Real Wedding Guide
“Your Face is a Cupcake.” (The Makeup Mistake Too Many Brides Make)

It’s been said that no one looks at you like your groom or bride looks at you on your wedding day.
And that’s true.

But here’s what’s also true:

Not even your groom or bride looks at you on your wedding day at 300% high-definition magnification.

That’s the job of your wedding photographer: To make sure you’re looking your best.

And at 300%, as you might expect, your photographer sees things better than anyone else.

Which is why I’m here to tell you, having shot and edited untold numbers of weddings, that makeup isn’t just about the makeup.

Not every bride’s makeup will last from ceremony to sendoff, even with touch-ups:

You’ve got tears.

You’ve got sweat.

You’ve got dancing cheek-to-cheek.

And you’ve got someone documenting it all for your friends, family, children, and grandchildren to see.

So quality matters. And so does the makeup artist (often abbreviated to MUA).

So for today’s Q&A, I asked the best MUA I know—Mary beth Dulin of MBDulin Bridal Makeup—how she does it.

And fortunately we’ve worked together enough on weddings and other shoots throughout Maryland (note: these images pre-date the pandemic) that she knows my sense of humor.

Which is how we somehow got to dessert similes.

Q: What would you say is the biggest misconception about bridal makeup?

A: The biggest mistake I see is brides-to-be thinking about makeup as a standalone thing. But a bride’s face is kind of like a cupcake.

A cupcake? OK, you’re going to have to break that down a little for me.

You can put frosting—meaning the makeup—on anything, but it’s not going to be good unless the cake part—your skin—tastes good.

So to speak.


Because I was going to say…

Because the makeup isn’t going to go on beautifully unless the skin is taken care of. You need to start taking care of your skin 6 months to a year beforehand.

OK—I think I’m starting to understand. So, just wash your face, right?

Such a guy. There’s a bit more to it than that.

So what are you supposed to do?

Exfoliating. Hydrating. Getting a great skincare routine going. THEN we can approach the makeup, because it’s going to apply and stay on so much better.

So getting back to the cupcake…

Some brides are just focused on the frosting—the makeup. But you can’t forget the cake part—the skin. Without having that face that’s even and happy and hydrated, the makeup isn’t going to apply as well. If the cake underneath isn’t good, the whole thing isn’t going to taste good. Nobody eats just frosting.

Actually, this one time when I was in college—

It’s also about the longevity: If your skin is well hydrated and well taken care of, the makeup is going to look good longer—your skin is going to look that much more flawless.

OK, that actually makes sense.

Glad to see I’m finally getting through to you.

Because you’ve been doing skin care for what—

More than 12 years.

And you’re right: I do see a big difference when I’m going through photos. Especially from the end of a reception—you can tell who’s had a great MUA with great makeup.

Thank you.

So, last question: What’s the most important thing a bride needs to keep in mind when choosing a professional makeup artist?

Make sure you’re on the same page ahead of time.

I liked the cupcake metaphor better.

You have to have a trial session sometime before the wedding day. I always insist on a complimentary trial for the bride.


Really. About 30 to 40 minutes. Because there are so many variables: your face shape and your eye shape and the color and the time of the wedding.

You need to make sure the bride-to-be likes what we’re doing, and that we’re both in agreement that this is a good fit. Then I take pictures, I take notes, and I refer to those notes the day of the wedding. We talk about skin care too.

Glad we were able to finally steer the conversation back to cupcakes! So how do you feel about those multi-colored sprinkles?

Gotta go!