This Spring, it will be 10 years since I started doing wedding hair and makeup in Las Vegas. Just saying that doesn’t even seem real to me- 10 years? WOW. It doesn’t seem like that long ago I did my first wedding, but yet when I think about how fast things change it seems like it was several decades ago, instead of just one. When I started doing wedding hair, it was all about the curly and high up-do complete with twisties and hosed down with glitter spray. I also had to print off all the inspiration images my brides sent- smart phones were just starting to be a thing, so I had to have the printed images on hand for the day of the wedding. My entire calendar was in a real-life paper day planner, and I do believe more than once I had to go back to a wedding to fetch it because I forgot it. At any rate- we’ve come a long way. There’s a lot that change, and a different set of rules when it comes to bridal hair and makeup. Here’s what I’ve learned, both old and new, wedding makeup tips for the modern bride.
1) Don’t count on Pinterest to show your wedding hair and makeup artist. This tip alone is what prompted me to write this article- Brides LOVE Pinterest. And I do too- it’s amazing. It’s pretty much the perfect way to collect ideas for your wedding day, and you should definitely use it! But, everything that you love, you need to take a screen shot of on your phone and save. Nearly every wedding now our brides try to pull up their Pinterest board, only to realize they either don’t have reception or the WiFi is crappy. You really can’t count on having access to the internet on your big day, even if your hotel or venue says that you do. Less than a second is all it takes to make sure your inspiration images for your wedding day hair and makeup are saved to your phone, keeping your stress level and timeline in order.
2) Let your mom do her thing. We love our moms and want them to look and feel beautiful! It’s their big day, too, and then there’s the photo’s to think of. But sometimes, mom really doesn’t want to wear lashes, and she probably does love her lipstick, and when you try to force her into a look she’s spent decades feeling comfortable with, it puts a damper on her day. Don’t try to change your mom unless she’s into it and wants to. If the feathered bangs she’s been rocking since 1984 are her thing, let her have them. We know you just want to photo’s to come out great and yes, her personal style may be dated to you, but it’s not worth it if she feels uncomfortable. And she’ll make us re-do it in a style or look she’s more comfortable with after, anyways.
3) Make friends with reality. I’m a big fan of Photoshop- I have convinced myself more than once that I really AM 15 lbs lighter after not realizing how much work was done on an image. But, Photoshop has also really distorted our perception of reality. Those beautiful eye makeup tutorials? Yes, they look great on the person with the big eye shape who did them. And the smooth, flawless skin? You can have that in just a few clicks, but it may not be able to come from a makeup artist. We can only work with color, we can’t do anything about texture, so if your skin has some texture problems those will still be there after a professional makeup application. I have acne scars myself and trust me, if there was a way makeup could make my skin smooth, I would have figured it out already.
4) Your tattoo’s are part of you. Own it. We offer tattoo cover and are happy to take care of your 18 year old bright idea so Grandma doesn’t know, but understand that some tattoos can’t be covered without an understanding of what’s involved. You’re ex’s name is over your heart and you’re wearing a plunging neckline? If the fabric isn’t too snug, and that tattoo is fairly old, we can probably cover it with mild damage to your dress. But, if your dress rubs on the area where the makeup is applied, friction can make the makeup move. While most professional wedding makeup artists with use a water-proof, budge-proof formula, you have to understand that friction it’s a whole different story. That flower on your arm? Just leave it. If it’s not offensive, it’s not worth risking getting makeup all over your gown and your hugging guests. In fact, bedazzle it! Embrace it. We are starting to see brides bling out and dress up their tattoo’s to make them wedding glamorous.
5) Reign in your contour fantasies. In private groups and happy hours all over the country wedding makeup artists are talking about the contour trend and trying to find a nice way of saying “Yes, I’ll give you contour, but not Kim K style because you’ll look like a drag queen in person.” While I can’t speak for all the other makeup artists, I can tell you that I am a big fan of contour! I love how with just a few well-placed strokes I can define and sculpt a face. However, I don’t do it to the extreme that all these tutorials are showing you. It only looks good to you because it’s on camera- in real life, like your wedding day where guests will see you in person, too much and too harsh contouring can and will make you look like a contestant on Ru Pauls Drag Race. Understand that a skilled wedding makeup artist knows the perfect balance between making you look amazing in person, and flawless on camera.
