Hiring A Makeup Artist For Your Wedding

Here in America, engagement season is in full swing.

image by Sergio, makeup by Corinna Cooke

The big question gets popped more between Thanksgiving in November and Valentine’s Day in February than at any other time of the year.
So over the next few months brides are going to be planning their weddings, creating wedding budgets and allocating vast sums of money to an array of vendors, all of whom will be part of making this the best day of their life.

With your budget, which may run from a few thousand dollars to over a million dollars, its important that you, the bride, make sure that attention is paid to the areas that are important to you.
If your flowers are important to you, don’t go cheap on them. If a wedding video is important to you, don’t have your cousin shoot it for free – hire a really great wedding videographer.
If your wedding photographs are important to you, don’t find the cheapest photographer – find the one who brings your dreams to life. (As a side note here, I have never, ever heard a bride say she was really glad she scrimped and got a cut rate photographer to capture her on her big day. There’s a reason photographers charge what they charge. Don’t expect a $5000 job from a $500 photographer – its just not going to happen.)

image by Sergio, makeup by Corinna Cooke

Within the budget you are creating, right from the very start, allocate money for beauty.
This is the one day of your life where looking and feeling beautiful really really counts. You’re spending money on your dress, your flowers, your photographer, and now you need to make a plan for your hair and makeup. Many brides leave this part of the planning until later, and end up with only a tiny amount of money left to make them look their most beautiful on their big day.
Your hair stylist and makeup artist play a massively important role in your day.

image by Sarah Hagerty for Phoenix Bride and Groom Magazine,
makeup by Corinna Cooke

Today I want to address the makeup part of the equation, specifically booking a makeup artist.
Generally when a bride is working with a wedding planner, the planner will make a point of discussing the hair and makeup team, and the importance of booking them early. The good ones always get booked up.

Lately I’ve been noticing in my own market, and then hearing from fellow makeup artists both nationwide and from far flung regions around the world, this crazy trend where so called makeup artists, or beginner artists, are offering their services for weddings at ridiculously low prices. Sometimes even on Groupon.

At first glance this may seem like a banging deal.
But maybe you should look at the total picture, and see just what you might be getting yourself into.

In the markets that I have researched, including my own, pricing for makeup artists for weddings tends to run into 3 tiers.

1)The most expensive, which is typically comprised of a handful of artists with enormous experience and incredible skills. If they are in your price point, grab one before they get fully booked. And they will get fully booked.

2)Next there’s the main tier of makeup artists. Their pricing will be very similar, normally within
$5 – $15 of one another. These artists tend to be very good at what they do. In general they have plenty of wedding experience, are able to airbrush, and are going to do a great job.

3) Then there is the bottom tier. These artists are super cheap. In most instances in life you get what you pay for, and there is a reason why these artists charge well below the median.

So lets have a look at what goes into pricing for wedding makeup.

* Training.
I concede that some of the greatest artists in the world have had no formal training.

Bill Gates left school early. But most people who leave school early don’t turn into Bill Gates.
Although you may run into the next Pat McGrath or Billy B in your search for a wedding makeup artist, there’s a strong chance that you won’t.

If a quality artist hasn’t been to a makeup school, they probably are still always pursuing higher knowledge, and are on a quest for greater skills. Some of the most exceptional artists that I know, from all  around the world, constantly seek more training and attend workshops and day classes as often as they can.
In a constantly evolving business it is really important that an artist is keeping up with training to remain both relevant and on point with current technologies and trends.
An artist who is paying for more training is going to cost a bit more. And they will be worth it.

* Professional Products
When an artist opens their kit you should see mostly professional, or at least high quality products in there.
Professional products are different from most commercial retail products in that they are more highly pigmented, so colors stay truer and more even, they are more refined, built to withstand more, and they are going to last longer on your skin.

Think of it this way: professional makeup is designed to make movie stars look flawless when shot in the most unforgiving HD and shown on a screen that’s 30 feet tall. That’s the kind of clarity and perfection you want for your wedding day makeup. And you won’t get that from products purchased at a drugstore or from a distributor.
I personally like to airbrush my brides so that their skin looks flawless but not overly made up, and also because the airbrush product I use lasts a good 14 hours.
Building a kit with quality products costs money, and that will be reflected in the artist’s pricing.
A kit that is full of cheapie products or products that are not intended to be used in the professional arena is not likely to produce a makeup that will last. And most wedding makeup needs to last at least 12 hours.

* Experience.
How many weddings has your makeup artist done? What other makeup experience do they have?
Anyone with an instagram account or access to youtube can apply foundation or put on lips, but when it comes to a wedding, experience is important.
For example: does your artist know how to interpret the light? You maybe getting ready in a softly lit hotel room, but your pictures are happening in bold, afternoon light. Someone who knows what they are doing will factor that in when choosing intensity and color of makeup, length of lashes and how much gloss or sheen will work on your lips.
Even more importantly someone with experience will know how to handle all kinds of calamities that may arise. And with weddings, things do happen. From unexpected tears, to people running late, to allergies, to stressed out skin, to giant day-of-the-wedding pimples popping up, to an unexpectedly hot/cold/windy/rainy/humid/dry/sunny/cloudy you name it day, and plenty more.
Sometimes the most mellow, sweet natured girl will turn into a demon on her wedding day (luckily not often though). An experienced artist will be able to see whats really going on and roll with it, rather than getting frazzled or moody. An experienced artist will not only arrive with a makeup kit full of products that are ready to fix any problem, but he or she will be able to diffuse situations before they arise, stay calm and friendly, and keep everything moving along.

image by Stuart Thurlkill for Eyes 2 See Photography
makeup by Corinna Cooke

I’ve been hearing horror stories from girls in bridal parties, about hideous makeup in prior weddings that they’ve had to wash off and redo themselves, unclean brushes and products being used, colors mismatched, looking like ghosts or raccoons in wedding pictures – you name it. They tell me over and over that they wish they or the bride from that wedding had had the foresight to book someone better.
And funnily enough, I have never heard anyone say that they are so eternally happy that they booked a $35 makeup artist for their wedding, or that they looked and felt their most beautiful in their smoking deal, super cheapie makeup job.
It tends to be the exact opposite.

When choosing your makeup artist for your wedding day, do some research.
Find out what experience the artist has.
Ask to see some of their prior work.
Schedule a trial well ahead of time, so that you still have time and options if you don’t like their work, or don’t mesh with them.
When you have your trial keep an eye out for cleanliness. Brushes, tools, makeup and makeup cases should be clean. Both for hygiene and also as indication of the artist’s professionalism.

A final thought from a fellow makeup artist:

Don’t let a $45 makeup job ruin $4000 of photography….