Brides ask a ton of questions… there’s so much to research from seating plans and price lists, menus and measurements they often lose out on the details. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I get from my brides, and ones that I hear from fellow MUA’s with many of the same FAQs. Here goes…
1: Do I REALLY need a Makeup Artist? and Why is it so much more expensive than going to the MAC or Sephora makeup counter? “Becky, my friend from high school is really good at eyeshadow! My sister always does her makeup really well, I’m sure she can do mine! I know, I’ll just go to MAC, get one of the girls to paint my face and then buy all the products and I’m set!”
No, please do not go with Becky, “sister” or MAC-Lady. Yes, You do REALLY need a Makeup Artist. You need one who understands you, your style, the wedding esthetic, and is a real Professional Artist who understands bridal makeup, bridal trends and bridal photography. Not some girl who likes to play with lipsticks who is ‘really good at eyeshadow’. You need a pro who is good at doing ‘a whole face’ and an Artist who understands how close up an HD camera is really going to see your skin.
Many of the artists at are retail counters are very good, this is to take nothing from them, but there is a big difference in the level of skill and education that denotes an artist who can charge more for what they do and it’s because they bring something more to the table. There should be a professional portfolio of photos, client reviews, social media and web presence that all ties into the authenticity of the Bridal Artist you vet and hire. And if you ask me, there should also be an element of luxury! It’s your wedding day, why should you not be able to lounge around in a robe, sipping some chai tea or a mimosa and getting pampered? Who wants to schlep to a salon or a store counter, wait around, have your bare face viewed by random passers-by and then have to head back home in the rain/winter cold/summer humidity etc. before your wedding pictures and your unforgettable moment down the aisle? Nobody. No bride wants that.
On your big day, it is imperative that you get a few moments to relax before ceremony time. You want to get an artist who is mobile and will come to you so you have less running around to do on that day. You also want to make sure you did a trial with her (if time permits) before the day of so that the two of you know there is a plan in place. It is going to be your most photographed day of your ENTIRE LIFE. Hire a pro who can make you look good from every angle, in every light, and in your photographs and video. Someone who understands that a bride sweats, gets shiny, kisses people endlessly, and needs to stand out above everyone else in her photos. Get an artist who will make you shine and make you comfortable and confident in their skills. Even if you pay more for an experienced mobile artist, the relaxation time and worry-free moments prior to the ceremony will be invaluable and is money very, very, well spent.
2: Why do I need to leave a deposit?
Do all the rest of your bridal contractors take a retainer fee/deposit? Yes they do. It’s because no one wants to have a client retract services at the last minute and leave them high and dry. This happens, especially in a business where a couple sets a budget and often spend several thousand dollars over budget but don’t realize it until the last moment. If you don’t leave a deposit, that artist may book themselves with someone else and rightly so. If you don’t reserve the Artist’s time, you can’t expect them to have time for you.
Leave your retainer for the date you are booking, and try to pay your balance prior to the date. Some artists ask to be paid the balance 30 days prior to the wedding, others ask that the balance be paid on the day but give you the option to pay in advance if you wish. If you can financially manage it, pay in advance. It’s one less envelop of money to worry about giving out on the big day.
3: Can I negotiate the price? I never budgeted for a makeup/hair artist for the wedding 😦
Firstly, don’t let this happen to you. Budget it in. You’re budgeting in something for everyone else that day from music, tuxes, food, entertainment, etc. so remember to include something just for you in the budget too.
Should you try to negotiate price? Some artists may budge, some may not. Artists who post their rates directly on their websites are usually of the ‘no-nonsense’ types and don’t play games with their vendors. Some Artists use the idea of not having rates public to either try to make contact with a potential client who may not have contacted them because their price is too high for the client or to make an individualized quote depending on how deep a client’s pocket is. You can try to negotiate, but always remember that you get what you pay for. Now if Gina around the way is charging you $10 for ‘just the eyes’ and you’re happy with her, go for it. But you can always find a great artist for a reasonable price. Pricing also depends on your geographical location. Ask a friend and see if that artist will give a referral discount. Book a large party and see if they will throw in the false eyelashes for free. You never know what you may get by negotiating, but in the end, be prepared to pay their worth if they are a worthy Artist.
Also, let’s weigh the importance of a professionally done bridal hair and makeup… Those Manolos or Louboutins are only going to be seen in, maybe 2 or 3 photos. Your face and hair? That will be seen in pretty much ALL of your photos. That could be anywhere from 100-1000 photos that you will be the focus in. Do your shoes matter more than your face?! Nope. So be sure to budget for your hair and makeup accordingly. I have never known, in my 11 years, a bride who has regretted doing this.
4: Will you do touch-up services?
Now every artist is different in terms of what they do to perform their job, but professionally, I never recommend that a client do ‘touch-up services’ unless I’m staying on site or returning just after an hour or two. If a client needs a secondary makeup application before the reception or prior to photos, the Artist should start with a clean canvas and do a new application. Piling makeup on top of a sweaty, shiny, oily face is all bad. It will photograph as caked-on, opaque, heavy or even with a big colour difference (especially in women of colour) with a lot of oxidation going on due to excess oils. So no, no touch-up services. Please ask for details regarding a secondary application. If you have many hours between the ceremony and reception, this may be a great add-on for you.
5: I ONLY like ______ products! Do you use______ (<—- Insert consumer brand name cosmetic company here)?
