Category Archives: Makeup

The Wedding Day

And so the day of the wedding arrived.

I’ve already said a lot about our plans, but here are some extra details the day itself. Often unplanned details…

We had ordered breakfast to our room the night before, so that we could have a delicious feast and soon-to-be husband and wife in our dressing gowns, rather than dressing, dining with others, then returning to our room to change! …Perhaps it works for afternoon weddings, but for a morning wedding, it just seems silly! We had toast and jams, poached eggs, fruit, and a small pile of pastries which we devoured. It was an impressive breakfast!

Then we started getting ready. I had washed my hair the night before after swimming, but Guy showered and used Vanilla Vanilla body wash (as he doesn’t wear scent. I wore my usual scent, CK’s ‘Eternity Moment’, because I thought it was important to wear my signiature smell on my wedding day!).

He also made sure to give himself a good, close shave. This was something he had put a lot of thought into, because he wanted his face to be perfectly smooth. He’d picked up some tips for following the grain of the hairs on Groom Power (which also warned him not to leave any polish on his shoes before he danced with a woman in a white dress!). So, a few pratices, a nice new razor, and a little bit of advice from – stranegly enough – Neil Gaiman‘s blog, worked the trick (for those of you who are curious, I suggest you hunt out the reference yourself!).

First, Karina, our photographer, turned up, and took some artistic pictures of our wedding outfits before we put them on.

And soon after my mum turned up – with bubbly and cassis – and began attacking my hair whilst I was still doing my makeup.

Then my uncle turned up – and started photographing us!

And then Caz turned up for Guy! She whisked him away for his steadying pint, and he went outside before putting on his jacket and waistcoat so that I wouldn’t see him all prettied up. By this point, I was still in my dressing gown.

Finally James turned up. My mum whisked off back to her room, and he had to zip me up! And then he left with our case to join the taxi group up to the Town Hall and I went back to lure out my mother.

Walking through the hotel, an elderly couple crossed our path and realised that I was a bride, despite the blue dress. They wished us the best of luck (then said we shouldn’t need it) and we continued on our way, weaving crazily through a very complicated hotel layout until we found ourselves in the foyer. Our rickshaw was early and already waiting!

We arrived at the Town Hall in good time and picked up our flowers. Actually my mum got given Guy’s buttonhole, and my granddad didn’t get one so they swapped halfway through the reception! The ushers were a bit rushed off their feet – but you wouldn’t know it seeing the ceremony room!

Guy was, of course, in the ceremony room by then, and I had to go to see the registrars. Several people saw me on the way in and gave me the nod – as if it were a bit cheeky for them to notice the bride before the ceremony. Brian was striding backwards and forwards across the stairwell rehearsing his reading.

I went in to see the registrars with my mum and best man, but both quickly vanished to other tasks. I think my mum had a mini meltdown, but she was back to escort me down the aisle in no time. The chat with the registrars was very straightforward and quick, so mostly I just sat there waiting. They asked me to confirm some basic details and then asked what I was going to write when I signed my name. I was a bit confused and tried to describe my signiature…! It turned out they just wanted to check that I knew to sign my maiden name.

I’ve already covered the ceremony, so I’ll skip to after it finished.

Guy and I stood outside (me shaking) hugging people and shaking hands as they all filed out. It was great to talk to everyone and be able to look them in the eye without freaking out this time! Somewhere about now, I was told that my necklace catch had slipped round to the front (I adjusted it) and that the lemon layer of the cake was collapsing (I asked them to remove the top layers and leavethe rest out for us to cut – you’re supposed to cut the bottom layer anyway!). So much for big disasters!

Everyone assembled on the steps and we came out and got bombarded with confetti. A lot of the boys were really keen to mob Guy!

Then we took the rickshaws over to Somerville for photographs and drinks! We got cheered by a group on the way there and another on the return, not to mention the people standing staring at the town hall. It felt bizarre, like we were on stage or something – and the smart clothes we were wearing seemed out of place in the middle of a busy city filled with ordinarily clad strangers!

The drinks reception steadied me a bit. And we also got a nice surprise – a flypast! It was a lucky coincidence, as we were only outside for a couple of hours, but it came directly overhead and people took photographs!

‘Our’ flypast:

Before we left Somerville, Guy and I shared our first moment alone together as husband and wife! But if you think it was a romantic one, you will be amused… We were due to get the last rickshaw out, so we lingered in the quad as everyone was going. Then we had an idea – we would be busy at the reception and may not get chance to pop to the loo! So we scurried into the Somerville toilets whilst we had the chance, meeting again between the men’s and ladies and then wandering out through the college together (luckily my dress did not require assistance: I only buy clothes I could climb a tree in). Yes, that was our first time alone together as marrieds!

