As a professional makeup artist, I work almost exclusively with brides. In many conversations with young women planning Their Day, I often hear an obvious lack of knowledge about what they should be discussing with me. I find they really have no idea what questions to ask….or what answers they ought to be getting.
The person you choose to provide your makeup services the day of your wedding will likely be spending several hours with you and your bridal party. It’s important that she or he be a person you like being around! You might even suggest to your attendants that they have makeup done by this person, which means that the results of her work will be the focal point of about 80% of the photos taken that day. So trust and confidence in this person is very important, wouldn’t you agree?
Book an artist you feel comfortable with, that you communicate easily with and who you naturally find yourself trusting. The makeup artist’s first priority is to provide beautiful makeup in the style you want, but she should also offer some moral support, help to boost your confidence and soothe your raw nerves in those last hours before you walk down the aisle.
So here is a list of questions that you should ask most of, if not all, based on your needs and circumstances, to ensure you’re hiring a professional who will provide the level of services you deserve on Your wedding day.
How do I book you for my wedding date? Do you require a deposit? What about a contract?
Understand what the artist requires to secure your date on her book. Sometimes the deposit will be nominal, but most will require 25 – 50% of the total package of services. And be sure to get it all in writing, with receipts for each payment. A well-written contract will list the services being provided to each member of your bridal party with a schedule of appointment times. There should also be provisions made for unusual or unforeseen events like cancellation of the contract or illness on the wedding day. This gives you legal recourse to recover your funds if the artist does not provide the services as agreed. Be wary of any artist who does not provide a contract or does not want a deposit. There once was a time when all business could be done on a handshake, but for something this important, do you really want to risk it?
Will it be YOU at my wedding or another artist? What happens if you can’t make it on my day?
The artist who does your Trial Run or Preview Session should be the artist who does your makeup on your wedding day. This is the person you’ve discussed the details of your wishes and developed a report with. Some larger studios and salons will not give you that promise, so be sure to ask. Also ask what happens if that artist is unable to come on your wedding day. Any studio, salon or even free-lance artist worth booking will have a back-up plan.
How many weddings have you done? Do you normally work with brides?
Just as in any profession, makeup artists can “specialize” in any number of areas. Those who work with brides exclusively will understand their needs better than an artist who works with runway models or for print advertising. In addition to providing beautiful makeup in the style requested, a bridal artist must be mobile, be able to work with unpredictable lighting and space in various settings (hotel rooms or wedding venue dressing rooms), adhere to a tight schedule, and remain calm, relaxed and supportive for nervous brides experiencing the occasional pre-ceremony meltdown.
What is your background? Where did you learn to apply makeup?
While I do not believe that this is the most important question to ask, it should still be asked. After all, there are incredibly talented artists who have never set foot in a classroom! Many great artists learn from fellow coworkers and are just as good if not better than a classicaly trained classroom artist. Overall, the artist’s portfolio or most recent work should weigh more heavily in your decision. But the answer to this question may give you insight into who this person is and whether you’ll “click” with them.
May I see your portfolio?
Her portfolio will give you a good indication of her versatility and style. Are all the faces made up the same like a cookie-cutter, or has she brought out the best in each face? Will she follow your style requests and welcome input from you and your bridal party? After all, this day is about YOU, not her portfolio, career advancement or ego.
Do you have a website or blog?
This is a good indication of the artist’s level of professionalism and dedication to her career. You will probably gain your first impression of the artist from online media, and so it should be informative, complete and current. Any artist with photos of work she did in the 20th century on her site is not the artist you want on your wedding day.
What do you charge?
While this shouldn’t be the only criteria you look at before hiring an artist, it must be considered, of course! Ask about packages or individual prices that fit the size of your bridal party or if there’s a rate reduction with a certain size group. Also ask what’s included in that rate for example false eyelashes or airbrush foundation or if she stays through the ceremony. Most artists will charge additional rates to stay throughout the ceremony or for touch up products.
What size of bridal party do you accommodate? How long will it take to get makeup for my bridal party of <fill in the blank>?
If you have a large bridal party, this will be a very important question to ask. If you ceremony is at 11:00 AM and you have 8 attendants, be prepared to be out of bed early that day. Most artists will need a minimum of 40 minutes with each bridesmaid, to as much as an hour with the bride. Make sure you carefully plan enough time on the wedding day so that preparations are not rushed.
Can you duplicate a makeup look from pictures in a magazine?
Not all artists are comfortable working from a picture, while others may insist you provide one. Just be sure the picture you take her is of a woman with similar bone structure and skin tone as yourself. Eye makeup styles that look great on large, almond-shaped eyes like Madonna’s will not look the same on smaller, round eyes like Katie Couric.
What methods of payment do you accept?
