Choosing the right makeup artist for your wedding

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Choosing a makeup artist is one of the first decision a bride-to-be will make during the wedding planning process.  With so many vendors in Toronto, it is not an easy task.  We asked professional bridal make up artist Ashely Downey of DAME for her advice.  Ashley has been in the makeup industry for many years.  She graciously shared her top tips on choosing the right makeup artist for your wedding.  

Experience

There are many factors that determine how the getting-ready stage of your day goes.  An experienced makeup artist and hair stylist can seriously impact the flow of the day.  Having many years of experience, not just as a makeup artist, but as a bridal makeup artist, has equipped me with an understanding of how the day typically turns out.  I know how to prepare myself for a smooth run.  I also know how to handle the moment when things are borderline rocky, all while keeping stress levels to the utmost minimum while makeup and hair is under way.

Hiring a professional makeup artist allows you keep your mind at ease.  We know how to get the answers we need to do our job efficiently and to your liking. We know what lighting we need.  We know how to ensure you look breathtaking both in-person and on camera.  We know that if you have an outdoor wedding, additional steps and certain choices are going to make or break your picture quality.  Will it be humid?  How do you combat sweating off your makeup or avoiding frizzy hair?  If its a winter wedding, what are the important steps to keep the makeup looking fresh and glowing?  The confidence and understanding of our craft is extremely important to us.

The last important thing about experience is reliability.  How many horror stories have you heard of a last minute cancellation for makeup?  I've heard too many.  When you book a reputable makeup artist, we sign a contract.  The contract binds both you and the artist to your date.  At the very worst case if the artist is bed-ridden, they will have a back up artist of the same skill set, at the ready.  I personally build a relationship with my clients, and consider you much more than a job, so potentially causing such a disaster like not showing up makes me cringe.

Always. Sign. A contract.

Skill

How can you tell who is a professional makeup artist and who is a makeup enthusiast?  Here are some questions you could ask:

  • What experience do you have with bridal?  How many brides/bridal parties have you work on over past 5 years?
  • Can I see your professional website with professional images of your work?  In the professional makeup world, an Instagram account is usually not a sufficient portfolio - unless it has a good variety of client work and not just makeup done on themselves.  If they don’t have a website, ask them to send you some images of their work or even a Facebook business page.
  • Do they offer trials and consultations before you secure a booking?  This is SO important, even if you know they are the most reputable artist on the planet.  A makeup trial makes your day go so much smoother and reduces stress because you already know what to expect and what your end result looks like.
  • Ask about your particular needs for day of... Do they have humidity proof products?  Airbrush?  Primers?  Setting sprays?  Long wear?  Whatever applies to you!
  • What is their hygiene process?

Further, professional makeup artists should know how to work on different skin tones, skin textures and skin conditions.  If they don’t know how, they may refer you to someone they know who is excellent with the particular need.  If you have a specific skin concern, it’s always great to start talking about it immediately.  Let them know so you can book your trial and work at combating your concerns.  If you were to book me, upon meeting you I begin to look at your features as we chat.  I see exactly what I would play up, and often times it will even be your favorite feature.  You want an artist who knows how to make you look like the best version of you, not like a completely different person.  Following trends which entirely change your appearance are not recommended for your wedding.  You want to be able to look back on those pictures 20 years from now, and recognize yourself.  To truly enhance yourself, the most important steps are to create a fresh, glowing, even skin tone and to make your features pop.

Price

Everyone's favorite topic when it comes to makeup application!  In this case, a bargain isn’t always best.  After you’ve researched your artist, looked for some reviews to provide credibility and spoken to them and are content to move forward... the time comes when you have to wipe the sweat off your forehead and ask for a quote.

Now that you’ve learned so much about what to look for in your makeup artist, you should realize that it’s actually a lot of work to be a makeup artist - not just the fun aspect of playing with makeup but the paperwork, the constant hygiene procedures, the time and money spent advertising, the administrative work, the constant communication, the purchasing of quality products, the travel and wear and tear on your car, the years of education and learning, all the while gaining so much experience each time we work.  This is just a small insight of the inner workings of being a self employed makeup artist.

In Toronto, the average base rate for a bride is between $125.00 and $250.00.  For bridal parties, MOH’s, MOB’s, MOG’s you can be looking anywhere between $100.00 and $150.00.  Add-on such as false eyelashes and airbrush foundation are very common and can add another $30-$50 per person.

If you’ve done enough research and the one thing that is making you hesitant is the price.  Remember that we’re the people who will be with you for a few hours while you mentally prepare yourself for a major day in your life.  You’ve invested so much time and money into the day, and you want to have these memories for a life time - why not go with someone you trust will do the job well?  I’ve experienced clients who have had a trial with myself, as well as other artists with a much lower rate and less experience, and they ended up booking with me because they saw the difference in quality and care.  If you’re worried about cost and want to look around, I always welcome you back should you change your mind.

Availability

Some mobile companies have multiple teams providing hair and makeup services, and can take multiple parties in a day.  Some artists work by themselves, and can take one, maybe two, bridal bookings a day if time allows for it.  Booking in advance, to the best of your ability, is always the ideal way to go.  Some dates are extremely popular and people can book a year or more in advance.  Most companies can accommodate last minute bookings, but know that it could be more of a challenge the longer you leave it.  I will do everything I can to take someone for their big day, but when our team is completely tied up, all we can do is refer you to another reputable company and hope they have availability.

Securing your date usually requires a deposit, so don’t be alarmed. Remember that contract?  It’s protecting you and the artist alike.  Why do we ask for a booking?  Much like the makeup artist not showing up, many artists have been victim to a last minute cancellation with no warning.  It undervalues our time, and chances are we’ve turned down one or more other bridal parties to keep your date reserved for you.  We’re looking out for ourselves, as much as we’re looking out for you.  When you sign and submit your deposit, your date is locked in.

About DAME

Ashley Downey runs DAME with her fellow makeup artist & business partner Emily MacKay.  They provide professional makeup and hair services for brides-to-be across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond.  You can also find out more about them on facebook or instagram.