How To Wear Red Lipstick on Your Wedding Day


It doesn't have to be scary

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

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I was never a lipstick person. As a teenager learning about makeup, my only exposure to the stuff was when my mom would hand off unflattering (on her at least) shades of twenty-four-hour longwear lip product, which sucked the moisture out of everything it touched and left my perpetually chapped lips splotchy and uneven. Figuring that all lipsticks were probably the same, I devoted myself to a tube of Burt’s Bees and spent the next decade writing myself off as A Person Who Could Not Carry Lip Color. But then I started working for APW, where I occasionally get to hang out with super talented makeup artists, and I soon realized that I’d been missing out. Lipstick is amazing stuff (once you find the right kind, in the right shade. But that’s half the fun). Lipstick provides all the impact of wearing a lot of makeup, without actually having to put on a lot of makeup, which is great for the super femme #lazygirls in the house, like me. Plus it has the added power of making you feel like a badass in under a minute.

But this isn’t a PSA to convert you to wearing lipstick. On the contrary, if you don’t normally wear lipstick in your daily life, let alone red lipstick, your wedding is probably not the time to start. And why would you? You want to look like yourself. But if you do wear lipstick now and then (or want to get bolder with it) and are thinking that might apply to the wedding too, but need a little push in the right direction, then we’ve rounded up some of the Internet’s best tips and inspiration that will put you firmly in the “I got this” category. Because if Solange can do it, so you can you, right?

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1. Seeing Red

It took me a lot of sampling (and returning) products before I found the lipstick I liked the best (currently Maybelline Color Sensational Vivids in On Fire Red, available for around $8 at most pharmacies). But I was surprised to find that price didn’t always correlate to quality. After seeing it on a friend, I went out and bought a thirty-dollar Tarte lipstick at Sephora that was supposed to be super moisturizing, but that ended up all over my face when I tried to eat. (Maybe cheeseburgers were a bad idea, but still. I can’t put my life on hold for makeup.) If you don’t want to subject yourself to the hassle of trial and error, both Oh Happy Day and A Cup of Jo conducted lipstick challenges last year that remove any need for in-person testing. See the results of Jordan’s test of forty different lipsticks here (including her top twelve picks) and check out Joanna Goddard’s four-weeks of lipstick here, here, here, and here. The Beauty Department also has great tips for choosing a red that matches your skin tone.

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2. Make It Last All Night

I partly avoided lipstick for so long because it seemed like such high-maintenance makeup. Who wants to wear something that needs to be reapplied every few hours? But I’ve since learned a few tricks that not only help maximize lipstick’s longevity, but that also make it more partner-friendly (and don’t involve the gross twenty-four hour stuff of my childhood). Of course, if you’re worried about lipstick rubbing off on your partner during the ceremony, you can always go bare for the ceremony and add red lipstick for the reception. But if you’ve got your heart set on red lipstick all day and all night, try this technique from The Beauty Department:

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1. First apply a lip liner in the same shade as your lipstick all over your lips.

2. Blot with a tissue

3. Apply a translucent powder all over your lips

4. Repeat the process.

Layering in this way helps lipstick stay on longer (thanks to the lip liner) and prevents it from rubbing off (thanks to the powder.) If all of this sounds like way too much work than it’s worth, you can always forgo lipstick for lip stain, which has the staying power without the effort.

3. The Red Wedding

I think one of the misconceptions about wearing red lipstick at your wedding is that it’s going to look R-E-D. But not all reds are created equal and you won’t know how you look in lipstick until you try. But to give you an idea, I rounded up a smattering of smokin’ hot ladies rocking red lipstick at their weddings and making it look easy:

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1. Photo by Eyes and Hart via A Practical Wedding 2. Elissa R. Photography via A Practical Wedding 3. Randolph Quan via A Practical Wedding 4. Morgan Trinker via Green Wedding Shoes 5. Laura Hotz via Green Wedding Shoes 6. Next Exit Photography via Style Me Pretty 7. Christa Elyce Photography via Bridal Musings 8. Monica Roy via A Practical Wedding 9. Readyluck via Rock ‘N Roll Bride, makeup by Jennifer Tanko (This one’s a styled shoot, but it’s so damn pretty.) 10. Amanda Summerlin via A Practical Wedding 11. Lindsay Docherty Photography via Style Me Pretty 12. Tavistock Avenue Photography via Love My Dress 13. Zachary Hunt via A Practical Wedding 14. Phil Chester via 100 Layer Cake

Have a hair, makeup, or style related question for the apw staff? Leave it in the comments or email team (at) apracticalwedding (dot) com.

