zareen shah
The day of the wedding ceremony has a tendency to sneak up on busy couples. Take some time out to browse bridal essentials in this list, in case you've missed anything out. Image Credit: Supplied/Zareen Shah

You and your partner have finally zeroed in on a wedding date. Cross it off your to-do list, breathe in, and start assessing what you need for the big day.

Weddings preface a very special chapter in your life, so feeling excited, panicked and simultaneously tense is completely normal. Not to mention, the shopping wish list keeps multiplying. Everyone understands that planning ahead is the way to go – helps you stay within budget, too – but, where to begin?

Gulf News took a glimpse into the Amazon checklist of a Dubai-based bride-to-be. Grab a pen and paper before you dive in, because a bride’s shopping list is a lengthy one. It will typically cover pre-wedding prep (think skincare, make-up and gifts) and post-ceremony travel plans, where you might want to squeeze in honeymoon essentials.

zareen shah
Zareen Shah, a Pakistani-Filipino expat in Dubai, signs her marriage contract during the 'nikah', with plans of a wedding ceremony in November 2022. Image Credit: Suppled/Zareen Shah

Filipino-Pakistani expat Zareen Shah spoke to us before her November wedding in 2022. Under clear autumnal skies and crisp air, Shah, 40, and her husband would celebrate the signing of their Islamic marriage – or ‘nikah’ as it’s referred to in Arabic – with a traditional Pakistani wedding ceremony. At the time of writing, Shah was halfway through the preparations, with four months to go.

“I’m an avid online shopper, so even when I order internationally from Amazon, I’m used to things taking time… about a week or two,” said Shah, who is also a Prime member and takes advantage of free, same-day deliveries. “Amazon is my go-to for essentials and household needs, since items come in fairly quickly.”

A bride's shopping list

zareen shah
Pamper yourself to look your best on one of the most important days of your life. Image Credit: Supplied/Zareen Shah

The self-employed make-up artist ranks skincare high on her bridal essentials list. “The first step is skincare for any bride-to-be, because there is only so much a make-up artist can do. In order for you to look amazing on the day, your skin has to look its best, and it’s not an overnight thing – it’s a journey. I would say start taking care of your skin three months prior,” she said. (If you're a beginner, we find this seven-step skin prep the easiest way to lock in the glow for any big day.)

Shah’s strict skincare regime includes anti-ageing products, like collagen powder and creams, which help to reduce wrinkles and hydrate the skin. “I take a scoop of the collagen powder with a glass of water daily. And, the ELEMIS’ Pro-Collagen day and night creams instantly transform your skin. You can visibly see and feel the change within two weeks,” recommended Shah.

Sports Research Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides Powder (16 oz)

Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream SPF 30, 50ml

ELEMIS Pro-Collagen Oxygenating Night Cream, 1.6 Fl Oz

Next up is a reliable sunscreen that offers sufficient protection from ultraviolet rays, regardless of the summer or winter sun. When shopping for an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) cream, often the first question that comes up is: Does it leave a white cast? Shah’s tried-and-tested Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen doesn’t – it has a clear formula.

Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, 1.7 oz

The bride-to-be also applies face masks at least once a week for the ultimate skin pampering. “I really like these face masks from a Korean skincare brand called Erborian. The sheet masks are perfect for helping the skin look super smooth and hydrated,” she added.

According to Korean beauty ranking apps, like Hwahae, sheet masks by Torriden and Mediheal enjoy local popularity and are worth looking into. From blemish control to calming red areas, these serum-saturated masks are great for targeting specific skin concerns, aside from adding hydration.

The same facial products and accessories, from masks to spa headbands, can make thoughtful gift sets for your bridesmaids, if you’re customising these. Shah envisions the perfect skincare and beauty kit for her closest friends. It would also include her favourite Maybelline New York lip gloss with hyaluronic acid in the shade Stone: “It’s the perfect day gloss. I’d get one for each of my bridesmaids because it suits anyone.”

Erborian Ginseng Shot Mask for Women 0.5 oz Mask, White, 15 g

3-Pack Spa Facial Headbands

Maybelline New York Lifter Gloss With Hyaluronic Acid, 08 Stone

ROSEGLD 30 Gift Boxes 9.5x6.5x4 Inches

As we wade into the cosmetics territory, Shah dishes out expert advice, since she plans on doing her own bridal make-up. “You’ll be going out for dinner or reception after the wedding, so you want your make-up to stay on for longer. A bridal setting spray is very important. Try the Skindinavia Bridal Makeup Finishing Spray – this is one of the first brands that created setting sprays,” she said.

