5 Reasons to DIY Wedding Makeup (And 3 Reasons Not To)

I'm here to assure you that it is a brilliant idea to do your own makeup on your wedding day

Ignore the flabbergasted beauty sales ladies at department stores who will look at you in disbelief when they find out what you're planning.

Advice to hire a pro rests on the questionable assumption that although we do our own makeup regularly (even daily), we cannot possibly be practiced enough to handle the challenge of our bridal makeup. 

Below are the Top 5 reasons I decided to do my own wedding makeup. I'll also address a few instances in which you should ignore my advice.

1. No Surprises:

I adore having my makeup done. It's therapeutic: if I'm in a bad mood I'll visit a department store, sit in the chair, and invite the beauty assistant du jour to go to town on my face. But, having learned the hard way, I know never to choose this form of serenity prior to an event I care about (somewhere there's a college senior yearbook photo of me in terribly dramatic black eyeshadow). 

It's heavenly to feel fingers and brushes delicately massage your cheeks and eyelids

If you've ever had your makeup professionally done, watched a Youtube video of occasion makeup, or simply sat down at a department store counter, you know that your eyes are closed for the majority of the application. When you open your eyes and see the finished look, it is often too late to make significant adjustments. 

Makeup by Scott Barnes

Makeup artistry is especially odd to watch because layers look strange as they're applied, and only coalesce into a polished, attractive look at the end of the application. 

Even if you vigilantly peak out of one eye into a mirror throughout your application, it will be difficult to halt missteps or provide feedback in real time. Once the makeup artist is finished it will be challenging for the artist to erase and tweak areas without disrupting the texture of your face

Images from Scott Barnes's incredible book About Face

Theoretically there shouldn't be surprises: brides do makeup trials before their wedding day, and Instagram makes it easier than ever before to scroll through examples of an artist's previous work.  

Makeup by Anna Priadka, click photo for products used

But having had my own makeup done on many occasions (including by pros who work for TV, stage, bridal, and photoshoots) I knew that it was likely I would be surprised and slightly disappointed with one or many of the makeup artist's choices the day of. 

2. You Know Your Own Face Better Than Anyone

When it comes to makeup, I feel the goal should be to understand our own faces such that no makeup artist could make us feel prettier than we are able to do ourselves
Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Collins, and Sophia Loren all knew their own faces and did their own makeup for red carpet and film. An extremely talented makeup artist still has the odds stacked against them- they've probably only seen your face once or twice, and won't have access to the years of data you've accumulated by noting likes and dislikes in the mirror. 


Whether you've acknowledged the extent of your own knowledge or not, you do implicitly know what features you like the best, which colors make your eyes, lips, and cheeks light up, and where along the spectrum of light to heavy makeup is most flattering on your skin. 

3. Time to Practice

A makeup artist typically will schedule a trial session ahead of your wedding day. That's nothing compared to the amount of time you can devote to testing looks, techniques, and products. 

I poured through makeup tutorials on Youtube, read blogs about the best waterproof products (tearproof and Hawaii sweat proof), and then tried about a look a day. I documented my efforts with photos and videos so I could track what worked. 

After a month, I had a step-by-step written reference of how I was going to do my wedding makeup. 

4. Resources

Did you hear about the 8-year-old who learned to drive by watching Youtube videos?

We now have access to incredible information from talented people. The world's most sought after makeup artists, e.g. Charlotte Tilbury, Mary Greenwell, Lisa Eldridge, showcase their favorite products and bridal looks via videos.

Lisa Eldridge's favorite lipsticks

You can pause, rewind, erase, begin again. Below are some of my favorite makeup tutorials:

Charlotte Tilbury The Feline Flick: 


Priscilla Ono '90s Guess Look:

Lisa Eldridge recreates her wedding makeup:

5. Products

I love trying new makeup, but I also have a capsule collection of a gold standards in each category (click here for the complete list of products I used). I discovered an eyeliner than can't be beat, a foundation that is more glossy and comfortable than anything I've tried, a lip liner that looks like lip injections, and so on.

Charlotte Tilbury's pro makeup kit

These products set the bar that I compare all new makeup against. I know how the textures, how well they wear throughout the day, whether they run under my eyes, best complimentary colors, and how well products layer and react with other makeup on my face. 

Makeup plan from The Violet Code

I didn't already own waterproof mascara or setting spray, so I searched the blogs and Youtube channels of the aforementioned makeup artists, wrote down their recommendations, ordered the products, and tested them with my existing makeup. 

While a makeup artist is certainly intimate with his or her kit, products look and work differently on every single face. It's what makes being a makeup artist so challenging and they deserve admiration for their knowledge. However, I decided that for me, I'd rather trust my own sense of colors and products on my face than hand the reigns over to a stranger. 

I'll admit that there are valid arguments in favor of hiring a makeup artist, and I have a few that I can offer based on my experience. 

Here are 3 reasons to hire a makeup artist:

1. You want to relax 

And enjoy the hours leading up to your wedding. Perhaps you imagine sipping champagne with the women in your life while you all get your hair and makeup done.

My husband and I eloped in Maui, so I spent the hours before our ceremony in a quiet room, using 100% of my focus to carefully execute the techniques I had practised. It wasn't necessarily stressful so much as intense, but if others had been in the room I would have likely been very uptight and distracted.

If you have an audience, aka a large bridal party, hire a pro so that you can enjoy the moment with your friends. 

2. Makeup Isn't Your Thing

Say this blog title had been "Reasons to Do Your Own Wedding Hair," I wouldn't have done my own hair no matter what anyone told me. I'm hopeless with my hair, don't own a single heat tool or barrette, and become easily bored watching hair tutorials online.


I don't derive joy from doing my hair like I do my makeup, so I knew to trust someone else with my hair. 

3. Expenses

I've invested quite the chunk of cash into my makeup collection over the years. The kit of products involved in doing your own makeup artist will most likely be more expensive than booking someone to do your makeup for you.

I loved being able to cross the expense of a makeup artist off my list

While it may be cheaper in comparison to hire someone in the short term, if you continue to use the products you purchase for your wedding day, each will have a low cost per use.

The Beauty Professor is a great resource for beauty reviews

Parting words

If you're unsure, practice. Take selfies, envision how you hope to look, find photos and tutorials. Anticipate frustration involved in learning any new technique, and recognize that liquid eyeliner and applying eyelashes is universally unfun for everyone, every time. 
Good luck!