Did you get engaged recently? Is someone you know getting married sometime soon? More couples get engaged during the holiday season through Valentine’s Day than at any other time of the year. If you are reading this at the time of publishing, or if you are planning your wedding, or helping someone plan theirs, then you may be thinking about hiring a makeup artist for the big day.
I work on weddings around 30 weekends per year, and have been the makeup artist on more than 400 weddings.
Most weekends I have bridesmaids telling me makeup horror stories from other weddings they have been in, sometimes sadly, their own. Multiple times per year I get panicked phone calls from brides whose makeup artist has cancelled on them the week of the wedding, or who hasn’t shown up the day of the wedding. Luckily I have a team of makeup assistants for whom this becomes another layer of job security as they race off across town to take care of the bride in need!
The nightmare stories and bad experiences are easily avoidable if you know what to look for when hiring a makeup artist for your wedding. I’ve broken down 10 things to look for when hiring a makeup artist for your wedding. If you use this as a guide you should have no difficulty finding the right makeup artist for your big day!
10 Tips For Hiring A Makeup Artist For Your Wedding Day
1.What Is Their Career Background?
Who is this person and what have they done career-wise? Is this person a professional makeup artist or are they a makeup hobbiest? There is a big difference between someone who has a makeup box and likes playing with makeup products and someone who does this for a living.
A professional makeup artist is going to know how to maneuver your makeup to work with the light, is going to know how your makeup will photograph, will use products designed for professionals and built to last all night. A professional will know how to help you out if something unforeseen happens, such as a giant wedding day pimple, a bad sunburn the day before, an unexpected crying fit. Lots of things can happen and they frequently do. A professional makeup artist is a huge asset when they do.
Personally I have had to sew brides into their dresses, have had bridesmaids arrive covered in hives from allergies to the Arizona plant-life, have had to do repair-work on brides who have had unexpected (and expected!) crying episodes. I have had brides who have woken up with a giant pimple, others with a cold sore, and brides who out of pre-wedding nerves have broken out in sweat, drenching clothes, hair and makeup. After 400+ weddings I have pretty much seen it all!
In each case having a professional artist who knows what to do and can stay calm has been a lifesaver. Someone with a makeup hobby probably wouldn’t have been much of an asset.
2. Read Their Reviews
Before you hire someone to do your makeup for your wedding you need to know a little bit more about them and their work ethic, and the best way to find this is by reading their reviews. Is this artist on The Knot or Wedding Wire? Wedding vendor sites can be a good source of information because the artist can’t mess with reviews and delete the ones they don’t like.
You can get a good idea about this person when you read a series of reviews that all say similar things. He/she was punctual and fun, organized and on top of their schedule for the day, made everyone look and feel beautiful, was easy to work with. When you see multiple brides all saying the same types of positive things about this artist you can be confident that this person is a good hire.
Sometimes you find your makeup artist because they did your friend’s wedding or another family member’s wedding and have come with a good referral. I always think referral business is the best business! If you don’t know where to begin looking for a makeup artist for your wedding try asking friends who they used and if they had a good experience.
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3. Are You Comfortable With Their Personality?
It is really important to find a makeup artist whose personality meshes with yours. This person is going to be with you and your girls all morning, and how the personality game plays out can set the tone for the entire day.
If you are upbeat and bubbly and fun and your makeup artist is dull and depressing it can feel like a wet blanket has been thrown on your party. If you are quiet and more reserved and your makeup artist is loud and obnoxious you won’t care how good he/she is at doing a smoky eye, she is going to drive you crazy!
Watch out for the artist with the super ego and watch out for the energy vampire. Your wedding day is about you, not your artist, so the person you hire has to be able to go with the flow.
A good makeup artist will be able to take everything in stride, won’t get moody, will keep everything on time and won’t get stressed out.
4. Ask For Samples Of Their Work
Everyone can talk a good game and tell you stories of jobs they have done, but can they back it up with pictures?
Before social media became such a big deal artists had to ask photographers for images from the weddings they worked on, and it could take ages before they received them (busy photographers don’t always have time to get pictures for makeup artists!), but now everyone is posting pictures from their wedding on Instagram and Facebook, so a working artist should be able to show you lots of images of their work even if it’s just scrolling through the insta feeds of previous brides.
Look to see if there is variety in their work, and also to see if they are showing the style of makeup that you are looking for. If their images are predominantly Kardashian-style, heavy duty makeup and you prefer a more scaled back look then that artist may not be the fit you are looking for. If you like big, bold looks and this artist only has pretty, soft, neutral looks to show you, then that may not work either.
A good makeup artist can do any type of makeup look, so make sure you ask them if you don’t see the type of look you are planning on.
5. Does This Artist Have A Contract?
Does your artist have a contract for you to sign, that outlines the specifics for your wedding, and what is covered?
