Tappan Hill Mansion wedding makeup
Bruce Plotkin Photography

Hiring a wedding makeup artist

Hiring a wedding makeup artist is an important decision not to be taken lightly.  Doing your due diligence in knowing the right questions to ask a wedding makeup artist will streamline the process of who you secure for your wedding day.  In addition to hiring a wedding makeup artist to bring out an elevated version of yourself, you want to be sure you are hiring an experienced and reliable professional.  As a wedding makeup artist of nearly 21 years, these are the top questions to ask when hiring a wedding makeup artist.

Are you available on my wedding date?

On occasion, I will receive an inquiry outside of my wedding contact form with no date information requesting rates.  A wedding makeup artist can’t offer rates without knowing if they are available for your date.  This is a waste of your wedding planning time to gather rates from unavailable wedding makeup artists.  Most wedding makeup artists have a contact form.  Be very clear on your needs such as the date, location, headcount for makeup and approximate time you all need to be ready.  In most cases, you won’t know your final wedding day timeline until closer to the date but a general idea helps us determine our availability.

how far in advance should I be hiring a wedding makeup artist?

Pay no attention to the planning timeline advice wedding resource sites are dishing out in terms of hiring a wedding makeup artist.  They are often far off base on their timeline advice.  Hiring a wedding makeup artist is a process of research and figuring out what you want.  It is recommended to begin your process at least 8 months to a year plus in advance.  Waiting less than this time frame will reduce your chance of finding the right available makeup artist.  No need to be scrambling months ahead of your wedding when hiring a wedding makeup artist.

How many weddings do you service in a day?

This is a very important question to ask every wedding makeup artist you are exploring.  Some will book two weddings in one day.  Personally, I prefer to secure one wedding a day to ensure I am available for my bride’s timing needs.  My brides often do not know the exact timeline until about a month prior.  I do not want to have any time conflicts arise with another wedding.  Always ask if they have another wedding booked to avoid a conflict with your own timing needs before you go to contract.

What do your rates include?

Some wedding makeup artists publish their rates while others require you to fill out a contact form.  Verify published rates are current.  Are lashes and airbrushing available and included or an optional add on?  Are there any early morning fees? Will you be charged late fees if you don’t arrive on time per the contract?  What about any travel fees? How much will it cost for you to retain your makeup artist to stay through your photos and ceremony?  If additional makeup artists are needed, is there an additional fee?  Is a makeup trial included or a separate fee?  Is there a touch-up kit included for the bride?  Are touch up products available for purchase?  All fees should be explained to you in advance so there is no confusion or surprises.

Will you travel to me?

Some wedding makeup artists only work out of a studio requiring you to come to them.  Other wedding makeup artists solely provide on-location services and travel to you.  Be sure to ask how far they are willing to travel and if any additional travel accommodations are required.  Do they charge for travel hourly or a dollar amount per each mile round trip?  Do they include certain areas or a set amount of round trip mileage before they begin charging?  What about on-location trials, do they charge for travel as well?

can I do a trial before or after I book my date?

I prefer brides to meet with me first for a makeup trial because I want this to be a mutual fit.  Other makeup artists may require you to book the date first and do your makeup trial closer to your wedding date.  On a rare occasion, I will have a bride book me in advance of a makeup trial.  Usually, this is because we have previously worked together or they are an out of town bride.  Regardless of when you do your makeup trial, it is advisable that you do one.  There are no do-overs on your wedding day.  You need to be confident in how you look and feel.  Doing a makeup trial is equally as important for you as it is for your makeup artist.  This is an opportunity to communicate your vision with your makeup artist and ensure you are on the same page.

What does a makeup trial entail?

Always ask how long a makeup trial is allocated for and if there are additional fees should it go longer.  You need to know how the makeup artist will communicate with you during your trial.  Should you bring examples of makeup you like and a photo of your dress?  Will they want to see how you plan to wear your hair?  How many looks are included with your trial?  What happens if you don’t like your makeup or want to make changes?  What is their process of prepping your skin?  Will they take photos of your makeup and document notes?  Your makeup trial is a chance for you and the artist to collaborate together to design your wedding day look.  This is an opportunity for you to speak up if you are not sure about something and to get the look just right.