Equally important is a touch-up powder, says Shah, for blotting out face oil throughout the lengthy affair. She picks the It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores powder that “instantly removes any appearance of pores, removes any shine or excess oil and helps keep your make-up looking exactly the same”.

Now would be a good time to experiment with your foundation, too, and finally crack down on what undertone you have. With full coverage, a skin-like shade match is more important than ever for a bride. If you struggle with orange tones or discolouration, check out our guide to colour correctors here.

Skindinavia The Makeup Finishing Spray, Bridal, 236ml

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores Poreless Finish Airbrush Pressed Powder (0.31oz)

Shah also lists her favourite bridal eyeshadow palette and false lashes. Tarte’s warm Toasted palette has 12 matte and shimmer colours in peach to tan shades. Shah said: "It's easy to build up natural looks with for the day and has beautiful smoky shades for nights out".

The Red Cherry falsies are a stackable lightweight wonder. "These are as light as feathers and can be stacked up as a double lash for more volume. They're perfect to wear on your big day as they won't make your eyes feel heavy," said Shah.

Tarte Tartelette™ Toasted Eyeshadow Palette

Red Cherry 213 False Eyelashes (Pack of 6 Pairs)

If you have a honeymoon destination planned, consider travel-bag essentials, too, like the Haus Laboratories’ lip liner set and Etude’s daily lip stain. "Carry long-lasting lip stains in your bag, so that you don't have to keep reapplying when out and about," she added.

When it comes to lip tints, K-beauty should offer you the best of gradient, transfer-free lip products. In our search for the most popular make-up products in Korea, we found these 3CE lip tints, besides those by Etude House, excellent for achieving a soft blurry effect.

Speaking of travel, make sure you're all set with expert packing tips and on-flight necessities, such as compression socks, cramp-relieving electrolytes and comfy shoes.

HAUS LABORATORIES by Lady Gaga: RIP LIP LINER SET, Lip Liner 6-Piece Set

ETUDE Fixing Tint 4g

Can’t book a last-minute appointment with your nail technician? Shah suggests press-on nails for the busy-bee bride. Her pick is the KISS Salon acrylic nails in nude, a classy French manicure set, for backup or for holidays. While you’re at it, snag a traditional jewellery set from Amazon, where retailers like Aheli offer affordable options in their collections.

KISS Salon Acrylic Nude French Nails

Aheli Elegant Indian Wedding Jewellery

Aheli Bridal Kundan Faux Pearl Choker Necklace with Earrings

Bridal make-up tends to be thicker and heavier in application than most party looks. You'll need a gentle yet effective remover to get it all off, by the end of the day, with little to no irritation. Shah swears by the Bioderma micellar water. We also heard from more beauty experts on their favourite makeup removers, including balms and oils, here.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Make Up Removing Micellar Water, 500ml

Planning a pre-wedding function at home? A henna night is the perfect occasion to spend some quality time with those near and dear to you and your partner. Add light and warmth to the entry way with these safe LED candles of varying heights, says Shah.

Flameless Candles Battery Operated Candles, Set of 9 

Flameless Votive Candles, Pack of 24

But, amidst all the hustle and bustle that comes with planning a wedding, don’t forget to capture the chaos and fun. A professional photography crew will seldom catch your candid moments with loved ones. “Polaroid cameras are so fun to have. I’d take pictures of these mini moments of my friends and family during the day for keepsakes. Polaroids have this vintage feel to them, too, and they’re instant, so you can snap away and put them on your fridge later,” said Shah.

“You can never go wrong with Fuji. I love this particular model (Instax Sqaure Q1) as it’s not as bulky as most Polaroid cameras, and I love the Terracotta orange that it comes in,” she added.

If you'd like to build a digital library as you go about your honeymoon, then try out lightweight point-and-shoot models for quick clicks or a mirrorless camera to get in some pro scenic shots. After your travels, you can even run them by an at-home photo printer to add to your wedding album.

Instax SQUARE SQ1 Instant Camera, Terracotta Orange

Once the wedding festivities end, and it's time to wind down, there's likely a comfy pyjama set calling the bride's name. Shah looks forward to winding down in satin sleepwear, preferably with a matching eye mask and hair scrunchie. Her pick gives you the combination of a camisole plus shorts, or a pair of full-length pants and a long sleeve shirt in 14 colours.

LYANER Women's Pajamas Set

Now, for some final words of advice from one soon-to-be bride to another: “Plan everything – make sure you have your photographers, make-up artists and bakers booked at least three months in advance. Once you’ve paid the deposit and they’re booked for certain, you can move on to booking the venue.

“I also think it’s very important to have one key person with you, a best friend who is always on call, through your wedding prep. And, on the day, learn not to sweat the small stuff. Direct the small matters to someone else,” said Shah.

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