Weddings: They're like high school prom, but with greater longevity and fewer pimples. And if the bride is the prom queen, her bridesmaids are her court -- designated to help coordinate a flawless wedding, and look fetching while they're at it.
Despite what big-screen comedies might suggest, ravishing wedding day looks are easily sidelined by long nights of pre-wedding partying and require a significant degree of planning and discipline. In fact, in her book "The Bridesmaid's Survival Guide," cartoonist Mary Kay McDermott envisions preparation for a bridesmaid role as a boot camp-style training regimen. While she includes tongue-in-cheek suggestions like a "net obstacle" (think real boot camp) to prepare for catching the bridal bouquet, McDermott offers truly helpful suggestions such as an early rising regimen to help prepare bridesmaids for the big day.
Maybe a full-on boot camp isn't necessary, but as long as you keep the following countdown in mind, you'll be ready to shine next to any bride.
You should spend the two months before your wedding getting healthy. You can expect plenty of pampering as the wedding draws closer, but no amount of makeup can hide bags under your eyes, dull skin and low energy. Two key habits to implement: exercise and sleep. Don't drop everything and camp out at the gym, but moderate exercise -- think brisk walking, jogging or moderate weight lifting -- a few days a week can increase your energy and boost your mood in addition to helping you look great in that bridesmaid dress. Paired with a regular schedule, exercise can also help you sleep more soundly -- and sleep helps your skin glow.
Make sure you prepare your hair six weeks before. Get a trim to ensure that your locks look healthy, and experiment with styles before the big day. Don't forget to consult the bride; if she wants her bridesmaids to sport similar styles, make sure you keep that in mind.
Get yourself a facial two weeks before the big day. Facials are critical for healthy, glowing skin, but they can also make you break out for a few days following the procedure. Two weeks between the procedure and the ceremony allow enough time for your skin to even itself out while maintaining the benefits of the facial.
The day before, take care of your nails. Getting a manicure and pedicure the day before the wedding isn't just a great way to bond with fellow bridesmaids; it also helps avoidsmudging (a risk of day-of manicures) or chipping (a risk of getting them done too far in advance).
Focus on finishing touches on your big day. With the long-term preparation behind you, a bridesmaid's day-of beauty schedule should be focused on hair and makeup. When you're scheduling these services, be sure to leave time for errors: Whether your party chooses to get hair and makeup done professionally or it's every woman for herself, you don't want to get stuck with a style you hate 10 minutes before the ceremony. Leave at least an hour between these preparations and go time.
For more tips on being a dream bridesmaid, march toward the links on the next page.