The Ex(perience) Factor

At AB Beauty, we want you to be this happy not only with your hair and makeup, but with your entire experience. Photo: Rebecca at Photography by Nikki Cole Hair & Makeup: Allison Barbera Beauty

I know, I know. If you’re looking for a wedding hair and makeup team, you probably mainly want to see pictures of looks you like and rates that are in your budget–not a long blog post about why you should choose an experienced company. Photos and rates are of course important factors, but because I want you to have not only beautiful bridal hair and makeup but a smooth, easy process with your hair and makeup vendor(s), I have to write this post. What I want to tell you about is just as important as getting that low, messy-but-not-too-messy updo and that glowy makeup that also brings out your eyes.

While you absolutely should choose a talented hair and makeup team, if you want the whole package from your beauty vendor, it’s not just about the perfect hair and makeup looks. There is so much that goes into the wedding hair and makeup process–starting at your initial inquiry and ending after (yes, after) your wedding day–that hiring people who are great at hair and makeup does not mean you’ll have a good experience and get your money’s worth.

There are a ton of wedding hair stylists and makeup artists out there, but if you choose a new company that doesn’t have experience with the business side of the wedding beauty process, you could be in for a headache at best (if you consider that “best”) or a disaster at worst. I can’t tell you how many brides have contacted us over the years because their wedding hair stylist and/or makeup artist fell through, sometimes the week before their wedding. I’ve also heard countless stories of clients who couldn’t get a hold of their hair stylist or makeup artist for weeks, were over-charged or given the wrong rates, had surprise charges sprung on them the day of, worked with a company who refused to make or stick to a day-of schedule causing the wedding to start hours late, etc. And these stories had nothing to do with a hair stylist or makeup artist not being talented or skilled at their craft. It had to do with lack of professionalism and, in many cases, lack of business experience.

Working with a wedding hair and makeup company should not stress you out–but it will if the company doesn’t know what they’re doing.

At AB Beauty, not only do you get talented makeup artists and hair stylists, but a company with 11+ years of experience in the wedding beauty industry. They say that when you open a business, you should choose to either do something new that fills a need in the market, or improve upon something that already exists. I didn’t exactly re-invent the wheel when I opened an onsite wedding beauty company, but I did set out to improve upon the wedding beauty business model which was, from what I was told by clients, planners, photographers, and married friends, lacking in professionalism, organization and responsiveness.

I’ve learned so much from the business courses I’ve taken, other established business owners I pow wow with, my attorney and my accountant. I’ve also learned a lot from experience, and there’s no way that can be expedited without a time machine. I’ll be real with you: I did some things wrong my first couple years, as I would say every new business owner does. But my “first couple years” were nine years ago, so I’m way over that hump. I luckily had 10 years of business experience before I opened AB Beauty, so my early mis-steps weren’t disastrous.

Have I convinced you yet that experience is important? Good! (I imagined you nodding your head.) But I’m not going to leave you hanging, armed with this knowledge but without the tools to identify the good things, the red flags and what doesn’t matter even though it seems like it should.

Insta Fake. Should a wedding beauty company have an Instagram account? Of course! But does it matter how many followers they have? Not really. Instagram has been cracking down on this lately, but people can buy followers. So you could be looking at a page with 10,000 followers, but any number of those could be fake. When you’re checking out a business’s Instagram, first take a look at how many posts they have. If it’s under 50, you’re likely dealing with a new company. Even if they have a lot posts though, scroll through and see if what they are showing actually applies to what you want to book them for. If their page is 90% haircut photos and 10% bridal hair styling, they might not do that many weddings. Same for a makeup page that shows 90% special effects or editorial makeup photos with 10% bridal makeup photos. Between buying followers, buying likes (yes, people do that too) and retouching photos, Instagram can fake a lot. I do recommend checking out a company’s Instagram, but I wouldn’t base your booking decision off of that alone.

