Are you having your hair and makeup done?

So you're getting married. Details and planning galore for the day you've been waiting for and somebody asks you... are you having your hair and makeup done?

Bridal Hair & Makeup. WarPaint International. 

Bridal Hair & Makeup. WarPaint International. 

Wedding Day Makeup. Jessica Mae of WarPaint International.

Wedding Day Makeup. Jessica Mae of WarPaint International.

This question comes up every day. Do you ask the advice of your friends? Do your friends do it for you? Do you hit the internet? Do you need these services? The answer largely depends on you and you alone, but I do have a story to tell. This story is for both brides-to-be and beauty service providers. There are many pitfalls to arranging the day of your wedding. My story and advice on how to master the beauty aspect of it is in these following paragraphs.

I am a makeup artist. I also operate a beauty agency called WarPaint International, so my team is full of professional hair and makeup artisans. We help our clients "Prepare For Battle", in that life is a stage and everyday is a showcase to the world. We focus on special evenings (nights on the town), life events (such as weddings), print / editorial and corporate jobs. These are all special occasions that require 100% attention and talent from myself and my team. But in all my years of working in the beauty industry I have been taught the best (and hardest) lessons from my bridal clients.

I have been a bride and I know what my own expectations of that day were. But it wasn't my expectations alone that weighed heavy on the decision process; it's the mother of the bride, the best friend, the mother-in-law's best friend, the groom. Everyone will have their opinions and directives on how your day is supposed to go. So let's answer a few questions from the point of view of an artist, a bride, and a perfectionist.

1. Do I need to have my hair and makeup professionally done? I mentioned above that it's entirely up to you, but you have expectations of your day. Chances are you've hired a photographer to capture these moments and quite honestly they have expectations of you. I work with many photographers and though many of their styles are different, they all hope and ask for one simple thing. Makeup

The beauty of being a bride is the ability to focus on the essence of your natural beauty. Often times, we work with brides that are seeking a flawless, natural look to simply enhance their own features. Even the slightest bit of high quality foundation, applied by a professional that is analyzing your jaw line and looking for your natural curves, can create a photographer's heaven. The time they {the photographers} will spend cleaning your photos up will be significantly reduced, possibly saving you money and certainly short cuts on your photos. Time is money in all service industries and every photographer will only deliver the photos to you that they feel exemplify their skills. High definition pores, redness and shiny spots are their least favorite thing in the world.  If you're talking to a makeup artist that is selling you on the fact that you need a lot of makeup to be in front of a camera on your wedding, you should keep looking. If you're seeking advice from a family member or friend telling you that you're beautiful the way you are... keep looking. Not that you aren't beautiful just as you are, but I think you get my point. Minimally hire a pro to help enhance your natural features, you'll still look like you we promise. A little mascara and foundation {applied correctly} makes all the difference ladies!

That "ah ha" moment when a bride first looks in the mirror... It's what drives me to keep going.

That "ah ha" moment when a bride first looks in the mirror... It's what drives me to keep going.

2. Where do I find quality makeup and hair artists? This is a tough one. As I've grown in this industry, I've come to realize there are so many "artists" out there that are simply selling something that they are not. I started at ground zero too, but my credentials and skill sets (along with my team) have built along the way. Many times we have brides that come to us after having hired other company's or independent artists whom have willingly lost their down payments (if not more) to walk away because they came out of the trial completely orange, unfinished, or looking like they were going to the club. When your livelihood depends on listening skills and mastering your craft, you simply can't deliver poor service. Do your research, ask your friends, read online reviews, ask other vendors you've hired (tip: your photographer and wedding planner should have a few great recs for you!).

Your makeup & hair artists should make you feel cared for, confident and beautiful. They should offer suggestions of what will look great on you, but also respect your input and redirect the vision if you're not feeling it. A true professional will ask you lots of questions to find out what your personal style is so they can mesh it together with their artistic vision. 

So where do you find great talent? I think it requires diligence on your part. WarPaint International advertises on the, amongst other avenues. There is a lot of great talent there, but there are also some that lack the necessary qualifications. Here are my recommendations for selecting a great Artisan to knock your day out of the park. 

