Planning a wedding can be super stressful, and pulling off the wedding of your dreams can be insanely expensive. From the catering to the flowers to the dress to the invitations, thank you cards, and favors — there are so many little details to remember, and so many bills to pay. Especially with the economy the way it’s been, every penny counts. I could more than identify with this e mail from a bella on a budget.

Let me start by sayin “I TRULY ENJOY THIS WEBSITE” it’s been a blessing…I am not sure if my question will get a response; but I’m going to put it out there regardless. I’m a DARK SKINNED SISTA; planning a wedding on a budget. I would really love to get my makeup done by a professional, but can’t afford it at this time… so I’m going to do it myself. Can anyone direct me in the right direction and provide me the name of the best makeup line for my complexion. I went to Sephora inside JC Penney and was so embarrassed after being told that they did carry colors for my complexion.. it discouraged me from going into another store. Please help !!!

New Beginnings

Hey New Beginnings, let me just start out by saying CONGRATULATIONS!!! Weddings are so wonderful, and I know exactly how excited and nervous you are — that was me six years ago. I needed a wedding on the affordable tip, and in a city like Miami, it ain’t easy. Because I had to do it all myself (ten days after we graduated from college, no less!), I picked up a LOT of tips for planning an affordable wedding.

Here’s a tip for ya — a brunch wedding is cheaper than a dinner wedding, and just as beautiful. Also, that way your ceremony’s over by like 4:30 in the afternoon and you have allll night to enjoy your honeymoon suite!

Let’s talk makeup and I’m gonna be frank — I think the Sephoras inside JC Penney suck. The selection is teeny, and the last time I went there (because the Sephora at Dadeland Mall was closed for construction), they told me they don’t even sell Sephora gift cards. They can only sell JC Penney gift cards. In fact, I’ve left the Sephora at JC Penney disappointed myself, more than once. So while I find it shocking that you went to a cosmetics store that informed you that they don’t carry colors for your complexion (in 2008?? Really??), the fact that it was one of those lame mini-Sephoras makes sense.

New Beginnings, you need to go to a better department store (or a REAL Sephora) for your bridal makeup experience. Normally I am all about drugstore makeup shopping, but for a wedding, I’d advise you invest in a few makeup staples (namely a great concealer, a powder, and perhaps a bronzer or blush), that will last you long after the wedding bells have rung. Don’t worry — you can still hit the drugstore for special-day items like eyeliner and mascara, to save money. Budget is the watchword, but you want to look your best on your special day.

For advice, I turned to my friend and coworker Raina McLeod. Say hello to Raina!

Together, we’re the calendar editors of the Miami New Times. Also, we’ve got our own blogs. You already know about my Pretty in the City — well, Raina writes the sassy sex advice column Magic City Kitty. Check her out for frank answers to your freakiest questions. Meow!

As a glowing, beautiful dark skinned sista herself, I knew Raina would have some really helpful advice for New Beginnings. I didn’t expect that she’d hit so close to a recent product review I did!

I actually don’t use concealer at all, but when I’m feeling like smoothing it out a lil extra, I use Bobbi Brown’s tinted moisturizer. It’s nice n’ light, but gives plenty of coverage and moisture without leaving my skin oily. Then I like Bobbi’s bronzer and blush to finish it off.

I guess I’m a Bobbi girl and didn’t really know it! But I like her stuff, because it enhances my skin tone’s natural glow and NEVER leaves me lookin ashy like MAC and Cover Girl have in the past. I haven’t experimented with a ton of brands, but I would definitely recommend Bobbi Brown to the DARK SKINNED SISTA.”

Co-sign with Raina 110%. I was just raving over Bobbi Brown’s bronze shimmer brick, and seriously, I don’t regret dropping that $40 at all. This bronzer will take you from wedding day fab to everyday office chic to beach goddess gorgeous with minimal effort.

