What you should know, consider and understand before booking your Wedding Day Makeup Artist.
When searching for your wedding Makeup Artist, some may compare it to online dating. You start this quest by swiping through portfolio pictures, liking some social media pictures, and then eventually reaching out to “the one” whose work you like most. Knowing that this makeup slaying queen could be off the market soon (aka already booked for your wedding date), you start constantly checking your email in hopes of receiving a message back.
Typically, a MUA is booked anywhere from 6-12 months before your wedding. Here are some things to keep in mind before you put all your beauty blending eggs in one basket.
Do Some Homework.
Think about the style of makeup you are into, and make sure the artist you are interested in has examples of similar looks in their portfolio. You want to be confident that your artist understands your vision and will be able to recreate that look for you. Check out their Instagram page. Ladies, this is huge! Most of us will have more professional pictures of our work on our websites, and a good mix of behind-the-scenes images, candid pics, and before-and-after shots mixed in with some professional pictures on our social media accounts. It’s a great way to get a sense of your artist’s personality. For instance, if you look at my Instagram, it is about 80% makeup-related posts and 20% lifestyle posts. So many of my brides will comment to me about one of my posts. It’s a great way for you to get a peek into your artist’s life, and it’s such a great chance to gauge if your personalities will mesh. Let’s not forget this person is going to be around you on one of your most vulnerable and important days.
Before you book your trial, you should have a ballpark idea of what the rates are for you potential Artist. If you think your MUA is out of your league for pricing, don’t book a trial. Haggling with the artist about prices usually isn’t welcome. I talk more about this later!
Girls, think of your trial as your first date with your potential MUA -- the “let’s see how this goes, and if I want to see you again …” moment. It’s definitely more than a coffee date and more like a dinner date and, if it goes well, a potential contract that takes this relationship right to the wedding day. God, if dating was only that easy in real life….
Here are some great tips for your trial.
So, after the website and social media stalking, it’s time that your artist gets to know more about you and your vision! I always ask my brides to bring some pictures of makeup looks that they love, and a picture of themselves that they feel is a pretty one. Ladies, bring all the pictures you want, it may seem like overkill, but the truth is, a professional artist will pick out similarities in those pictures that you might not even notice. This is a surefire way to communicate to your artist what you like. In my experience, most MUAs are visual learners, so if you tell us “I would like a light purple on my lid,” that could mean a hundred different shades to us. But if you show us a picture of the actual color you like, recreating it becomes much easier.
There’s one small, but important, detail to remember while compiling pictures. When you are picking out your fav makeup looks, ask yourself “Do I have similar coloring, face shape, etc., as this person? Am I around the same age as the person in these pictures?” We always expect to get a picture or two of Kim K from just about everyone, and we chalk that up to our clients wanting great brows and an amazing contour. However, if your coloring resembles someone more fair skinned and light-eyed, say of Lindsey Lohan’s, it can get confusing. Keep your expectations realistic; you want to be the most gorgeous version of yourself and no one else.
Your Trial is Done! It went spectacularly; you feel you have met your makeup soulmate, so much so that you are ready to shout it out to the world and do your own version of the Tom Cruise-on-Oprah’s-couch dance! Before you go any further, please make sure your dream MUA offers you a contract for services. The problem is, without a contract, you have no guarantee that they will show up. They could get a higher-paying job and leave you stranded. I have heard too many heartbreaking stories about artists who cancel, or even worse, ghost a bride on her big day. And as fun as our job might seem, it’s our business after all. All your other wedding vendors will have a contract for their services; makeup should be no exception. So make sure you have a contract in place that spells out all the fees, including extra day-of fees such as parking, travel, tolls, touchups, and increases for last-minute add-on clients. Having this all out in the open and agreed upon keeps everyone on the same page. It’s just as much for your protection as it is for us.
Costs of Services.
This is the part that I hope I can shed some light on and explain a little further for everyone. You know the old saying, “you get what you pay for”?? Well, here is a breakdown of what you should be getting from your MUA.