6) Clip-In extensions. Own them and love them. All those amazing images of beautiful cascading waves you see? Yup, there’s a good chance a few extensions were popped into her hair to make it fuller, longer, lusher. If your hair isn’t very thick, layered, and long, we can’t create those big beautiful waves for you without adding some hair. Because most wedding hair and makeup artists work on location, it’s unrealistic for us to carry all the different kind of hair we would need to pop in extensions at a moments notice. You’ll need to do some advanced planning for that. So, if you plan on wearing your hair down, and you want that look, get yourself some beautiful clip-ins and we’d be happy to secure them in place for you. Also, be sure that your at-home stylist does NOT blunt-cut your ends, they have to be textured (beveled, shattered, razored) so that your hair and the extensions blend seamlessly.
7) Simple is Chic for your ‘maids. Pretty much all our brides now are over the matchy-matchy concept, letting their bridesmaids wear what suits them within the look/color scheme of the wedding. Same goes for hair, too, with most brides OK letting the maids pick out their own style. Having witnessed too many unflattering yet matching ‘dos in my career, I’m pretty happy that fad is gone. At least now, when our bridesmaids have similar hair styles, the bride is OK with letting us customize the look so it works with each individual bridesmaids features. However, when thinking of bridesmaids hair and makeup, keep it simple. Simple is chic, and having one bridesmaid who chooses this super intricate up-do with braids and curls and twists and every element she can find crammed onto one head of hair looks like she’s stealing the brides thunder. And, remember, the back of her hair probably won’t be in most photos. Then there’s the fact that if her style has all that going on, she’s going to time-stamp herself and classic elegance just went out the window. Simple is always timeless, always beautiful, and can still have a modern twist. Think down, beautiful curls or waves, maybe some pieces softly pinned back. Think low swept up-do’s, either clean or soft, depending on your taste. Makeup too, should be simple and classic, and somewhat uniform. You don’t want one ‘maid with winged eyes and red lips and another with purple smokey shadow and a nude lip. Choose a flattering idea, keep it simple, and let your ‘maids make it their own.
8) Airbrush isn’t always the right answer. I left this last because the tip is short, you can read my thoughts on airbrush makeup here.
If you grew up in Vegas, you know that the Bridal Spectacular show is where it’s AT for brides. I remember being little and hearing their signature jingle, “If your a bride to be, the place to be is the Spectacular Bridal Show!” Now that I’m a grown woman running the amazing Las Vegas wedding hair and makeup team that is the ‘Co, I actually get to be a part of the bridal fair. It’s pretty surreal! We got our very first booth at the bridal show in 2011- and just to show how human we are, here’s a very incriminating photo of how rough around the edges we were. Yea, it was pretty bad. Thankfully, it only took one botched show for me to figure out that it’s better to hire one of the amazing floral designers in town to do your booth.
Booth swagger aside, there’s also another element that the Bridal Spectacular pulls together. Every late fall, sometime before the holidays but after the big wedding season (October is our busiest month!), the show producers put on a big shoot out. They corral a few stunning models in exquisite gowns, pick some prestigious venues, pull from Las Vegas’s finest wedding vendors, and stage a styled shoot. Of course, you probably didn’t hear much about this on our Facebook page, because the images are all kept very hush hush until the new Spectacular Bride magazine comes out at the following show. For the past three years, we’ve had the privilege of being invited to these well-done photo-shoots as the bridal hair and makeup team. The rush of making incredible images doesn’t get any less with time, if anything, it gets stronger. The original concept for the shoots was to showcase how one bride could be portrayed so differently depending on what photographer was capturing her image. (It’s really incredible how much artistic license impacts how the photo turns out!) And from there it just evolved and flourished, time and time again.
This year, stoked beyond belief, we were invited to not one, but TWO different shoots! Two amazing opportunities to work with super high-caliber photographers, get published, and get some amazing images for our book. In this post, I wanted to share with you the second of the two shoots. It thrilled us to bits when we found out Alex, the cover model for the 2012 issue, was one of our models. We also had a chance to work with Eriko for the first time, and she is as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside. Both professional models, you could probably put a trash bag on them and they’d make it work. Fortunately, there was a ton of beautiful, curated gowns to choose from. These images come from three different photographers, and are some of the most beautiful photo’s we’ve ever helped to create. Thrilled to be sharing with you!