In terms of finding your shade, the moisturizing cream compact foundation comes in shades from alabaster to espresso, and the creamy concealer kit is a smart buy for a bella on a budget — $32 gets you the concealer and an attached sheer finish loose powder to set the concealer. Make a trip to your local Saks or Bloomies or high end department store of choice (ie: not Penney’s) and befriend the makeup artist at Bobbi Brown. They will be more than happy to help you and offer you makeup tips, and — if you wind up wanting to go with a professional perchance, you might even be able to make an appointment for a makeover the morning of your wedding. I always score business cards from makeup artists at department store counters. Many of them would be more than happy for a little portfolio-building side work, I imagine.

While you’re wandering around your fancy department store of choice, don’t bypass the Prescriptives counter. I have loved everything I’ve tried from this line. I promise you, you won’t go wrong with the multi purpose makeup stick SPF 15. It comes in a truly vast range of shades, and at $35, will last you forever.

A concealer stick like this is best used to simply conceal spots and problem areas, then blend, and set your face with powder.

I have not tried this myself, but I hear amazing things about the virtual matte oil control pressed powder, and you should definitely ask your Prescriptives rep to tell you all about the *magic illuminating cream potion for darker skins, which promises to “instantly imparts an image of perfection” via “three-dimensional holographic pigments” Ooh la la. Sounds like something you deserve for your big day, right? Ask your makeup artist if it’s really worth $35. Maybe they’ll even have a sample.

I have tried the blush more or less, and it’s a nice-but-subtle cream blush that will last all wedding long. Try these on when at the store, I think the shade I have is Pink Sand, and it barely stands out on my skin. Which I love for a toned down nude look, but for wedding, you want to glow.

Oooh, New Beginnings, I got some GREAT TIPS for you from a company that’s new to me. Check out deadSEXY cosmetics!

Created by makeup junkie and artist to the stars Thea Mitchell, deadSEXY offers a deliberately concise array of products for a spectrum of beauty, from light to dark. Thea’s most famous clients include Gloria Gaynor, Jill Scott, Amerie and Macy Gray, so that gives you an idea of her skills. She’s got em! deadSEXY offers products by shade, and I think it’s really cool that the products come in trios and duos. The dark concealer trio could be perfect for you, or you could get the foundation samples for $1.98 to choose your ideal shade. Best of all, deadSEXY has a bridal bliss page with all sorts of professional makeup tips for bellas all shades of beautiful. And, videos!! Thea’s deadSEXY YouTube channel hosts a variety of looks. My favorite for a wedding would be Exotic, which involved a bold eye and subdued berrylicious lip.

Of course, Thea’s videos and tips feature her cosmetics line, so you can either purchase her products or just find inspiration in her tutorials and hit the drugstore for your eyeliner and mascara. Even if you use fake lashes, you can buy them at the drugstore — if Halloween store lashes are good enough for makeup artist to the stars Billy B, they’ll be good enough for you.

If you’re seeking additional inspiration, you can see a beautiful range of photos at
African American Temptalia also offers bridal makeup tutorials. I got the photo at the top of the page from The Production Complex, on that very site makeup artist Brooke Young offers wedding makeup tips.

For D-day, I’d advise you to get your eyebrows whipped into shape by a professional, and make sure you’ve got your favorite lipstick/lipgloss, a powder compact, and some good oil blotting sheets in your little wedding day purse. We wouldn’t want you to look anything less than gorgeous on your special day, right?

Congratulations, New Beginnings! I wish you love on your wedding day.

If I had it to do over again, the advice I would give myself would be — Drink in the moment, enjoy the company of your family and friends as much as you can (especially the ones who traveled from far off distances to be with you!), and have a waiter or someone put away a plate of food for you for later! I got so nervous I forgot to eat, and later on I was kicking myself that I didn’t get to enjoy the delicious menu we’d put together. D’oh!

Got any makeup or wedding day advice for New Beginnings, bellas? Let her know, or just wish her luck!

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sandra says:
October 5, 2008, 5:17 pm
Wishing you luck. I found weeks prior to the wedding its good to take some time to be alone and meditate/pray on what you want your wedding to mean to you and your spouse. At times, prior to the actual wedding day, it can be stressful and overwhelming because so many loved ones and friends often live vicariously through your marriage, which sometimes manifests in them making recommendations which may not resonate with your dream wedding. Once the wedding is over the disagreements and stress go away with the beauty of the moment. So just remember to take some time periodically for yourself for relaxation and meditation/prayer during the planning stages.
Prima Donna says:
October 5, 2008, 5:43 pm
New beginnings, if you can't afford a makeup artst for the wedding maybe you could go to a local mall and see if one of the beauty counter workers will give you one for free. Or you could try getting a maryk consultant to do give you one, it would be quite cheap and their usually really good. Congrats on the wedding, and as usual great post bella
Married To It says:
October 5, 2008, 5:53 pm
Sister I would recommend going to the MAC store and getting you and your wedding party done. I had a really small wedding party so my gift to them was to pay the $40 to get their makeup done. It was flawless and we had all shades. I've never been disappointed at with MAC.
NOLAgirl says:
October 5, 2008, 6:19 pm
1. I love a jazz brunch I think a brunch wedding would be great. 2.Photofinish..... it made me look poreless. I love it. Revlon makes a slightly cheaper ( but not as great) like product. 3. Go get your makeup done at dirrent places, buy something you like and ASK FOR A SAMPLE! if nothing else paying attention and a sample will help you the day of the wedding to recreate what you want.... But practice a few times 4.Congrats on the wedding! I hope the day is beautiful but pales to the life you two will share.
pets says:
October 5, 2008, 6:35 pm
Camera & DVD pictures of the day beginning from being dressed & made up..get either a professional photographer or a good friend/family member to be the dedicated picture taker so that you have lasting memories of the day from beginning to end (to the reception obviously not at the honeymoon night *grin*).
Get Togetha says:
October 6, 2008, 1:23 am
I know some folks frown upon it but I got married at city hall and I've never regretted it. *Holds head high in self-esteem*
nyc/caribbean ragazza says:
October 6, 2008, 2:50 am
If you want to serve food at your wedding, a brunch might be the way to go. It can be classy and a lot less expensive than a dinner. I agree visiting the Prescriptive or Bobbi Brown counters (two of my favorite dept. store brands along with Trish McEnvoy) and telling them you are looking for make up for your wedding is a good idea. Walk into the store with a budget in mind so you don't get tempted to buy everything in sight. You can check out their websites to get a sense of what things cost. Good luck on your big day.
Huemanity says:
October 6, 2008, 3:26 am
LOL, my wedding budget was REALLY small, like REALLY small. We got married at a small chapel with a few friends and family. It was at 11am. We had a small reception with basically finger foods, tea, coffee and juice. It was rushed because we only paid for the hall for two hours. But we had enough time to take pictures and thanks everyone. As far as style - I wore a blue strapless dress that I bought for $50 and my husband wore a suit he owned and just bought a new tie/shirt combo. We both wore shoes we already owned as well as jewelry. I did my own makeup and my husband got a friend to cut his hair. LOL, told ya we were low budget. But the point is, it is still the most amazing day of my life. And in the end it really isn't going to matter. My only real advice is to take all of your pics early on because you may get so caught up in the thank yous and congratulations that you can get left out of all the good shots (happened to me!) good luck and remember to just chill and relax. It's just one day in a serious of many you will have with your partner.
Bsquared86 says:
October 6, 2008, 8:55 am
Great tips! Congrats to NEW BEGINNINGS!
DblDee says:
October 6, 2008, 9:37 am
Congrats New Beginning! I hope you wedding will be a beautiful day. For wedding on budget tip: Enlist the help of family and friends. You'd be surprise and the hidden talents they possess. I was recently called upon by a friend, to do her sister's hair for her wedding day. She went to her local florist who created a nice and inexpensive bouquet. She did her makeup and another family member did her nails. The wedding was small but intimate. Her cake was purchased from Publix and it was better than any cake I've had from expensive weddings. Try to relax, I'm sure your wedding day will go well.:)
WARRIOR11209 says:
October 6, 2008, 10:07 am
Congratulations New Beginnings!! My sister got married about 3 weeks ago and had a hard time finding a makeup artist at various makeup counters that would give her the look that she wanted . Our cousin did her makeup and the makeup for the wedding party and I might add we all looked fabulous- we are all dark-skinned. See if there is a family member or friend who can do your makeup - you may be surprised. I got married at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and it cost us $75 to rent the Rose Garden for 2 hours for the ceremony. Pls remember that through all the stress leading up to the day - the day is about you and your finance and those are the memories that will last you a life time.
Bebroma says:
October 6, 2008, 10:10 am
If you have a Sam's Club in your area, check on their prices for your cake, too. My niece had hers done there, and it was elegant, and also the best wedding cake I've ever had! She had the Hawaiian (sp?) cream filling. Delish! Plus they came and set it up and everything.
CoilyFields says:
October 6, 2008, 10:19 am
I just got married a year and a half ago and I was on a budget and planned it myself. Here are some tips that might help. Makeup-I grabbed a friend who knew a ton about makeup and me, her and my mom went to MAC and got a free bridal consultation. We chose a look we liked and then we went around to other stores and bought makeup similar to what she used on me in the MAC store. (I do not normally wear makeup and it pains me to even think about spending over $5 for a makeup product.) It ended up looking great! Flowers- I actually ordered the flowers from Sam's club online. Light and dark pink and white roses and daisies. Bought some ribbon and made all of the bouquets and centerpieces myself (with family). It was soooooo much cheaper that way. Reception- We chose a hotel with an excellant package. It included: a pre-reception (guests had hor d'oeurves in lounge while we took our pictures etc.), dinner, wedding cake, honeymooon suite, ice sculpture, discount for out-of-town guests. It was much cheaper to go with an all inclusive package like this. Invitations-I did them myself. Ordered fancy paper and printed them on my computer and had people RSVP online.(You can do this on Photography-usually one of the most expensive things but ended up being my cheapest. We found a local guy that did photography (and he dj'd). We saw some of his work and it was great. There was no need to spend $1500 when we could find someone for $150. Plus we got as many photos as we wanted. If you happen to be in the St. Louis area I could let you know his info. Hair-definately go for a trial run some weeks before. Stores I loved-walmart, hobby lobby, michaels Hope these help and that you have alovely wedding.
CoilyFields says:
October 6, 2008, 10:21 am
Oops! I forgot to add that the friend I took along with me to MAC made sure she paid attention so that she could replicate the look on my wedding day.
October 6, 2008, 11:09 am
I have to agree with Married ti It. You should really check out the M.A.C. make up counter. I use to get my makeup done there all the time. But that was back when their sale's people were make up artist. Not so sure that they are anymore. I can't recall how much it cost but it was less than a tank of gas. LOL. Best of luck
notjustfoxybrown says:
October 6, 2008, 12:25 pm
New Beginnings: If you're really on a beauty budget, check out the Cover Girl Queen Collection. IMHO, Bobbi Brown doesn't quite get it. I found her foundations too red for me and often the colors weren't quite right...Either too light or too dark for my chocolate skin. Also, take a look at Make Up For Ever ... at the (real) Sephora. Good luck to you!
Jenene says:
October 6, 2008, 3:33 pm
For the budget purchase, please try Iman's bronzer in Clay. You can get it at Walgreen's usually. But if you have a little extra to splurge on your look, please let it be on Nars blush in Exhibit A. It looks like a traffic cone screaming orange in the case, but on your face I promise it will look like a dream. Have a great day New Beginnings!
Kweenie says:
October 6, 2008, 7:14 pm
Don't forget MAC's paint pots for eyes (which I learned about on this very site). Best eye shadow ever...Will not crease or fade!
Reiko! says:
October 6, 2008, 7:33 pm
I love these budget tips on weddings. I love for you to devote a blog for tips for a budget wedding!! I am recently engaged but still want something realy nice and intimate. I love the brunch idea!
ShininSlvrStarr82 says:
October 6, 2008, 10:27 pm
