Weddings are hands-down one of the most exciting celebrations to throw, but there's no question the big day comes with a whirlwind of planning. At best, it's a fun process - choosing a dress, food and planning a bachelorette party can be a blast. At its worst, though, wedding planning can be a major drain and choosing key elements like an officiant, venue and bridal makeup artist can be daunting.
Where do I start looking for a bridal makeup artist?
Real-talk: getting started in this process is tough. Perhaps you're in a few Facebook groups, have had recommendations from friends, received services in the past when you were in a bridal party, or have a wedding vendor site to browse through. It's a lot! Here are my tips for finding the bridal makeup artist that's right for your big day.
Make a wish-list of what you're looking for in an artist
Makeup should be one of the fun, stress-free elements of your wedding day, and starting with a clear idea of your expectations will help narrow down your search from the get-go. Think of things like budget, timing, overall style and aesthetic, any particular brands you'd prefer the artist uses, and personality. Try to develop this list on your own - makeup is a very personal choice, and I've seen brides get influenced by friends and family who simply don't share their style or expectations end up going through multiple trials because they're swimming in varying ideas of how they "should" look on their wedding day.
Take a multi-pronged approach and keep track of anyone you reach out to
Sites like Weddingwire.ca, wedding Facebook groups, friendly recommendations and good ol' fashioned Google are all fine places to start your search. Have your main details handy to share with artists - wedding date, number of services required and timing if possible. To keep things straight, I suggest a Google sheet or some paper to keep track of anyone you're considering reaching out to with their contact information.
Check reviews and portfolios for a clear picture of the artist's style
Some brides want full Kardashian glam, others want a Glossier-esque look, while some simply want as little makeup as necessary the day of their wedding. There are hundreds of artists to choose from, but one sure-fire way to know if an artist is going to be a fit is getting a good sense of their portfolio and client reviews. Great artists should be able to cater to your entire party's needs, but you want to find an artist who's overall aesthetic gels with your own expectations so you feel like your best self the day of.
Measure how responsive and courteous the artist is before you even meet
While you're certainly hiring an artist for their talent and skills, customer service levels should not go unnoticed when you're communicating before even meeting. If the artist responds in a timely manner, is polite, flexible and clear in their communications before and during your wedding planning, take that as a positive sign and don't be afraid to let it be something that influences your overall decision. At the end of the day, artists working in the bridal industry should be understanding and accommodating at all times as it's simply the reality of the work we're in.
Invest in that trial. Seriously.
Listen - as a married woman myself, I know the financial struggle in wedding planning is so. real. I looked for every possible place to cut costs as all of the tiny things added up, and it's not uncommon for a bride to skip a makeup trial as its another cost that can feel easy to cut out. If you consider yourself a low-key, easy-going bride, then skipping a trial can work out - I've worked with several brides in the past that were thrilled with their look day-of despite not running a trial.
That said, if there's a voice in you that thinks it would be helpful, I strongly suggest investing in a trial even if it's simply to rest assured you and your artist are in sync. In my experience, a trial run should have three parts:
- A discussion about your wedding day, your style, your vision, reviewing inspo pics, and getting a sense of your expectations and any important notes like allergies or skin type.
- The makeup application, which should involve a clear walk-through of what the artist is doing to capture your look, and
- The hours following. I always tell clients a trial-run truly starts when we finish your makeup - the most important aspect of going through the process is to wear your makeup out and about for a few hours after leaving, seeing how it wears on the skin, how it feels, looks in different light, etc. You might have an idea of what you want but after a trial, might change your mind or want some tweaks.
Of course, if you're between artists, trials are key. It's essential in seeing if you and the artist click, if they can translate your vision into reality, ensure they follow industry best practices (for example, proper sanitation) and to understand what you're ultimately getting for your money.
What else should I be looking for when finding a bridal makeup artist?
Finally, here are a few additional things to look out for to ensure you find the perfect bridal makeup artist for your wedding.
Proper sanitation techniques. During a trial, keep an eye out for things like disposable applicators for lips and mascara, stainless steel surfaces for things like foundation, concealer, etc., sanitizing powders with an alcohol-based spray and scooping out cream products like lipstick and cream blush vs. dipping into the product directly. You also want to ensure brushes are sanitized between clients. Be vigilant with this - you don't want any cross-contamination or to catch someone else's germs!
A professional kit. Artists should have a variety of product in their kits that can be used on all skin colours and types and suit the needs of your wedding day (think long-wear product that will stay put). Don't balk if you spot some drugstore brands in a kit (there is some seriously amazing stuff out there these days!), but be mindful of the overall quality of products throughout a kit.
Cheaper isn't always better. Again, I know it can seem like a lot to spend upwards of $100 per person for hair and makeup for one day, especially when wedding costs add up so quickly. However, remember an artist's price should reflect their time, years of experience behind them, investment in continuous training, replacing tools, quality kit products in a wide range, and more. $40 a face might seem like an incredible deal to capitalize on, but don't be afraid to dig a little and understand what's behind that fee when you're making your choice.