Keeping up appearances: your complete bridal beauty, hair and fitness timetable

When should you book your hair and makeup trials? And at what point must you roll off the couch and start that fitness routine? Natasha Radmehr draws up a timetable of all the key dates for your pre-wedding beauty and wellness calendar

Smiling bride and groom with dark hair being showered in petal confetti with wedding guests in background
You’d be this smiley too, if HV Wedding Specialists were responsible for your hair and makeup (Photo: Fairytale Asylum Photography)

Saving face

We’ve all allowed someone else to do our makeup at some point or another – only to hold up the mirror at the end and see an off-duty clown staring back at us. Such calamities are the last thing you want for your wedding day (just think how many photos you’ll be in!), so try to book an experienced professional as soon as you can.

“We typically get enquiries two, sometimes three, years ahead of time, although we only open our diary about a year and a half in advance,” says makeup artist Sheilanne from HV Wedding Specialists. “All the postponements caused by Covid have seen our diary for the coming two years fill up quicker than usual, though, and not just on Fridays and Saturdays either.”

So, the earlier you book, the better – and you’ll want to do some research before you start making enquiries. Makeup artist Leigh Blaney says social media is a godsend for this. “I think Instagram and Facebook are the best ways to follow someone’s work and get a feel for their style, experience and work ethic,” she explains. “Bridal makeup is different from ‘going out’ makeup, so look for artists who have experience in the wedding field and don’t just do makeup for parties and 20-year-olds, which won’t suit the mums.”

A red-haired bride with blue and white floral crown pictured with two brides wearing cornflower blue bridesmaid dresses and silver BRIDE SQUAD balloons in background
Glowing and gorgeous gals, courtesy of Makeup by Leigh Blaney

Leigh also recommends seeing a skin specialist or beautician around a year before the wedding to work out a skincare regime, and Sheilanne agrees, adding that a facial every four weeks will make a noticeable difference.

Take the opportunity to have a makeup trial, too, to check your look for the day and make any tweaks necessary to get it perfect. A trial will typically happen around two to three months before the big day.

“Bring an open mind, a few inspiration pics and a good idea of the look you want,” advises Georgina from I Do Makeup by Geo Kane. “The colours and theme of the wedding do matter too, but makeup is very personal, so often a bride still wants her own makeup style regardless of these factors.”

Sheilanne suggests wearing a pale top (or one the same colour as your dress if you aren’t wearing white) for your trial. “This will help you see how the makeup sits against the white/colour and how they influence each other,” she explains.

Top tip: Tell your makeup artist how many people they’ll be ‘doing’. If your party is larger than six or seven, you may be advised to book an additional MUA.

A pony tail with spray pearl hair accessory and auburn-haired girl with waves in her hair
Left: A sleek and glam ponytail by Louise Hughes Hair; Right: Chic Hollywood waves are a perennial bridal favourite, and Louise Hughes Hair has perfected the style

Crowning glory

If you have someone specific in mind to do your hair, book them as soon as possible, advises bridal hairstylist Louise Hughes. “Most brides will get a good sense of what their prospective stylist is like from Instagram, and will be aware of their reputation too, and for some people that’s enough to book the hairstylist there and then,” she says. “But you could also have a hair trial before you book. That actually makes sense to me and I think it’s probably what I’d do myself.”

Even if you do have that initial trial, you’ll likely want to have another one closer to the wedding, once you have a firmer idea of what you want and what you’ll be wearing.
“Ideally, this should take place eight to 12 weeks before the wedding,” recommends Louise. “I always advise having one, even if you’re a laid-back bride. The reason it matters is because you might see a beautiful image on Pinterest of a bride with a big braid, but when you see yourself with that style, it might not feel like you. You need to like the shape of the hair from the front, too.”

A blond-haired person with waves and a loose braid and three hair products
Clockwise from left: Louise Hughes recommends even chilled-out brides have a trial to make sure their preferred style actually suits them; Super Healthy Hair Elastic-Repair Treatment, £6.10 for Beauty Pie members; Wella System Professional Repair R3 Mask, £33.50, Allbeauty; Olaplex No.8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask, £26

If you plan to wear any hair accessories, bring these with you to the trial so they can be incorporated into the style – and come with freshly washed hair too. “It’s an old wives’ tale that you need your hair to be greasy in order for it to be styled for an updo,” says Louise. “I can toughen hair up with products, but if hair is lank with grease then it’s hard to get volume into it.”

When it comes to getting your final cut and colour before the wedding, she recommends having it done about ten days before. “If you have really dark roots, maybe do it a week before – it depends how fast your hair grows.”

Top hair tip: “Do a hair mask once a week before the wedding, but don’t do it the night before the big day,” advises Louise. “This could risk making your hair a bit too soft.”

Black and white image of Carla Crossan doing a plank in a gym
Carla Crossan Fitness will tailor a specific workout plan to suit you and help you achieve your healthy pre-wedding goals (Photo: TT Image)

Witness the fitness

Been wanting to get in shape for a while but find you lack the necessary motivation? For lots of brides-to-be, getting married provides the perfect excuse to kickstart a proper exercise routine – and, often, it results in healthy habits that continue long after the big day.

But it can be a little daunting to do the whole fitness thing if you’re a stranger to gyms, can’t it? That’s where a personal trainer or fitness coach can prove invaluable.
“Having someone who has experience and knowledge of training and nutrition is priceless,” says Carla of Carla Crossan Fitness. “The internet is full of bad information and people trying to sell you quick fixes, from skinny teas to fat burners. When it really comes down to it, though, there is no magic wand. Instead, trusting someone to guide you through tried, tested and proven methods takes confusion out of the equation.”

There’s no perfect time to begin your fitness journey, says Megan Osborne, AKA The Female’s Fitness Coach. “And it’s never too late to start,” she insists. “But I can help you reach your goals within an agreed timeline. I would normally suggest anywhere from three months to one year depending on your goal and starting position. “Each stage of the process will be mapped out so there is a clear understanding of what is required, with full accountability along the way.”

Both Carla and Megan agree there is no one-size-fits-all approach: the beauty of a personal trainer is that they are creating a routine that suits you – your goals, your lifestyle and your fitness level. They’ll advise on nutrition, too, to ensure you get the complete package.

“I start by giving my clients a test, just to get a feel for their baseline fitness, and we build it from there,” explains Megan. “This involves a series of exercises and movements which give me a picture of how to make up their training programme. This will be adapted as the client grows stronger.”

Carla suggests that a typical routine could see you learning how to perform movements around six months before the wedding, and adding cardio and weight progressions with four months to go. Your progress would then be reviewed two months ahead of the wedding, with a view to stepping it up a notch.

“Working out three to four times per week consistently over a period of two to six months would be a good place to start,” she adds. “Your results in month one might only be minimal, but months two and three are where both you and other people start to notice the difference.”

And if you don’t fancy going it alone, why not see if your bridesmaids feel up to joining you? “I offer wedding packages so your bridal party can be involved, which makes it fun as well,” says Megan. “We do group sessions together and then, because the bride is the focus, we’d also do one-to-one sessions on the side.”

Top fitness tip: You don’t have to attend PT sessions in person if you’re not comfortable doing so – many coaches will offer online training sessions too.