The Love Notes
The Bridal Beauty Bible
Everything A Bride Needs to Know About Hair and Makeup for Her Wedding Day
For our first journal entry for The Love Notes, I spoke with my sweet friend Brittany Gerhard, the insanely-talented hair and makeup artist and owner of Wild Ivory Beauty in Charleston to discuss all things bridal beauty, from scheduling and logistics to selecting your look and trial run prep. On her wedding day, a bride should feel no less than exquisitely herself, so we’ve put together a master resource of bridal beauty. We’ll be discussing questions I receive all the time as a wedding planner, bridal beauty tips directly from a hair and makeup artist, and bring you some of Brittany’s most stunning work along the way!
Choosing Your Getting Ready Location
Look for a bright, clean getting ready location with plenty of light. A natural light-filled room with plenty of windows is the best way to examine your makeup.
“Natural light is best for applying makeup and is true to how you will look on and off camera, inside or outside! Windows are our best friends.”
Having great lighting also has a great bonus: beautiful getting ready photos with your girls. Your photographer will thank you!
It’s also important that there is plenty of space for the number of artists you’ll need and the number of girls getting ready. Hair and makeup artists need counter or table space, access to electricity, and seating with low backs.
Scheduling & Logistics
Getting ready on your wedding day should be a fun, relaxing experience full of bubbly and laughs with your best girls. Stress during this time is avoidable with thoughtful scheduling and will make this time so much more enjoyable for everyone.
How do I build hair and makeup into my timeline?
I often see brides underestimate how long hair and makeup will take. It’s important to remember that hair and makeup is truly an art, and you’re looking for a stunning look that will last through hundreds of photographs, countless hugs, and hours of dancing. It’s best to err on the side of caution and allocate more time than too little time for a relaxing experience. Running behind schedule is unnecessary stress, and extra time means one more mimosa with your girls!
- How many in your party need professional hair and makeup services? Will some be doing their own hair and makeup? Does the mother of the bride or mother of the groom want hair and makeup services?
- Where is hair and makeup taking place? Is your getting ready location the same as your ceremony location? If not, you’ll need to build in transportation time, remembering to allow for traffic during that time of day and day of the week.
- If your hair and makeup is taking place at your venue, when is the earliest your venue will allow you on-site, or what hours have you booked with them?
How long will hair and makeup take?
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to allocate 45 minutes per service– 45 minutes for hair, and 45 minutes for makeup. That’s 90 minutes per person receiving professional hair and makeup services. However, oftentimes brides can take more time. Once you’ve determined the looks you want, your hair and makeup artist will be able to give you a more specific timeframe.
“On the wedding day, we schedule out 45 minutes per service, per girl and for our brides, a minimum of two hours. While some stylists/companies may be able to complete services in a shorter timeframe, we do not believe in rushing through the hair or makeup service or having to rush out at the end! These services should take time to ensure you’re getting the look you desire and should also be provided in a relaxing manner so you can enjoy a stress-free morning.”
You’ll want to be sure you hire an appropriate number of artists for the size of your bridal party. If your schedule calls for earlier completion of hair and makeup, you’ll need to hire more artists to speed along the process to have everyone ready on time.
Should the bridal party receive services in a certain order?
While this can definitely vary by your specific timeline of events for the day, there are a few things to keep in mind. Oftentimes, brides will go last to have hair and makeup that’s very fresh; however, variables like a first look may change your preference.
“If first look photos are happening, oftentimes the bride will go first or in the middle of the services, so the rest of the bridal party can continue getting ready while they are off getting photos done. If flower girls are in the bridal party they should always go last, because they tend to nap or run around after and end up looking like they never had their hair done in the first place!”
Your wedding planner and hair and makeup artist will be able to help navigate your schedule for the best order with your timeline in mind. But be sure everyone is on time to their appointment!
Setting Time Aside for Yourself on Your Wedding Day
I always encourage my brides to take some quiet time for themselves on their wedding day. While getting ready with your bridesmaids is such a fun experience, many brides enjoy setting aside a few minutes of alone time. Some brides find taking a moment to reflect to be a very rewarding and peaceful experience on their wedding days.
Consider Touch-Up Services
Heat, humidity, sweat, and simply time can wear away at your hair and makeup, especially if you’ll be getting married in the summertime. Touch-up services ensure your look stays fresh by hiring your makeup artist to touch up your makeup, typically between the ceremony and reception for photos. Your hair and makeup artist will know how to blot, powder, and reapply properly for an exquisite finish. For brides getting married in the summertime, brides who have oily skin, or brides who are getting married in humid climates, this service is a lifesaver.
