Most brides will tell you that planning a wedding is a complete circus, but as a recent newlywed, I enjoyed every second of it. For me and my husband, it became a lesson in building a life together, not just how to throw a party — tackling the disagreements, prioritizing, celebrating the small moments, even the trivial mishaps that are bound to happen. On our wedding day, for instance, I walked down the longest aisle in Chicago without my bouquet (the white peonies were somewhere, forgotten, on the trolley). My veil fell off. We almost forgot our first kiss. But it was the most celebrated and memorable day of our lives. In hindsight, I certainly could have delegated more, slept more, and stressed less, but there’s one aspect of the wedding planning that I wouldn’t change: skincare and medical aesthetics.
Six months before the wedding, my skin was lackluster, tired-looking, and needed a steady boost of hydration. I decided on three skincare goals I wanted to tackle before the big day: even out tone and texture, get my dull skin glowing, and clear up hormonal breakouts.
I also had medical aesthetic goals, and worked with a plastic surgeon to incorporate injectable treatments into my pre-wedding plan. Scheduling all my skincare and aesthetics appointments took some time and effort, but it was well worth it. Here’s what I learned about building a routine for the most important — and photographed! — day of our lives.
6 Months: Revamped Skincare Routine
Normally, I’ll rotate products in and out of my regimen. But ahead of my wedding, I was hesitant to do anything drastic, and my approach stayed simple — tried and true cleansers, toners, serums, and moisturizers. I’m a fan of an oil cleanser, and the Caudalie® Makeup Removing Cleansing Oil ($28) has always been a standby, typically followed by the brand’s Gentle Cleansing Milk ($28) to leave my skin clean and pores refined.
I’m also prone to hormonal breakouts and have constant acne around my mouth and chin. That changed around the six-month countdown when chemical exfoliants became my best friend. Today, I use the SkinCeuticals® Glycolic 10 Overnight Renew ($80). However, during the dry winter months (and with fear of purging my skin too close to the big day), I swiped Glossier® Solution ($24) across my freckled face. This milder product uses lactic acid and lower concentrations of AHAs and BHAs, and cleared my breakouts entirely — I haven’t looked back.
Morning and night, I followed it with SkinMedica® HA⁵ Rejuvenating Hydrator® ($120) for hydration. And because I prefer a “dewy prep” a la makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes under my foundation, Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich ($35) was my go-to moisturizer during the day, topped with SuperGoop!® Unseen Sunscreen® ($32) and Weleda® Skin Food ($11) on the high points of my cheeks. At night, I reached for the ever-emollient Mario Badescu® Caviar Night Cream ($22) as my finishing step.
5 Months: Monthly Facials
Working with a skincare professional was non-negotiable for me. I worked with Virginia McIntosh, an esthetician at Majewski Plastic Surgery & SpaTM outside of Memphis, with whom I booked a few in-office procedures, including regular facials. For a long time, facials were an added luxury for me, rather than a budgeted part of my skincare routine. But five months out, I began scheduling them monthly. Given my lifestyle changes, added stress and travel, they truly helped remove toxins, prevent breakouts, and of course aid in the absorption of my skincare routine.
The Intraceuticals® Oxygen Facial was a staple. According to McIntosh, it’s not only perfect as a routine treatment, but the instant results and lack of downtime also make it ideal for pre-event hydration and radiance. “Oxygen reduces inflammation and helps drive vitamins and hyaluronic acid into the skin for a hydrated, youthful look,” she says. “It also creates the perfect canvas for makeup application.”
3-4 Months: Microneedling
A top priority for me was to improve texture and maximize that lit-from-within glow. McIntosh suggested in-office microneedling, a procedure that makes a series of tiny pinpricks in the skin, lifting and tightening by encouraging its collagen production.
“The treatment stimulates collagen and turns on your body’s own healing process,” McIntosh says. “It’s the ideal treatment for brides because it addresses a variety of skin issues, including fine lines, wrinkles, acne scars, large pores, and uneven tone and texture.”
For that bridal glow, she suggested a series of two to three treatments starting at three to four months in advance. If you have scarring to address and a rougher skin texture than most, she advises four to six treatments (scheduled six to 10 months in advance). Scheduling microneedling treatments took a bit more planning on my end, given the recovery time and wedding-related activities I had set up, but I made it work.
