Primped and Primed

Getting the bride wedding-day ready is about more than just a pretty face.

For Angela Papa, beautifying a bride on her wedding day is more than a job: It’s personal. Papa has been in the beauty industry for almost 14 years, but her love and commitment to the business is grounded in the most basic attribute—the people. “I love working one-on-one with everyday women, helping them figure out a little something to make them feel special and boost confidence,” she says. Starting her career as a makeup artist for Lancôme cosmetics, Papa quickly found her niche with brides who consulted with her on different looks for their wedding days. Relationships formed over the counter eventually translated into paying work as Papa was asked to be the makeup artist at clients’ weddings.

“Weddings are so intimate, and it’s a big honor to be there,” Papa says. Working her first wedding was a real turning point in her career—it all just clicked: “Getting to know how the couples met, their love story, and forming relationships. . . . It was what I was meant to be doing,” she says.  After working in the wedding industry for a few years, Papa formed a friendship with Maria Sung, who worked as a lead stylist for a high-end salon. (The pair originally met because Papa was Sung’s client.) The two decided to branch off and collaborate on weddings—Papa as the makeup artist and Sung as the hair stylist. The team chemistry was “a perfect match,” Papa recalls. Several weddings later, they made it official in 2010, founding Behind the Veil, which now includes a team of 25 artists with clients spread all over Maryland. But at the end of the day, Papa’s priority remains rooted in the relationship. “I love sharing special moments and being in the middle of all the excitement as they prepare for their special day with their family and best friends,” says Papa. “One of the best parts of my job is creating gorgeous looks for each bride and seeing their beaming smile once they’re in the dress and ready to tie the knot. I’m so lucky to do what I love and am truly blessed.”

Q: What is the benefit of hiring a professional beauty team versus enlisting a friend or doing it yourself? A: Professional hair stylists and makeup artists work with brides every weekend and not only understand how to make you look your best, but also understand how to keep wedding timelines running smoothly. It’s important for your artists to coordinate with the wedding planner and photographer so you’re able to relax, get dressed, and have plenty of time for photos. Even if you are naturally really great at doing your own makeup, do you really want to worry about that on your wedding day? Hire a professional team so you can enjoy being pampered. You’ll be more relaxed and reassured knowing that you’re going to look amazing. The same goes for your friends. Even though they may be makeup mavens, that’s a lot of pressure for someone who doesn’t have the background or experience. Let the professionals do what they do best so your besties can relax and enjoy the morning with you.

Q: How many consultations do you suggest a bride have before the “big day?” A: Most brides opt for one consultation, but some will coordinate an initial consultation the same day as their engagement photos (six months to one year ahead), so they can truly put their look to the test. Occasionally, brides will schedule a follow-up trial closer to the wedding date (two to four months prior) to make adjustments and finalize the look. Make sure to come to your trial prepared with photos (Pinterest is an amazing resource), along with photos of your dress, accessories—and anything else that will help your artists learn all about your personal style and vision for the big day.

Q: During consultations, do you photograph the bride so she can see how her makeup translates? A: Absolutely. At first glance, a little pop of color may seem like too much if you’re not used to it, but  it will brighten up your complexion and look amazing both in person and in photos. Even if you’re going minimal, it’s important to remember that “wedding-day natural” is very different from “everyday natural.” When you look back at your photos, you want to look your absolute best: glowing and radiant, not washed out. A professional makeup artist will understand the proper makeup techniques needed to help you look perfect for all of your wedding-day photos.

Q: What styles are you noticing for brides in 2015?  A: Brides are really choosing looks that best fit their individual personality, unique style, and comfort level. If you are low-maintenance and your idea of special-occasion makeup consists of tinted Burt’s Bees lip balm and a quick swipe of mascara, you will probably feel most comfortable keeping your look fresh and simple—a polished wedding day version of yourself. If you happen to be a bride who loves makeup and playing up your look, try a pop of color on the lips, false lashes, or a pretty winged liner. Your trial is a great time to test out these options.

Q: Outside of the bridal party, who else should the bride invite to join her for hair and makeup? A: It’s always fun to include any family or friends who may want to join in and be pampered, too. Don’t forget moms, grandmas, aunts, and of course, flower girls—they will love feeling like a princess for the day. They will appreciate the invite, and everyone will look amazing for all the photos.

