Is it really worth it? Before you start to rule out hiring a professional makeup artist, consider the other vendors you'll be using that day. Would you hand over a point and shoot camera to your favorite cousin and hope for the best? This is the only chance to get your wedding day photos. There is no do-over and it's not a dress rehearsal, so be sure everything is lined up for you to be flawless and fabulous. You are going to be the focus of the majority of wedding day photos and I would imagine you are going to want to put your face in the hands of a professional. You will look back at these photos in 5, 10, 15, 20 plus years and if you have hired the best professionals your money can buy, then you will be absolutely stunning in your pictures.
I can do my own makeup, why do I need a professional? Believe it or not, I can do my own makeup too, but I would never even consider the option of applying it myself for anything as important as my wedding. Knowing how to apply makeup for every day wear or for a girls' night out is not the same as understanding how the makeup will look for a wedding day. Artificial lighting (indoor & flash) will affect the outcome of makeup differently than natural lighting (outdoor). Being able to provide a look that reacts perfectly to both types of lighting takes quality products and professional knowledge. But even trying to expertly apply my own makeup can be a challenge. Looking in the mirror throws off my perspective and I just can't quite make it perfect.
How much is a makeup artist going to cost? You will find rates vary by location and number of artists in your area. If the market is swamped with makeup artists, their rates will be competitive, but if you happen to be situated in a city where MUAs (makeup artists) are few and far between, you may be limited unless you choose to look outside your local area. The years of experience and learned skills of a MUA will also affect the price you are quoted. Cheaper isn't always the best option. A makeup artist who is in demand may have a higher rate than others, but if you truly love her work and personality, the extra money may be well worth it.
A few important questions to ask your makeup artists:
What sort of education and training have you received? Keep in mind, most states do not require a makeup artist to be licensed as such. This means that anyone with a stack of makeup and a website may be open for business. This is why it is so important to find out the qualifications of the artist. There is no "certification" for makeup artistry, so if you find an artist claiming to be certified, it may just mean she has completed some sort of course or workshop. This certification is not governed by any state regulations. Some makeup artists hold a license in cosmetology or as an esthetician. This allows them to provide services in a salon. However, the makeup training that one receives during the cosmetology course is extremely limited and focused on daily makeup wear. Extensive makeup education may be received through workshops and seminars as well as attendance at a makeup school. On hand training can be done through mentoring a professional artist or even through classes from a makeup brand such as Temptu, MAC and Make Up For Ever.
How did you get started as a makeup artist? Ask any artist and you will find a wide range of answers. Hopefully this can give you an insight as to the artist’s skills and expertise. Did he start out applying makeup to friends and family members? Perhaps he worked at a makeup counter or in a salon? Or maybe he hit the ground running and began working with photographers and models. Not one of these is by any means the correct answer; they are just going to give you more of a background of the artist's levels of ability.
May I see your portfolio? Looking at her work, you should be able to see a wide-range of makeup styles and her personal touch should be apparent. Make sure her makeup creations are appealing to you. Is it too edgy or not funky enough? Are there some classic beauty and clean makeup looks as well? Do you see real brides and not models? Ask if the artist has a website or blog you can refer to for her current work images.
May I contact your references? A professional makeup artist should be able to provide you with a list of past and current clients, both bridal and the general public. Request no less than 3 bridal references and be sure to contact them. Ask for feedback about what they liked and didn't like about the artist and how easy she was to work with. Don't forget to ask about the artist's response time to emails/texts and phone calls. Prompt replies to any client are extremely important.
Will you be the one doing my makeup on my wedding day or do you have a team of artists? This question is probably a very important aspect to consider. You've just reviewed a portfolio of images from the artist's work, or did you? How do you know which artist did the makeup if there is a "makeup team"? Just like snowflakes, no two artists are alike. Their skill and personality are as unique as the individual. Knowing which artist is going to be the one doing your makeup can really make or break the situation.
Do you specialize in bridal makeup? Brides can be extremely emotional and finding a makeup artist who is familiar with the flow of a wedding day can certainly be a positive feature. The artist will know how a wedding day timeline works and understand the importance of sticking to the schedule. The flurry of the morning activities won't interfere with her ability to provide exceptional, outstanding service even as bridesmaids are running around in a frenzy, mom is off in a corner weeping and dad can't seem to find his tux.
How large of a bridal party can you accommodate and how long will it take for our makeup to be completed? These two questions are extremely important to planning your timeline and coordinating with your photographer and hair stylist. If you have an extremely large bridal party, ask if the makeup artist will be bringing an assistant. You don't want to be rushed and stressed on the wedding day, so plan accordingly.
How much do you charge and what methods of payment will you accept? Some artists except only cash, others may take payment in the form of personal checks, money orders, Paypal and even credit and debit cards. This can be important if you are planning your destination wedding from another city or state. Find out what the total cost for the wedding day will be and make sure to ask if travel fees are extra. Some artists will charge separately and some will include it into their fees. Be sure you have a signed agreement of some sort that spells out your total amount due, your deposits, balances and when all of this money is due. This agreement should also include the number of people receiving services, the specifics of each service and if there are any extras (lashes, touch-up kits, etc.) Also, look carefully at any cancellation clause and make sure you are comfortable with it.
When do I need to book your services? Knowing how in-demand the artist is can probably provide you with enough information on whether you need to book immediately or hold out. But remember, the longer you wait to book the artist of choice, the more likely he/she is to become unavailable. Begin your search for a makeup artist as soon as you have a confirmed wedding date. I suggest at least 6-9 months out, hopefully more if you can. This will allow you enough time to contact references and discuss pricing options. Once you've decided on an artist that you really connect with, schedule a consultation or set up a meeting just to see how your personalities blend. Be respectful of the artist's time and try not to schedule a non-makeup meeting during the days she may be booked for makeup jobs. If you are comfortable enough, then set up the actual makeup consultation. Some of my brides have scheduled their makeup trial on the day of their engagement party or bridal shower. No sense in letting a great makeup application go to waste!
Are you going to try to sell me or my bridal party cosmetics? This can often be a deterrent if the makeup artist is actually a sales person in disguise. I wouldn't think any bride wants to feel pressured into purchasing makeup products on her wedding day.
Will you work from a magazine photo of the makeup look I like? Some artists prefer to have the bride bring along images of the makeup styles she likes. It often alleviates the issue of having the bride describe what she wants to the artist.
What products do you use? Many artists now offer airbrush makeup, some consider it an up charge. Be sure to ask if the makeup is suitable for film (photography/video). If it is a concern, find out if the brands are sensitive to those with allergies. Take note of the different names the artist mentions. Most will be professional brands you may not have heard of and that's perfectly fine. There should be a wide array of makeup brands and not one kit loaded with the same company.