Back at the reception, James announced us in his loud teacher voice, and we all happily tucked into our starters before the speeches (by then it was about 2.30, not that I was wearing my watch). My granddad did a nice speech, welcoming everybody to the event and then beginning, “I first met Rowena when she was 1 day old…” and including a story about me as a baby getting very excited about a gang of rough-looking hairy bikers. He managed to knock over some wine and call Guy ‘Clive’ once, but nobody minded!

Caz did a great best woman’s speech. She didn’t actually tell any embarrassing stories about Guy, but kept hinting that she was going to! Afterwards, she was definitely relieved that the speechmaking was over and she could enjoy her food.

Guy’s speech was a mishmash of parts of the proposal and relationship stories, with a few references in it just for me. He spent the entire speech bending over his chair and squeezing the back of it with his hands – I think he was nervous!

Then I said a couple of words and Guy and I did the thank yous together.

We actually called the caterers out to thank them, which apparently was appreciated and few people do – although they did point out to us that we hadn’t eaten most ofthe food yet, so our thank yous were a little bit premature!

Here are Guy’s parents’ faces after he revealed that I had named them the “sanest people” helping us with the wedding!

James didn’t make an official speech, but introduced them and recorded them on a little dictaphone I gave him. However, at the end of the reception, he decided to make an impromptu speech about how proud he was and how difficult he thought I would be to match, yet how perfect Guy was for me…

The reception food was amazing. I made sure to ‘share’ some of my vegetarian with Guy, but I was still massive when we finished. The caterers asked me if I would like a bit of all four layers of cake – yes please! – and the same for my “new husband” – so dessert wasn’t exactly dainty either. And a large slab of the rum cake went into our bag for the honeymoon along with the bag of cards the ushers brought us, the guest book and Cathy’s cork.

The Jaguar Royale was a little late, but it was worth it to see it sweep up and turn around in the road (cue more staring from strangers!). I put on my going away jacket and we jumped in (my mum was so enthusiastic about hugging us that she nearly came too!).

Then we waved our goodbyes and drove out of Oxford with the evening air rushing past us. We didn’t notice that we’d never had seat belts on until hours later!



I knew nothing – nothing about makeup, that is. Most of what I had had been given to me, and wasn’t the best quality, and my daywear consisted of eyeliner and mascara – job done.

So I turned to the internet for help (my mum certainly wouldn’t’ve been any use) and watched youtube videos. Seriously? Yes, seriously. I learnt how to put on makeup from youtube videos. I also researched products and read reviews. I tried on samples in department stores and rated whether waterproof eye makeup was really waterproof and how long the lippy lasted (crucial: lipsticks never last any time on me and I intended to be (and indeed come the day did find myself) kissing and eating and drinking).

I learnt how to put on mascara to full effect (false lashes were a no-no), lipstick to hide a thin upper lip, what “primer” was, and what “lighteners” were – because foundation was something I was also adamanent against: I had never wore it, except when acting at 13, and I wasn’t going to cover up my freckles with a mask so that I looked nothing like myself on the day. If the photos were awful as a result, at least they’d be honest!

I looked at colours and decided to be adventurous, to get a purplish lipstick to compliment my dress – a new colour for me (besides the vivid Haloween purples). I wanted to keep my eyes more natural and went for brown liners and mascaras instead of my usual black. At my grandparents’ house, I tore a picture out of their telegraph of a woman with lovely soft brown eye makeup, and stuck it to a piece of cardboard; likewise I made two Audrey Hepburn “eyebrow” cards – and used these on the day for makeup guidance. This worked really well, as I had a clear idea what I was doing and could refer and compare as I worked. I’d recommend!

In the end, I bought and used rather a lot of makeup, although I didn’t compromise any principles and give in to pressure to wear foundation (immense!). I also acquired some of it for free! Here is the collection:

From left to right and in order of application:

1. Primer (in a little lip salve tin). I actually stole this from the shops in lots of tiny bits of free sample, which I collected together until I had enough. I thought I might as well apply some in case it helped the make up stay, and since it didn’t budge on the day, I can only presume it worked!

2. Lightener for round my eyes, brown bones, nose, outlining lips, et cetera. Bought from the Body Shop. Mine is the lightest shade as I’m really pale behind the freckles.

3. Powder, just to lightly dust my face (not to look like vampire). This is just something I had lying around. It’s just ordinary talc.

4. Blusher and eyeshadow, with lots of brushes. The brushes I bought from the Works for £2, since I needed some new, pointy ones and it’s so much cheaper to get ordinary brushes rather than makeup ones! The blusher I’ve had since I was about 13 and was given to me by my mum at the time, but I was only applying a little and like the colour, so I didn’t feel the need to buy a new one. The blusher my grandma got free from somewhere and sent to me, supposing I wouldn’t really use it, not knowing that it was in just the colours I’d had in mind!