On an average, we speak to each bride between 2 and 4 hours from inception to the day of the wedding. That's referring to the emailing, the texting, and the phone calls, but does not including the time we spend together at your trial and on the big day. Typically, a bridal makeup artist has anywhere from 25-50 weddings a season and is communicating with each bride she has booked and additional bridal inquiries throughout that 6 to 8-month season.
If you are hiring an artist with less experience (20-100 weddings lifetime experience), that will reflect in their pricing. If you are hiring an artist who has over ten years’ experience, these artists will cost you more. Experience is a huge selling point. I was hired for a wedding last year, and the inexperienced hairstylist had a freakout moment when the tiara for the flower girl was, in fact, an adult size tiara (cue the flash-sweaty armpits). So as the bride started to freak out as well, I grabbed that humongous crown, and I bent that sucker until it fit. I called the hotel front desk for some pliers, a couple of snips later and -- Presto‼ Done!! Crisis averted!! When you hire a professional, the last thing you need is for them to freak out right along with you if something goes wrong. They should not only really be ready for absolutely anything, but also be a calming influence when glitches happen.
We factor in mileage, parking and tolls to get to you for your big day. Some artists will lump this into the rate for the bride, and so will list it separately.
Service and Products.
I have seen other artists break down the cost of the products in other articles, but this is the result of all the research that I have done. When executing a full-face makeup application -- natural or dramatic -- we use on average 12-15 products per face. I have compiled a list of the average cost per product of artistry and luxury lines -- anything from MAC to Tom Ford.
Face Primer: $30
Setting Powder: $32
Eye Primer: $22
3 eye shadows: $60
False Lashes: $ 17
Lash Glue: $8
Lip Liner: $18
Lip Stick: $24
Lip Gloss: $20
Setting Spray: $34
These products have a total value of $493. Keep in mind that a professional artist should not be using a kit full of drugstore brands, but instead should be using brands created for professional use, photography, and stamina.
Let’s add in brushes and pretend that artists only use one brush per section of the face.
Fan Brush: $31
Eye Primer Brush: $32
All over eyeshadow: $30
Crease Blending Brush: $32
Slanted Eye Liner/Brow: $20
Add up the average cost of each brush, and you are looking at $316. That means that your artist is potentially using $809 (retail cost) worth of products and tools per appointment. Of course, we get a professional discount for a lot of pro brands, and
factoring that in it is still on average about the worth of $485 per face. Don’t forget -- we bring with us at least 20 different shades of foundation and concealer, and no less than 50-100 shades of lip and eye colors.
Note: I realize this is a lot of detail, but I tell you all of this not to dissuade you from using professional makeup artists, but to let you know that because of this extensive list of factors we have to consider when pricing out our services, not to mention just how quickly and often these items need replacing, haggling over them isn’t really something we can do easily or comfortably. I want you to know exactly what you’re getting when you are hiring a professional MUA. And, as I said in the beginning, you absolutely do get what you pay for.
According to The Knot, in 2016, the average wedding in the US cost $35K; in Boston: $44k; on Cape Cod: $59K; RI: $52K; and NYC: $78K. The average price for bridal makeup and trial combined is anywhere between $350-500. If you were to do the math, that means the cost of makeup is on average 1 to 1.4% of the average wedding in the US.
The Knot notes that brides in 2016 spent $4800 for photographers and videographers combined. Ladies, you will have these images for the rest of your life. They will decorate your homes. Your kids and grandkids will remember you by them; do yourself a favor and budget for the artist you want! Remember -- we want you to love how you look and feel as beautiful as possible!
I know that’s a lot of info. And although they might seem sort of mundane, these are some of the very important, although not necessarily sexy, details that I think every bride should have in mind as they embark on planning for their big day. Next time, more makeup tips and tricks -- I promise!
And, as always, if there are questions you’d like me to answer, or topics you’d like to see me address here, please reach out and let me know‼ ‘Til next time!