Q: Is it typical for the bride to treat her bridal party to hair and makeup, or does each girl pay for her own appointment? A: Some brides will pay for their bridal party as a fun wedding gift, while others will opt to pay for one service (hair or makeup) and let their girls take care of anything else they’d like to add on. If you have a large bridal party, being thoughtful and generous can definitely add up. Another less expensive (and fun) option could be to surprise your girls by paying for false lashes or lip-gloss to complete the look.

Q: Are there any specific items the bride should bring from her own makeup set? A: If a bride has any specific makeup needs, such as very sensitive skin or a lip color she absolutely loves, the artist will be more than happy to create a beautiful look using some of her favorite products.

Q: How do you ensure that the bride’s makeup will last the entire night, from ceremony to reception? Should she expect to do any touch-ups throughout the evening? A: I love airbrush makeup and recommend it to almost all my brides. It’s a light mist of foundation that is actually sprayed on. The result is flawless, glowing, perfect skin. It’s great for warmer weather with its humidity-proof and water-resistant benefits and will last all day without the need for touch-ups. Lip color is the one product recommended to carry along for touch-ups after you eat, drink, and kiss.

Q: What beauty routine would you advise brides follow for the six months prior to the wedding? A: In the weeks and months leading up to the big day, eye cream is essential to hydrate and smooth fine lines, brighten up dark circles, and combat any puffiness from late-night wedding planning (or Pinterest browsing). Pick up an exfoliator for your skin type, and add it to your routine two to three times per week. This will buff away dry-skin buildup, eliminate stress breakouts, and brighten the complexion. Taking care of your skin way ahead of time will ensure a beautiful bridal glow for your big day.

Q: Maryland is, more often than not, quite warm during wedding season. What tips can you give brides to help fight a shiny complexion? A: Before thinking about your makeup, you want to start with great skin care. If you tend to get oily and shiny once the warm weather kicks in, look for skin care specifically formulated for your skin type. The right products will help mattify, control excess oil, and keep the complexion shine-free. Once you’re ready for makeup, begin with a primer. I love Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Light. It’s an oil-free, water-based foundation primer that contains oil absorbers for a smooth, all-day matte finish. Powders and setting sprays like De-Slick from Urban Decay are also amazing at keeping shine away.

Q: Is it a good idea to bring your veil or headpiece to the hair-consultation appointment? A: Your veil can completely transform your hairstyle. It’s important for your stylist to know how your veil attaches, whether you’re going to wear it all night, and if you’re planning to add any other hair accessories. Bringing everything with you to your trial will help your stylist create a look that perfectly incorporates these pieces. If you want to schedule a trial run before all your accessories have come in, no worries.  Just bring photos of your veil, combs, clips . . . etc.

Q: At what point should a bride stop cutting and /or coloring her hair?  A: If you’re trying to grow your locks out, trim about every six weeks to keep hair healthy and split ends in check. Color one last time about one to two weeks before the big day.

Q: How should a bride arrive to her hair-and-makeup appointment on her wedding day? Hair wet or dry? Clean or dirty? Face washed and moisturized?
A: For updos and formal styling, it’s best to wash hair the night before. You can shower in the morning, but just remember that hair cooperates best when it’s not squeaky clean. You’ll also want to make sure your hair is completely blown dry and skip the flat iron. These steps will prevent flyaways, allow curls to hold well, and help in creating the perfect wedding hair. For simple blowouts, you can wash in the morning and arrive for your appointment with hair slightly damp—no need to fully blow dry. If you’ll be having your makeup professionally done, follow your regular skin-care routine and arrive to your appointment with a fresh, clean face.

Q: What is the best hair product to ensure the wedding updo doesn’t fall apart on the dance floor? A: Take the right styling techniques, mix in bobby pins, an amazing hair spray and—voilà!—you’ve got wedding hair that’s not only gorgeous, but will stay perfect, allowing you to dance the night away. Our stylists love CIBU Pho Finish Hair Spray which has a workable, medium hold—perfect for heat styling and all-day stay.

Q: What hairstyles do you see becoming more popular for next year’s wedding season? A: Soft waves, structured top-knots, intricate braids, Great Gatsby-inspired do’s . . . we are seeing it all. It’s really a personal choice and depends on each bride’s style, personality, hair texture, and what they are most comfortable with. It’s helpful to take into consideration the time of year and whether your wedding will be indoors or outdoors. Pick a style that works with your hair texture and also complements your dress and overall look of the day. 

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