Make sure that you have the funds available for her preferred payment method for the day of. Many artists only accept cash or check.
My wedding is on a Saturday and the services that I need are less than the weekend minimum to book. Can I still hire you?
If your bridal party is very small or they are not opting for makeup services, you may run into this with artists who provide bridal makeup services for a living, and thus must reserve their in-demand dates for larger groups. And while most artists will allow you to pay the difference between the smaller package and the weekend minimum, others may refuse or require a higher non-refundable deposit to protect their interests should you change your mind. But if you love the artist’s work and feel comfortable with her, you may feel the extra cost is money well spent.
What kinds/brands of products do you use? Is this makeup good for pictures or photography?
You may not recognize the name brands used by pro artists, and that’s OK. What you’re really looking for is to exclude any artists who use one specific brand exclusively. As a professional who has used many, many brands, I can assure you that no single company does everything “right” for every person or situation. Select an artist who can change products to fit your needs and your skin. A bride having her morning wedding outdoors in July in Texas will need very different products than a bride in Chicago for her evening candlelit ceremony in January.
How do I keep my makeup fresh for the whole day? How will the product wear? What about color-matched products to touch up with?
This is another area where choice of products is so important, and having an artist that can tailor those products to fit your needs and skin. Professional products will stay fresh looking for many hours longer than most consumer-grade products. Many artists will also provide products for touch-ups at her cost.
I have skin allergies or severe acne. Can you work with me? Do you airbrush? Can you contour my face? How about covering blemishes or my tattoo? Do you apply false lashes? Do you do wedding hair?
Based on your particular needs, you may want to ask some or all of these questions and I’ve listed them here as a group just to get your mind thinking these details……
Do you charge a travel or location fee? How far do you travel for that fee? What other travel-related expenses will I need to cover? What will be the total cost of the services I want?
Many artists will offer on-location makeup for your wedding day, but may require that you travel to their studio or salon for your Trial Run. It may be possible to have a Trial Run at your location for an extra fee. Some artists tack on a “location fee” for any wedding venue, no matter the driving distance, while others include a range from their home or studio included in their service fee. Are you being quoted an hourly or per person rate for your bridal party? Either way (hourly or per person) is fine, but it’s best that you know so there are no surprises. Other fees or costs that may be extra or are deferred to the bride include parking at the hotel, covering large tattoos or providing products for touch-ups, after the artist has departed. Be sure to get a full list of what is, and is not.
What happens at the Trial Run or Preview Session? Do I come to you for this appointment? How much is the Trial or is it included in your services? How long will the Trial Run take? What is included in the Trial Run?
The Trial Run or Preview Session is so important to ensure that the makeup your artist provides on Your Day is everything that you want. It’s a good idea to take a camera with you to preserve the look she creates for you. But remember, no one ever shoots pictures of you at less than four feet away, and with a flash, except when they are trying to get details of your makeup! Shots taken that close will never be flattering – to you or the makeup! Take pictures from a natural distance in order to get a “real” feel for how it will look.
One word of caution: the “point and shoot” digital cameras readily available on the consumer market today for under $500 have a flash that is VERY different technology from the synchronized flash of your photographer’s camera. Thus, the pictures you take with these kinds of cameras WILL NOT do justice to the makeup you’re photographing. This can be very discouraging to both the bride and the artist! To avoid this, turn on all the available lights in the room and use only ambient lighting – no flash – to take pictures of the makeup. Also, have the person shooting the picture stand at least 4 feet away from you and use the zoom function, instead of coming up close to your face with the camera.
On my wedding day, do I come to you, or do you travel to my venue (or where I’m getting dressed)?
Many brides select a beauty salon or studio for the convenience of having all their beauty services under one roof. But before you opt against on-location services, consider what traveling will be like on the date of your wedding. Is it on a Saturday in the middle of football season and you live in a college town? If you have a large bridal party, how many cars will be needed to get everyone to the salon and back? Make sure you are willing to take the pressure of traveling from one location to another in any kind of traffic or weather. These are great reasons to find an artist who will come to you at your venue and take that traveling stress off your shoulders.
How many events will you work on my wedding day?
This is often an overlooked, yet crucial, question to ask before booking. If preparations on The Day don’t go quite as planned and run late, you need to know that your makeup artist will not be leaving before all the bridesmaids are done, just because she has another wedding that day. You also want to ensure you won’t be the third bridal party she’s worked for that day and arriving at your venue with dirty equipment and physically tired.
An artist who books only one wedding a day will give you and your bridal party their full attention, best work, and be more likely to stay until the job is done, regardless of delays. Keep in mind, though, that an artist who works this way may also have a minimum booking requirement, especially on weekends or for in-demand dates. Smaller bridal parties may need to recruit additional family members to have services in order to make that minimum, or pay the difference.