Photographer Credits, in order of appearance:
Rather than put this gem truly at the end, we are going to stick it right here in the middle. It’s pretty amazing, and while we could wait till everything has been posted, you could be swooning over the amazing gown collection at the Las Vegas designer wedding gown boutique, Couture Bride! There’s a saying that goes something like this- Dec 26th is the busiest day for wedding gown shops. Ok, so maybe it’s more of a rumor than a saying, but the point is this- we are just about half-way through March and that means all you newly engaged brides are on the hunt for THE gown. Our fancy stats show that’s one of the very first things you are going to purchase for your wedding. Which means right about now, about a month after engagement season, you’re probably on the hunt.
For the #30daysgorgeous final shoot, I wanted to do something over-the-top bridal. We had a blast breaking the mold with our non-bridal shoots. Reaching decades back and reviving hair and makeup styles, rocking out our version of classics, it was like a cool remix. However, at the end of the day, there’s something just so perfect about the impeccable beauty that wedding hair and makeup can be. It’s very much the epitome of when a woman looks her most stunning.
Over a month and a half, I had been in the Couture Bride shop so much I started to think of my parking space as assigned. When I’d go in to pick a gown for an upcoming shoot, I’d try to drag out the visit as long as possible without being invasive. The shop is just gorgeous- light, airy, beautiful furniture, stone floors. You just feel prettier when you’re in it, even if your rocking yoga pants like I did most of the time. I’d chat with Dawn, coo over Chloe, and just breath. A couple of times, the only reason why I managed to peel myself off their couch was because one of their brides had walked in and I knew I needed to let them take care of her. I just love how I feel when I am there. I mentioned this to Ron, how beautiful the space was and how it’s make for an amazing shoot, and almost automatically the idea clicked into place. To have models there, with beautiful wedding hair and makeup, and then turn them over to the experts in a store filled with wedding dresses, veils, accessories… it was too perfect. It’s what I imagine all of us dreamed of as little girls. And so, we made it happen. A quick call to our girl Christine over at Floral Couture and we had two stunning floral pieces to add drama to the already breathtaking scene. Add three models, an amazing wedding hair and makeup team, two wedding fashionistas, one way epic wedding photographer, and the cutest assistant in all the land… and this is what you get.
Sometimes you just feel lucky, you know? Outside of the whole “lady luck” situation that Vegas has. This particular #30daysgorgeous session made me feel really lucky. Lucky that photographer Ella Gagiano was on board with the project. Lucky that I happen to know a beyond beautiful model who just so happens to be a friend. Lucky that our friends at Couture Bride would loan us yet another dress. Lucky that this team of ours is 5-star, all the way. Lucky that M Resort liked the idea and would let us shoot there. Lucky, lucky, lucky are we.
In a pow-wow with Christine over at Floral Couture, she mentioned that we should do something over at the M Resort for the project. I admit, for all my candor I can be a bit nervous when it comes to reaching out. But I did, and the results were so awesome that it makes me wonder what else my nerves are getting in the way of. Anyways, after chatting with Tina over at M, she recommended reaching out to Ella Gagiano to do the photography for the shoot. Oh, here we go with nerves again. Ella and I had crossed paths briefly before, but we weren’t exactly on each others Christmas card lists. So I swallowed my nerves and reached out anyways. She was on board too! It was like the stars had aligned just for us, just for the project.
We’ve had the luxury of being at the M several times. The first time was when it first opened, my husband and I did an extended “date night” there and sipped our martini’s over an unparalleled view of the strip. The resort is on the far south side of the strip, far away from pretty much all the other big properties, and at the top the Lux provides an incredible view of the city. Then, a couple years ago, our company sponsored an industry event that was also in that same space. If you’re on the hunt for a sexy, swanky, sophisticated venue, let me tell you this is it. It’s got all the fixings for a glamorous Vegas wedding, easy on the Vegas. Of course, our bride Brittney had to have an equally swanky gown that hugged her curves in all the right places, and Couture Bride had just the dress. The ensemble was finished off with a chic bouquet from Floral Couture, and ‘Co artists Bri and Hayley sealed the deal with all the sexy vibe that the shoot was sure to be. And yes, it was sexy in all the right ways.