5. Lipliner and sharpener – old sharpener, and liner bought from the Body Shop to match the new colour of my lipstick. It’s actually a bit darker, and when I coloured in my lips before putting on the lipstick, I looked like a child who’d been at the strawberry jam – disastrous! Luckily my manytrials had forewarned me about this, and I wasn’t phased.

6. Lipfinity lasting lip stuff and gloss coating – an excellent buy (online) and the only long lasting variety I had tried which could withstand two let alone three of eating, drinking and kissing. I bought ‘Iced’ 160 and love the colour – just that slight bit purpley and soft in colour. Donald recommended I go for a stronger version of my lip colour and more natural look, but my lips are very red and again, this just looked like a strawberry jam disaster, so I said No.

7. Eyeliners – I bought a brown waterproof one online for a couple of quid and, because it was a lighter brown than my hair colour, added definition with a touch of black liquid liner, which I could add as a very fine line.

8. Waterproof mascara – I got a black one free from the Body Shop when I bought other make up, but wanted brown, and my mum picked this up for me. It was good stuff, but I didn’t like the brush, so I removed the brush from an old Maybelline mascara, washed it, and used that for good application.

9. Lip gloss, again from the Body Shop, which was a bit more purpley than the lipstick and very sparkly, adding a nice gloss! It did come off pretty quickly, but I expected that and it was only a frivolous addition. It lasted until the kiss!

Not made up (the “basis function”):

The wedding day – partly made up (the freaky state):

Halfway through the reception (and after a little wear and tear):

I’ve never understood girls who have their hair or makeup professionally done for a ball or a night out, but a wedding was the one time I might have justified it – but didn’t. Guy would never have understood, and furthermore, I didn’t want to. I especially didn’t want to have no choice over the products, nothing left to show for it and an argument over foundation. Wedding morning stress could easily be achieved in my case by having a stranger all over my face and being forced to trust them completely and not interfere…! At one point after reading a discussion on a forum, I actually had a nightmare about my mum and best man forcing me to have my make up done and making me late for the wedding. It was my one and only wedding nightmare.

So I was always going to do my own makeup, even if I knew nothing. And it is one of the things I am most satisfied with… I look back at my photos and the faultlessness of the makeup, and think, wow, I did that. I did that from scratch, knowing nothing at all about it, learning slowly, using resources from round the world, practising, trying products, and I got there – I learnt enough. I achieved something. I was able to look like me and only wear the makeup I was comfortable in, but still do a good, lasting job. And of that, I am proud.

The Warm Up

Later reading on websites and forums told me I should have launched enthusiastically into the planning right away – but I did not. Why was that?

…I suppose the chief reason was that I had not expected the proposal – and I certainly hadn’t been waiting for it. Marriage, let alone weddings, couldn’t’ve been further from my mind. So the first thing we had to do once we were engaged was get used to the idea: get used to the exciting, tumultuous feeling of knowing we were going to marry each other, knowing we would become husband and wife and spend the rest of our lives in each others’ arms… Incredible!

Of course, other people asked about the wedding. There would have to be a wedding, of course: that was how people got married, and it never occurred to either of us not to get married surrounded by our loved ones. Very well, there would be a wedding. When?

Now, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge may have been able to pull off a wedding in 5 months (or even Guy’s parents, 30 years ago), but we didn’t have the resources, and I still had a degree to finish. So we decided to wait until the spring/summer after next (the year 2012), and settled on May, the month of the honeymoon of our relationship, the month of punting, Pimms and revision on Somerville quad – the month where the Oxford year ended and the celebrations of freedom and progress were underway. Besides, the last two Mays had had beautiful weather, gloriously hot and sunny.

So we had 18 months to go before the wedding, and that left plenty of time to enjoy ourselves. We didn’t need to start planning the wedding until a year before, I decided; even the guidelines in various wedding-related media didn’t think so. So we happily put the wedding aside and got on with affianced life for a while.

It started slowly. Around March 2011 the degree was winding down, and I had started my thesis writing. My mind began to wonder to my next project – the wedding. My preliminary thoughts were not about the big things, the date or the venue or what I would be wearing, but about the niggling concerns I had about not really being bride material. I bite my nails, climb and cook and lab my hands to shreds and, quite frankly, knew nothing about hair and makeup. And yet I was supposed to be beautiful, bridal and the centre of attention. Heavens!

I tried to curl my hair using some heated curlers my grandma gave me, only for the curls to fall out as I went along. Undeterred I read tips and watched demonstrations, only to have them fall out again. I bought soft rollers and did this:

But I was clearly in need of hair help… My mum’s friend Hilary had a go twisting bits of hair and clipping it, and did this:

And my mum’s hairdresser had a go with straighteners and did this:

And then my mum had a go:

I also started trying to stop biting my nails and bought a metal nail file. It was clearly having some effect because a couple of months later, visiting my mum, she noticed, and told me how she had been going to “have a chat with me about that”!