A. Communication. It starts with you. Provide your phone number when filling out an inquiry; don't passive aggressively price shop through email. It hurts you and it hurts the service provider. There is no harm in having a good conversation to feel out the other person, listen to their mannerisms, and ask detailed questions. Get on the phone or meet in person.

B. Product. Do they use quality products that stand up to heat, time, different skin types, etc, etc. Ask your artists what products they use! Professionals use a variety of products so if you're not familiar with a line that someone is using, give yourself time to check into it. Are they cutting corners? Also knowing what products you will need to have on hand for touch ups later in your day is good information to have too. Ask your artist.

C. Trials. You must have one. I do not waiver on this topic. The trial is the perfect time to test out your vision for your wedding day hair and makeup, not only to see how it will look on you and if your artist can execute it to your liking, but also to see how your look stands the test of time. Knowing if your beachy waves and nude lip will last 12+ hours is a necessity. Some people's hair just doesn't hold a curl well, so perhaps trying a different hair product or opting for a half up half down style will better suit your needs. These are all things {and more} that you will go over and try out. Never skip a trial, specifically if you're a makeup artist. Skin allergies, acne, sensitivities and other unknowns can destroy a wedding day and cause a lot of un-necessary friction. Don't do it. For out of town brides; find some time even if it's only 30mins for a "mini" trial. You will be thankful in the end, because who wants to try to pick out what eye shadow shades they want on the morning of your wedding? You will most likely have no clue what you want and it will cause undue stress on you. Have a trial done so you know exactly what to expect from your hair & makeup on the day of the wedding.

D. Presentation. In my opinion branding is everything. Does your artist show up on time? Do they have a makeup trunk or organizer? Are they organized & clean inside? Are their tools clean? Do they conduct themselves professionally, balancing chit chat with completing their mission? Do your personalities mesh well? Do you have fun with your artist?  Getting ready for your wedding should be and is the pre-party and these are the details that can make or break your day.

E. Skin & Hair recommendations. Talk to your artist. A good beauty professional understands skin and hair and the products that help it. When WarPaint is hired by a bride we ask specific questions about her skin, hair and other details of her day. This ensures that myself and my team are prepared with necessary products prior to the trial taking place. We also have tons of pre-wedding day and day of skin care tips. It helps our brides get through stress related breakouts and makes our job that much easier by arriving to a clean palette. Also, finding out how close to the big day you should have your color & cut done or if any other hair treatments are needed to get your hair in shape are essential steps for a successful style. Ask your beauty professional what preparation they want you to do before your day arrives.

F. Contracts. If you're a bride or a service provider, a contract will save you in the end. Think of this as a legal relationship. Everything that you agree upon should be in writing; the cost of the service, how many people are having services done, is there travel? If so, how far and what does that cost? Are there extra add-ons? Are there special needs? When discussing these items and and signing off on them, you are freeing yourself from ambiguity, poor customer service, and disappointment or unrealistic expectations. Furthermore contracts protect you as the client. Over the years we have had brides call us in tears because the artist they hired months ago bailed on them and even worse - they DIDN'T SHOW UP on the day of the wedding! Contracts, they are an absolute must and a professional will require it. 

G. Deposits. A true professional should require one to secure your date during a busy wedding season. Brides should be happy to pay a deposit to their beauty professional. There is a lot of room for error on both ends and tying the date to a financial amount up front makes things more seamless for both parties. I worked with a couple of brides this year that "hired" a makeup artist and just days before their wedding they cancelled on the bride to travel or engage in some personal endeavor. These are not professionals working in the industry; rather a side gig artist that does not take your special day for the urgency that you require them to. 

F. Price. This is one area where price often equals quality. As many artists grow in their career, they develop skills and experiences that can only be gained through hard work and time. A bride or any other client should expect to pay for this. If you are seeking a rockstar to deliver incredible results that were exactly what you had hoped for, you will most likely pay rockstar prices. Price points in the $150 - $350+ range for a bridal makeup package (including the trial) are not uncommon, hair packages (including the trial) can range from $190-$400+ and can be dependent upon the city/location. Remember you're not just paying your beauty pro(s) for the 45-60 minutes of service time for your trial and day of wedding service. You are paying for their expertise, time, their undivided attention for your wedding day, the days leading up to it and everything in-between. On average WarPaint International will spend 12-18+ hours on one wedding from the time the bride first inquires to when we send her a thank you note. There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes that most brides don't realize. So before you go thinking that you're going to pay $50 for your wedding makeup and have service like a queen, think again. 

