Why Does Wedding Makeup Cost So Much?

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I read something the other day on a wedding planning Instagram page that really didn’t sit well with me. This page was encouraging soonlyweds to lie to vendors and act like they were planning a fancy birthday party in order to get cheaper rates, because apparently all wedding vendors are just out to price gauge and screw you over, as though we just make up our rates for fun.

That’s not how it works. I promise you, wedding professionals are not sitting there mischievously like Mr. Burns, concocting ways we can throw in hidden fees and taking you for all we can get. There is a lot that goes into our rates, and yes, wedding makeup and anything having to do with weddings typically costs more. Why? Let’s talk about it.

molly peach photography

molly peach photography

First of all, weddings can be stressful and time consuming. There is a lot of back and forth when planning a wedding, from meetings to emails to last minute changes. The amount of time I spend communicating with clients - discussing their needs and wants, drawing up a contract, answering every question over the course of their wedding planning period, etc. - it adds up. Most people in a “normal” job don’t work off the clock, and wedding professionals shouldn’t be expected to, either. You may not see it happening or even think about it, but this behind-the-scenes office-type work also has to be accounted for when it comes to our rates. Weddings take more time: more time the day of the wedding, more time behind the scenes. Soonlyweds get very personalized attention because this is one of the biggest days of their lives, and trust me, we care as much as you do about your day and we want the best for you. We put the time in for you because we know how important it is, but we have to charge accordingly.

Secondly, contracts. Weddings must have contracts because there’s so much detail and information needed and we both need to be protected. And contracts costs money. We need to have them created by - or at least have them looked over by - a lawyer. Guess what? Yup. $$$

Of course, coming from a makeup artistry point of view, the products come into play. My kit costs are very expensive. A lot of that stems from the non-reusable items like sponges, mascara wands, and lashes. Say I’m doing a large wedding party, I can go through an entire sleeve of cotton rounds (especially if some of the members are still rocking makeup from the night before and I have to use half a bottle of Micellar Water to get it all off…). Replenishing our kits adds up very quickly, and we go through items faster when doing weddings.

We’re not just makeup artists, either. Sometimes we have to be gentle mediators (like when your Maid of Honor wants a heavy party look but you're wanting everyone to look more natural), sometimes we have to play stylist and zip up dresses or cut off tags - all of which is part of providing our clients with the best experience possible. I don’t show up to a wedding, not talk to anyone, do the makeup, and leave without a word. I do whatever I can to make the time you’re with me feel as luxurious and relaxing as possible. Part of providing such an experience is charging appropriately for it. If I charged $40 for everybody’s makeup, I honestly wouldn’t be very happy about being there. That’s not enough to cover my business expenses nor my time, and I would feel discouraged very quickly; in turn, my attitude can totally ruin your experience on such a special day. But I know you’re paying me what I’m worth to be there, and I will be damned sure you get your money’s worth!

kaitlyn blake photography

kaitlyn blake photography

Business expenses, kit costs, the experience, and time are all part of our rates. Weddings take more of all of those things, so they cost more. And usually, you get what you pay for in these circumstances. I hope I’ve cleared up some misconceptions when it comes to wedding costs. I know everyone is on a budget but maybe it can ease your mind knowing that wedding professionals are not just trying to pull one over on you.

3 Steps to Creating Your Wedding Day Timeline

Your vendors are booked and you're all set for the big day... except for one thing: The schedule. How on Earth are you supposed to know who needs to be where, and when?

Between hair, makeup, and photos, it's important that things run as smoothly as possible before your ceremony (I mean, duh).

STEP ONE
First, speak with your photographer. Will he or she be on hand to capture your party getting glammed up? What about First Looks before the ceremony begins? Family pics? Wedding party photos? How much time does your photographer need if you are taking photos before the ceremony? The photographer should give you times of when (s)he is going to arrive, start taking the photos, and what the photography schedule will look like. Now, you can start planning around everyone else.

STEP TWO
The next step is to ask your makeup artist and hair stylist how much time they allot per service. For example, for makeup applications, I save 45 minutes for each bridesmaid and one hour per bride. Hair styling times can vary depending on length of hair and type of style, so be sure to communicate with your stylist about your ideal looks for both you and your party. 

As far as which comes first - hair or makeup - typically we know how to work around each other. If a bridesmaid's hair is already done when she sits in my makeup chair, I have no issue carefully working around a beautiful hair style without messing anything up. It can actually help having the hair already done so that the client can get the whole look all at once. Have you ever done your makeup but left your hair messy or flat? Yeah, somehow the makeup can sometimes look a bit... "too much."

If the photographer is going to capture photos of the party getting ready, you need to schedule yourself in either hair or makeup usually about 20 minutes after the photographer is set to arrive. They may want to walk around and get a feel for the lighting or get the detail shots (such as your shoes, dress buttons, bridal corsages, etc.) before coming and taking your getting ready photos. Of course, if you're already done with hair and makeup by the time the photographer comes around, the makeup artist can simply act like she's powdering you or applying lipstick. And also note that it's better to already have some makeup/hair done than have nothing done at all.

STEP THREE
You're ready to make your schedule! Simply swap out the people who are getting beauty services -  try not to have someone getting hair and makeup done at the same time. Granted, it can be done, but it's easier to do one at a time. Here is an example of how you can do the Wedding Day Timeline, with one hair stylist, one makeup artist, and 45 minutes per person (save for the bride - she gets an hour):

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Okay, but what happens if hair or makeup goes over the allotted time? What if a bridesmaid can't be found when she's supposed to be getting her hair done? Try and combat these issues by emailing the timeline to each person receiving services and printing out a copy and placing it in the getting-ready suite for everyone to see. Don't forget to send it to your hair and makeup vendors, too! But things happen, and the schedule may get switched up. Of course party members can switch places on the schedule if need be, and as long as the artists know that the schedule is starting to get out of order, we can adjust our timing as best as possible in order to accommodate. Communication is key! Little anecdote: I once had a party member show up four hours late. She showed up 45 minutes before the first photos were supposed to begin. I knew it was crunch time, and I was able to finish her look in about 25 minutes. She then had to go into hair (and luckily she was already dressed for the wedding). But as I was packing up, she was still in hair... and pictures had started without her. I knew we were in crunch time mode but I'm not sure if the hairstylist knew. This is why it's so important to have constant communication about the schedule, and a timeline to guide you throughout the day. Even though the schedule got thrown a bit, we adjust and make the best out of it. She still got to be in some pictures and I hear the wedding turned out amazing.

I'm not saying this to stress you, I'm saying this to let you know that it's all going to be okay. Trust your vendors, trust your friends and family, and know that it's going to be okay even if there are small nuances.

There's a lot to think about for your big day, so I hope this helps and gives you some guidance for making your schedule. Congratulations!