A Bridal Makeup Artist Explains Why Looking Bomb On Your Wedding Day Costs… a Bomb

Why is wedding makeup so expensive?
Instagram: @alexperrinmua

If you’re planning a wedding, chances are you’re doing well in advance. Tallying the costs of the venue, food, dress and honeymoon, you’re looking at a staggering bill. 

When it comes to your makeup — the one step you might already do every day — it can be hard to figure out why it’s is suddenly costing you hundreds of dollars (and with no redeemable voucher at MECCA!). Is it because they’ve thrown the word “wedding” in?

It’s natural to want to look your best on a meaningful day that will provide endless content for Instagram (and any apps that are yet to emerge). But that doesn’t mean you’re wrong to wonder: why the markup?

Talking money can be awkward, so, we sat down with Alexandra Perrin, one of Sydney’s top bridal makeup artists, to figure out exactly why your wedding makeup is costing you an arm and a leg, and when (and when not) to invest. 

Firstly, Is Getting Your Wedding Makeup Done Professionally Worth It?

This writer is unmarried, so, I outsourced this question to POPSUGAR Australia‘s Managing Editor Valentina Todoroska. As a COVID-era bride whose wedding was postponed a couple of times, Valentina says cutting down on stress was one of her biggest priorities, but finding the right artist was harder than expected.

“As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted to look like myself when my now-husband saw me walking down the aisle,” she says. “It was important to me that my makeup looked natural.” Finding someone who could deliver that took a surprising amount of time, and Valentina had a few trials before settling on her MUA for the day.

Related: COVID Bride Chronicles: A Week Before My Wedding, the Pandemic Hit

When she finally got the look (after testing it for all-day wear — a hot tip) she booked in, and has no regrets. “My makeup lasted all day and touchups were minimal,” she says.”That’s not something I would have been able to achieve on my own with an oily combo skin type — makeup often slides off my skin or I look shiny within a couple of hours.”

Why Is Wedding Makeup More Expensive?

While the makeup for your big day might be “worth it,” why does it cost so much more? Let’s get into it.

1. Commitment: 

So, after looking avidly at an Instagram grid full of perfect brides, you’ve taken the plunge and booked your MUA. What you might not know, though, is that all of those picture-perfect brides were just like you — they booked months in advance and are having their wedding on the weekend.

For Alexandra Perrin, a full bridal roster means planning her life at least a year in advance around the needs of her clients.

“Everything falls on the weekend,” she explains. “As a makeup artist, you need to commit, you are completely blocking those dates off, months in advance.”

That doesn’t leave a lot of room for flexibility, and life often happens last minute. Perrin explains that she’s missed family events, life events (even funerals) and opportunities for international travel because she’s had long-booked weddings in her calendar when things have popped up.

“It’s a privilege to be involved in someone’s big day, and I would never let a client down but often people don’t realise the lack of flexibility,” she says.

2. Demand: 

Of course, price will go up based on experience, demand and the confidence the artist has in their own work.

“Of course, if you’re booking 50 clients, and maybe needing to turn down other jobs, you will need to charge more,” explains Perrin. “If you’re at the start of your career with three other clients for the year, it makes sense to charge less.”

Why is wedding makeup so expensive? Demand is one factor.
Image from Alex Perrin Instagram.
Image credit: alexperrinmua

3. High Touch vs Low Touch Service:

There are different types of services a bridal MUA will offer, with some more comprehensive than others. This is what makeup artists refer to as a “high touch” and “low touch.”

What you need comes down to the type of ceremony and, as Perrin says, “who you are as a person.” Perrin specialises in “high touch” bridal services — she’s frequently involved in destination weddings and blocks out entire days for her bridal clients so she can be available from beginning to end. This includes helping you get dressed, as well as post-event tweaks and touch-ups. These can involve dialling up the glam for your reception, topping up your Tom Ford Body Glow Oil, or helping with your hair.