G. Day of appointment schedule. This is another key element for a successful wedding day beauty experience. We provide all of our brides with a day of appointment schedule. This ensures you, the bride, that you and your wedding party will finish on time. It also keeps the beauty team focused and on point. A good rule of thumb is to allow an additional 30 minutes on the back end in case someone needs a touch up, runs late or for any other reason- a wedding day is a day to expect the unexpected so be prepared. And to be quite frank; brides if the beauty pro that you are looking into doesn't offer to do this for you as part of their package...keep looking.

H. Reviews. Does the artist/company you're looking into have any online reviews or testimonials? How many do they have? Do the reviews give you a clear idea of what to expect with this artist? This can help you narrow down your search.

I. Website. Important! Does the artist/company have a professional presence online? This is another piece that can give you a clear picture of what to expect if you hire this artist/company. A website, in my opinion, is a first impression. It should be treated as though you're on a first date. Obviously we can't always judge a book by it's cover, but part of being a professional is setting a professional image.

J. Portfolio. This is an important tool to see the artist's experience and style. However, I don't believe this should be the end all be all. Professional artists are able to create any desired look a client requests {within reason of course}. It's important to remember that the images you see are looks that were requested by the client. **Disclaimer: Pinterest & Instagram...while these are great places to source inspiration please keep in mind that these images have been "doctored" up. Keeping a realistic vision of your look is really important. We all want to look like Kim K, but if you've got blonde hair and blue eyes the chances you'll be her twin are slim to none. ;-)

3. How far in advance should I hire my beauty team? Don't wait until the last minute! We recommend booking your beauty team 8-12 months in advance. Not only will this give you piece of mind and the ability to check this off your list - but many high end, professional teams/companies book out that far in advance. If you want the best, you need to plan for it girl!

Above all else, remember - this is your wedding day! Your beauty choices are critical, not only so you look great for one day, but so that you can look back on the memories of getting ready that morning and feel happy about who you spent the morning with. Furthermore your makeup & hair will live on forever in your images. Pamper yourself. Do it right. Set aside the money to relax and "Prepare For Battle". 


Here are some guidelines for professionals in the beauty industry to help maintain your brand, integrity & reputation.

1. Always require a trial for bridal hair & makeup. Even for out of state brides. The trial (also known as consultation or preview) is meant to not only "test" out the brides look, but to get to know her and work out any kinks. In the event your bride is out of town insist that you get some face time with her even if it's only 30 mins the night before the wedding.  If you don't do a trial you are only setting yourself up for a mess the day of. That's not good for you or the client. 

2. Having a client contract signed along with a deposit should be required to book/secure a wedding date. Just do it. Trust me. For many reasons this is important, one is that your client will take you more seriously. Two, it protects you as the artist. Your time is valuable, weddings are a lot of work and the last thing you want is your bride canceling on you at the last minute because her cousin is now going to do her hair and makeup for free. A contract and a deposit makes the client less apt to cancel at the last minute. 

3. Ask your clients several questions. For example "What is your skin health like?', "Do you have any tattoos that need to be covered?", "What is your daily makeup routine like?". That way you will come prepared to the trial and also the wedding. If you need to purchase additional tools to cover a tattoo you will have ample time to do so and also try it out. 

4. Be prompt in responding to your client. Remember- this is one of the most important days of her life. If she emails you asking a question it's because she needs an answer. I discourage text message communication unless it's the morning of the wedding and you are shooting the bride (or member of the wedding party) a message to find out what room number they are in etc.

5. Communication. The second time I've listed this because it's so important. Be clear in your expectations of your client(s). Provide them with all and any information they need to know about pricing and billing. No one likes sudden changes in what is expected, so be clear with her/him.

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