Wedding waterworks, explained.
couple crying reception

Weddings are emotional, and a few (okay, many) happy tears will inevitably be spilled in the time between the couple's first look and the final toast of the evening. Embrace a good cry on the big day with these helpful tips.

Have hankies on hand.

Even if you don't think of yourself as a crier, it's helpful to have a handkerchief at the ready, should you get choked up during the ceremony. While you can ask your MOH or officiant to hold it for you, wedding planner Jolene Peterson of Laurel & Rose loves watching a bride and groom provide handkerchiefs for each other. "We've seen some perfect photo ops when the groom pulls out a hanky and helps wipe away his bride's happy tears." Our favorite sources for handkerchiefs include Bumblebee Linens, Etsy, The Handkerchief Shop, and Mark and Graham.

Just breathe.

Robin Roberts, a mind/body psychotherapist in Los Angeles, says that nature has a "pause button" for crying: "When tears start, extend each exhalation a little, softly blowing through your mouth," she says. "You'll arrive at a still point and start to calm down."

Prepare for certain times.

According to Peterson, the three moments when waterworks are most likely to occur during the wedding are: During the ceremony ("Especially during the vows, the couple and guests being moved to tears is common," she says), the first look (Peterson encourages clients to do this preceremony to help keep emotions in check during the walk down the aisle), and while parents give personal toasts ("The best ones don't leave a dry eye in the room," she adds).

Know the songs that frequently trigger tears.

Ian Gotler, cofounder of the L.A.-based DJ company RedShoe, says that some songs elicit the most tears during parent and first dances. These include James Taylor's "You've Got a Friend" ("Few songs tastefully articulate a parent's love for a child. This track has that in spades."), Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" ("There's only a handful of songs that people from every generation can identify by the first couple of notes. This is one of them."), Ben Harper's "Forever" ("Soul-searching lyrics and an unmistakable voice showcase strength and fragility at once."), and Ben Folds' "The Luckiest" ("This song came out in 2001 and still gets everyone choked up.")

Make your makeup stay put.

New York City- and Los Angeles-based makeup artist Stacie Ford says the best way to keep makeup tearproof is to use mineral-based, water-resistant primers before you apply makeup, then add waterproof eyeliners, mascaras, and a clear waterproof topcoat on lashes "for an extra layer of protection." The final and most important step? Set it! "I recommend using a setting spray that mattes the skin's surface and locks in the makeup while resisting moisture," she says.

When you start to well up, Chicago-based wedding makeup artist Carly Pribich tells brides, avoid rubbing or wiping. Instead, "lightly dab the tears with your finger." To touch up after a cry, Ford recommends using a latex-free sponge to absorb moisture, and makeup-eraser sticks (cotton swabs prefilled with makeup remover) to remove smudges under the eyes. "You can then proceed with a lightweight setting or blotting powder to freshen up the skin."

We asked more than 800 brides for their favorite waterproof eye makeup. The winners: Maybelline Colossal Volum' Express Waterproof Mascara and Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner.

And, in case you were wondering…

There are three types of tears: basal, which are in our eyes all the time to lubricate them; reflex, which are formed due to an irritant, such as dust or onions; and emotional, like those shed at weddings! Most of our tears are produced by the lacrimal glands, which are located inside each upper lid.


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