How to Prepare for Your Wedding Hair and Makeup Trials, According to Beauty Professionals

makeup basics modern romance
Photo: This Modern Romance

We'll be honest—your hair and makeup trials are important. They're so much more than just a brainstorming or practice session; they're the dress rehearsal for your bridal beauty look. The time you spend with your hair and makeup artists during these appointments are likely the only time's you'll get a preview of what you'll look like on your wedding day—at least from the neck up. That's why approaching both with a streamlined strategy is the way to go.

As important as these trials are, they're also a lot of fun. You'll try on different beauty looks, have your hair arranged into incredible styles, see your amazing makeup artist's skills in the flesh, and (hopefully!) sip some Champagne. The fun factor is just another reason to plan ahead. You'll want to maximize the merriment, which means carefully selecting your posse. Another thing that's absolutely critical? Making sure to give communicative feedback to your glam squad. If you walk away from the trial only half-satisfied, the disappointment will just magnify on the big day.

To ensure that you're getting the most out of your hair and makeup trials, we've put together a comprehensive guide to the basics you need to know before you go. We also enlisted some of the biggest names in the beauty business for all their trial tips and tricks. From advice on choosing a beauty team that suits your personal style, to tips on what to wear when you sit down in your artist's chair, the following manual has you completely covered.

01 of 09

Assemble Your Beauty Team

makeup basics m and j photo
M&J Photography

Once you've found your wedding dress, it's time to gather your hair and makeup team. While it's tempting to pursue someone with an enviable Instagram following or runway expertise, pros who specialize in bridal are your best bet. "They have a grasp of the tactics and timing necessary to ensure the final effect is on schedule and on point," says Laura Geller, founder of the eponymous cosmetics line, who has more than 20 years of big-day experience.

Start by asking at your salon or favorite makeup counter. Get recommendations from married friends or even your photographer or florist—especially for a destination wedding. If you're using an on-demand stylist app, touch base with the company first to see if you can pre-book the same person for your trial run and your big day.

02 of 09

Dress the Part

makeup basics dana cubbage
Dana Cubbage Weddings

On test day, wear a top with a neckline and hue similar to those of your dress. "It'll be easier to envision what you will look like when there isn't such a disconnect between your makeup and your clothing," said Knoxville, Tenn.-based makeup artist Claire Balest.

03 of 09

Double Up

Bride Getting Makeup Done
Hello Blue Photo

If possible, schedule your makeup trial immediately after the hair trial to see the combined look. They should complement each other. Bring along your veil and decorative hair accessories. Make plans to hit the town afterward to make the most of it—and see how it all holds up.

04 of 09

Four's A Crowd

makeup basics sophie epton
Sophie Epton Photography

Too many bystanders can turn a fun experience into a stressful, confusing one. Deputize two people—max—and have them join you for the trials.

05 of 09

Consider the Climate

makeup basics dana cubbage
Dana Cubbage Weddings

Will your wedding be in snowy Aspen or on a humid Florida beach? Discuss these details with your pro. It'll help inform your overall look.

06 of 09

Give Feedback

Bride Makeup Trial
Jacqui Cole Photography

"Ask questions and participate," recommends New York City makeup artist Ashlee Glazer. "Answers like 'whatever you think' or 'I'm easy' are not helpful." Speak up if you're not satisfied. If you're passive, you'll leave unhappy.

07 of 09

Appoint a Right-Hand Ma'am

makeup basics rebecca hollis
Rebecca Hollis Photography

Formulate a game plan for touch-ups on the wedding day. Get a list of the cosmetics used, or ask the makeup artist to put together a palette with swatches of the appropriate tones. Then choose someone you trust to pull you aside and re-pin loose strands, powder your nose, or dab away the lipstick smudge that Aunt Marge planted on your cheek.

08 of 09

Firm Up the Details

Bridal Makeup Trial
Hello Blue Photo

Before leaving the trial, ask your pro how she handles certain specifics. Once you fine-tune the details, put it all on paper and have it signed by all parties. Make sure to include how long she'll work on the big day, how much time she'll need to do the job, and her travel costs (and whether or not she'll be compensated for travel time!). You'll also want to nail down if she'll be working on just you, or the entire bridal party—and, worst case scenario, what your backup plan is if she's unable to attend.

09 of 09

Show Appreciation

Bridal Makeup Trial
Sophie Epton Photography

Don't forget to budget for the gratuity (15 to 20 percent for the trial, and again on the big day). After all, your makeup artist is responsible for a good portion of your finished look, which makes tipping accordingly more than necessary.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles