The last time a professional did my make-up (and I use that term loosely), I came off looking like a very grumpy doll on amphetamines. The hair was too fixed, my eyelashes had been
teased yanked into curly spiders and the make-up enshrined my face in a layer of powder, blush and lipstick that screamed: I am so ugly I need this much make-up to hide what I truly look like.
So suffice to say, I'm not a fan of people doing my make-up.
I did not have high expectations when I stepped in Carol Joy London at the Dorchester Spa, but here I was to review their wedding menu for brides to be, mainly because I heard that prices start from £150 (fairly reasonable in my books). The Dorchester also sits on a stretch on London's Park Lane that is wedding central at the moment with the number of hotels dotted in the area.
As I sat in the chair, make-up artist Bridget Kearney asked me what kind of look I wanted to go for. Brides: I cannot stress how important it is to have this information to hand before you attend your appointment. Even if you don't know what you want, you will definitely know what you don't want, so do tell your stylist this.
After I showed Bridget my outfit (I'd advise getting a swatch from your dressmaker if you can), she was able to pick the right colours to suit the outfit and my skin tone.
But first came the hair.
Having described what I wanted to Bridget - a loose side bun with a bit of volume, she then set about blow-drying my hair. Armed with tea and biscuits we started chatting and she said that usually, brides will visit for a consultation before booking in, with some booking in for facials ahead of the event.
"I'd advise doing it at least 10 days before however," she said, "which will give your skin time to settle down."
Once my hair was blow-dried, Bridget created volume underneath my fringe so it wasn't plastered down, and then teased the back hair into the World's Most Intricate Bun. I was wondering what she was doing back there - which goes to show how good she was that I didn't feel even a pinch of hairpins - but when she showed me in the mirror, it was like a work of art.
The only unfortunate part was when a lock of hair emancipated itself from the bun, but make sure you have a bridesmaid with hairspray and extra pins onhand for any mishaps. The end result of the hair was something that look structured but still had movement - not an easy look to pull off.
Next came make-up, and this is where Bridget's skills really shone through. Having seen other brides with a lot of make-up on, if you don't want it to look caked on but obviously do need extra help looking luminous after running around in the lead-up to the wedding, the skill of your artist will be evident.
Some like to slap it on because it's easier and saves time, but Bridget took just under an hour for my make-up and I couldn't believe my eyes. (Literally: they looked 10 years younger).
She started with primer all over, to give the skin a more even texture when the foundation was applied. Then she started on my eyes. A gentle smudge of eyeliner on the top, a neutral base with a bit of sheen to it as the eyeshadow and painstakingly applied mascara.
The magic came when she applied the concealer which hid any eyebags, and dabbed foundation on top. A very light touch of blush, and then she ringed my lips in pink lipliner, followed by a rich, glossy red that picked out the embroidery in my outfit.
When I finally glanced up, I was beyond happy but also sad that I didn't wake up with THIS face every morning. Still, not only did I feel like a million bucks, but it gave me some very handy tips to take away for everyday make-up such as dabbing concealer rather than smearing under the eyes. Also: using a primer for occasions when you have to be in lots of photos. Apparently it makes the skin look flawless.
Here's a look at the final product: