Your wedding day will be joyous, exciting and emotional. But sometimes the stress can show up in the wedding pictures. Getting married is a production of a lifetime. Months of planning culminate in one major life-changing, stress-inducing event lasting anywhere from three to ten days. For brides especially, the pressure is high. Not only do the wedding functions have to go smoothly and guests be well taken care of, the bride is expected to look fresh and stunning through it all. The cameras (that sometimes capture what makeup can’t hide) are constantly trained on her to produce photos and videos that will last a lifetime. Getting that glow and maintaining it through the mad frenzy cannot be an overnight achievement—you have to plan for your complexion as you plan for your wedding. And it has to work from the inside out.

Understandably, most efforts now are focused on the wedding day, but this is a good time to kick-start routines that you can stick to for the years ahead.

While most brides-to-be concentrate on dropping the kilos, few realise how important it is to take care of their skin as well. Start with a simple plan. Increase your water intake, add lots of fruits and veggies to your diet, sleep a solid eight hours every night and start working out. Megumi Mitsui, beauty expert, ZA, Shiseido, advises, “Work out—whatever works for you—be it running, yoga or Pilates. A good exercise routine will ensure that toxins are released, so your skin is naturally glowing for that big day and the dress fits like a dream.”

If you’ve spent your life so far dodging it, now’s the time to start the cleanse-tone-moisturise routine. “A daily routine to keep skin functioning optimally and maintaining a healthy skin barrier function is essential. This should include daily cleansing to remove impurities, exfoliating to ensure proper cell turnover, and moisturising to replace the natural water and lipids in the skin,” says Dr Tom Mammone, Clinique’s executive director of research and development worldwide.

It’s time for the detox. Drink a glass of lukewarm water with honey and lime every morning before brushing your teeth. As gross as it might sound, the bacteria stored in your mouth through the night actually help flush out toxins from your system. Apply a mixture of honey and lime on your face every night, and rinse off once it dries up. We’re not working for the honey and lime lobby—they just happen to be power ingredients for your skin. Honey has anti-bacterial properties and lime purifies the blood, so both push you towards your goal of flawless skin.

Also, scrub your face with an organic, home-made fruit scrub thrice a week. This will help exfoliate and get rid of dead skin. Applying papaya and/or tomato a few times a week on your face also goes a long way. Papaya deep-cleanses your pores, while tomato is a natural bleach that evens out skin tone.

Sneha Shah, who got married a few years ago, stuck to a completely home-made skin regimen before her wedding. “Among many other home remedies I tried, a combination of raw milk and besan (chickpea flour) helped remove my tan, and a mixture of honey and khus khus (poppy seeds) is a naturally moisturising scrub. For a body scrub, I mixed oats, milk and sugar, and alternated that every other day with a paste of milk, besan and turmeric.”

We live in a fairness-obsessed country, and many Indian brides try to become shades lighter for their wedding. This is a dangerous and pointless pursuit. Your skin colour can’t change and you’ll probably end up with marks or other skin issues.
Instead, visit a dermatologist if you have any skin ailments—you need to give the doctor enough time to work on you and make sure scars, if any, have faded by the time the wedding comes around. Given the dirt and grime in cities, skin infections are common. They may manifest as growths or bumps that have to be removed or cauterised, which may leave scars that will take a few days to fade.
By the time the three-month countdown begins, your diet should be a fully healthy one.

Say goodbye to fried and sugary foods, cut carbs at night and snack on things like almonds, raisins or fruit. Not only will you lose weight, but your skin will be thanking you for it too.

Time to make the appointments at your favourite salon. The month leading up to the wedding will be the most stressful one so far, no matter how well you’ve planned the shindig. Last minute confirmations, trials, tastings, payments—these add to stress, and can take a serious toll on your bride-to-be glow. Whatever difference you may have seen in your skin in the last six months can start unravelling if you don’t take care to calm down and sleep well. If you can afford it, go for regular massages to counter the stress. More importantly, get a facial, especially if you never have had one before, to find out what suits you. At least three sittings for clean-ups are also mandatory before your wedding day—black and/or whiteheads can be stubborn.

Bina Bose, a London-based corporate lawyer who’s set to get married in Kolkata this January, says that she doesn’t have time to take care of her skin for months before the wedding. “My plan kicks in once I reach home (Kolkata), a month before the wedding,” she says. “Lots of sleep, lots of water, and I will try to exercise at least thrice a week. These basic lifestyle changes usually make a world of difference.”

A few weeks before the wedding, you can add one more thing to your routine—before applying a slice of tomato on your face, wipe your face with a cotton swab dipped in ice cold water. This helps open up and clean pores from within and is a foolproof stress-buster for the skin.

Go to the parlour for all your hair removal appointments—threading of the eyebrows, upper lips, chin; waxing, bikini or Brazilian, the arms, legs—at least four days before the wedding. This will give any cuts, rashes or other reactions time to settle. A word of caution here—don’t get a bikini or Brazilian wax for the very first time right before the biggest day of your life. You should have tried one out three months ago, now is not the time. You’re better off not ravaging your delicates right before your ‘first night’.

Hit the salon for an all-day pampering session two days before the wedding (ensure there’s a massage or two involved). Relax the day before your wedding and get some sleep the night before. The big day will be hectic and you’ll be sleepless for a while even after. There is little you can do to make any big changes now, so just sit back and enjoy the day.

Wake up well in time for your hair and makeup to begin. Create a timeline for the events of the day—bath, hair and makeup (which can take anywhere between three and five hours), friends or bridesmaids getting ready, photo shoots, blessings or other rituals, etc. Wash your face well and make sure that your skin is well-moisturised and makeup-ready. Bobbi Brown of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics reiterates the need for this. “Moisturising is the key to skin that looks and feels healthy. It replenishes the skin with a boost of hydration and helps even out and soften the skin, ensuring flawless makeup application.”

Don’t apply any makeup before your session. In case your ceremony is an evening one, and you have to wear makeup in the morning, remove it thoroughly with wipes, face wash, cleansing milk, or anything else that works for you. Then sit back and let the experts take over. You’ve planned and prepped enough, now just go with the flow—the glow will take care of itself.

Although a professional makeup artist will take care of your bridal makeup, a bride-to-be should have some essentials in her personal makeup arsenal.