Every bride is beautiful on her wedding day . . . but how is it exactly that all brides seem to glow? They say it’s because a bride, being so crazy in love on her day of days, quite simply radiates happiness.
Not willing to risk it? We hear you.
Sure, you’re mad about your man and you’ve circled the date on the calendar in gold, but let’s face it: Your hairstyle needs work, your skin hasn’t shone since grade school, and your butt could stand a little firming before you slink into that gown.
What can you do to tip the odds in favor of looking jaw-droppingly gorgeous on the big day? Quite a bit, as it happens. How much time you spend primping—and how soon you start—is up to you, but we recommend you pen a wedding wish list that includes everything you can (want, should, must) do from now until then to enhance your look and guarantee that your glow quotient goes through the roof.
There are precious few “10’s” out there (thank heavens), but this is the time to inch as close to perfection as you can. Yes, ladies, it’s time to get “bride buff,” and there are lots of ways to do it.
For starters, fitness classes abound. Just ask around and you’re sure to find a class that suits you—from Spin to Zumba to Pilates—at a nearby gym. Choose from low-impact classes to intensive “boot camps” that last a few weeks (but show no mercy). For a more tailored workout, hire a personal trainer. Most fitness centers have trainers on staff; some will even come to your home. A personal trainer can help you focus on specific areas of concern, often including diet and lifestyle advice in the program they prescribe.
Prefer to go it alone? The Healthy Bride’s Boot Camp Workout DVD, at $21.95, is an affordable way to get fit on your own time. It features four 45-minute workouts, including cardio, abs and push-ups and stretching—plus weight training designed to enhance the style of your particular dress. Bridal Bootcamp by Cynthia M. Conde (Running Press/Perseus; $14.95) is a fitness and nutrition guide created especially for women, with a focus on looking amazing on your wedding day. It includes six-month, three-month and four-week programs.
Finally, no matter which route to fitness you take, don’t forget to eat right get plenty of rest and stay hydrated!
There’s no better time to give your hair a good, long look (call in trusted girlfriends for an honest opinion)—assess your color, length, texture and style—and decide, with the help of a professional you trust, how to make it look and be better. If you’re planning to grow your hair, start as soon as possible, scheduling regular appointments for trims of no more than an eighth of an inch at a time. And if you're making a color change or adding highlights? Try out the new look well in advance, but have it done no more than two weeks before the wedding day to avoid visible regrowth.
A consultation and trial hair appointment is mandatory for bridal hair styling at the Parisian Salon and Day Spa in Cromwell (860/632-2144; parisiandayspa.com). Stylists there specialize in the updo, says owner Patricia Barbaro, but getting it right takes time. “We recommend that brides bring in pictures from magazines—ones they like and ones they don’t,” she says. They should wear something that duplicates the neckline and shoulder design of their dress, and definitely bring in their headpiece (the veil is optional). “Designing a hairstyle without a headpiece is like trying to make a flower arrangement without a vase,” says Barbaro.
At Parisian, updo styles start at $90, and are priced according to the length and thickness of your hair, as well as the intricacy of the style. Blow-dry styles start at $35; add more for flat-ironing or curling.
Brides-to-be with unpredictable complexions (you know who you are), or serious skin conditions like acne or rosacea, should seek treatment from a dermatologist early on. But even clear-skinned brides would do well to give that all-important glow a nudge by scheduling regular facials in advance of the big day.
“We have found that when it comes to skin, it’s usually almost the last thing [brides] tend to think about,” says Nikki Rasmussen, RN, owner of the Yolo Laser Center & Med Spa in Guilford (203/533-4560; yolomedspa.com). “When they come in, the very first thing we do is tell them to use sunscreen—always, no exceptions—and we assess their skin condition. Then we suggest a treatment schedule designed to work within any time frame—twelve months, six months, even as short a time as three weeks.
“A young bride with good skin may need only a peel, which she should still try out months before the wedding,” says Rasmussen. However, mature brides may need “more advanced treatments,” she says, which may include Botox or dermal fillers that relax the lines in their faces. “In addition,” she says, “there are therapies that can get rid of redness and even out complexions.” A typical Bridal Boot Beauty Camp regimen at Yolo includes a microdermabrasion treatment, two facials, a body scrub, facial waxing and a spray tan—for around $450.
It’s a good idea to sample several different kinds of facials to see how your skin reacts to them. But remember that no matter how happy you are with your signature facial, don't schedule one within a day or two of the wedding. Your stress level (or even the weather) could cause an adverse reaction and you may end up blushing just a little more than you’d like.
the eyes have it
Soon-to-be brides are all aflutter over a new eyelash treatment called Latisse. Applied directly to the upper lash line, this topical ointment has been shown to dramatically increase the length, darkness and thickness of eyelashes. “We’re seeing more and more brides starting Latisse,” says Rasmussen of Guilford’s Yolo.
