As a professional makeup artist, a majority of my clients are brides. A majority of them mainly ask about availability, rates and pricing when looking for an artist for their Big Day. While this is important due to budget reasons, there are also several other factors brides should consider when looking to hire a makeup artist for their wedding.
1. Licensing – Make sure that the makeup artist is appropriately licensed and/or certified according to the state law and regulations. Many states require that you be either a licensed esthetician or cosmetologist in order to charge for the service of applying makeup, eyelashes and even airbrush tanning products to someone. This is important because someone that is properly licensed has been thoroughly trained on proper sanitation and prevention of cross-contamination procedures. Also, someone who is licensed will carry liability insurance, which is good if something should happen, as opposed to someone who is not licensed as liability insurance only covers them if they are in compliance with local (state) laws.
2. Deposits & Contracts – Every wedding professional requires a deposit and a signed contract in order to reserve them for a date. Your makeup artist shouldn’t be an exception to this. Most makeup artists require 25-50% of the total services requested in order to book (reserve) them for a wedding or event. Ask if your event is the only one they will work that day, as an artist who books only one wedding a day will give you and your bridal party their full attention, best work, and be more likely to stay until the job is done, regardless of delays. Keep in mind, though, that an artist who works this way may also have a minimum booking requirement, especially on weekends or for in-demand dates.
Make sure you get receipts for all of your payments. A contract should have a clear payment schedule, complete list of services to be provided for each person, and provisions for any unusual or unforeseen events, such as illness on the wedding day. Be very wary of any artist that does not require a deposit or a contract. It is for your protection, as well as theirs, because this gives you legal recourse to recover your funds if the artist does not provide the services as agreed upon.
3. Rates & Minimums – Ask if the artist can offer a package price or rate reduction based on the size of your wedding party. Also ask what is included in the rate, such as a makeup trial for the bride, products for touch-ups, or if they stay through the ceremony. Some artists also have minimums, especially during peak wedding season times (typically May – August). If you have a smaller wedding party and can’t fulfill the minimum, sometimes the artist will require a higher non-refundable deposit to protect their interest should you change your mind. If you love the artist’s work and are comfortable with them, then you may feel the extra cost is worth it.
4. Methods of Payment – This should be clearly outlined in the contract, but asking beforehand is always good policy because not everyone accepts personal checks or is able to process credit cards. Also, find out if the artist accepts payment for bridal party members on the day of if it’s not in your budget to pay for everyone.
5. Experience – Ask how many years of experience an artist has and where they learned to apply makeup. The answer to this question may provide a lot of insight into who the person is and if you will “click” with them. Ask to see a portfolio, website, and/or blog of their work. Also ask if they work with brides and how many weddings they have done. Not every artist specializes in working with brides and may not know how to handle certain situations as well as understand the needs of the bride and bridal party. The artist should also be able to work with unpredictable lighting and space requirements, adhere to a tight schedule, and remain calm, relaxed and supportive.
6. References – This is probably the most overlooked and under-utilized step in hiring any wedding professional. Ask for contact information for 2-4 bridal clients that they have worked with in the past 12-18 months and contact them. Any wedding professional should be willing to provide this information with ease. The feedback you get maybe all you need to finalize your decision on whether or not to hire the artist.
7. Products & Brands – Ask what products and brands of products the artist uses and if they are good for photography & photos. You may not recognize all or any of the brands, but that’s okay. The objective here is to weed out any artist that exclusively uses one brand. I have worked with many different brands and products and there isn’t a single makeup line that does everything right for every person and situation. Also, if you know you are sensitive to certain brands and/or ingredients, ask if the artist has alternative products to use or would be willing to use a personal product of yours. Any artist should be willing to be flexible in this situation.
8. Travel – Many artists offer on-location services for your wedding day, but some charge additional for travel. Some artists have a radius from where they are located that they will travel at no additional charge; make sure you have a clear understanding of what is included and what isn’t so there are no surprises. All of this should also be clearly stated in the contract, as well as confirmation of location and arrival time.
9. Trial Session – Ask if the artist is available for a trial session and what does it all include. Some artists offer them in addition to makeup on the day of and others include it. A trial session is VERY important to insure that the makeup that you have on the day of is exactly what you want it to be. Make sure that you bring a camera to take pictures of your final look and photos of makeup that you like to the trial so that your artist has an idea of what you want. However, keep in mind that your expectations should be realistic to how your final look will be. Sometimes things are applied a certain way to maximize how it will look in photographs. Don’t be afraid to speak up though if something doesn’t look the way you want it to. I always tell my bridal clients to please be honest and speak up, you’re not going to hurt my feelings because it’s important that you look and feel amazing. Any professional artist should also have the same attitude. *Side note regarding cameras – Point and shoot digital cameras with flash have VERY different technology than the synchronized flash of a professional photographers camera. This will affect how your makeup looks when a photograph is taken. For best results, take the photos with natural light, at least 4 feet away and zoom into the face instead of taking one super close-up.
10. Sales Person or Artist – As your artist if they sell cosmetic products or not. You want to know if you are speaking with a sales person or artist. On your wedding day, do you and your bridal party really want to be surprised and hear a sales pitch? In my opinion, not only is this extremely unprofessional, but also rude. Make sure your artist has how you look for your wedding day as a number 1 priority, because this is what you are hiring them for.
Best wishes in your search!