I Didn’t Wear Makeup For My Wedding — Here’s Why

Perhaps I didn’t look my “best,” but I did look like me.

When I first got engaged, after the excitement (and shock) blew over, came the 300 questions about the exact details of my wedding. While the venue was definitely something that was asked on a daily basis, inquiries about my dress weren’t too far behind. Would it be short of long? Strapless or sleeved? Would I opt for a train? Maybe a veil, too? And, what oh what, shoes would I be wearing? As much as I was extremely excited about the fact that everyone was sooo interested in my dress choices, it was fleeting.

When you’re getting married conversations go from questions to unsolicited two cents in no time flat, and there was nothing about my wedding that evoked such input quite like my dress, hair, and makeup that I’d be rocking that day. I’m pretty sure I saw the light go out of my sister’s eyes when I told her I wouldn’t be wearing makeup or having my hair professionally done for my wedding.

“What do you mean you’re not wearing makeup?” she asked me. “Don’t you want to look your best?”

About 10 months before my wedding a childhood friend of mine got married in Berkeley. She had always been, at her core, a bit of a hippy and, to the best of my knowledge, never wore makeup outside lip-gloss, if that can even be considered makeup. When she moved out to the Bay Area for law school her inner hippy grew and before long she was composting in her backyard and condemning anyone with a plastic water bottle. She had reached au natural, hippy epitome, and fit her perfectly.

But on the day of her wedding she looked nothing like the girl with whom I’d grown up. She had a full face of makeup, consisting of foundation, which appeared to be at least a quarter inch thick, and heavy eye makeup. Her lips, which I had never seen a shade other than that of her natural one, were a deep red, and although she looked beautiful, she just didn’t look like her. Why would someone not want to look like themselves on the their wedding day?

In the months that followed, I attended three more weddings and in each one it was the same: A bride smothered in makeup she wouldn’t wear in a million years. Even friends who did frequently wear makeup had their usual look taken up 10 or 15 notches, to a level that made you do a double take. Wait. Is that you? Or a version of you I’ve just yet to meet?

I Didn’t Wear Makeup For My Wedding — Here’s Why
Amanda Chatel

Admittedly, I’m not someone who wears a lot of makeup. I can’t possibly wrap my brain around contouring, and the extent of my makeup “collection” is mascara and a tube of red Chanel lipstick that rarely gets worn. I made a half-hearted attempt to embrace lipstick wearing every day after a painful breakup with a controlling boyfriend, but it never really took. If that’s the case, why would I force to try to make it happen on my wedding day? “Why wouldn’t you?” asked my sister.

When the big day finally came, I stood in the bathroom of a hotel in Paris as my sister tried to get my naturally curly hair to behave. We had done a couple trial runs and although it didn’t look exactly like the photo I had ripped out of the J.Crew catalog, it got the job done. As for makeup, I only wore black mascara. I did toss on some red lipstick for the photos, but when I walked down the aisle to meet my soon-to-be husband, I was as bare-faced, as I am every day.

Sure, I was shiny in some shots and the flushed cheeks that come after too much champagne were more than visible in the photos from later in the night, but there’s was no mistaking who the bride was. Perhaps, I didn’t look my “best,” to use my sister’s words, but I did look like me. On my wedding day, I wouldn’t want to look like anybody else ― well, except maybe Scarlett Johansson, but that would take more than makeup and I had a budget to stick to.