43. Bridal: The Business of - Lecture

Bridal - The Business of...

The business behind the career of a professional bridal makeup artist.

Who Hires

One of the best ways to make a living as a professional freelance makeup artist is in the Bridal Industry. As a professional level bridal makeup artist you will be in high demand as brides compare you to typical makeup applied by cosmetologists in a salon.

With a professional portfolio and the right fee there is almost no bridal job that you can't get.  In addition, since weddings are typically held on weekends it allows freelance artists to take retail and media jobs during the week.

People that hire bridal makeup artists are:
  1. Bride
  2. Bride & Groom
  3. Wedding Coordinator/Planner
  4. Wedding Photographer
  5. Hotel Salon

Event Coordinator Photography:

Working with the photographer will enable you to understand the look that has been portrayed by the client and relayed through the photographer's vision.  You will work as a team with the photographer to make that look come to life.

Wedding Planner:

Working with the planner or coordinator will give you an idea of where the location and times of the shoots will take place.

Once you are hired

Who is going to need makeup?

Once hired you should set up a time to go over all the details of who is going to need professional makeup.  Is it just the bride or is everyone in the wedding party going to need professional makeup as well.  Getting this out of the way now will let you know if you need to hire an assistant.

Hiring an Assistant:

If you have to hire an assistant, let the person/people hiring you know that there is no extra cost to them.  The bride will have the makeup done by you while your assistant can help with the others in the party.

Go The Extra Mile:

Remember to be sensitive to the needs of the client.  This is the bride's big day and extra care may be needed as tears may be shed.  Go the extra mile to make this day the best it can possibly be for the bride.


Weddings can take place in many places. Different settings will determine the lighting and the type of application you will need to apply.
  1. Churches
  2. Banquet halls
  3. Hotels
  4. Private estates & others...
  5. Answers you need as soon as possible:
• How long the wedding is going to last? • Are the pictures going to be done before or after the ceremony? • What is the time of the wedding? • Is it going to be day or night? • Is it going to be indoors or outdoors? • What is the lighting situation? If the wedding is during the day and outside and the reception is in the evening  and indoors you may be asked to do a second makeup session between the ceremony and the reception

These questions will need to be answered so you know how long you need to stay.  The old saying "come early, stay late" should be applied to all wedding situations.  Maybe there will be two sets of pictures being taken; you may need to do touch-ups as the day goes on.


Be prepared to give references to the bride or wedding coordinator so they can call old clients to get a feel for whom you are and what kind of makeup artist they can expect.

Marketing Materials

  1. Marketing Tools:
  2. Resume
  3. Website Portfolio
  4. Business Cards
  5. Networking Groups
  6. Post Cards
  7. Bridal Books
  8. Contact Lists
  9. Beauty Events
  10. Trade Shows
  11. Trunk Shows
  12. Store Openings
  13. Book Signings

Portfolio: The bridal makeup artist's portfolio must reflect the bridal industry

Comp Card/Zed Card:

The Composite Photo Card (Comp Card or Zed Card) helps to get you noticed and considered for jobs. A comp card provides a small collection of pictures and basic stats on card stock or rigid paper.


Your resume should have a biography statement about yourself.  (Your name, location, experience and contact information).  Specialties should also be listed.  (Advertising & Commercials, Airbrushing, Centerfold, Children, Ethnic, Film, Fashion, FX/Prosthetics, Glamour, Goth etc.). Hand these out to local spa directors and wedding planners.  Make this resume unique and colorful.

Should be on the best quality paper that you can afford and be professionally printed.  They reflect you so they need to leave a lasting impression of professionalism.


Networking Groups:

These types of groups are extremely effective.  They normally meet perhaps once a month either for lunch or happy hour and there will usually be an agenda followed by social time for mingling.  Some groups charge a fee while others are free.  If you are just starting out, join the free groups.

Beauty Events:

Go to any and all beauty related events in your area.  Whether it's a trade show, trunk show, store opening or a book signing, be there with your business cards.

Post Cards:

Print up eye-catching postcards and send them out.  Always have extra so you can send them to new people as you meet them.  Be sure to have them put their names on the back of the cards for reference if they hand out your card for networking.

Interviewing For A Retail Position

Event Knowledge:

Extensive knowledge of all the aspects of a typical wedding is advised.

Sources of information can include friends who work in the industry, web sites, articles or trade journals.


To be a bridal makeup artist you have to reflect the image that the industry portrays. The bridal industry tends to be very conservative and prefers a more polished look.

Appearance counts, as is making good first impressions. A neat, well-groomed appearance in appropriate clothing comes across much better than casual clothes, or inappropriate makeup and jewelry.

Friendly, open people are also perceived more positively.  When first meeting a client, greet them with a firm handshake, a smile and look them in the eyes.

Listen attentively and don't interrupt.


When going on an interview, you want to present yourself to your best advantage.  This is your chance to let the Bride, Groom, Wedding Planner or Photographer learn about your skills, knowledge, and strengths.


Be On Time - Being late does not impress interviewers and creates the impression that you would arrive late to the job.  So try to get to the interview on time or even a few minutes early.  This will give you a chance to go over notes.


When going on an interview, you want to present yourself to your best advantage.  This is your chance to let the Sales Managers, Floor Managers, Retail Counter Managers and Makeup Executives learn about your skills, knowledge, and strengths as you put your best foot forward.  How do you do this?


Be On Time - Being late does not impress interviewers and creates the impression that you would arrive late to the job.  So try to get to the interview on time or even a few minutes early.  This will give you a chance to go over notes.

Bridal Marketing Materials, Tips & Cautions.

Prior to the interview:

Talk to whomever is hiring you and get a feel of the overall look of the wedding and what the bride is trying to achieve.  That way you can organize your portfolio with pictures of what the wedding coordinator is looking for.


Since you will not be able to reuse the products you use on the bride, it is a very nice service to prepare a gift of all the products you used and present them to the bride as a wrapped gift, along with your business cards.  Especially if you will not be staying for the entire reception, it is a great way of allowing the bride the opportunity to touch up their own makeup.


As in retail be sure to set up any contracts beforehand.  That way everyone will know what to expect from each other and will protect both parties involved.  With a contract in place you as a makeup artist know you will be paid and for what you will be doing; the bridal party will have peace of mind that you are contractually bound to show up and do your job.

Market in Advance:

Since brides often organize their weddings months in advance you must market yourself early and be prepared to interview with brides and not be paid for several months.  Give yourself six to twelve months to get your bridal business fully up and running.

Salary Range

Most makeup artists are independent contractors who negotiate their own pay rates. The pay rate of a beginning makeup artist is $12 to $20 per hour in a retail setting, $25 to $65 per hour in a photography shoot, and $50 to $200 per hour in an entertainment production setting.

According to IATSE, the basic union scale rate for makeup artists in low budget productions ranges from $16.94 to $40.94 per hour based on a 8 hour work day.

For Bridal: You will typically bid each job differently. Each job will have different clients, number of applications and requirements.  Travel and other variables will adjust the quote. A bride will typically be twice as much as anyone else and children will often be thrown in for nothing or next to nothing.

Note: Always ask what their budget is, then try to make something work for them.