So you want to be a bridal makeup artist?

Blog January 23, 2017

Today’s blog post features hints and tips for getting started and becoming a successful bridal makeup artist or hairstylist.

bridal makeup artist, lipstick, behind the scenes, wedding makeup, so you want to be a bridal makeup artist?

So you want to be a bridal makeup artist?  Or a bridal hairstylist? Bridal Makeup (and hairstyling) can be one of the most rewarding sides of the industry. Both financially, as we charge a per-person rate, and also knowing you contributed to one of the most important days in someone’s life. That sense of satisfaction and feeling of pride when a bride looks in the mirror and says, “I love it” is second to none!

However, it can also be one of the most challenging areas to work in. We’d all heard horror stories of “bridezillas”. Thankfully in reality they are few and far between, (though I have had a few “mumzillas” and “maidzillas”), but there are always heightened emotions on a wedding day. You’re ability to promote and maintain a sense of calm on the wedding day will make your job easier, and keep the bridal party happier. Happy brides lead to more referrals, which can be one of the best sources of work for you.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about how to become a successful bridal makeup artist or hairstylist. Whether you’re a brand new artist just starting out, or a seasoned professional, I’m sure you will find something of value to help you grow your business. I’ll provide professional makeup artist tips, including how to get started as a bridal makeup artist, the best ways to get your name out there and get bookings, developing a better bridal portfolio, how to best communicate with your brides in the lead up to their big day, making sure everything runs smoothly on the wedding day and the bridal party is happy, the best bridal makeup products to stock in your kit, networking with other industry professionals, social media do’s and don’ts, along with answering any questions you may have. I also plan to interview several special guests & wedding industry superstars, who will share some of their tips with our readers too.

Getting Started

Many makeup artists start out doing bridal work, as they know someone who is getting married, and that bride will ask them to do their makeup. Family and friends are always a great source of referrals, so make sure that you let everyone know you are “open for business” and taking bookings for weddings. Even if you have just started doing makeup, maybe you have just finished your course (or are still studying), and are just building up your kit. Having a friend or someone you already know as your first bridal client can make things a lot easier, as you will have lots of opportunities to discuss how the day is going to go. I remember the first bride I had was a lady I met in the dog park. Our dogs became friends, then we became friends, and it was almost a natural progression that I would do her makeup for her wedding. We had a couple of “play days” where I would do her makeup and try out a few different things. (Note: I never recommend a “free trial” but when you are just starting out, with a friend, I think you are helping each other here, so its OK). Make sure you take photos, both with flash and without, so you know how the makeup will photograph. Remember her wedding photography is one of the most expensive parts of the wedding; you want to make sure that your work looks perfect on the day AND in her photos. It’s a good idea to take “before and after” photos too, brides love these, and it’s a great way to show off your work.

If you don’t personally know anyone getting married in the near future, chances are someone you know, knows someone getting married. Word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising – so make sure you talk to EVERYONE and let them know what you’re doing.

You’ll need to start developing a portfolio of your work. If you’ve just finished a makeup course, chances are you have a few photos already. If you’re planning on concentrating on bridal work, think about the images that you want in your portfolio, brides might be scared off by too many photos of zombies, wound victims, severed fingers and other SPFX makeup. I always recommend you tailor your portfolio to the type of work you want to do. If you’re setting up a website, you can have a separate page for your SPFX and Character work, or a separate folder on a Facebook business page (I’ll write more on portfolio building for bridal makeup artists, websites and Facebook pages in the coming weeks…)

Business cards are essential! Not only to hand out to people you may meet, but keep them on your workstation on the wedding day so you can hand them to bridesmaids and relatives, and also to the other bridal suppliers you will meet that morning. (Usually this will be the florist or someone dropping off the flowers, photographer and videographer) Make sure you ask for their cards too (More on this in the Networking post…) Your business card should have your name, contact details (phone number) and website/social media details. You can get very cheap business cards (maybe even free!) online at VistaPrint, but spending a little bit more will allow you more control over the design and get you a good quality card which makes more of an impression.

Another great way to get started, gain experience and learn how everything runs at the wedding day preparation is to assist an established makeup artist. Established artist will often take on larger bridal parties, and will require assistants to ensure everything runs on time. You will usually be responsible for little tasks like cleaning brushes or the airbrush gun, re-organising the artist’s kit and general helping out, but as your artist begins to trust you more, she may get you to do other tasks, like skin prep, false eyelashes and more. I have had many assistants who I have trained and I eventually go on to refer weddings to them if I am already booked. There is a definite etiquette expected from you when you are assisting, but that is a whole other blog post too.

Congratulations! You have booked your first bride and embarked on an exciting, rewarding career as a bridal makeup artist.


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Photo credit:  Tom Hall Photography

Bride: Jessica

Makeup Artist: Sue McLaurin Makeup Artist