Weddings are a business. The artist you hire should treat your big day as business. That means they should be highly organized and have a good business system in place. Their contract needs to detail how many people they are doing, if they are bringing an assistant and if so how many people that assistant is responsible for, what time they are leaving you, and how much everything will cost (with no hidden surprises). When you fill out your contract you should be 100% certain of everything that is included, so there is no confusion on your wedding day.
If your artist uses a contract they are not likely to skip out on your wedding and leave you high and dry.
An artist who treat weddings as a business is going to be thinking about the referral business they can get from your wedding and the review that you will write them. They are going to be aware that they need to make sure they meet your needs, do a fabulous job, are lovely to be around and leave you feeling happy and beautiful. Because that is how you stay in business.
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6. Does This Artist Have A Clean, Well Prepared Kit?
When you have a trial makeup with your prospective artist observe their kit. Is it clean? Is it organized? Is it full of cheap products or is it built on professional products? Are their brushes clean?
Above all else the makeup artist you hire must practice a high standard of hygiene. Do not ever let anyone put a dirty makeup brush on your skin!
I don’t know any successful, professional makeup artists who have dirty, unorganized makeup kits. If a makeup kit is full of drugstore products that may not be the artist you want to hire. With few exceptions drugstore products aren’t designed to last all day. They tend to have lower quality ingredients and aren’t as pigmented as professional products. There are exceptions and most artists will have a variety of product brands in their kit, but a kit should not be predominantly built from cheap products.
7. Is This Artist Asking You Questions?
Is the artist you are having a trial with or talking to about your wedding asking you a lot of questions? They should be. Your makeup needs to be telling the same story as the rest of your wedding. It needs to compliment your dress, your hair, and the overall vibe of your wedding. The artist needs to get a feel for who you are, what your comfort level is with makeup, how you want to look on your wedding day.
They also need to be asking you what time of day you are getting married – makeup for an 11 am ceremony is going to be different from makeup for 6pm wedding. They need to be asking about your location, your flowers, your dress, your hair. Your makeup artist needs to be asking you a lot of questions.
The look they design for your wedding day needs to be built from all these questions. You don’t want to hire someone who just does their thing on your face, not taking into account who you are and what your wants and needs are.
8. Is This Makeup Artist Listening to You?
This goes hand in hand with the previous item. Your makeup artist needs to ask you a lot of questions and then listen to you. If you are not feeling heard then this is not the person to hire for the biggest day of your life. A good makeup artist is also a good listener.
9. How Is Their Appearance?
A person’s appearance tells you an enormous amount about them. This is not about money or how expensive their outfit is, but it is about how they are presenting themselves and representing their business.
Is this person well groomed? Are they dressed sloppily or professionally? Are their nails groomed? Is their hair all over the place or have they made an effort to make it look nice? Are they wearing makeup? Are they wearing scary makeup? If an artist looks like an Instagram makeup picture, with giant eyebrows and sparkly highlighter with brown stripes on their cheeks, chances are that’s what they’re planning on doing to you!
Does this person present themselves in a professional manner? This is going to be the biggest day of your life, and at this point quite possibly the most expensive day of your life! Does this artist look like they appreciate and respect the fact that you are considering hiring them for such a momentous occasion?
At a wedding I did recently the bridal party were showing me photos from a friend’s wedding 2 months prior, where the makeup artist showed up in old leggings and a plaid shirt, both covered in cat or dog hair! She literally hadn’t bothered to take the time to put on clean clothes. If the person you are thinking about hiring can’t be bothered with their appearance, find someone else.
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10.Are They Discounting Their Work?
I don’t believe in discounting my work and wouldn’t be comfortable hiring someone who does. Artists who run legitimate, professional businesses seldom if ever discount their work. You are paying for their time, their experience, their quality products and the quality of their work. If someone is cutting their prices, or God forbid doing a discount service like Groupon, that either says they are not booking work or they don’t value their own work.
You need to be confident that you are paying the same as their other brides, not more.
If you hire someone because they are cheap, chances are you won’t be getting quality.
If an artist is inexpensive but meets the preceding criteria then maybe they are at the beginning of their career and are working their way up the ladder. If they behave professionally, take pride in their appearance, ask you questions and listen to your answers, work with you to create a look you fall in love with, have clean brushes and a clean, well organized kit and take pride in their work, then they may just be a really good hire.
There is a huge difference between cheap and inexpensive.
When considering hiring a makeup artist for your wedding day let price be the very last detail in your equation. Make sure they meet all the other requirements first. Sometimes you will find someone who is a perfect fit for you and who is not the most expensive person on your list. Other times you may have to raise your budget a little to get that person who is really good and meets all of your needs.
Don’t ruin $3000 of wedding photography for $50 of makeup. Don’t ruin your wedding day because you saved a few dollars and got awful makeup, or because you hired someone who was mean or didn’t show up.
Use these ten steps to make sure you find someone who makes you both look and feel absolutely gorgeous on your wedding day! If you have any other good tips please share them in the comments section.