After my treatment, my skin looked like I had an awful sunburn. My complexion was ultra sensitive (as it’s essentially producing new, baby skin), so I loaded up with my beloved SkinMedica HA⁵ Rejuvenating Hydrator every few hours. Still, I experienced about three days of flakiness before it was replaced with new tissue. It was all worth it: after about a week, my skin was smoother than ever, my pores looked smaller, and I was counting down the days until my next treatment.
1-2 Months: Injectables
Smoother foreheads and fuller cheeks on your wedding day are rarely the result of active ingredients. Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles, while injectable filler can temporarily replace volume loss. I’ve found that even among friends, the ubiquitous topic of injectables is hush hush — taboo for some and swept under the rug for others. In the name of diminishing that taboo surrounding cosmetic injectables, I’m an open book.
[Editor’s note: Injectable wrinkle reducers temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face, including the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet; they should not be used more frequently than every three months. Injectable filler is a temporary treatment that adds volume to areas of the face such as the lips, cheeks, and laugh lines. Like any medical treatment, both injectable wrinkle reducers and injectable fillers have potential risks and side effects. Talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. And learn more now by chatting with a trained aesthetic specialist.]
Most of us want to look smoother, and I’m of the opinion that if you like the results of something, go for it. So my decision to try injectable wrinkle reducers and fillers didn’t come from a conversation with peers — or my now-husband who dislikes the thought. It came after plenty of research and questions to a board-certified plastic surgeon, W. Tomasz Majewski, MD.
I’m only 27, but I have always furrowed my brows — in the sun, staring at a computer, putting on makeup — and wanted a smoother appearance for the wedding. Dr. Majewski skillfully injected wrinkle reducer between my brows, as well as filler in my cheeks to add volume where it had been lost.
“With the proper use of injectable neuromodulators, it’s possible to [temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe] dynamic wrinkles without changing the overall facial appearance,” explains Dr. Majewski. That was our goal, after all: “tweakments” that would produce subtle-looking results and keep me looking like, well, me. (My husband, by the way, didn’t notice a thing.)
As a first-timer, I preferred my treatment a bit in advance (two months out), but Dr. Majewski suggests receiving injectable wrinkle reducer closer to your wedding. “I usually recommend injection of a wrinkle reducer three to four weeks before the big day,” he says. “It allows any bruising, which is unpredictable, to resolve by then. At the same time, the injected products are at the peak of activity.” For fillers, he recommends a timing of four to six weeks before the wedding.
1 Month: Final Aesthetics Treatments
About four weeks before our wedding, I went back to McIntosh for my final microneedling treatment. Post-procedure, I was vigilant about applying SkinMedica HA⁵ Rejuvenating Hydrator and hiding from the sun. This time, the downtime was much shorter, and about seven days post-treatment, my skin felt tighter, brighter, and some hyperpigmentation had even lightened.
With only a few weeks to go, my stress was being replaced with excitement. I was thrilled with my skin — deflated and dull no longer, I’d tackled my hormonal breakouts and loved the more even tone and texture I was seeing.
Week Of: Finishing Touches
I booked a dermaplaning treatment one week before the wedding to gently scrape off that top layer of peach fuzz and prime my skin for what was, in my opinion, the ultimate in results-driven facials: the Biologique Recherche® Healthy Glow Facial at the Peninsula Hotel℠ in Chicago.
If you’ve ever-tried the French company’s cult favorite acid-based toner, Lotion P50TM, then you know the brand is known for its high concentrations of active ingredients. Truthfully, getting a facial with these products had me a bit nervous three days before the wedding. But the brand also ascribes to the methodology that skincare is a collaborative effort.
“Biologique Recherche believes in the ‘skin instant,’ which is the idea that skin is constantly changing based on a variety of factors including diet, stress, pollution, etc.,” says Sherri Copanzzi, spa director at the Peninsula Chicago. “Because of this, their methodology is rooted in hyper-customization.” I was assured the 60-minute facial would be so bespoke and gentle on my skin, I would be able to get married the same day (with a clear complexion!) if I wanted to.
After an in-depth analysis, my esthetician deeply cleansed and exfoliated my skin, performed a lifting massage, and applied a cocktail of customized anti-aging serums, and a cold algae green clay mask. I walked out with visibly restored, smoother, and younger-looking skin.
Our wedding weekend was something I wish I could relive daily. Those trivial details (the monogrammed pajamas, the napkin choices, the vintage place settings), were stunning, but in the end, they didn’t really matter. What I will remember is how we both felt that day — happy, in love, supported and, ultimately, ecstatic with the look of my skin and the results of my treatments.
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