Food was also on my mind. I decided I wanted to have a blackcurrant sorbet as a palette cleanser between courses: or even better, a cassis sorbet! Blackcurrant sorbet had been a speciality of Somerville’s, as well as many blackcurrant desserts, and I wanted to recreate Formal Hall. Cake came to mind too, and I trawled the internet for interesting cake recipes, ran trials, and did my best to make Guy fat. I finally emailed the St Hugh’s chef to ask for his delicious recipe for a cheese pate I’d had at formal there three years ago.

Around this time, a friend of Guy’s who had married last summer linked me to ‘the forum’ – she had gone there for inspiration only, but I joined, and soon began to use it for chatting, socialising and planning. I set up a planning thread and started this blog on wordpress.

The planning had begun.

Inspiration from Audrey

So, you know that I mentioned I was doing my eyebrows as Audrey Hepburn style as possible? I’ve just plucked them. They look fine, but thinner than hers after the curve at halfway, because they thinned out considerably and it was only possible to keep them looking neat if I thinned them.

I’ve also had a little go at using the liner to produce the “square” effect hers have.

These are my inspiration/guideline pictures.

To make things easier on the day, I have printed out my “inspiration pictures” and, along with a picture inspiration for eyeshadow, glued them to thin cardboard from a cereal package and cut that out too. So I now have these three pretty “makeup cards” for guidelines on the day.

And now for some Shakespeare quotes about plucking. Chiefly out eyes.

Whence is that knocking?
How is’t with me, when every noise appalls me?
What hands are here? Hah! They pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.

Henry IV
The purpose you undertake is dangerous. Why, that’s certain. ‘Tis dangerous to take a cold, to sleep, to drink; but I tell you, my lord fool, out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.

Measure for Measure
O, I will to him and pluck out his eyes!

King Leah
GLOUCESTER: Because I would not see thy cruel nails
Pluck out his poor old eyes; nor thy fierce sister
In his anointed flesh stick boarish fangs.
The sea, with such a storm as his bare head
In hell-black night endured, would have buoy’d up,
And quench’d the stelled fires:
Yet, poor old heart, he holp the heavens to rain.
If wolves had at thy gate howl’d that stern time,
Thou shouldst have said ‘Good porter, turn the key,
All cruels else subscribed: but I shall see
The winged vengeance overtake such children.
CORNWALL: See’t shalt thou never. Fellows, hold the chair.
Upon these eyes of thine I’ll set my foot.

Finishing Touches

My last resort at girly bits:

I’ve never worn so much make up before in my life! Although… there are lots of things, but I will only be using a little of each.

I laid them out in order of use, so, from left to right:

1. Primer (in a little lip salve tin)
2. Lightener for round my eyes, nose, lips, et cetera
3. Powder, just to lightly dust my face (I do not want to end up looking like a vampire)
4. Blusher and eyeshadow, with lots of brushes
5. Lipliner and sharpener
6. Lipfinity lasting lip stuff and gloss coating
7. Eyeliners (I have a brown waterproof one and a black liquid one just to add the smallest touch of extra dimension but not darken my eyes too much)
8. Waterproof mascara (I also have a little extra brush, but since I took it from another mascara bottle and had to clean it first, it was drying when this picture was taken)
9. Lip gloss

Some of these will be sneaked into my little bag for touch ups during the day. Mostly lip stuff, I am sure. All that eating and drinking I was planning…

Because I’m Still Obsessed with Eyebrows

Here is an article on eyebrows. It’s only brief. I’m sure there are better out there.

Personally I like Brooke Sheilds’ brows. If they’re scary, I like scary.


No. They’re wrong. The latter is definitely the scary one!

Raising an Eyebrow

I’ve been doing some research on eyebrows. I don’t think most people feel the need to do something new and exciting to their eyebrows, even if they go to a salon, but I love eyebrows. One of my lecturers had such amazing eyebrows, thick and fluffy, grey, with a black tendril at the very tip which stuck vertically upright – that this is all I can remember from his lectures. And I think he was a pretty good lecturer too – but his eyebrows just totally distracted me.

I’ve always loved Audrey Hepburn’s eyebrows. I think they’re amazing, expressive, beautiful and specifically not dainty. I would love to have eyebrows like hers.

I have also recently discovered Kimberley Williams-Paisley, an actress who now has perfectly fashionable, shaped eyebrows but, when she was younger and acted in ‘Father of the Bride’ 1991, had much thicker, more expressive eyebrows. And I LOVE these.

Just need to work out how to make my eyebrows like these…