I was never one of those girls who grew up dreaming about their wedding day.
I never had a scrapbook of pictures I had cut out of magazines. I never watched funny, romantic wedding movies. It just wasn’t something I ever thought about.
That is, until, I became engaged to my longtime partner, Mathew. When Mat perfectly proposed to me overlooking our local beach in April 2016, we had already been dating for seven years. I knew he and I would get married one day but I never really imagined what our wedding day would be like let alone what dress I would wear.
Mat and I were in no rush to get married (we enjoyed a leisurely two-year engagement) so we spent the first six months floating on cloud nine (it was heavenly and overwhelmingly joyful – in fact, I wasn’t prepared for just how happy our family, friends and work colleagues would be for us). After six months or so, Mat and I began discussing what would our wedding day look like and more importantly, what marriage meant to us.
From the outset, we decided an intimate destination wedding was “us”. We researched multiple venues throughout South East Asia (where we often travel to together) but we settled on The Shangri-La Resort & Spa, Boracay Island, Philippines. Being situated on a private beach (the ocean is a part of our daily lives) and with me also being half-Filipino, it was the perfect fit.
Once our wedding venue was booked, what followed was 18 months of planning and prep. Now, let’s be honest: Weddings can be a logistical nightmare especially if project management isn’t your full-time day job (lucky for me, it is for my now-husband) but what I found the most surprising of being a bride was how much I enjoyed it. I mean, I really, really loved it.
In the lead up to my wedding day, it dawned on me it was likely the one time in my life I was “allowed” to put myself first. For once, I could be truly indulgent and I didn’t feel guilty for making time to do a work out or disappearing for hours at a time to get a facial.
Throughout the entire process, I took note of, well, everything. And, as someone whose day job involves being invested in skin, cosmetics and fragrance, I’ll be perfectly honest with you: even for me, it was a lot of work. But if not now, then when?
Here’s exactly what I did…
24 MONTHS OUT
When Mat and I became engaged, my hair was shoulder length. I decided to grow it out immediately to give myself more options come our wedding day. I had regular trims (which for me is every 3 months because I’m
lazy low-maintenance when it comes to my hair). My hair stylist Remington Schulz at Sydney’s Edwards & Co looked after me; and I used a hair mask once a week (usually Oribe or David Mallett).
I wanted to have perfect teeth on my wedding day (I had terrible, crooked teeth as a teenager – kids teased me and called me “Bucky Beaver” – so it’s always been a spot of insecurity for me). I decided to see Dr. Stephen Moate at Northside Orthodontics in Balgowlah. Invisalign is a commitment (in terms of both time and money) but what I loved most about it was how discreet it is. Most people, including my own friends, didn’t know I wore clear aligners for almost 18 months and I was able to be 100 per cent confident on my wedding day wearing my best accessory: my smile.
12 MONTHS OUT
I’ll be honest with you. One year before our wedding, I wasn’t in great shape. My business had taken priority and my health had not. I was working 14 hour days, 6 days a week, and not making any time for me to exercise. Twelve months out from our wedding day, I decided I needed to stop with the excuses and make more me time. In the past, my body has responded well to reformer pilates but I had struggled to find a studio and an instructor on Sydney’s Northern Beaches who could challenge me – that is until I signed up at Vive Active.
Vive Active is reformer pilates like you’ve never known it before. Combining synchronised light and sound (think ’90s hip hop), I quickly became addicted to Vive and I started training 3-4 times a week. I loved it. Mat also signed up and we started doing couples workouts together before our wedding. As I’m 5’3″ and naturally petite, I didn’t want to lose weight and I was mindful that becoming busy or stressed close to the wedding could cause me to lose weight without realising. I didn’t want that to happen. Instead, pilates toned my body, increased my strength and defined my muscles in a way that still kept my physique feminine. I also wanted to find a form of exercise that wouldn’t just be a wedding goal; I wanted to make a lifestyle change and I love that I’ve been able to continue training at Vive well beyond our wedding.
9 MONTHS OUT
Skin. It’s one of the biggest concerns for any bride – perhaps equally as important as The Dress. When our complexion is clear, we feel our best, confident selves. For me, I wanted to my skin to be reflecting so much glow that my husband-to-be could barely see me coming down the aisle! Kidding. But, not really.
As our skin operates on a 28-day cell cycle turnover, I began diligently scheduling facial appointments. Nine months out from the big day, I saw this as only nine opportunities I was able to truly improve the health, texture and tone of my skin.
Jocelyn Petroni has looked after my skin for almost ten years. Jocelyn put me on a course of Omnilux red light therapy, which my skin loves. I began having facials with Jocelyn every month, which included a combination of Reiki, Shiatsu and Lymphatic drainage massage to increase blood circulation. Jocelyn’s facials open the heart chakra, which allowed me to release any stress or tension (I told you it’s the one time you’re allowed to be indulgent and not feel guilty for it!). Each appointment, Jocelyn created custom facials for me depending on my skin during that time – I had a lot of fruit enzyme peels, lactic acid, AHAs, BHAs, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
6 MONTHS OUT
Once I was 6 months out, I started having one facial every fortnight (excessive, I know!). I also had a few Sodashi facials and I saw Joanna Newham for a facial the week before my wedding.