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • CS

    I had my hair and make up trial on Saturday before my hen party (bachelorette) and my make up person used a YSL lip varnish thing that was incredibly glossy and not drying but stayed on for well over 8 hours through a whole lot of drinking and eating! Definitely plan on using it for the wedding http://www.sephora.com/rouge-pur-couturevernis-a-levres-glossy-stain-P304003?skuId=1395243

  • TeaforTwo

    I wore Mac’s Ruby Woo red-red-red bright lip for my wedding, and I loved it. It stayed put pretty well, and I think I only had to touch it up once?

    I’m a big fan of a bright lip for wedding looks:
    1. For most of the day, people are going to be seeing you from kind of far away: during the ceremony, toasts, etc. and so while you don’t want your makeup to be completely over the top, it’s performing a liiiitle bit of a stage makeup function and helping people see your face from the back of the church.
    2. I smiled more on my wedding day than I ever have before: bright red lipstick highlights a big bright smile and makes it look good.

    • cashela

      I adore Ruby Woo. It’s pretty much universally great on everyone.

  • Sarah E

    I’m generally good at figuring out my style options and running with them. However, one thing I’m spending a lot more time ruminating is Makeup + Glasses for the wedding. I spent ages 13 through 25 wearing contacts, so all of my prime makeup learning and experimenting was done when I could actually see my face without obstacles to painting it. My vision is really limited, so when I went back to wearing glasses full time, I stopped wearing makeup almost entirely. Now I’m learning how to do it again, working with things that don’t need to be precise (alas, cat-eye), because I absolutely cannot see my face clearly unless it is inches from the mirror, precluding putting a brush/pencil between the mirror and myself.

    I’ve generally never been a lipstick girl, though I love the bold look, just for the sheer maintenance. But will a bold eye be lost behind my glasses? Will my eye shadow/liner melt away just as quickly as lipstick would? Should I go for a less bold work to avoid the maintenance and melting entirely? And all of this on top of the meditation on wearing makeup as a feminist and what it means to me.

    • kate

      i wouldn’t let your glasses deter you from a bolder look if that’s what you decide.
      e.g. looks how cool this chick looks with her cat eye, bold lips, and glasses!
      http://theglitterguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/winged-liner-and-bright-lips-glasses-e1353937534643.jpg

      and if you do want to really do it up, you could always hire an artist/go to a salon to just do a partial face on the parts you can’t do so well glasses-less?

    • Cold Canadian

      You will look fab! What has worked for me, and may work for you, is focusing on a simple dramatic eye (nude eye shadow, liner and lots of mascara) and a fun lip. That way there is a bit of balance between your glasses and lips, and nothing is THE focus.

      • Sarah E

        I like that thought. The wedding is in May, and I try not to go very shadow-heavy in the warmer months anyway,

    • up_at_Dawn

      Fellow glasses wearer here!

      I find that I need to go bolder on the eye make-up when I am wearing my glasses, or it sort of disappears on my face as soon as I put my glasses on. So my vote is for bold eyes with glasses, but that’s just what has worked for me. Maybe experiment with make-up and glasses before the wedding?

      Would you feel comfortable/be able to afford to have someone do it for you?

      • Sarah E

        For my wedding, I’ll definitely do it myself, for cost and control. But I’ve been thinking of heading to Sephora to try some stuff and have the staff there help me with colors and products.

        • up_at_Dawn

          I’m also planning on doing my own (for the same reasons). Sephora seems like a good place to start.

    • InTheBurbs

      I highly recommend a magnifying mirror. I can’t see with detail more than a foot away – and the magnifying mirror that extends from the wall is my lifesaver.

  • D

    I’m considering wearing a very deep berry, pink-purple lipstick for my wedding, but doubting whether to wear it to ceremony as well.

    • Rhie

      If you’re not sure how you feel about the color, I would pick a day when you don’t have anywhere interesting to go and just wear it–if it’s not your usual color, it will give you a chance to get used to how you look in it and how it wears–does it come off on everything, does it dry your lips out, all that fun stuff. Lipstick is hands down my favorite makeup item and I wear it every day, but even so, I almost always do this kind of trial run if I’m planning on wearing a new color for a big event. If it’s a concern about wearing a bright color at a solemn occasion, I would definitely agree with what TeaforTwo said below–most people will be seeing you from far away at the ceremony and even the reception, so a bright color on your lips can really pop :)

  • Moe

    I was a crimson-lipped bride. :D Lady Danger by MAC.

  • I never ever wear lipstick, although I usually wear a berry lip stain with chapstick. I really wanted dramatic red lips for our wedding, so I left in the hands of the super talented Ani Bruno of NYC faces. She brought a ton of different color options and suggested one that made sense with my skin tone. I’ve been slowly using down the tube she gave me for touch ups over the last 2 years, because I have no clue what brand or shade it is!

