Finding A Versatile Makeup Artist For Your Wedding

Two professional wedding makeup artists explain how to find a versatile and talented makeup artist for your wedding day and your wedding party.

By Amanda Mitchell

Versatile Makeup Artist For Your Wedding
Photo by Zola

Your wedding day makeup is something you entrust to someone who knows what they’re doing—someone who knows how to work on a variety of skin tones and has the right arsenal of long-lasting products. So how do you find this person? Zola consulted two professional makeup artists—Lindsey Trop and Melissa Mangrum—to help you cherry pick the right person to ensure your outer glow matches your inner one.

How Is Wedding Makeup Different?

Finding A Versatile Makeup Artist For Your Wedding Photo Credit // Bellagala Photography

“In general, wedding makeup is more refined and perfected than makeup that is worn on a day to day basis,” explains Trop. “Many people want to look like an enhanced version of themselves on their special day, so it’s all about perfecting the skin, accenting the eyes, and adding a little bit of color to ensure the bride doesn’t look washed out on camera.” But really, the biggest difference between wedding makeup and the makeup you wear every day isn’t just in how it looks—it’s in the products and the techniques used to apply the makeup, which will guarantee the look will last all day and all the way through dancing and dessert.

Making the Makeup Artist Work for You

You’ve done the basic research—you’ve asked around, done some Googling, looked at social media, and now you’ve got a good idea of what your ideal makeup artist is capable of doing. You want to make sure you’ve got someone professional, as well as detail-oriented, and realistically, someone who you get along with.

But Mangrum suggests going a step further and asking about products and technique: “I would encourage brides to ask potential makeup artists about what products they use in their kit. I'd ask if they are familiar with color theory, as well as if they're comfortable with working with all skin types, tones, and textures.”

Here are some good questions to keep in mind when talking to a potential makeup artist:

  • What’s your aesthetic? Can I see some examples of your work?
  • I’m allergic to XYZ—are you able to avoid that product/ingredient/etc.?
  • How much time do you spend beautifying the bride on the day of?
  • Do you offer on-site touch ups?
  • What’s your sanitation protocol? (Especially relevant now with COVID-19)

Also, if you have a unique request, such as using only cruelty-free skincare and makeup, ask if the artist is able to accommodate that. Overcommunication is necessary in all aspects of wedding planning, especially with your wedding makeup artist.

Consult, Consult, Consult

It’s time to sit down with your makeup artist and talk about what your hopes and dreams are for your big day. Consultations are different from trials and should be left to the bride and the bride only, as it’s where you discuss all your wants and your likes/dislikes. “You are interviewing your artist just as much as they are interviewing you to see if you’d be a great fit for each other,” says Mangrum.

When it comes to your makeup trial, it comes down to the artist. Some artists will do a consultation and a trial on the same day; others will do them on separate days. “Some artists manage their trials by committing to a specific number of looks (i.e. will create up to three looks), some manage it by committing a specific number of hours (i.e. up to 1.5 to 2 hours), and some do both,” says Trop. “Either way, this is when the bride gets to try out different looks to see what she likes best.”

Here are some suggestions for what you should bring to your consultation and/or trial:

  • Images of inspiration for what you’d like your makeup to look like on your wedding day
  • Images of what you don’t want your makeup to look like on your wedding day, as it provides clear direction for what to avoid
  • A picture of how you wear your makeup on a day to day basis to show the artist your comfort level with makeup intensity
  • A picture of a time you got your makeup done and either liked it or didn’t like it

Some artists prefer the bride arrive at their trial with a clean, makeup-free face so they can get started on creating various looks right from the start. Others prefer the bride comes with how she wears her makeup on a day to day basis to get a sense of her makeup taste and comfort level, and then remove it. Either way, it should be an enjoyable experience where you get to know the artist and walk out loving your look.

If you have any concerns, speak up, so they can be addressed right then and there. It’s easier to change something while you have the time than when you’re down to the wire on your wedding day. Remember, the day of the wedding is not the day to make changes.

The Wedding Party

Finding A Versatile Makeup Artist For Your Wedding Photo Credit // Bellagala Photography

Your makeup isn’t the only face you need to worry about—the makeup of your wedding party matters just as much. A lot of the same questions you ask your makeup artist about your own face also apply to the members of your wedding party. If you have a large wedding party, make sure to ask if they have an assistant who will be helping them. “I would try and steer clear of artists who say they can handle a party of four or more on their own, as this can lead to delays in your schedule should anything go wrong,” says Mangrum.

Because wedding parties are far from one size fits all, it’s vital to make sure you’re dealing with a makeup artist who is prepared to work with a multicultural range of faces. You can simply ask “what’s your experience working with different ethnicities and skin tones?” Any professional makeup artist should be capable of working with all skin tones, and they should be able to back it up—make sure they show you pictures of work they’ve done to help with your decision.

In addition, here are a few questions to ask a potential makeup artist in regards to your wedding party:

  • Are you able to accommodate the number of makeup services needed within the timeline that we have?
  • Would you need to bring other artists along? If so, how many?
  • How long do you spend with each person on the day of?

You want to look your very best on your wedding day, and there’s plenty of things on your checklist to get you there. Prioritize researching a quality, professional, caring makeup artist—it’s a one-way path to making you feel like you’re on top of the world that day. Need help finding a trusted makeup artist? Browse Zola's vendor directory for local wedding hair and makeup artists in New York, Los Angeles, and everything in between.

Find Your Wedding Vendors at Zola, All Pre-Screened for You