At home, I started using a retinol product every few days (nighttime only). HydroPeptide Nimni Cream and Alpha-H Beauty Sleep Power Peel were my go-to’s and my skin responded well to them resulting with plump, glowing skin the next morning after use. On other nights, I would use SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, Ole Henriksen Banana Bright Eye Cream followed by a deeply nourishing facial oil (Go-To Face Hero and Korres Wild Rose Brightening Oil were my saviours). I would also take a bit more time and care with my application and really massage each product in – something we don’t do enough of.
During the day, my skin care routine looked like this: SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, Ultraceuticals MD Brightening Serum and La Mer The Moisturising Soft Creme with Mecca To Save Face SPF 50+ to finish. On Sunday evenings, I did a face mask at home (Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery PowerFoil Mask or SK-II Facial Treatment Mask).
I was mindful not to test any new products less than four weeks before my wedding in case of possible adverse reactions.
1 MONTH OUT
I had already asked my dear friends Remington Schulz (hair stylist) and Ania Milczarczyk (makeup artist) to look after me on my wedding day. Because both of them have done my hair and makeup numerous times before I didn’t need to have a hair & makeup trial. If you aren’t able to get your hair and makeup done by someone you know and trust, I would strongly advise having a trial two months before.
1 WEEK OUT
The day before we left Sydney and flew to the Philippines, I scheduled an appointment with lash queen, Amy Jean. I find lash extensions too high-maintenance (they annoy me after a couple of days) so I decided on what I believe is not just the next best thing but even better: Lash Elevate. Think of it as a perm for your eyelashes.
I booked a brow appointment with my brow guru, Lien Davies; and I had a naked manicure with Jocelyn Petroni so my nails would be shaped to perfection and ready for polish (CHANEL Le Vernis in Ballerina) on the day.
I’m naturally tanned so didn’t require a spray tan but my bridesmaids had St. Tropez spray tans a couple of days before.
ON THE DAY
The morning of my wedding day was perfect. I look back on it with such fond memories and I’m grateful for the time I shared with my tribe of incredible women. I slept soundly the night before and woke up just before 6 o’clock. I spent 30 minutes meditating. My best friend and bridesmaid Gabriella is a yoga teacher so she taught a beautiful, heart-opening practice. After yoga, I had an ocean swim before a beautiful light and healthy breakfast with my bridesmaids and mum. We started hair and makeup five hours before the ceremony.
For my makeup, I asked my friend and makeup artist Ania for the “Ania glow” – this is her signature. Ania is an editorial makeup artist and doesn’t usually do weddings but I was lucky she made the exception for me.
We kept my skin dewy, natural and looking like skin using Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturiser, La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer Foundation (what I refer to as my “special occasion foundation”) and M.A.C Studio Conceal & Correct Palette. On cheeks, Laura Mercier ‘Blushing’ from the Enlightement Eye & Cheek Palette. For a subtle contour, M.A.C Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Powder in Give Me Sun was swept just underneath cheekbones while Becca and Tom Ford highlighters made my skin glow – as did a mix of metallic, neutral M.A.C eyeshadows. I also requested waterproof mascara (for obvious reasons). For lips, I chose my favourite lip colour (which I also wore to our engagement party): CHANEL Rouge Allure Ink in Amoureux – I picked it because it’s the perfect pink and I knew it would stay all night. For touch ups during the day and night, I kept La Prairie Skin Caviar Essence-In-Foundation SPF 25 in a purse, which I had monogrammed with my married initials from The Daily Edited.
For my hair, I wanted to look like the best version of myself. Remington created loose, tousled waves for a relaxed and feminine feel that complemented both my personality and the tropical island setting. We used a mix of Oribe, La Biosthetique and OUAI (the Memory Mist).
When it comes to fragrance, this was possibly the hardest decision I had to make throughout my entire wedding prep. No joke. I found the entire wedding planning process fun and easy but selecting the wedding fragrance was another thing. As a beauty editor, I have smelled just about every scent. The wonderful thing about fragrance is that it’s connected directly with our olfactory (the part of our brain associated with memory), which is why every time you smell a certain aroma you’re immediately flooded with memories of that summer in ’02, baking cookies with your grandmother or running around the garden sprinkler with your siblings.
I felt a lot of pressure to find the perfect fragrance – one I had never worn before so that I could forever associate it with my wedding day. To help end my search, I made an appointment with the fragrance expert at MECCA’s boutique in The Strand and got to work smelling. I couldn’t possibly choose one and I realised I didn’t have to. I chose two: Byredo La Tulipe for the ceremony (also investing in the hand cream and hair perfume for triple the goodness) and Grandiflora Madagascan Jasmine for the reception (jasmine is one of my favourite scents and because it’s a night-blooming white flower and we were married in an exotic destination, I knew it would be perfect). I also purchased a fragrance specifically for our honeymoon (Le Labo Lys 41), which was printed with my married name. On the day, Mat wore Tom Ford Oud Wood, which he also gifted to his Best Man and Groomsmen.
And, because I also wanted a scent our guests would remember our special day by, each of them was gifted a Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt cologne. I also burned a matching Wood Sage & Sea Salt candle whilst I was getting ready the morning of my wedding day – this kept me grounded and connected.
If it’s your skin you want to prioritise, book an appointment with an experienced skin expert for an in-depth consultation. Work closely with them on a long-term plan and stick with an at-home skincare regimen for at least 4-6 months.
And above all, enjoy the ride – it’s truly wonderful and it happens so fast.