Scroller, beware.

http://www.itshouldexist.com If a wedding beauty company you’re looking at only has Instagram, that’s a little suspect. Where’s the background about their company? Their rates? Information about the services they offer? Yes, visuals are essential for beauty company, but that’s not all there is to it. Websites may seem old school to some people and I agree that can be accurate for certain types of businesses if they only have a website. In the wedding beauty industry though, I think it adds legitimacy to a business if you see that they have a website in addition to other social media (Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest being the most popular in the wedding beauty industry). Creating a website (or hiring someone to) requires more work and/or money than starting an Instagram account or Facebook business page. That shows that–at least at some point–the owner was investing more effort into their business, aka taking things more seriously. That can translate into them taking their clients more seriously, and isn’t that the kind of vendor you want to hire?

Main Hustle. When choosing a wedding beauty company, it’s a good idea to see what else they’ve got going on. Are they a salon or spa that also does weddings? Are they a weddings and events only onsite company? Is this a side hustle for the owner? If you choose a company that has a team of 10 or more people and does I would say 75+ weddings a year, in my perspective, running that company correctly, efficiently and in accordance with the law and tax code is a full time job. If doing weddings is a side job for an owner or is a small part of what they do overall, I would be very clear on how devoted they are to weddings before booking with them.

Some companies primarily do salon and/or spa services but they have a bridal coordinator who handles weddings, which works to your advantage. But for other businesses, weddings are not their focus, which could mean you are not their focus. Some salons–and I want to be clear when I say some, not all–do a lot of in-salon weddings but few onsite weddings, so they might not be as familiar with the factors that need to be thought of when going to a hotel or rental home (parking, set up, scheduling, bringing fully stocked kits and supplies with them, handling payments, etc.)

If you’re considering booking with an onsite only company, it’s a good idea to find out what else (if anything) the owner does. Are they on set 60 hours a week? Do they rent a chair to take salon clients when they’re not at weddings? Do they have another job completely outside of the industry? Those things are all completely fine (and I’ve done two out of three myself), but if there is one person handling all bridal communication, you might want to make sure they are someone who will be able to frequently check and respond to emails, calls and texts so you’re not left waiting for answers for days at a time. I worked as a school secretary then office manager for my first two years in business, but I didn’t have many clients then, nor did I have a team to manage until I went full-time with my business. But I still made sure to check emails and texts throughout the day and responded to calls during my lunch breaks and after work. And there was always downtime on set when I could respond to my bridal clients, but I still kept my film work to a minimum and stopped doing it entirely four years ago so that I could be more available for my wedding clients. Hey, I have to justify my actions here 😉

The People Have Spoken. When you’re looking for a wedding beauty company, I beg of you, please check the reviews! WeddingWire, The Knot, Google, Facebook and Yelp reviews can help you learn about a company from other brides’ perspectives. (WeddingWire and The Knot tend to be the most helpful, as they are wedding-focused and where most people think to leave reviews of wedding vendors.) A company’s photos will tell you if they can create the kind of looks you want for you and your bridal party, but their reviews will tell you about some equally important factors–responsiveness, professionalism, personalities, punctuality, etc.

Like anything else, reviews can be faked, but I know that WeddingWire, The Knot and Google at least have filters in place to verify reviews and/or help prevent bulk, bot or otherwise fake reviews from being posted. If you see a company with 100+ reviews, that’s a good sign that they are legit. But if their overall rating is low, well, that tells you something too. A company (if they’re smart) will only show the good things, but reviews can uncover some of the bad. If you want to see an example of good reviews, check out the AB Beauty WeddingWire reviews. With a 5 star average and more reviews in the beauty category than any other company in Rhode Island, you know we must be doing something right!

Going through reviews? Good job! Just make sure to dress like an off duty spy while you do it.

Sign On The Dotted Line. Before you book with a company, it’s a good idea to ask them about their contract. First off, if they don’t do contracts, run. A text saying someone will do your wedding hair and makeup is not legally binding, so you’re leaving yourself open to a last minute cancellation by the company (and no recourse for you) if you don’t sign a contract. When you do connect with a company with good reviews whose esthetic you like and whose rates fit in your budget, it’s a good idea to ask them about their contract. Is it an online contract? If not, you’re either going to have to meet up in person to sign it, or do something with printing, mailing and/or scanning. Is that do-able for you? I mean, only 23% of Millennials have printers. (I made that up.)