In the middle of our #30daysgorgeous project, we also had the massive bridal show that is Bridal Spectacular. Naturally, bridal shows at the start of the year are lavish productions, riding the wave of all the holiday engagements. (Here in the ‘biz, we know you husbands-to-be like to pop the question between Thanksgiving and Valentines day. There ya go, a little insider info for ya!) That means that between organizing, collaborating, and actually doing 30 shoots in 30 days, we also needed to have one EPIC booth for the biggest and best bridal show in Las Vegas. A whole day and several f-bombs later, Chief Dude and I finally got our booth up and promptly went to the nearest margarita distribution facility to toast our hard efforts. The next day, when we got back, we finally took some time to notice our neighbors. Directly across from our booth was a quiet and pretty lady with a dazzling display of jewels. Britni of Blue Luck Bridal was having her first booth at the show, and we exchanged pleasantries and a few hot tips. Towards the end of the show, when my own exhaustion was being replaced with the thrill of meeting loads of beautiful brides, we chatted more about lots of things, including the project. Jewelry was a definite must for truly bridal shoots, and it was a great chance for us to work together to create something beautiful! A couple weeks later, Britni in all her motivation (and let me tell you, she is small but mighty!) pulled together the epitome of wedding-fashion bridal photoshoots. We were way stoked to hear that she had gotten our girl photographer Ella Gagiano on board, and then our beautiful model just make everything perfect. Alana and Hayley completed the picture-perfect bridal look with sultry, smoky eye makeup and a classic hairstyle that would look amazing with dozens of different accessories. The result was absolutely, utterly, and completely perfect. Britni, we couldn’t be more thrilled working with you on this! And to all our brides to be, you gotta swing by Blue Luck Bridal and check out her beautiful jewels. Hair pieces and earrings, necklaces and bracelets, she has a lovely selection to complete the ultimate bridal look!
PS- Still need that Something Blue? At the end of the show, Britni gifted me the sweetest necklace. A double horseshoe, the outside beautiful crystal-clear rhinestones and the inside a kind of perfect-beach blue. It sparkles, it’s adorable in every way, and if you can’t figure out your blue, grab one of her signature necklaces!
Mineral makeup is wildly popular. Phrases coined “swirl, tap, buff” have taken on a cult following. Boutique stores and alluring kiosks all promise better skin, free from breakouts and allergic reactions. Even dermatologists, my own included, sell the popular Jane Iredale line in their offices as a better alternative to more conventional makeup formulas. All this is well and good, but one thing I’ve learned over the thousands of brides our company has worked with is that:
1) Most women hate the feel or look of non-mineral makeup (poorly applied or of low quality) and usually tell us they have an allergy or sensitivity so that they can use their own mineral makeup for their wedding day. They usually are also terrified of breakouts or lack of sanitation.
2) Mineral makeup looks flat-out awful in photos.
While mineral makeup may be a viable option for day to day wear, it is not appropriate for any kind of photography medium and is unreliable for long term wear. The concerns about conventional makeup are not unfounded- it’s true, too many sub-par makeup artists have spackled faces with greasy, oily products that shimmy down sweaty cheeks and oily noses in a really unattractive way. However, in my (experienced) professional opinion, that is almost entirely the fault of the artist and rarely the fault of the makeup line.
The reasons why mineral makeup is not suitable for your wedding day are few and simple-
- Mineral makeup is a dry powder. When the dry powder oxidizes and mixes with the skins own natural oils, the color of the foundation alters and usually turns darker than the original color intended. Depending on the skin type, this can happen within a few minutes or a few hours- but far sooner than your wedding day will come to a bittersweet close.
- Most mineral makeup contains a handy little ingredient named bismuth oxychloride. This synthetic ingredient (wait, isn’t mineral makeup supposed to be natural?) give that pearlescent finish to the skin. It also makes an otherwise normal sized pore look like a hole in the galaxy of your skin.
- Another regular party-goer to the mineral makeup rave is titanium dioxide. This one at least earns it’s keep- it acts as a sunscreen, reflecting harmful rays that could damage the skin. This is a great thing! Except, it also reflects the flash of a photographers camera. That’s when you get the whole floating-ghost head situation happening. Your face, no matter how it looks in person, will be highly reflective in any photo using artificial lighting. Unless you plan on taking photo’s only in natural lighting outside, you can see why this wouldn’t work out so well.
All this is not to say that ALL mineral makeup should be banned from wedding-day festivities. Mineral lipsticks, blushes, and some bronzers can be a sure thing. A little gentle highlight on the cheek or lips will not negatively effect the outcome of your wedding day photos.
For day-to-day wear, mineral makeup is definitely a boon to those who have skin concerns or sensitivities. In this regard, it get’s an enthusiastic blush brushes up, especially for the sun protection factor. Applied correctly and used sparingly (heavy powdered faces are reserved for the 18th century Lady of the House) then mineral makeup is an excellent daily regime. However, mineral makeup just not the right choice for your wedding day.