Hello, gorgeous! Are you a bride-to-be? Congratulations! It’s an exciting time and even though I don’t know you, I’m happy for you.
But let’s be real–wedding planning can be overwhelming. There are SO MANY VENDORS to choose from, and unless you work in the industry or have been involved with planning a wedding before, it’s hard to know where to start. Websites like WeddingWire and The Knot can help with the process, as can a good wedding planner. But when it comes to choosing a beauty services company, it can be tricky figuring out which ones are good and which ones will make your planning harder than it needs to be.
The first thing I recommend is to check out vendor listings on WeddingWire. Pour yourself a glass of wine/cup of coffee/a margarita because this might take a while. You’ll see some basic info and a few pictures from each company and if you like their work, look at their website and Instagram. (If they don’t have a website, you’re likely not dealing with a very professional or established company.) If their website looks legit and their pricing is in your budget (hopefully it’s on their website), then read through their reviews.
There will probably be more positive than negative reviews, so I suggest sorting the reviews by lowest rating. If you see a theme of the same bad vendor behavior in the reviews, that can be a warning sign. I’m not talking a couple reviews or ones that don’t say anything but just give a low rating. But if you consistently see the same negative comments or low ratings in the same area, be careful.
A few things to watch for in the reviews.
Punctuality. Many of the bad reviews I’ve read start with “They showed up 15/30/45 minutes late.” If you see several reviews that mention makeup artists/hair stylists being late the day of, bustle your gown so you can run. Wedding hair and makeup professionals are usually the first vendor of the day to arrive, so if they don’t start on time, that can have a domino effect and make your whole day run late. There’s enough to worry about with the day-of timeline, so why put the start to your day in the hands of a vendor who dismisses the importance of that?
Responsiveness. Wedding planning is a time sensitive thing, and sometimes you can’t make your next move with one vendor until another vendor answers you. And that should not take several days or weeks. If you see multiple reviews that say a hair and makeup company was slow to respond or brides often had to chase them down for responses, do not book them. They’re guaranteed to add stress to your wedding planning, and that’s the last thing you need! WeddingWire has a specific “Responsiveness” category, so I strongly recommend looking at that in the overall rating for a vendor.
Running on Schedule. An experienced wedding hair and makeup team should run on schedule, so buyer beware if you see a lot of reviews stating a particular company ran late. As long as the people in your group show up on time, know what they want, have their hair prepped properly, show up with a makeup-free face and don’t get up from the chair during their service(s), the hair stylists and makeup artists should be able to complete all services in the allotted time.
One Contact Person. Multiple points of contact for any wedding vendor transaction can add a lot of confusion to the process. If you come across reviews that mention this issue, tread carefully. A company with constant turnover or lack of internal structure is likely to add some unnecessary frustration to your planning process.
No Excuses. Most wedding review websites will allow vendors to respond to reviews. If you read negative-review responses that are full of excuses from a beauty services company, I strongly suggest you move on. Excuses and defensiveness are signs that a company lacks professionalism, and is that really who you want to deal with?
After you’ve narrowed down your choices, you’ll want to ask some questions once you establish that the company has your date available. If they can’t answer some of these questions or seem to be evading certain ones, proceed with caution.
How long have you been in business? Not just the hair stylists and makeup artists on the team, but how long has the company been around? Experience doesn’t guarantee that a more established company will always be better, but being in business for at least five years means there is a good chance the company has come across (and hopefully smoothed out) all of the normal issues on the operational side, and has learned how to make the entire beauty process smooth and easy for their clients. A brand new business may not be aware of how to handle everything because it’s hard to know how to address issues you haven’t encountered yet. If you have a question they haven’t heard or a situation they haven’t come across yet, that may cause delays and confusion that will negatively affect your experience.
Do you do this full time or part-time? Ideally whoever your main point of contact is (the owner, your hair stylist or makeup artist, a bridal coordinator, etc.) will work full-time. Wedding questions are sometimes time sensitive and having to wait several days for a response because your point of contact only works three days a week can be frustrating and cause delays with your wedding planning process.