“Touch-up services are always a good idea if it fits in your budget, if it’s a hot, humid summer month, or if you’re changing styles between ceremony/reception. Hiring your artist to stay for touch-ups will ensure you look fresh-faced and your hair stays put for the remainder of the evening! For the gals who are insistent on wearing their hairstyle down when it doesn’t hold a curl normally and/or it won’t because of the weather, this is a must.
“Airbrush makeup is set to last the entirety of your event and usually the only thing needing to be touched up is your lips (which I provide a sample to all my brides) and blotting if you’re sweaty. But I have been hired for touch-up services before and it was a blessing for the party, as their shuttle bus AC broke and it was 4th of July weekend. So their hair was blowing everywhere from the windows being down, and they were extra sweaty on top of it! It’s basically insurance for your beauty!”
Airbrush Makeup versus Traditional Makeup
“Airbrush makeup is an advanced application technique designed to give you luminous and long lasting results while providing a lightweight and natural feel. It is customizable in the amount of coverage desired and skin tone. It is also sweat and water resistant and will last up to 16 hours, which is perfect for the South’s ever humid climate!
“While there is nothing wrong with traditional makeups, it is usually the artist’s preference. I only offer airbrush to my brides because I can guarantee it lasting through the entire evening without shifting on the skin while you sweat, which means you can dance your butt off and still look great! When airbrush is applied right, it should look and feel like you’re wearing next to nothing, while traditional brands do not give you that long lasting guarantee and can tend to look like you’re wearing makeup. It is also much faster to apply with an airgun than with mixing and blending traditional foundation shades across the face.”
Bridal Beauty Planning Timeline
- Purchase Your Wedding Gown. The neckline and style of your wedding gown will have an effect on what hairstyle will look best, so keep this in mind and consider these elements together, rather than separately.
- Keep Your Wedding Venue In Mind. You’ll also want to keep in mind your wedding location: Will there be high heat and humidity?
- Research Styles. Look to your favorite wedding blogs and magazines for hair and makeup ideas you love.
- Love Your Hair. It’s important to also have realistic expectations of your hair– if your hair doesn’t hold a curl on a typical day, it’s unlikely that it will on your wedding day and piling on hairspray can result in a crunchy, unnatural texture. It’s a good idea to be open to hairstyles picturing hair texture and density similar to yours.
- Research Hair and Makeup Artists. Research hair and makeup artists whose work you love and check their availability for your date. Take a look at their portfolio to ensure they create looks you like. If you’re wanting a smokey eye look with major glam, an artist that specializes in natural beauty may not be the right fit for you. Your wedding planner can make suggestions on hair and makeup artists who are great to work with and incredible at what they do.
- Book Your Artist. Book your hair and makeup artist (yay!) and schedule your hair and makeup trial run two to four months before the wedding.
Makeup will only look as good as the skin beneath it. Vogue said it best, “Makeup will never settle as well on dry, flaky, lacklustre, uneven, and blemished skin as it does on skin that is smooth, clear, dewy and glowing. No amount of primer, highlighter, contouring or color play will ever fully disguise not-so-good skin.”
If you don’t already have a skincare routine you love, experiment to find what gives you healthy skin you love and be consistent. In addition to the rules we already know about drinking plenty of water, a consistent skincare routine, daily sunscreen, and a healthy diet, it may be worth visiting an esthetician or dermatologist to take good care of your skin to keep it happy and healthy.
“Most women make the mistake of thinking airbrush makeup is like Instagram makeup and is thick and heavy duty. But it’s meant to mimic real skin and is sprayed in a fine mist so it doesn’t look unnatural, thick, or cakey. The coverage is of course adjustable, but any makeup is only going to cover up colors, not textures, making it super important for a bride to take care of her skin before her wedding day. This should be done months to a year in advance if you don’t already have a skincare routine. Facials are never a bad idea, so long as they’re not right before the big day! Dry skin is one of the most common issues I come across and unfortunately that creates flakes– a texture that again, will show through any makeup. Oxygen facials, a good moisturizer such as Embryolisse Lait-Crème, and drinking lots of water are all effective in getting skin properly hydrated and looking its best!”
Bridal Beauty Mistakes
It’s also important to recognize what beauty treatments aren’t the best idea right before the wedding. When it comes to adding in new beauty treatments that can dramatically change your look or upset your skin’s balance, be sure not to introduce these too close to the wedding day.