Maybe a hard copy contract isn’t an issue for you, but if it is, you may want to find a company you like who does online contracts. A lot of new companies won’t have an online contract because they can’t afford the expense, or because they don’t know it’s an option (and one that most clients prefer). And when a new company creates a contract, if they haven’t consulted with an attorney–another expense that some new companies can’t afford–it may not be a solid contract. We’re talking about your wedding day here, and I don’t want to see you go through the headache of a hard copy contract if that’s a hassle for you, or end up booking with a company whose contract may cause problems down the road.

Credit Check. Another important factor in choosing your wedding beauty company might be their payment options. 61% of couples who pay for their own wedding do so using credit cards (and that’s a real statistic). If you’re planning on using a credit card to pay for your wedding beauty services, check with the vendor(s) you’re considering before booking to make sure they accept credit cards. A lot of new companies don’t accept credit cards because they can’t afford the credit card processing fees. (There are ten states where companies are legally required to cover the fees themselves, but many businesses outside of those states eat that fee, as it can be a turn off to potential clients to be charged a credit card processing fee.) So you may come across companies who don’t accept credit cards and that’s not going to work for you, it’s important to know that before booking.

On Your Terms. A company you book with should be able to tell you about their payment terms without hesitation. If they can’t give you any information about that, they are likely either inexperienced or unorganized, neither of which you want in a wedding vendor. A company who knows what they’re doing will be able to give you clear information regarding accepted forms of payment, payment deadlines and any other pertinent information that affects your money. They will have a legitimate invoice and will be able to provide you with receipts. Any confusion around payments has a good chance of stressing you out, and that’s probably not what you want when taking on the already stressful wedding planning process.

You have every right to know when your payments are due and what forms of payment are accepted, so think twice about a beauty vendor who can’t give you clear and quick answers about payment terms.

The Technicalities. Without a doubt, you want someone who is experienced with the technical side of doing wedding hair and/or makeup. But just because someone has years of experience doing hair and/or makeup, it doesn’t mean they have experience running a wedding beauty business. If someone has been doing wedding hair for 15 years but they’ve never worked in a small business or had any desire to handle the business side of beauty bookings, that may very well affect your experience. The majority of the people I’ve interviewed have told me they don’t want to have their own business because they don’t like the client communication and business side. They solely want to focus on creating beautiful hair and/or makeup looks. That’s perfect for AB Beauty, as I take care of what they don’t like to do. But that “I only want to do hair/makeup” thought is common in the beauty industry. It’s a fantastic quality in someone who freelances or works for a beauty services company, but not in an owner.

You want the person doing your hair/makeup to love what they do. But if they have no interest or experience with contracts, invoices, payments, creating schedules, coordinating appointments, etc., do you want them to be the vendor you interact with? Some people (like me!) enjoy and are experienced with both sides of the wedding beauty services transaction. And others may focus on the beauty side but have a business partner or employee who handles the business side, which is great. I’m just saying, if you’re considering a wedding beauty company, don’t be fooled by years of beauty experience alone. You deserve to work with a company who not only creates a gorgeous hair and makeup look for you, but who can make the business side of the process easy, clear and efficient.

I equally enjoy running a business, doing makeup and drinking prosecco.

A lot of beauty companies are opened by people who love doing wedding hair and/or makeup, and following your passion can lead to great things. But if the owner of a wedding beauty company is not experienced with running a wedding beauty business, unless they have someone who is working with or for them who is, the owner’s lack of experience will likely negatively affect your interaction with them.

I hope that this has been helpful to you if you’re in the wedding planning process. Planning a wedding can be crazy stressful, but if you hire experienced, professional, responsive vendors, you can minimize that stress. The first vendors you will likely interact with on your wedding day are your hair stylist(s) and/or makeup artist(s), so do you want those first faces you see to be people you’re happy with because they’ve made the process easy and clear for you, or people who’ve dropped the business ball at every turn? I think we both know the answer to that.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

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