Do you have professional wedding photos of your makeup work?

This is not the day to hire the less experienced.  Make sure when hiring a makeup artist they have the experience, favorable reviews, photos, etc. so you can vet their experience and reliability.  You’ll also be able to get a sense of their signature style and if it speaks to your vision.

What brands of makeup do you use?

If you have known allergies or sensitives to certain brands you need to discuss this in advance of who you hire.  Perhaps you only prefer to hire a makeup artist that works with natural, cruelty-free or vegan makeup lines.  Are the products they use camera-ready, pigmented and durable to withstand all the hours of getting ready, photos and through your ceremony?  Will you need to have touch-ups throughout the day?  If so, will the makeup artist stay or be able to provide you with touch-up products?  Will the makeup artist allow you to use some of your own makeup?  A true wedding makeup professional will carry professional-grade products in their kit as well as a wide range of tones to suit everyone in your bridal party.

how long will my makeup last?

Beauty prep often starts in the morning depending on your day-of timeline.  The time of year and weather plays a role in your wedding makeup longevity.  Are you going to be very shiny throughout the day or will you cry?  It is essential to ask your makeup artist what products and methods they use to guarantee your makeup will hold up through tears, heat, and humidity. Many makeup artists offer an hourly service to stay through photos and ceremony.  Ask if this is an option if you like the security that your makeup artist is with you all day.  Most if not all of my brides marrying during the warmer months will keep me up until the ceremony or even after.  I personally like to be there as well to ensure my bride and her bridal party look flawless through all key moments of the day and photography.

Can you cover tattoos?

Some brides opt to have tattoos, scars, and birthmarks covered on their wedding day.  When hiring a makeup artist always ask if they have the expertise to handle this request.  Find out what the additional fee is and what products will be used to ensure it won’t transfer onto your dress, fiance or guests.

how many people can you handle on your own?

Some artists have a minimum and some may only do the bride.  Some can do several makeup applications on their own while others have a maximum headcount and need to bring in an additional artist.  You need to ask how much time they allocate for each person and how many they can handle.  A typical wedding day makeup application can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour for the bride and 30-45 minutes per each additional. A trained professional will know how to execute each makeup application allowing for buffer and ensuring you are all on time for photos.

should I pay for makeup for my bridal party?

It’s your day, but you also want to ensure that your bridal party looks their best. Some brides require their bridal party to get their makeup professionally done together and some just offer it as a courtesy. When hiring a wedding makeup artist do ask what your options are so your bridal party is aware well in advance.  It is always nice to pay for your bridal party to have their makeup done as a gift.  However, if your budget does not allow this some brides will help offset the cost for their bridal party. Regardless, who you hire as your wedding makeup artist should be solely your choice.  It is your day and you deserve to look and feel spectacular.

Do I need to sign a contract?

Yes, you should absolutely sign a contract as you would with every other wedding vendor.  This protects both you and the makeup artist you have hired.  If a makeup artist does not require a contract this is a red flag.  A seasoned professional makeup artist is also a business owner and will treat their business accordingly.

What are the payment terms?

Before signing a contract, make sure all of the payment terms are clearly outlined.  How much is the date retainer? When is the balance due? What are the cancelation terms? What forms of payment are accepted?

Do you have a backup makeup artist?

This is another important reason to make sure you have a contract with the wedding makeup artist you choose to hire.  Be sure to ask them what their backup plan is in the event of an emergency, extreme illness, or act of God.  Out of one’s control situations happen unexpectedly but a true wedding makeup professional will have a backup plan to replace themself.  You do not want to be left scrambling last minute to find an available makeup artist.

Do you bring portable lighting?

I have worked in countless venues, homes, and hotels with limited and poor lighting. This makes it incredibly challenging to execute my job efficiently.  It is important that your makeup is applied in proper lighting to make sure your it is photographing accurately in all lighting.  A serious professional makeup artist will invest in portable lighting designed for makeup.

For more suggested questions to ask when hiring a wedding makeup artist feel free to check out my FAQ page here!