A great compliment is telling a person they're not photogenic. It might sound like an insult, but if you think about it for .25 seconds, it just means: you're better looking to the world than you are in the mirror. At least that's what I tell myself, a person who consistently looks bizarre in photos.
Of course, an unflattering iPhone picture taken at 2am is one thing, but an unflattering photograph taken by a professional on the day that is supposed to be the happiest and most beautiful of your entire life is something else entirely.
I knew, when I got engaged last winter, that we would not be hiring a wedding photographer. I was not going to pay money to look formally terrible. Knowing that there wouldn't be someone there who thought it was their job to capture a perfectly composed shot of jewel-encrusted Jimmy Choos or force family members into a height-ascending row made the idea of getting my makeup done professionally equally irrelevant. Manually airbrushing your face to oblivion is only worth it if you're banking on some serious photographic evidence, and since I wasn't, I decided that I didn't want to “look weird in real life.” That, actually, was the animating principal of the entire wedding—not looking weird in real life.
My dress was designed by Lyndsey Butler, who, in addition to having Kool-Aid blue hair and the bone structure of a martian princess, is the owner and founder of best-ever leatherwear line Veda. Next year, she’s launching Locke Bride, a line of modern and minimal wedding dresses (clean lines and architectural cuts—no flowers, no lace), so I played guinea pig. In theory, the process was symbiotic, but I definitely got the longer end of the stick: a crêpe column dress that makes me never want to wear a non-custom-made garment ever again in my life.
Since the dress had an “interesting back.” my hair had to be up. If there was a way to do the floppy bun I wear every day without the aid of a faux tortoise shell mini-claw from CVS, I would have just done that, but instead Gilbert De La Cruz from the Mirjam Bayoumi Salon came and gave me a side-parted chignon-type thing. It took him about 20 minutes and ended up looking a little nicer than normal, i.e. what I wanted.
Makeup-wise, I fucked up and somehow forgot to bring concealer, so my signature Benicio del Toro undereye circles remained un-camouflaged, as did a pretty decently sized pimple on my forehead. I wore Face Stockholm Veil Lipstick in Cranberry and their Tinted Mineral Moisturizer in Nyans 2 and a swipe of Nars The Multiple in Malibu on my cheeks. There wasn't anybody at the wedding who hadn't seen me in glasses or sweatpants, so it wasn't like some magical combination of beauty products was going to trick anyone anyways.
The lipstick definitely came off within an hour, as did, I'm sure, the blush. I'd say the chief success of the evening's look is that at no point did I feel the need to take out my contact lenses. I didn't think about my hair or makeup or dress once all night. To me this is the definition of corporeal self-confidence: forgetting that you have a body and/or face. In that sense, I'd say the night was a home run.
A friend brought dozens of disposable cameras to the wedding, and the photos came back a few weeks ago. In one, it looks like I'm explaining the etiology of a disgusting new disease; in another, I'm reacting to something I no longer remember with unbridled horror. There is somehow only one picture that includes both me and my best friend (I'm swallowing something and she's laughing at me). Leon, my now-husband, gamely kept his suit jacket on all night and as a result appears slicked with sweat. His glasses also look like transition lenses—not sure why.
But all in all, people are laughing and dancing and eating and gesticulating wildly. A good percentage of the guests are barefoot. Everyone looks like they're having a lot of fun, which is why we bothered with the whole thing in the first place.
Photos courtesy of the author.