Big, fluffy scruffy beards aren't just for lumberjacks anymore. The scruffy look is in style for guys, and even more so, the "hipster" trend has brought back full beards - some well groomed and maintained, some not so much.
The way a groom wears his facial hair on his wedding day can be very important, to the bride if not as much to the groom himself. While the trendy, backwoods look he's been wearing with plaid shirts and skinny pants might make him look fashionable out and about, that look might not be exactly what the couple wants to see in their wedding pictures 25 years later.
I think men's facial hair is a really important topic because I don't believe most grooms give much thought, in advance, as to how they plan to groom their faces for their wedding day.
True Story: A bride and groom arrived on Vieques Island for their destination wedding weekend after spending several days travelling around Puerto Rico, trudging through the rain forest and visiting other beaches. The groom's fluffy beard was well-groomed and matched his sense of style completely. Unbeknownst to me, the bride had been pleading with her fiancé for months to shave his face bare for the wedding. While she "tolerated" his fuzzy face (a result of a #NoShaveNovember bet that he kept after he won), she was not enamored of the facial hair. She missed his dimples. And she missed his smooth cheeks. He promised her he'd shave it off before the wedding.
The night before their wedding, he kissed the bride goodbye and went to spend his last bachelor night with his buddies. After some drinking, the shaving began. Apparently, he had so much beard that it was a multi-step, multi-tool process - and this groom had come prepared.
As he told me the story the next day, there wasn't enough tequila in the world to solve his problems when the hair came off and he saw his bare face. Just imagine it - he still had the full-beard look, but there was no hair - just bright, white, untanned skin. And it looked ridiculous!
His buddies assured him that all he needed to do was get a little bit of sun, and it would be fine (they'd obviously had a lot to drink, too). So he made the stupid mistake of slathering sun amplifier on the fair, newly-exposed skin before they took off on a fishing trip on his wedding morning, thinking he could make the former skin hidden by the beard match the rest of his face in just a few hours. Bad call. Add a few dips into the salty Caribbean Sea, and by the time he returned to the villa, a couple of hours before the ceremony, he had bright red, raw-looking skin where the beard used to be.
Let me tell you, my brides who have badly sunburned strap marks onto themselves before wearing strapless wedding gowns had nothing on this groom. He looked ridiculous, and it was painful, too. When I first saw it, I was totally speechless.
It was time to call in the expert, and I went up to the bridal suite and "borrowed" the best makeup artist for a consultation. Her reaction was similar to mine, but at least she thought she had a partial solution. She thought she could match the skin color up fairly well with makeup, but first we had to cool off the inflammation in his skin. The poor guy was pretty mortified by the process, but he went along with it willingly because he was more worried about how upset the bride would be when she saw the mess he'd caused. She'd been begging him to shave the beard for months, and for purely stubborn reasons (and trying to be funny), he'd waited until the very last minute to do the deed. His face looking like diaper rash was his punishment, and he felt like a jackass.
Ice cold washcloths on the affected area were first, followed by the famous tea-bag home remedy (causing LOTS of jokes from his brothers and the groomsmen who were watching). Cold, wet, tea bags were put all over the red skin, and then switched with fresh icy cold ones when they warmed up. The tea not only draws the heat out of the sunburn, but it helps reduce the redness. I've personally applied tea bags to several brides' backs the day before their weddings, but this was my first groom sunburn emergency. The tops of feet don't count - we just laugh at those.
To be fair, I'd say we reduced the redness by half, and then the makeup artist had him submerge his face in a bowl of ice water, over and over, for about 10 minutes. She warned him that whatever triage she did probably wouldn't last through the entire evening, with the Caribbean humidity and the fact that the raw skin was pretty angry. But she hoped what she did would last through the ceremony and pictures, or at least look good enough that the photographer would be able to edit him to "normal."
Time was getting close, so I went to brief the bride on the situation while the professional went to work on his face. My job was to explain the problem to the bride in a manner that wouldn't freak her out, but so that she knew what was up when she got to the end of the aisle and saw the man of her dreams wearing more concealer than her.
The bride was not amused, but she didn't get hysterical or let it ruin her wedding day. She asked me how bad it would look, and I honestly told her that I wouldn't know until the makeup wizard was finished. I offered to bring her a picture when he was "fixed," but she opted not to know in advance because she didn't want to go down the aisle pissed off if he looked outrageous.
The end result wasn't bad, although you could tell the groom was wearing makeup. He washed his face after the formal photos because his skin was really irritated and started to sting when he sweat, so everybody had a good sympathetic laugh when they saw his face clean. The couple was kind enough to let me blog about this story so that the same thing wouldn't happen to another man, but they didn't want me to post their pictures - names withheld to protect the guilty and embarrassed, right? Humorous memories don't have to make the national news. And the bride's still a bit irritated with him about the whole thing.
Moral of the Story: Decide well ahead of your wedding day what you want to do with your facial hair because you need to start preparing before game day. Even if you're just a scruffy-look kind of groom, you have to shave it bare from the first day of a destination wedding if you're going to be out in the sun, or the area that's partially covered will have a completely different color on the big day.
This doesn't just apply to men getting married someplace tropical, if you're outside a lot and you've had that beard for a long time, the skin beneath it is going to be paler than the rest of your face. Think ahead!
Everybody loves funny wedding memories, but something that happens to the bride or groom's face isn't really funny. I'm sure this groom would have had a much better time at his wedding and reception if he didn't know he looked stupid, and if his face hadn't been burning. Take care so that you can have the most fun possible!
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Sandy Malone Weddings & Events!