get the brides feet looking and feeling gorgeous!” reminds Cappella. And it’s the perfect treat for your bridesmaids and mother of the bride too.

“We have semi-private manicure and pedicure booths in our Harrods salon which can be booked as a special treat– these are ideal for getting pampered with a bridesmaid or family member,” suggests Huber-Millet. “It’s the perfect opportunity to settle in with a glass of bubbly and experience our Indulgent Manicure and Indulgent Pedicure treatments – a firm favourite with our loyal clientele. These treatments include a soothing, sensorial massage accompanied by heated mitts and are finished with your choice of polish or gel, leaving you both rejuvenated and with impeccable nails to complete the wedding look!” 

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