Experts: The Visage Virtuoso

Your dress is stunning, your hair is divine, but it’s all for naught without the linchpin of bridal beautification: your makeup. Becoming the picture of perfection means getting some face time with a true professional.


Photograph by Jessica Scranton

YOUR WEDDING DAY IS NOT (we repeat: not) the time to call in your sister’s best friend’s cousin to do your makeup. Unless, of course, she just so happens to be an award-winning makeup artist like Dani Wagener Braho (who got married this past March). In her 15 years in the beauty industry, Braho has gained national recognition and become one of the area’s most-sought-after face-makers. When she’s not doing high-profile editorial photo shoots, working with celebs, or giving one-on-one technique lessons, she wields her brush to make some magic happen for brides-to-be.

What’s the best way to find a makeup artist?
Word of mouth. Don’t just rely on blogs. When I get new bridal clients I have them come in, meet me, and have their makeup done for another occasion. I make them up for a night out, for their engagement party, or for their bridal shower. That way they get to try it. If they leave loving it, then they trust what I do and feel comfortable with me. Then we don’t have to figure out exactly what we’re going to do the day of.

So you don’t subscribe to the idea of multiple wedding-day makeup trials?
I think 9 out of 10 brides wake up on their wedding day feeling a certain way, and it’s not how they felt a year ago. A lot of brides decide they want to go a little bit more glam that day. Skin tones change from fall to winter and colors can look different, so I don’t think it’s about figuring out exactly what you’re going to look like. It’s about finding the person you trust to get you to where you want to be on that day. But I’ll do as many trials as a client wants.

What’s the most important element of face-making?
Balance. There needs to be an appropriate balance of color throughout. I don’t think you can say, “I want to just focus on my eyes” — that doesn’t mean we won’t do cheek or lip color. My chair is set up several feet away from the mirror so people can see the balance of their makeup, not what their face looks like from two inches away.

What do you focus on for brides who prefer to go au naturel?
For a very natural look, it’s all about the details. I’ve had brides who have literally worn almost nothing. It’s about the lash line; it’s about the skin being flawless and making their features stand out. There’s a big misconception that you need to wear a ton of makeup in order to look good. It’s true that if I put a little more makeup on, you might look fresher in your photos, but it’s more about what makes you feel comfortable.

Airbrushing has become popular over the past few years. Is it the best option?
I think it is. It’s flawless. I like to do a custom-blended foundation, and you can’t achieve that with just one bottle. That’s what first drew me to airbrushing, because it allows me to customize color on the spot. The other benefit is that it has a tiny bit of silicone in it, so it sits more on the surface of the skin and doesn’t leave a cakey look. It’s the best thing to cover acne. It helps absorb oil as the day goes on, and it just doesn’t budge. I’ve had brides in 90-degree weather whose makeup looked the same at midnight.

Should the rest of the bridal party have their makeup done?

It always comes down to budget. Usually I tell people to worry about themselves and a core group of people — like Mom, the maid of honor, and a sister. It can be less chaotic that way, as well. My maximum is six people, because I don’t like anybody to feel rushed. If there are more than six, I bring another artist with me. Smaller groups eliminate some of the chaos.

When do you think it’s right to go for bold colors in bridal makeup?
If it’s something you’re already comfortable with. If you already rock red lips and people have seen you in a red lip, then go for it. But if you’ve never worn a red lip in your life, don’t do it on your wedding day.

DW Beauty, 125 Newbury St., Ste. 3, Boston, 617-236-0415,


Photograph by Scott M. Lacey

Expert’s Tips: Wagener Braho’s must-have products for flawless Big-Day beauty.

Nars Lip Gloss   With an assortment of pretty colors, this product is long-lasting and has a silky, nonsticky texture. >> $24, Saks Fifth Avenue.


Photograph by Scott M. Lacey

Shu Uemura Painting Liner   Nothing on Earth stays on as well or is as waterproof (which you’ll need to stand up to the inevitable tears during the ceremony). >> $25, Shu Uemura.


Photograph by Scott M. Lacey

Boscia Green Tea Blotting Linens    These lightweight papers keep shine at bay and have a clean scent. >> $10, Sephora.