How to Avoid Looking Like a Sweaty Mess on Your Wedding Day

We can’t promise you won’t sweat at all (nor should you if you’re having a good time on the dance floor)—but here’s how to keep it under control.
by Libby MacCarthy
Smiling bride and groom

Whether caused by rising temps, nerves or a combo of both, sweat is something every couple has to deal with on their wedding day. It’s just one of those things that makes us human (except those rare unicorns who seem to never break a sweat), but it’s also totally human to not want visible pit stains or a glistening upper lip documented in every photo. So while we’re all for embracing your natural “glow,” as grandma calls it, these tips will help you stay cool—no matter if you’re getting hitched outside on the hottest day of the year or in an air-conditioned venue in December.

  1. Choose Your Timeline Carefully

    The easiest way to beat the heat? Try to avoid exchanging vows during peak sun hours (between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.). Same goes for outdoor photos. If you do have to be outside at this time, use natural shade to your advantage. Hold the ceremony under trees or a vine-covered pergola, or in an open-air pavilion or gazebo. And don’t forget to offer some shade to your guests, even if it’s just having hats or parasols available.

  2. Lighten Up Your Look

    Your choice of down-the-aisle duds can have a major impact on the sweatiness factor. If you’re suiting up in the summer months or in a tropical locale, lighter colors and lightweight, breathable materials like cotton and linen will help you keep your cool (there’s a reason seersucker became Southerners’ summer dress uniform)—and of course, you can always lose the jacket altogether come reception time. But if your wedding’s on the more formal side, you can still wear a wool-blend suit without worrying about sweating. Kenneth Cole AWEAR-TECH and Cole Haan Grand O.S. both offer stylish suits made with advanced fabric technology that helps control moisture, aka sweat. Cool, right? (No pun intended.) For an added layer of protection, you can also buy sweatproof undershirts, or ask your tailor about sewing absorbent perspiration pads into the underarms of your shirt or jacket. And don’t forget to keep a handkerchief handy to mop your face or neck as needed—hands off that pocket square!

    Donning a dress? Opt for an airy silhouette that will allow air to circulate. Trust us when we say that rocking a formfitting lace gown at an outdoor venue on a 90-plus-degree day has some interesting implications for trips to the ladies’ room. Talk to your stylist about the best fabrics for a hot-weather wedding, such as chiffon, crepe, charmeuse or silk organza. Sleeveless silhouettes with an open or V-shaped back can also help keep things breezy, or if you want a slightly more modest style, breathable illusion fabric is the way to go.

  3. Embrace Antiperspirant

    Unlike deodorant, antiperspirant actually blocks sweat ducts, preventing sweat from forming. And it’s not just for your underarms: Antiperspirant can be applied anywhere on the body where sweating is a problem, including your back, feet, chest and face. (Try applying it at night instead of morning to maximize effectiveness, and be sure to test on a small area of skin to make sure it doesn’t cause irritation before using.) Your dermatologist can provide more info about which active ingredients and concentrations may be more suitable for different parts of the body; it’s also a good idea to check with him or her if you think you might have hyperhidrosis and discuss potential treatments. Heads up: Aluminum, the active ingredient in most antiperspirants, can cause yellow stains on white fabric (yes, like wedding dresses), but there are a few aluminum-free options available if you’re concerned.

  4. Bulletproof Your Makeup

    Real talk: Sweat and tears can cause a makeup meltdown, and the darker, more dramatic your look, the higher the risk of smudging. Your makeup artist might suggest powder-based products instead of liquids to help keep shine at bay, or even airbrush makeup, which is sweat, water and tearproof. If you’re doing your own makeup, don’t forget to prime—this oil-absorbing base will help the following layers stay put even when you start to sweat—then finish with a setting spray to combat the effects of heat and humidity. During the wedding, keep blotting papers handy. They’ll help everyone in the wedding party de-shine before your photo sesh (or after getting crazy on the dance floor).

  5. Keep Your Hair in Check

    No one wants limp, lifeless locks on their wedding day, but even the most heavy-duty styling products can’t help once your hair is drenched in sweat. To keep your tresses looking their best, opt for an updo—especially if you tend to sweat on your neck and back. The same goes for men with longer hair: Consider pulling it back into a bun. Then stash a mini bottle of dry shampoo in your wedding day kit to touch up bangs or pieces of hair that have fallen onto your forehead. Guys, this tip works for you too!

  6. Stay Hydrated

    Not to ruin your wedding day buzz, but alcohol causes blood vessels near the skin to dilate (much like during exercise) and instigates the sweating process. Caffeine also wakes up your sweat glands by revving up your central nervous system. While we’d never tell you to deprive yourself of bubbly or coffee (we’re not monsters!), just try not to overdo it and drink plenty of H2O throughout the day. In addition to regulating your body temperature, sipping water during the festivities will help stave off the dreaded side effects of dehydration, like headaches, dizziness, fatigue and dry skin—and prevent hangovers. You’ll thank us later.

  7. Watch What You Eat

    While undeniably delicious, spicy, salty and fatty foods can cause your body temp to rise and send your sweat glands into overdrive. The day before and the day of the wedding, fill up on whole foods like lean protein, veggies and fruit, and shy away from new or exotic foods that could throw your digestive system out of whack. Then once you’ve said your “I do’s,” go ahead and indulge in those spicy margaritas or the Nashville hot chicken you chose for your wedding menu. After all, some things are worth sweating for.    

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