Even though I’ve never done it myself (that hasn’t prevented me from offering my opinions before, so why stop now?), I’ve seen the transformation from “woman” to “bride” so many times that I think I can come up with some general advice for those about to go through the process. With the possible exception of prom night, never does a female human being put up with so much self-inflicted scrutiny of her appearance than in those months, sometimes longer, leading up to her wedding day. Every aspect of her outward being is put through a series of tests so rigorous that Aphrodite herself would be found wanting in just about every way imaginable. Too short? Too tall? Too heavy? Too thin (yes, it is possible)? Hair too dark? Too light? Too curly? Too straight? What if we just change the hairstyle and go from blond to brunette and wear heels all the time and join the gym and cut out ice cream and lose fifteen pounds? You might even spend more time with your reflection in the mirror than you do with your spouse to be.
So let’s take a deep breath, turn away from that reflection, and think about this for a minute. Why are you here in the first place? I’ll tell you. It’s because someone fell in love with you and wants to spend the rest of his or her life with you. JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. Your partner didn’t fall in love with some rail-thin model draped in a size zero gown, perfectly coiffed and made up and looking seductively out from the cover of a bride magazine. No, they fell in love with YOU. And the person at the other end of that aisle likes your hair and your face because they reflect the person within who has captured his or her heart. So why in the name of Joan Rivers would you want to transform yourself into another life form?
Again, I’ll tell you. Because the wedding/industrial complex wants you to. They want to sell you the full fantasy so you’ll buy lots of expensive products to enable you to look like the model on that magazine cover that your future husband couldn’t care less about. Now I’m not for a minute saying a bride shouldn’t want to look beautiful on her wedding day, and I’m not so blind as to say all beauty comes from within. But you don’t want that first look your groom has of you in your wedding gown to be one of confusion. The fantasy TV shows that offer the winner a complete transformation are just that: fantasy. In the Jewish tradition the groom lifts the bride’s veil to confirm he’s marrying the right woman, and you don’t want him to have to look hard to make sure.
The sad truth is that I’ve seen quite a few brides work so hard to be glamorous on their wedding day that they lose what was attractive about them in the first place. Most makeup artists are talented and sensitive people, but some seem to feel they’re getting paid by the pound of product they layer onto the bride. What makes me cringe is that they always say, “This will look great in the pictures!” Trust me. If it looks good in real life, it will look good in the pictures. And if you look like someone whose makeup was applied with a trowel, it will look like that in the photos too. I’ve photographed hundreds of brides, and in almost all cases, less was more in the makeup department. And do you want to risk a radical change to your hair (color, length, style) on this particular day? If you want it, go for it, but remember he already likes your hair. And it’s probably best not to buy your dress a size too small to provide incentive to lose weight. If you succeed, you can always have the dress taken in. It’s a lot harder to hold your breath for nine or ten hours.
So here’s the bottom line: you are already beautiful to the one person who matters most. You’re not being held up to any other standard so don’t fall for all the hype and fantasy. That process of transformation into a bride should make you feel wonderful about yourself, just the way you are. So when you go back to that mirror, smile at what you see.