Low touch services may suit your needs, but you can expect makeup artists to “finish, pack up and leave”, rather than offer round-the-clock service for the day.

“They’re not thinking outside the box around how to make the day easier and more special, and they’re not going to anticipate your needs,” Perrin explains. “Essentially, they’re there to get the makeup on your face and go.

“I know in my heart I bring a certain energy to people’s wedding days,” says Perrin, who notes that a good makeup artist “is an extra set of hands… another bridesmaid essentially, there from start to finish.”

Blocking out a day, of course, decreases an artist’s income for that day, but you’ll be able to rest assured they won’t leave you in the lurch if things run late and they need to rush to another client. 

4. Products for Bridal Makeup: 

Time is money and so is product. Makeup artists need to have a range of foundations and concealers for different skin types on hand, and they need them in every shade. A quick calculation of your favourite foundations at Mecca or Sephora and you’ll understand why most makeup artists take out insurance on their kit, and need to adjust prices to cover the cost.

Why is wedding makeup so expensive? Beauty products like skincare and makeup and the experience of an artist all play a role.
Image credit: @alexperrinmua

Does the product matter? Kind of!

“Longevity is incredibly important, particularly if you’re looking at an 18-hour day,” Perrin explains, and longevity looks different on different people. For example, while a very oily skin type will need your typical primer, 16-hour wear foundation, powder and setting spray, a dry or dehydrated complexion will need complexion products and skincare that provide them with enough nourishment to stop their makeup flaking, while still being long-wearing enough to last all day.

Related: The Products Sydney’s Top Bridal Artist Uses to Achieve “Expensive-Looking Skin”

They then need these products in the widest array of shades possible, with the right skincare to accompany them. 

Perrin says that when it comes to a bridal MUA, the products should match the price points.

“A makeup artist charging top dollar should have a great selection of premium products,” she says. “Some artists will promote great products on their Instagram, but when they open their kit they’ve been decanted and it’s hard to say what they actually are.” 

5. Experience 

Perrin says that generally, the price will go up with experience. This is simply because an MUA will be more confident in the service they can provide, will have a larger client roster to juggle, and will have examples and testimonials to back their work up with. 

So, How Do You know You’re Dealing With a Pro?

Wedding Facebook groups are full of disappointed brides who spent a fortune on venues, caterers, stylists and MUAs who fell short of expectations. How can you be sure you’re investing your time and money in an artist who’s going to justify the cost? 

Perrin says your trial is the best indicator of what your experience on the day will be like. While some makeup artists like to do their trial earlier, she prefers two months out from the wedding day.

“That way, everything else about the wedding will be set in stone,” she explains. “We’ll have the dress, the venue details, the floral and vision board.” With this information, Perrin can understand the complete vibe and style of the bride, and the day, and can bring these details into account when workshopping the look. 

While Perrin doesn’t say that inexpensive bridal MUAs are bad, or that expensive MUAs are always good, what she does say is that when vetting a potential MUA, you should watch for the one biggest red flag: no questions.

“If you’re not asking questions, you either don’t understand or you don’t care,” she says emphatically. “The makeup needs to translate. If my client is wearing a really sexy dress, that will inform the approach I take. If they’ve gone more retro or classic, that will inform the approach I take.” 

Related: Your Wedding Skincare Roadmap: When, Where and How to Prep

Covering what you do and don’t like, and asking for photos of makeups you’ve done in the past, is a helpful guide.

“Stick to two or three photos though,” advises Perrin, as anything else can be overwhelming and result in confusion.

Perrin says a big green flag is an MUA who cares.

“In my heart, I know I bring great energy because I think it’s a privilege to be involved in someone’s day,” she says. “When you think about it, you’re part of their family that morning, so a makeup artist should be interested in your story, your family and you.”

For Valentina, the experience provided by her MUA, and the comfort of knowing the best products and techniques were being used, made the service worth the investment. Sure, it’s expensive, but it’s (hopefully) a one-off, and as she says, “those wedding photos last forever!”

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