... Makeup Artist, that is.
But seriously - for your wedding day (or any special event, for that matter!), you want to know the person you pick is going to not only make you look and feel amazing, but also that (s)he will be professional, punctual, and sanitary. So where do you start?
Well, you can start with Google. "Makeup Artists near me," or "Makeup Artist [Your City]" should pull some good results. The first few results are likely going to be linking you to big wedding planning sites like WeddingWire. Underneath those, you'll find the websites of your local MUAs. WeddingWire and The Knot are great resources, but sometimes the artists on those lists are not even in business anymore or they may not update their listings with new material. You can also search for makeup artists in your local Facebook Wedding groups. Don't count out an artist if (s)he is not in your city. Most of us travel to you, and there may not be a travel fee depending on the mileage. Even if there is a travel fee, a good artist can be so worth it.
So, you have a list of makeup artists to choose from in your area. Cool. Now take a look at each of their websites. And I mean an actual website, not just a Facebook or Instagram page. If they have a well-put-together website, it shows they are really invested in their business - it should showcase their work and provide more information very clearly so you know how to contact them. Of course, some artists in this day and age just stick with a social media portfolio and do awesome with that, or if they're just starting out they may not have a website up yet. Or they work out of a salon so they don't have their own site. I understand that and it definitely doesn't prove whether or not someone has talent. So maybe I'm old school, but for freelancers, I think having a website is crucial to showing what you offer and it reinforces that you're a professional. It also helps the client get a feel for the vibe and style of the artist.
Most states require either an esthetician or cosmetologist license in order to do makeup. I know Tennessee does. To some clients, whether or not a makeup artist has the required license is not a high priority as long as the artist is good. Most of my clients don't even know that Tennessee requires you to have at least an esthetician license. And I'll note: a license (or lack thereof) does not make someone a good or bad artist, but it does show that they have invested lots of money and time into their education to follow the proper protocol for their state. They may also know more about how to be sanitary when working on clients, although any makeup artist who takes their career seriously is going to be a stickler for sanitation. Someone with a license is likely not a "fly by night" MUA who decided to wake up one morning and start doing makeup on people. A license shows that they have put months/years and lots of money into this and have taken state board exams in order to become a makeup artist.
Website? Check. License? Check. Now how's their actual work? Their portfolio should consist of several professional photos, not cell phone pics or selfies. A good place to see before&afters or cell phone pictures of clients is on social media if your artist has one for his or her business. Your artist may just be starting out so their port won't be huge. Are you down with helping them build their business or would you prefer someone with more experience? Keep in mind, someone with more experience will (or should) charge appropriately for it.
Speaking of charging... the next step is to determine if the artist is within your budget. I know you may have sticker shock when seeing how much hair and makeup costs for weddings, but remember that how you look is going to be captured in photos for... forever. I do think hiring a quality artist is very important - and I'm not just saying that because I'm biased! Of course, everyone has a budget. You may fall in love with an artist only to discover that the rates are more than you were expecting to spend. A good artist is worth her (or his) rate, trust me. We put a lot of our time, effort, and soul into our businesses and we can't make a living to keep doing this if we don't charge appropriately for our talent, our kit, and all the fees associated with running our business. If you find someone charging, say, $30 for makeup services, really consider what they can offer by charging so low. You can't stay afloat for long or invest in a quality kit if you're basically losing money with every service you do.
Check reviews and ask around in your social circle or Facebook groups. You'll likely get some honest input from those who have used the artists you're considering. And once you're ready to email the MUA - pay attention to the response time. Do you wait days and days for a response? Or do they answer within 48 hours? Now, the weekend tends to be our busiest time so cut the artist some slack if they don't answer you until Monday or Tuesday. I try to get back to potential clients within a day, but sometimes my day is jam packed and I can't find a minute to respond right away. Also, is their response helpful and insightful? Are they answering your questions thoroughly or leaving you confused with even more questions? Communication is another huge part of the wedding planning process so you want someone who is going to show commitment and care to your big day.
I know it can be overwhelming trying to find all the right vendors to fit your needs and your budget. I hope this article helps you, and maybe even puts into perspective what all comes with hiring a real professional for your beauty needs.