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The Business of Bridal Beauty

As we kick off a new year, I wanted to make it a point to keep client education a top priority for my business. I work with people from so many backgrounds, and it's surprising the amount of people who aren't aware of a lot of the reasons they may be having issues with their skin, lashes, or makeup.

Today I'd like to talk about the business of wedding makeup, and all of the behind the scenes factors that go into cultivating bridal beauty, along with some tips for helping your wedding day to go as smoothly as possible.


The person of your dreams has popped the question, you've set a date, and you're in full planning mode. You notice the next item on your list is finding a hair and makeup artist to make you look like the most beautiful bride imaginable.

The timeframe of when you book your artist is important, believe it or not. It's not something you can wait until the last minute to book. Wedding season is generally May through October, and most artists get booked 8-14 months in advance, with some popular dates getting booked earlier than that. There are a few exceptions, and you can definitely find artists who are less busy and have a more flexible schedule, and may be available less than 6 months out. However, don't assume that your last minute planning is our emergency. 


Pricing is always a hot topic for brides, no matter how frivolous or budget-conscious they may be with their money. But to assume that makeup and hair should be at the bottom of the barrel in terms of value-perceived services is irresponsible. This your wedding day hair and makeup we are talking about. If you're going through the process of planning an elaborate event with chiavari chairs and an ice sculpture, don't you think your face deserves the same kind of attention? 

It's true that not all makeup and hair artists charge the same. But it's also true that you get what you pay for. So let's break down what exactly you ARE paying for:

Education and Experience. Depending on which state you're in, a lot of MUAH artists are required to be licensed cosmetologists or estheticians before they can lay a finger on you. This means they've gone through 6-18 months of secondary education (and $10-30k+ of student loans) just to be trained in anatomy and physiology, hair types and textures, color theory, skin disorders, safety and sanitation, all before they've picked up a curing iron or makeup brush. Add on additional training they may have invested in, to specialize in makeup or any other services they may offer. They've invested a lot of time and money in themselves, as well as their kit (which can be worth over $5k+), plus the costs of continuing education, insurance, and taxes. Their professionalism proves they're a legitimate business, and their value is on par with the services they offer, so you should take this into consideration. How long they've been in the field should also be factored in. A lot of experience means they've had the chance to work with people with all skin types, tones, and textures, not just doing makeup on themselves. Trust me, doing a flawless cut-crease on yourself takes a lot of talent, but I've seen a lot of those same people choke when it comes to doing the simplest of tasks on someone else. Either their color matching is off, or they use the wrong formula for their skin type, or worse, they just pour the foundation on their skin, leaving them with a makeup mask. In other words, it might not be the best idea to trust your sister's boyfriend's cousin with bringing her little makeup bag to do your makeup for the first time with her 2 shades of expired foundation and dirty brushes. MUAs also get requests to discount their services if someone wants "just" their eyes done, or a "very natural no makeup look". Most artists won't offer discounts for several reasons, mainly being that they're still going to give the same attention to each client regardless of what features are requiring focus, and in reality, a "no makeup" look can actually take longer and MORE product to achieve than a dramatic look.

Product. As mentioned above, a professional artist has a well-established kit, which (should) have a variety of skin prep, foundations, shadows, blushes, powders, and lip colors, all in multiple formulations and finishes that are suitable for virtually any client that sits in their chair. Have you been to a Sephora lately? How much did you spend on makeup last year, just for yourself? Exactly. Try buying enough makeup for people of every skin tone and type and get back to me with that total. In reality most professional makeup artists do get a small discount on pro products for their kit, but it isn't a lot. So just keep that in mind next time you buy a single bottle of foundation or that new eye palette that some beauty influencer launched.

Time and Attention. You're a bride. You're important. It's your big day. Don't you want to feel special on your big day? We want that for you as well. Your MUAH artist spends a lot of time communicating with you via phone, email, and in-person coffee dates to make sure you're happy every step of the way, even BEFORE your wedding day arrives! Every question and concern you might have is greeted with courtesy and care, and that involves a lot of time and attention. But while we want you to feel special (because you are), please keep in mind we are doing the same with all of our other clients as well. This usually involves the help of automated systems and client software, and added expenses that we have to pay for just to keep our ducks in a row. Travel and lodging fees also come into play when we have to come to you for your big day. We are loading up all of our products and tools, filling up our gas tanks, and driving (or flying) long distances to provide a personal service. If you had to travel for your job, wouldn't you want to be compensated for it? Ultimately, on your wedding day, we want you to feel relaxed and pampered, not rushed and stressed. This is all part of the experience that we offer in order for you to have the best wedding day you possibly can, and why you get what you pay for.


This is such a touchy subject, but it needs to be addressed. Your wedding day makeup can not be done in 10 minutes. Plan accordingly. We can not give you an accurate quote until we have a solid timeline. We can not give you an accurate timeline until we know when you need to be ready by. This information is usually given to you by your photographer or wedding coordinator. Since I have also been a photographer for 15 years, I can speak personally on this. Open communication is KEY with brides to allow for the best wedding day possible. Whether you're getting photos done pre-ceremony, having a first look, or going straight from getting ready to the ceremony, you need to have a deadline for when you have to be ready. Once we have that time, we work backwards to construct a beauty itinerary based on how many clients we are working with. And we know from experience (and your *inspiration photos") how long it should take per person. Then we give you a start time. This is non-negotiable. It may involve an early start time, an assistant /additional artist, or just throwing a whole bridesmaid away (just kidding). But seriously, you can not expect a full glam hair and makeup masterpiece in 15 minutes per person. Ain't gonna happen.

"...if you're someone who is chronically a negative person, there is no amount of skin prep or expensive lip gloss that can cover a bad self-image."


Pinterest can be a useful tool for recipes, crafts, vision boards, and creative inspiration. What it is not intended for is copying a beauty look down to every detail. We always appreciate a reference photo during the planning process. It's a necessary part of the communication and achieving the hairstyle or makeup look you desire (and it's also a great opportunity to test it out during a makeup trial or preview). But please keep in mind that the model in the photo may not share the same hair color or texture as you, so the updo you want may not look the same on you as it does in the picture. The same goes for makeup. If you have a different eye shape or other facial features than the person in the photo, that makeup look may not look the same on you. Also be aware that most of the images you see are heavily photoshopped, and EVERYONE has pores and flaws in reality. 


What a great segue from the above topic. It needs to be said that we are makeup artists, not magicians. We are not able to eliminate pores, deep wrinkles, or facial hair that should have been waxed prior to the wedding day. We can not cure your history of failing to take care of your skin (and that includes forgetting to put sunscreen on and getting sunburned the week of your wedding). However, we ARE there to enhance your natural beauty and flatter your best features to make you feel and look like the most beautiful version of yourself. And truly great makeup artists have some magical tricks up their sleeves that make it seem like they really CAN create miracles. Ultimately, our goal is to make you feel confident and beautiful, and to celebrate in this amazingly happy day. But if you're someone who is chronically a negative person, there is no amount of skin prep or expensive lip gloss that can cover a bad self-image. It is imperative that your mind is in a healthy place so that you can receive the positive flow of beauty vibes that are being poured all over you.

I hope I have successfully given you some new things to consider when planning for investing in your wedding day makeup experience. There are so many things that go on behind the scenes that most people aren't aware of, so if you've learned anything new today, my article was successful. On a final note, we are not "just hairstylists" or "just makeup artists". We are beauty professionals and we deserve to be treated (and paid) accordingly for all that we do, because we truly love our beautiful brides.