    • Sarah E

      That color looks great with your purple cardi, too!

  • Emily Layman Perkins

    I wore super dark red lip stain for my wedding and loved it! (http://theeverylastdetail.com/eclectic-intimate-savannah-wedding/)

    I hate lipstick that comes off all over everything and have been using stains for years because of that. They’re nice, but I still find they soak into my lips a little unevenly. About a year ago though, I discovered Stila’s liquid lipstick and I pink puffy heart love this stuff! (https://www.birchbox.com/shop/stila-stay-all-day-lipstick) They have a gorgeous matte red that looks so rich and velvety and stays SO WELL without drying out much.

  • Kayjayoh

    Hilariously, I totally can’t remember if I wore my old stand-by red (the only color I wear: a fabulous discontinued Oil of Olay from the late 90s which totally evokes the 30s/40s. I have two tubes and will cry when they are gone) or if I just wore my Burt’s Bees lipgloss in fig. I usually will start out with the lipstick and then transition over the the gloss as time wears on, since I can reapply the gloss w/o looking and it fits in a pocket. That is *probably* what I did. But honestly, IDK.

  • Maggie V

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/282741682832219451/
    I wore Nars Heatwave for my wedding, and did my own hair and makeup (I’m a hairdresser).

    • BB

      love your veil! do you remember where you got it?

      • Maggie V

        It was a custom veil made by my seamstress from tulle we removed from my skirt. It’s a very basic juliette-cap veil.

  • Lindsey d.

    I rocked red on my wedding day! Specifically, Tarte Glamazon in Wild (I didn’t… and still don’t… have any… any problem keeping it in place while eating).

    • Maddie Eisenhart

      I’m impressed! It ended up literally all over my face. Maybe I’m just not cut out for the good stuff. :)

  • Fox & Doll

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! I work with lots of brides that choose red for their wedding day and it makes me so happy to see. Extra tip – exfoliate your lips first! I use my Coconut Sugar Lip Scrub but you can whip up your own version with some olive oil or honey and sugar.

  • I have been on a quest for red lipstick that 1) looks good on me and 2) isn’t sticky and stays for hours without moving (like L’Oréal Infallible lip colour, which someone on here mentioned close to a year ago and I fell in love with one of those- 520- and then they altered the colours and changed them and the my-lips-but-better colour is different now and no longer looks good on me. I bought out all the old ones I could find, but my supply is running low. And I have yet to find the perfect red. And a non-drying, non-toxic, eco-friendly-ish one woudl be great. But I think I must be asking for too much because I am not sure that it exists…(at least in my drugstore-ish proce range). I will have to follow these links though and see if I might find a lead! Thanks!!

  • Name

    I often wear red lipstick and I knew I wanted to wear it on my wedding day. My makeup artist applied a red lipstick that lasted through the entire wedding, however, I regret not using my standby long-wear lipstick, instead. The traditional lipstick I wore rubbed off on my veil and new husband, not a concern for my drugstore long-wear lipstick. I 100% recommend wearing red lipstick, but I’d recommend an inexpensive, long-wear style that allows you to reapply gloss at your convenience. That way, you don’t have to think about leaving your mark on clothing, napkins, or loved ones and you can just enjoy the day.

  • jubeee

    I’m a big fan of red and will be wearing it on my wedding as well. I’m choosing a darker color, Redwood by Aveda which is one of my favorite shades and perfect for my autumn wedding.

  • Cayla Mella

    My name is cayla from Australia my boyfriend left me a month ago and he was leaving with another woman,i fell like my life is completely over. I read over the internet how this man called Dr Camara of (camaralovespell@live.com) have help several people to get there love back. I have been depresed for the past one month and what i need is to get him back and live with me so i decided to give it a try so i contacted Dr Camara for help and explain my problems to him and he cast a spell for me which i use to get my boyfriend back and now my life is complete and i am throughly greatful to this man,his contact email camaralovespell@live.com Thank you very much and i am extremely greatful CAMARALOVESPELL@LIVE.COM

    • Stephan Gardner

      If you love someone, you don’t need them back. If you do, you’re distorting reality with delusional fantasies. Get help.

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  • Melissa the Researcher

    “I can’t put my life on hold for makeup.” I loooove an excellent lipstick, but Maddie, you get a big ol’ fistbump for this one. Cheeseburgers > lipstick, every time. :)

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  • J bor

    i really enjoyed the article.my fiance did the same lipstick design mentiond above for our wedding and i simply fell in love with it. also if any of you are looking for some help on purchasing apocket friendly engagenment ring call my buddy joseph at 212 391 1888 he ships internationaly.

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