Wedding Tips: How to Hire the Best Wedding Makeup Artist


There’s a lot of misinformation in magazines and on the internet on the subject of bridal beauty. As an industry expert that has managed dozens of superstar-level makeup and hair professionals for over a decade it amazes me every time I talk to a bride-to-be to find out she’s been getting all kinds of bad advice!

Before we list warning signs that you might be hiring the wrong professional I want to tell you who is not an expert. Getting advice and recommendations is great…but don’t take their word for it! Be sure to do your own research too and talk to a few artists before making this critical hiring decision!

Venues – Hotels, Resorts, Wedding Sites, etc. all have lists of “approved vendors” that they recommend. No matter what they tell you, take their advice with a grain of salt. Some get kickbacks from vendors and many simply recommend the vendors that took them to lunch or approached them first. Some venues find one person that does an okay job and then ignores anyone else that deserves to be on their recommendation list. As an example, Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings management aggressively ignores new and talented artists and their brides are railroaded into selecting their recommendations simply out of familiarity, which are not always the best artists in town. This isn’t true of everyone, some vendors take great care in selecting their preferred vendors and are always open to new talent but it’s always something to be on the lookout for…try and get multiple references for every vendor.

Wedding Planners – Some wedding planners know their stuff and only work with the best talent. But many take kickbacks from their vendors and sometimes that interferes with their decision making. Sometimes they’ll recommend an artist that pays over an artist that is a superior talent.

Salons – Most salons, even the best in the business and the ultra-high-end ones, don’t have true makeup artists on staff. At best they may have a cosmetologist or esthetician that took a week course in makeup…buyer beware! If they have a very nice permanent makeup station or are hiring a talented and experienced independent artist to come in for special events then that may be an exception…but that situation is rare.

Hair Stylists – If they are recommending themselves here’s a BIG SECRET! 99% of talented hair stylists are good at one thing – hair. Don’t let them convince you they can do makeup too! And, for that matter, don’t let your makeup artist do your hair unless she has exceptional experience and talent in styling. It’s rare to find someone who’s good at both…and when you do, it’s often far more difficult to schedule your wedding preparations if you have a few bridesmaids…one person doing hair and makeup is a timing nightmare or poor rush job waiting to happen. Bridal hair should take 30-90 minutes depending on complexity and makeup should take 60 minutes on the bride and 20-30 minutes per bridesmaid. Take a step back and make sure you hire an artist and a stylist separately…and avoid salons unless you want a lot of traveling and timing hassles. You should also feel confident your stylist and artist can take their time and perfect every little detail with your look.

So we talked about when to be wary of advice, but let’s also talk about when to listen.

  • When multiple sources mention the same name. Multiple sources giving good reviews is a good sign.
  • Photographers. These guys and gals can save you a lot you of money in retouching when they get a great makeup artist. If they recommend an artist, listen closely!
  • Past brides. Brides or friends that have had their makeup done and give a word of mouth referral should be treated like gold.

It’s really easy to have a nice website with a lot of stock images of pretty models and say you’re a pro makeup artist. But the reality is there are really only a few dozen exceptional wedding makeup artists in Orlando and Central Florida. Here’s how to avoid making a mistake when hiring for your wedding day.

And now for the big list of warning signs! You Might Be Hiring the Wrong Makeup Artist If…

  1. …they are a cosmetologist. A cosmetologist is a hair stylist with a small amount of makeup training.
  2. …they don’t have several hundred hours of makeup schooling or an extensive portfolio and referrals.
  3. …you have to supply ANY of your own makeup or supplies.
  4. …they have to buy product to match your skin tone. (A pro makeup artist will have a complete array of products to suit all skin tones.)
  5. …they don’t show up on time to the trial run. How reliable will they be on your wedding day?  Run the other way!
  6. …they don’t have a contract. Amateur “artists” are more likely to cancel or no-show last minute!
  7. …they don’t respond promptly and get back to you same day or next business day at the latest. Many amateurs do this as a hobby and not as a profession…responding late is a big warning sign!
  8. …they don’t have extensive makeup collection and organize it neatly when working.
  9. …they are an esthetician. An esthetician is a skin care expert with little training in makeup.
  10. …they are inexpensive or downright cheap. I can’t stress this enough….in an artistic profession, the “artists” that seem like a great deal are always a great deal for a reason….and those aren’t good reasons.
  11. …if they offer airbrush but then don’t at least do foundation, highlighting, contouring and blush.  Beginners and amateurs may only do airbrush foundation and everything else freehand.  This is a good sign that they do not know what they’re doing when it comes to airbrush and you’re not getting your money’s worth.
  12. …If you need to go to their house or they need to go to your house for a trial/preview. This typically means they do this as a hobby on the side or are just getting started.
  13. …they don’t create a detailed face chart on paper during your beauty preview as reference for your wedding day.  Great artists will take notes and come perfectly prepared on your wedding day even if it’s 3 months after the preview.
  14. …they work behind a retail makeup counter. Most of the wedding day horror stories we hear comes from brides doing this. Just because someone works at MAC, ULTA or Sephora doesn’t even remotely make them a great bridal makeup artist (even though most say they do weddings all the time). Even if you like your makeup at the mall, that does not make them a professional. Much more goes into providing perfect wedding day beauty than retail experience can provide.

Ultimately, you should take a few hours and do your own research and read lots of reviews online from previous brides. Call and speak directly to at least 2 or 3 artists in advance to get a good feel for who you get along with best. The best professional makeup artists and agencies should immediately inspire confidence and trust.

Be safe, hire a dedicated wedding artist or agency and rest easy knowing you’ll get the best possible beauty experience.

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1 Comment

  1. Frugal Wedding Tips on June 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Frugal Wedding Tips…

    How to know if you have the wrong Wedding Makeup Artist – M3 Wedding…

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