Well...I just found out that Ms. New Beginnings is my big cuzzin! This is funny, when I read this post earlier today I planned on calling her and telling her about it. I have to take a little credit for this post since I introduced her to Afrobella and all. :~} But I guess it all evens out since she was the one who encouraged me to become natural in the first place. I've been helping her plan the wedding over the phone for most of the year. I've helped her pick out music, colors, food, shoes, dresses, and favors. But makeup I have NO idea about, so I'm glad y'all (Bella and the other ladies) were here to help her. Unfortunately I will not be able to attend the wedding. She's in Cali and I'm in VA. And as "bella on a budget," a trip there is not even possible at this time. :~( That's alright though, I'll be there in spirit, and she'll take lots of pictures. I'll have to convince her to send 1 to Bella to post so everyone can see how it went. She is truly an inspiration and role model for me. She's been a single mother for 19 years, and was starting over again raising a 5 year old. Her younger daughter's father actually left her at the alter! So she has EARNED and DESERVES the love and support God has blessed her with in the form of her fiancé. I can only aspire to tackle life with as much strength, spirituality, and style and she has. Hopefully in a few years she will be helping me plan my wedding. Once I find the right man of course...
LBellatrix says:
October 6, 2008, 10:51 pm
ShininslvrStarr, what a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it. Now I definitely want to see a picture of your "cuzzin" on her wedding day! NewBeginnings: Good luck and much happiness on your wedding and every day thereafter! Bella and others: This post came right on time for me. I'm not getting married but I am doing a local TV show (read: I'm my own makeup artist) and on my first attempt it looked like I wasn't wearing makeup at all! So this dark-chocolate sister needs help...and this post is steering me in the right directions. Thanks, all!
new beginnings says:
October 7, 2008, 1:28 am
I'm speechless...cousin, I love you so much. Thank you for being you... WOW!!! I appreciate the support all of you have given me; now I really need to make sure my makeup is correct on my wedding day. With all the advise, there's no reason why it shouldn't be. I really love the orange and bronze colors that's being used in the picture... Bellas... Thank you for all the words of encouragement. I went from having no sisters... to having "MORE THAN ENOUGH" my cup is truly overflowing.
Kelsie143 says:
October 7, 2008, 2:09 pm
I too really like Bobbi browns bronzer, but my favorite is it cosmetics get wet waterproof bronzer. Not only is it waterproof, it also comes with 1 matte shade and 2 shimmer shades...a lot of product for the price!
Black Doll says:
October 7, 2008, 8:00 pm
Dear Newbeginings, I am a dark (very dark) skin sistah who sings the praises of Bobbi Brown. Her foundation stick in expresso matches my skin perfectly. It's hard to find facial makeup for dark skin over the counter, because it's hard to determine if the shade is dark enough. Although it's a bit more expensive the department stores are your best bet. Not to mention, most of the makeup last quite awhile. I've also tried bare minerals and on a scale from A to F, I give it a stong B+. For the most part it's translucent, but it doesn't work that well for dry skin. Have a great time at your wedding and I am sure you will look beautiful
Prada3721 says:
October 7, 2008, 11:03 pm
CONGRATS on your special day!!! ITA with the others who suggested visiting major makeup counters. . . They will do your makeup for free and you can go out to the natural light and see if you like what they have done. Let them know you want special event photography makeup and they'll work accordingly. Also -- most of the folks who work the counters are makeup artists and they will hook -up with you on the side quite reasonably to do your makeup for a wedding. Let them audition by doing your makeup. Even in NYC my girlfriend got a girl from Sephora to do her make up for less than $50 bucks. (The girl originally did a free makeup session and we liked her work). Usually it costs about quadruple that much for the bride's makeup alone (NYC prices).
SoFrolushes says:
October 9, 2008, 2:06 am
my make-up for my wedding was soooo basic. if you knew how I love bright eyeshadows you would be surprised. I had a natural eye and natural lips with just a tint of colour. now even sure if wore mascara. this sister had little money. but i looked fresh and good in my pics so i guess i didnt do bad. if i had the chance to do it again i would defo made my eyes more dramatic. good luck and remember youtube is your friend. scandalousbeautyonline is a good source
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