Standing before the altar, the bride and groom had exchanged vows and turned to face the congregation for the first time as husband and wife. A photographer, his camera at the ready, took one look at the bride and froze.
She looked awful. She had cried throughout the ceremony, and her mascara had left horrible black streaks all down her face.
Caren Lazarus, owner of Design Visage Inc. in Orange, recounts the tale with a shudder. As a makeup artist who specializes in brides, Lazarus sees that such wedding woes are avoided.
"Many brides think they look good until they get the photos," Lazarus says. Then they see themselves looking pale or with shiny cheeks and foreheads.
"There's a different type of makeup for weddings," she says.
Not only must the bride look good for the camera, she must look pretty in person--often for eight or 10 hours at a stretch. Lazarus has devised techniques to keep a bride's makeup in place for the camera and the congregation.
"I've even had it survive major cake," she says.
Her make-overs actually begin a month before the wedding day, when she sits down with the bride for an hourlong preview consultation.
Marcy Newcomb, a 27-year-old bride-to-be from Tustin, hired Lazarus because she felt uneasy about doing her own makeup for her wedding.
"I don't want to worry about how to put on my makeup that day," Newcomb says, perched on a high director's chair as Lazarus went to work on her face. "I can put on my makeup for work but I don't know if I can do it for cameras and a wedding."
In their determination to look beautiful, brides can encounter many pitfalls, according to Lazarus.
"The biggest mistake I see is brides who want to put on sparkly blush and eye shadow," she says. When the brides get their wedding pictures back, they see light reflecting from their faces: The flash of the camera boomerangs off of the iridescent powder.
"There should be no frost on the face at all," Lazarus says. "You have to stay very matte."
Some brides have glaring foreheads and cheeks in photographs--the result of perspiring throughout the long day.
"With nerves, that hot dress and all that running around, everybody shines," she says.
Lazarus asks her brides to wear no moisturizer the morning of the wedding. She begins her make-overs by lightly sponging a thin water-based foundation all over the face, then dusting the complexion with an oil-free powder to absorb oil and set the makeup.
"The brides can't be shiny," she says. She recommends that brides keep powder on hand for periodic touch-ups during the day.
Wearing lip gloss is another common bridal blunder because it, too, draws and reflects the camera's light. She fills in the lips with a lip pencil that has a matte consistency, then lightly applies a matte lipstick.
"She can kiss the groom or drink champagne and it will go nowhere," she says. "I use a lot of pencil and very little lipstick so when she kisses the groom, he won't come away with bright pink lipstick."
She applies blush high on the apple of the cheeks, two finger widths away from the nose so the focal point remains on the eyes.
Eyebrows are thickened by brushing them with a matching powder, then finished with a brow gel so they stay in place. Finally, she brushes eyelashes with a waterproof mascara with a gel base that won't run. Her choice for brides: Cover Girl Lasting Performance.
"It will never come off," she says.
For Newcomb, Lazarus chooses a plum-tone eye shadow to complement the bride's green eyes, brushing it under the brow bone and keeping the darkest point at the outer corner of the eye to enhance their almond shape. She uses bright pink lipstick and a pink blush liven up Newcomb's fair complexion.
"I looked pale" is the most common complaint Lazarus hears from brides who did their own makeup.
"Most brides aren't used to putting enough makeup on to compete with their princess attire. By the time the ceremony starts they have no blush. They're all washed out."
In order to compete with glittering gowns and headpieces, brides usually need more makeup than they're accustomed to wearing and Newcomb had trouble adjusting to the heavier makeup.
"Is it too much?" she wondered, peering into a hand mirror.
Then she tried on her veil. With those poufs of white netting framing her face, the makeup suddenly seemed less conspicuous.
"It really makes a difference once you put the veil on," Newcomb says.
Lazarus spends each Saturday traveling from bride to bride in Orange County and the South Bay. She handles as many as 10 to 15 weddings in a single day.
"We see everything from the very casual bride to absolute hysterics," she says. "You're at a very important part of someone's life."
A former marketing representative for Clinique and Estee Lauder, Lazarus would show department store consultants how to do make-overs to promote their makeup lines. The consultants often told her that brides had asked them for someone who could do their makeup on their wedding day. Lazarus recognized the need for a makeup artist who specialized in weddings and started Design Visage in 1986.
Lazarus charges brides $89 for her service, which includes the preview consultation, wedding day make-over and makeup. Make-overs for bridesmaids are $30. For those weddings she cannot attend, Lazarus created a videotape called "The Perfect Bride: Make-up Techniques For Your Wedding."
"It teaches brides how not to make those costly errors," she says.
Lazarus will teach brides how to apply their makeup at a "Beauty and the Bride" seminar from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. June 12 at the Inn at the Park in Anaheim. The cost is $20, and reservations are required. For information, call 800-8-BRIDES.