“This product really works—I have tried it myself,” she adds, noting that you should start using it at least four months prior to the wedding for best results. Available by prescription only, Latisse costs $120 a box, or $200 for two. On average, a box lasts about a month.
Perhaps you never had braces, but have always wished you had. Well, it’s not too late to perfect your smile in anticipation of all those “Say cheese!” requests. Not so keen on a mouth full of silver for a year or more? Invisalign, available from most orthodontists, may be for you. The smile-enhancing treatment consists of a series of clear aligners switched out about every two weeks, gradually shifting your teeth into place. A 20-year-old without major space problems should plan on six to nine months of treatment at an approximate cost of $4,500.
No one can deny that a brighter, whiter smile makes for a more beautiful bride, and procedures for bleaching teeth—including strips you apply yourself—have never been more readily available. Dentists have been offering whitening treatments for years and the latest technology is available at CT White Smile in Waterford (860/444-9000; ctwhitesmile.com). It works quickly, which is obviously a good thing for brides on a short schedule. A specially formulated whitening gel is applied to the teeth and left in place for 15 minutes. During the process, the active ingredient in the gel, hydrogen peroxide, enters the enamel and bleaches away stains, while leaving the structure of the teeth themselves unchanged. Results are immediate (teeth will become even whiter after successive treatments), and will last up to a year or possibly more. The cost for one treatment is $89; a 30-minute treatment is $129.
smooth as silk
Unwanted hair has no place in the spotlight. And it’s safe to say that on her big day every bride wants the smoothest legs (and underarms and bikini line) she’s ever had. If you’re still shaving or waxing and are happy with the result, then skip to the next tip. But if you’re interested in the latest laser hair-removal technique, read on.
IPL is a process that uses intense pulsed light to gently remove unwanted hair; it covers a wide area at one time, is painless and permanent. “Laser hair removal is not a one-time thing, however,” says Chista Casal, manager of the Greenwich Medical Skin Care & Laser Spa in Old Greenwich (203/637-0662; greenwichmedicalspa.com). “And brides really should start thinking about it one year ahead of their wedding date.” You can have many areas treated at once—legs, face, underarms, bikini—but each requires a minimum of six sessions, with varying levels of frequency. So it will take a little coordinating—not to mention deep pockets—to get the job done. For example, full-leg sessions take 90 minutes; for optimum results, sessions should be repeated every eight to ten weeks. One session is $800; a package of six is $4,080. It’s advised that laser removal be done in the fall and winter because it’s important to stay out of the sun during treatment.
With so many people asking for a look at your brand-new ring, keep in mind that your manicure will likely be center stage all day. You probably already have a favorite nail salon, but if not, take note of your friends’ (and even strangers’) nails and ask them where they go. Try out a new salon more than once, and schedule your appointments well in advance. And remember to buy a bottle of polish in your chosen color in case you need a touch-up.
You’ll want your nails to look their best, so plan for it by eating right and massaging vitamin E into your nail beds to strengthen them. If your nails are stubborn and won’t grow, or if they’re just naturally thin or brittle, you may want to help Mother Nature along by applying silks or acrylics. Do this at least a few weeks ahead and have them filled on the day before the wedding, as the initial process can take time.
Mani/pedi pricing varies greatly all over Connecticut. At Avancé Esthétiques in Newtown (203/270-8911; avanceesthétiques.com), manicures start at $17, while pedicures start at $40. Special spa and paraffin treatments will up the cost. Many salons offer a discounted package for six or more services; in any case, be sure to ask about bridal specials.
best face forward
With so many excellent over-the-counter cosmetics available today, you may be tempted to do your own makeup, but most beauty experts advise against it.
“A bride’s makeup is the one thing—besides the food—that people comment on the most,” says Naomi Martinez of Naomi’s Studio & Salon in West Hartford (860/232-8900; naomimartinez.com). Martinez and her team of 14 makeup artists are actually media specialists, but they also do the makeup for 500 to 600 weddings a year. “After all,” she says, “every bride is a celebrity on her day.”
Martinez finds that regardless of a bride’s age or style, almost all brides “want to look sexy” on their wedding day. Even if the overall theme is casual and the ceremony is outdoors, “they want their makeup to pop—most of them want that smoky-eyed look,” she says. And, she adds, “It’s very important to remember that everything photographs a few shades lighter, so you’ll want to wear more makeup than you’re used to.”
Naomi’s uses an airbrush to create flawless skin, a technique that’s more art than science. “I love to look at skin, not foundation,” she says. Airbrushed makeup will last a full 12 to 18 hours without smearing, and in fact, “some brides even sleep in it,” according to Martinez. Not surprisingly, top makeup artists are in great demand, so plan accordingly; Naomi’s books weddings as far in advance as two years.