“I typically don’t recommend anyone getting a haircut or even a trim before the wedding unless they are wearing their hair down. In an updo, you won’t see split ends, so it’s really not a necessary expense and the added length can make all the difference in a style. If you decide on getting a trim, make sure that’s all it is or you could end up having to pay more money to get clip in extensions for length and volume!
New colors can make the same style look very different from the trial session than on the wedding day! Facials, spray tans, lash extensions, and anything else you could think of should all be ‘trialed’ if you’re new to them months in advance to avoid any uh oh’s on the big day, as well!”
Generally speaking, it’s always best to give beauty treatments a trial run of their own well before the wedding day to ensure it’s right for you.
Your trial run is your chance to ensure you are head over heels with your bridal hair and makeup before the wedding day.
Prep for Your Appointment
Wash and dry your hair, and follow your normal skincare routine for a fresh face. Trying out new products can cause redness and irritation, so avoid skin reactions by sticking to your tried and true skincare routine.
Create a Pinterest board with the looks you love most. Explain to your hair and makeup artist what you love about each look, whether it’s the fluttery lashes, pillowy lip, or rosy cheeks. It’s also helpful to add pins of relevant elements, like your wedding gown, to get direction and insight from your hair and makeup artist.
“Bringing inspiration photos along can serve as a great tool when it comes to communicating to your artist the desired look you’re trying to achieve, but it is important to remember that these should only serve as inspiration for your own look, and try to keep the amount of photos to only a select few for each hair and makeup. Too many photos can become messy and confusing and your desired look can become lost in it all. When searching for photos, it is best to find hairstyles with similar length and color to your own, and same for the makeup (similar skin tones and colors you like to wear). If you don’t tend to wear a ton of makeup on a day-to-day or even date night basis, the likelihood of you liking it for your wedding day is not high, so finding images that are similar to your norm is highly recommended.”
Bring along any relevant bridal accessories, such as a tiara, headpiece, veil, or jewelry to see the entire look come together.
“Bringing your hair accessories (veil, comb, florals) to your trial, if you have them available, is something I always recommend to my brides. Along with wearing a white or cream colored top! This will help give a better idea of what things will look like when it all comes together on the wedding day! I also will start with makeup first, and end with the hair style, because most gals have a difficult time envisioning things when looking at their fancy style with zero makeup on. If you are only booking a hair only session, you may want to wear at least your norm makeup routine to that appointment.”
Keep it Intimate
It’s best to invite no more than two close friends or family members to your trial run. Too many opinions in the room may make it difficult for you to determine what you love. Bringing along your mother, sister, best friend, or maid of honor is always a great choice for a trusted opinion.
“Don’t bring an entourage! Having one or two people max, whose opinions you trust, can sometimes help you figure out anything you may feel unsure of. But I say sometimes because I’ve seen others’ opinions completely confuse brides into thinking they don’t like something that they actually did initially, and often they leave the trial feeling unsure of literally everything. It may be worth it to go solo and send some photos out to those you want opinions from! You as the bride have to use your judgement on going it solo or bringing a family member or friend along!”
Be sure to take photos of your hair and makeup from different angles so you can really evaluate how you feel about the look. For example, if you’re wearing Claire Pettibone and the back of your gown has gorgeous, intricate details, is your hair hiding the gown or complementing it?
Speak Your Mind
“Ask your artist questions before and during the trial session. They may be able to recommend tools like hair extensions that may be needed to get the end result you’re looking for in your hairstyle. Or maybe a skin care routine that would be helpful in achieving the flawless face look for the day of. Don’t be afraid to speak up and say if you don’t like the way something looks! It is your wedding day and you as the bride, need to communicate your desires. We as artists will not know if you don’t like something and can’t change it if you don’t speak up! I often tell my brides after each service is complete, to tell me what changes they might want, if any, but I tell them to wait until the end and reassess, because sometimes the overall look changes greatly once it is completed! The great thing is, you’re not stuck to what you did at the trial run. I always consult with my bride before we start services on the wedding day and confirm if there are any changes she may want to make, so take advantage if that’s your last opportunity to speak up!”
So thankful to have Brittany join us and share her knowledge! Stay tuned for more journal entires of The Love Notes, and let me know what topics you’re interested in covering in the future!
Raela is a Full Service Wedding Planner in Nashville. Contact Raela to check availability and begin telling your love story.