The summer wedding season is well underway. Brides to be everywhere are busy planning their look for the big day. Not just the dress, the hair, the make up …but hoping for something extra, that quintessential bridal radiance. The excitement and adrenaline of the day will add sparkle … but what can you do to ensure you’re feeling and looking wonderful from within, especially if youth is no longer with you? I got married a few months ago. For the second time and with the flush of youth well gone. Despite age and cynicism, I was as nervous a bride as one half my age and still vain enough to want to look good on my big day. Looking wonderful, though, is a bit more of a stretch when the reliability of youth has gone. Can you be radiant with wrinkles? If you feel good, you look great too and being healthy certainly makes the make up artist’s job an easier one – be that a professional beautician or willing friend. So whatever your age, here are a few tips that might help you to feel and look wonderful on the day… Tip 1 – prepare …eat cleaner Taking on a major detox close to the wedding is not a good idea – you’re likely to feel and look tired and jaded on the big day. But cutting down on foods which negatively affect the way you look makes sense. And the earlier you start this, the better. In her book, Eat Pretty, US beauty editor Jolene Hart identifies a number of ‘beauty betrayers’ – which are bad for the skin and hair and general vitality. These include refined sugar, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and dairy. Nothing too new here then. But the knack is to replace these with food and drinks that are positively good for you and importantly, you enjoy so it’s no great hardship. I cut down on my coffee intake by substituting peppermint tea for my morning latte. Peppermint tea is associated both with tummy and skin calming. I now prefer the taste and zing to the caffeine jitters too. You can eat clean and light with minimum prep too. Essential as there’s always something else to do at this time. Here’s a pretty salad bursting with nutrients beneficial to the skin that’s quick and easy to make. Avocado, pomegranate, orange and green leaf salad. For each person Half a large ripe avocado – or a whole small one Quarter pomegranate or handful of blueberries Half an orange Large handful of dark green leaves – mix of whatever’s available eg spinach, lambs lettuce, rocket, watercress Tablespoon of pumpkin seeds Dressing (enough for several servings – can be kept in a jar in the fridge for 5 days) 4 tablespoons good oil – eg cold pressed extra virgin olive, cold pressed rape seed oil or omega 3 rich flax seed oil 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (‘with the mother’ is best) Clove of garlic 2 Tablespoons of chopped green herbs – eg flat or curly parsley, chives, chervil, basil , lovage (nb don’t use lovage if pregnant! Pinch of sea salt Black pepper Blend together dressing ingredients. Remove peel and pith from Orange, slice horizontally into rounds and then cut each slice into 4 Slice avocado Arrange orange and avocado on the green leaves and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds. Dress. Toss salad . Enjoy. Tip 2 – alkalise Caffeine, alcohol and heavy proteins are problematic partly because they form acidity in the body which in turn places stress on body function which can have negative effects on the skin and hair. So acidity is not just about the ‘acid stomachs’ beloved by pharmaceutical company ads. My mother always used to say that fresh lemon juice in warm water first thing on a morning gave you a clear skin and there would appear to be a scientific reason for this. Lemons are a great alkaliser (surprising as it may seem, ‘sour’ citrus fruits like lemons and limes actually have an alkalising effect on the body). Tip 3 … boost So far, this has all been about counteracting the negative. But the real health and beauty gain comes from focusing on taking in the good stuff to give your body a real nutritional boost. Coming up to the wedding, upping your intake of juice is a great idea. But not just any old juice. Fresh juice made predominantly from organic vegetables, just sweetened with fruit is brimming with nutrients, Green juice is a good alkaliser too. This is a long way from the sweet pasteurised fruit juices found in supermarkets. Make your own in a home juicer – or buy from a local suppler of good juice – key terms to look for are ‘raw’, ‘cold pressed’ and ‘organic’. Typical ingredients are cucumber, celery, spinach, kale and broccoli with a little fruit (e.g. apple, pear or pineapple) to sweeten. In the fortnight leading up to the wedding, I drank a lot of green juice. For me, it had a calming effect too. Must be all that cucumber. I’m not a big believer in supplements unless they are medically prescribed for a specific deficiency as I think you can get all you need from eating good healthy whole food. However adding in some natural ‘superfoods’ to your diet is a great quick way to add a bit of a boost. My wedding morning smoothie was romaine lettuce, flax seeds, banana, pear and maca- all whizzed together with coconut water. Keen to get my regular omega 3 intake (flax seeds) for lubricating these old joints in preparation for dancing. And maca – well, in additional to its supposed aphrodisiac qualities (!!) it is traditionally said to be a great energiser. All in all, with the electrolyte rich coconut water, it provided a good hydration base for the celebration to come. Tip 4 – relax …breathe …sleep There will be lots to do but it will all be done in time and family and friends all want to lend a helping hand. Delegate! If you have a yoga or meditation practice, it will be especially useful at this time to help you relax. But walking outside in ‘nature’ be it a park, the countryside or by the sea or river is perfect to take in those essential balancing negative ions. And make sure you’re well rested. Beauty sleep indeed. Tip 5 – enjoy Smile, laugh and enjoy every minute of the lead up and of course The Day itself. Treasure each and every moment with your partner and leave worrying about the scheduling and whether the band will turn up etc to others. A happy bride is a lovely one.