Are there any hidden fees? At AB Beauty, all of our charges are covered in the rates list, contract and/or FAQs on the password protected page we have for clients and potential clients. There are no surprise charges and your rates are locked in once you book, regardless of company rate increases. If a beauty company can’t provide you with all of their rates and charges in writing, don’t trust them. That’s not tinnitus you’re hearing–it’s warning bells.
Do you use a contract? Steer clear of a company that doesn’t use a contract. I’ve gotten several calls from panicked brides over the years whose beauty team last minute cancelled on them, and in those situations, the services were almost always “booked” without a written contract. A good contract will protect both parties, and is also a testament to the level of professionalism that company has.
How much is the deposit/retainer? Amounts can vary depending on the services you book, but you should be able to get a definitive answer on how much your’s would be. If a company can’t provide that answer for you, or seems like they are just saying a number, that’s suspect.
Do you travel? Let’s face it–it’s way more convenient and comfortable to have your beauty team go to you. It eliminates the level of stress that accompanies having to get to a salon or studio and back, never mind the chunk of time that takes out of your day. If this isn’t important to you, that’s cool. But it’s something worth asking about if you’re possibly considering having a team go to you.
Do you use a schedule? At AB Beauty, we do an average of 12 hair and 12 makeup services at each wedding (but have done as many as 22 of each). Without a schedule for hair and makeup, things can get very chaotic, very quickly. And do you know what chaos leads to? Things not running on time. We’re occasionally booked for just hair services or just makeup services and work with another company for whatever we aren’t doing, and when they don’t have a schedule, it always causes the day to run less smoothly than it would with a schedule.
How do your trials work? If you are going to do a trial–and I strongly recommend you do–you’ll want to find out where the company does their trials, how much a trial costs, if they have certain days or hours they do trials, etc., as some of these factors may influence whether or not you want to book with them. Your point of contact should be able to give you clear answers to these questions without hesitation.
What kind of makeup do you use? There are lot of great product lines out there, and maybe you like specific ones. An experienced makeup artist should be able to name three or four of the lines they use most. I personally wouldn’t recommend booking a makeup artist who has a kit full of drugstore makeup, as it those products overall (with a few exceptions) don’t tend to stay on as long or blend as well as higher end makeup products.
Are false lashes included? If you are interested in false lashes, you’ll want to ask if they are included in the makeup service (they are at AB Beauty!) or are a separate cost.
Will I have the same makeup artist and hair stylist the day-of as I would at my trial? If you’re doing a hair and makeup trial, you’ll of course want specific hair and makeup looks, but you’ll also want to make sure you like and trust your artist and stylist. Some companies will put you with different people the day of your wedding and while they may be able to duplicate your trial looks, you may not have the same rapport as you did with your original team. I strongly suggest working with a company who does not switch artists and stylists from your trial.
How many weddings do you normally do each year? If you are unclear as to whether or not you are dealing with an established company, hit ’em with this question. If they tell you they only do five or ten weddings a year, it’s either a part-time or new business and they probably don’t have the type of experience a company who does 50+ a year does. That will likely translate into a less of a smooth process, so I’d keep that in mind.
Do you have any references? If a company doesn’t have many reviews but you like everything else you have seen or read, there’s no reason you can’t ask for references from past brides. If a company can’t or won’t honor your request for this, something is up.
One more thing that’s worth a mention: As you comb through websites and Instagram, you may see some people who call themselves “celebrity” hair stylists and makeup artists. True celebrity hair and stylists and makeup artists don’t usually promote themselves as such, and if they are full-time celebrity makeup artists, they are likely not doing weddings for non-celebs. I’ve noticed that some people in my industry refer to themselves as celebrity artists/stylists, and they’re people who have worked with maybe a couple “celebrities” (and I use that term loosely). I’ve worked with a few celebrities too, but that doesn’t make me a celebrity makeup artist. It’s one thing if someone refers to an makeup artist or hair stylist that way in an article, but if you see the person promote themselves as one, check out their IMDB page and website portfolio and make your own judgement.
I hope this post is helpful to anyone trying to figure out how to book a professional, experienced and talented wedding beauty team. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment.
Have a beautiful day (and wedding)! 🙂