By Michelle Walters, Island Glow, LLC

You’ve planned every detail of your wedding: found your something blue, mastered your makeup look, and even nailed down all of your bridesmaids’ hairstyles. The last thing you want is for something like a spray-tan mishap – such as a bronze formula smeared on your dreamy white dress or that dreaded orange look – distracting you from the magic of your big day.

We know wearing white can be daunting, so you’re probably going to want to get some sort of faux glow (you’ve been wearing plenty of SPF, right?). We created this special spray-tan guide just for brides. Once you’ve brushed up on the ABCs of tanning and how to exfoliate, read on!

When is the perfect time to get your spray tan? We suggest doing a “Double Dip,” which means 4 days and 2 days prior to your wedding day. You’ll have a very natural, soft tan that is flawlessly even all over; you’ll have already washed off the first layer, and the color will be settled into your skin. At this point, you’ll also be able to use your own moisturizer. Plus, you’ll be able to see how it turned out and make sure it’s perfect.

Is there any chance it will get on your white dress? No, because it already has settled into your skin. Once you shower and rinse off that extra formula, which is just bronzer and not the actual tan itself, you’ll be left with just the color on your skin. You can always use a little bit of a powder to absorb any possible perspiration if the weather is humid or muggy.

White is an extreme color to wear with a tan. How should you pick the perfect bronze shade? Go by what your base color already is. If it’s in the middle of the summer and you’ve been in the sun a lot, you’re going to be darker than you would be during the wintertime, so you can go a shade darker. I don’t suggest doing anything more than a few shades darker than your natural skin tone because that tends to look more artificial. You also want to choose a shade according to your features like your hair and eye color. If you have dark hair and eyes, for example, then you can get away with a darker tan. If you are blond with blue eyes and freckles, you want a hue that’s a bit lighter.

What’s the best way to convey the color you want to be to the person doing your spray tan? We suggest looking at pictures of a spray tan company’s past brides to get a good idea of the look you want. Keep in mind, however, that you may not be able to match a photo EXACTLY because of your skin’s unique undertones. Trust your spray tanner to know her formulas.

For your big day, what other products should you use to make your tan look its best? We suggest just putting on a nice organic body butter, or even a dry oil or almond oil. St. Tropez has a luxe new dry oil with a bit of shimmer in it. This will enhance your tan more because it defines your limbs and muscles. It acts like a highlighter and will look great in photos.

Your face is the first place to lose a tan. What are some good tips for keeping your tan intact the two days between when you get sprayed and your actual wedding? Skip using any kind of salicylic acid wash or acne wash or benzoyl peroxide — those lighten the skin. Also, don’t exfoliate those two days. If you do have problematic skin and need to use acne washes, you can always get an at-home self-tanner for your face. Dab a bit on, and blend it evenly.

When should you get your manicure and pedicure? Get them BEFORE you do your spray tan since the manicurist will be exfoliating your feet and legs, which could lighten the color. Just make sure that whoever is doing a spray tan gives you barrier cream to protect your manicure and pedicure!

What’s the best way to extend your tan during your honeymoon? You should purchase a self tanner from your spray tanner. Most tanners will carry a line of products that compliment the spray tan so your color looks consistent and has the same undertone.

Any last words for nervous brides? Be confident, and make sure you are very vocal about what you want when you get the spray tan done. It’s always safer to go a little bit lighter than darker because once you go to dark, you really can’t lighten it up too much before the big day. Check the tanner’s bridal portfolio and get recommendations from people you trust!

Michelle Walters, owner of Island Glow, has been spray tanning Richmond for over six years and providing makeup lessons and application services for over fifteen years. To learn more about Island Glow, please visit


Photo Credit: Sean DeWitt Photography