Most artists I know are not brand loyal. We are not interested in selling you the products, we are interested in selling you our skills. Sometimes we may use items that are from a ‘prestige brand’ and sometimes we may use an item that is from the drugstore beauty section, but either way, we use items that perform. Period. An artist may use a Skinfinish by MAC or a blush colour from NARS, but their whole kit & caboodle usually doesn’t come from one place. And the mark of a good artist is someone who uses what WORKS, not just what looks expensive to a client or what they can sell a client on. And therein lies the difference between what an Artist may buy verses what a client may buy. There are some notable differences between Pro brands and Consumer brands which often affects an Artist’s purchasing choices. Consumers often buy products because they are new, exciting, and marketed well. Pros use brands because they work, they perform, they are highly pigmented, waterproof, hypoallergenic, etc. We don’t care if it comes in a jar, bin or bucket. If it works well, we want it. It doesn’t need an expensive name scrawled across the outside packaging to impress us. The fact that our colleagues all talk about how well it performs is proof enough for us.
Also, many, many artists need travel friendly kits so they often downsize by ‘depotting’. This term is used to describe the many ways we artists eliminate heavy and bulky packaging by taking our makeup items (blush, eyeshadow, powder, bronzer, etc) out of their packaging and putting them in flat empty palettes that hold a multitude of items. This saves us on lots of space. Many Artists also downsize liquids (foundations, liquid bronzers, face cream, toner, etc) by putting them in small 1/8, 1/4, or 1/2 oz bottles to eliminate the heaviness & high possibility of breakage of carrying several glass bottles in our kits. Cream products (lipsticks, concealers, cream foundations) are also often downsized too in all kinds of flat palettes for ease of mixing and, again, to eliminate packaging & weight. Which means when an Artists opens their kit and it’s full of downsized items, they could be any brand: an Artist may be using an Urban Decay eyeshadow, a La Femme blush, a Ben Nye powder, a Joe Blasco concealer, Armani foundation, and a Bobbi Brown Lipstick… but you hired the artist based on skill, photos of their work or a sound referral from someone who has hired them before so have no worries about what brands they’ve got and trust they will make you as stunning as you’ve hired them to. It doesn’t matter what they’ve used so long as it doesn’t irritate your skin, it lasts all day/night, and you love the look they’ve given you!
6: How do I know you’ll be able to do makeup on my Asian/Indian/Irish/African skin tones? Can you do “Indian” bridal makeup with heavy and dramatic eyes? Can you do “Asian” bridal makeup with a sculpted face? Can you do “African” bridal makeup with deep pigment in the blush and eyeshadows?
If you’ve hired a reputable artist, they SHOULD be able to do makeup effectively on every skin tone and skin type. They SHOULD have all the items in their kit to create any foundation shade to match any client. And they SHOULD be familiar with different cultures and how the makeup is styled differently.
That being said, some artists in more multi-ethnic and multicultural geographic regions may have more skill or more practice doing makeup regularly on a multitude of skin tones and complexions. If you live in a less multicultural area where you have not tried out the Artist you’re considering hiring, you might want to do a trial (ensure you take LOADS of pictures in all kinds of light) or you may want to considering hiring an Artist from a different part of town or a different close-by city. You may need to pay more for them to travel to you, but it would be worth it to have the peace of mind to know your Artist has the right skills and products to make you look your best. And at the end of the day, your comfort is the key to a smooth wedding day.
7: I think I want to look like Kim Kardashian! I really want that Nicki Minaj pink lipstick! I really think that I should go for J.Lo’s bronzed complexion for my ivory skin tone, don’t you think?
Remember, you may have an idea in your head of what you want but the Artist’s job is two-fold: one, to help you get the look you want and two, to help ensure the look is balanced, suits your skin tones, features and dress/accessories style, and will photograph wonderfully. So send your makeup artist an email PRIOR to the trial with a photo of yourself and a photo of the look you want. This also means that when you choose photos of looks you like, remember to picture them ON YOU and not on the girl in the photo. If you look like Brandy, but show up with a photo of Jennifer Lopez, please, please understand… You must be realistic about how a look may translate on you and whether or not it will flatter YOU specifically. (Kim K. lashes on a small almond eye? Nicki Minaj pink lipstick on a chocolate coloured lady? White-nude lipgloss on a mature bride? No.)
8: Can you change my skin colour? Can you change my eye shape?
Some tricks are easier than others. You want poutier lips? Easy. You have Brandy’s complexion but want to look like Beyonce? Harder.
And while we can take a mono-lid and double it, or take a darker complexion and brighten it, at the end of the day, the features you have are YOURS. Be proud of them! It’s what makes you who you are and makes you the person your groom-to-be is excited to marry. Be you on your wedding day!
9: I’m not sure what I want, I think I like these 10 photos of different hair and makeup styles, we can try them ALL and THEN decide on what I like, right?!
Not right. It’s okay to have an idea or two, but a trial is not meant to be a 5 hour session of playing “makeover” with your artist. It’s meant to help your artist determine your look and fine-tune the colours and shades that will be used on your big day, to make sure it photographs well, to ensure colours match the accessories or bouquet, and to ensure your skin’s comfort, and the longevity and wear-ability with the makeup. So do all the Googleing and photo scouring before the trial, so that when you see your artist you can focus on making that one look you have in mind, just perfect!
10: I really want to look amazing on my wedding day, I should try something fresh and new! Right?
Wrong. If you are the girl who is normally wearing heavy eyeliner and a pink lip, how will your Husband-to-be react when he sees you down the aisle in a smokey eye and red lipgloss? Do what suits you but what is also a recognizable style on you. Be you, just a more polished, photographic, and slightly more ‘done up’ version of you. You also want to look timeless and classy. Remember, your grand-kids could be seeing these photos one day and wondering who on earth that woman is standing beside Grandpa. So be the best version of you on your big day.
Now remember, communicating with your Artist is key. So if you have allergies, expectations, photos, or hopes and dreams about your wedding day makeup, share them with your Artist! It’s the only way they can make you gorgeous, happy and glowing on your most celebrated day.
Enjoy your big day!