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Tips To Help Choose The Right Makeup Artist

wedding makeup artist dina altieri

So the big question just got popped and now comes the task to find a wedding makeup artist for the big day. They’ll be loads of details, organization, logistics and family/friend dynamics to swim through, all while making decisions that are best for you & your betrothed.

As a former wedding makeup artist myself I’ve been blessed to be a part of hundreds of weddings. I’ve worked on pristine islands, rooftops in Manhattans, farms in beautiful Bucks County Pennsylvania, the beaches of California, Brooklyn New York and countless other destinations.

You get the picture. In this article I’m going to give you the tips you need to choose the right wedding makeup artist for you.

Experience Matters

Not all wedding makeup artist are created equal. All of these experiences have taught me enough to fill a book, so now I’m going to share some of my juicy tidbits with you. There’s a lot that goes on that can’t be found in a book or a manual anywhere.

So keep reading to learn about some funny and not so funny nuances that occur on and around the wedding. My hope is that my words will help you to put the best YOU forward on your wedding day – mind, body and soul.

ask around and you shall receive

Even brides that don’t consider themselves beauty queens usually have at least one friend who knows a thing or two about makeup. If not, then they know someone who knows someone who can point them in the right direction. A local makeup artist with a fabulous work ethic & reputation should be relatively easy to find with just a little digging.

Look in department stores as many of the pro brands have artists that are well trained and can make themselves available for the day. Quality artistry may also be found at top beauty boutiques, salons and spas.

Greenwich Wedding Featured In Brides Magazine - Dina & Caroline
Greenwich Wedding Featured In Brides Magazine - Dina & Caroline

have makeup will travel

If you are having a destination wedding, please plan/budget for your makeup artist to come along. I can’t tell you how many crazy stories I’ve heard about wedding day clown makeup that was applied by a local person at a destination location. One of my best friends eloped and had this exact experience. She had to scrub her face when she got back to the hotel and redo it all herself as best she could before putting on her dress.

It was nerve wracking to say the least & a big waste of time and money. Sure you may be going to paradise, but as you travel cultural tastes shift. You cannot guarantee the quality of service you will receive OR that your needs will be understood. Don’t take a chance. Many artists will work with you on pricing, so taking them with you may likely be way more affordable than it sounds.

this brush is not a crystal ball

Communication is everything! Can I magically create a wedding day look for you that’ll blow your socks off? Of course. However, I would not want to without having an in depth conversation about who you are, how comfortable you are with makeup & what kind of bridal look reflects you personally. All of that needs to be taken into consideration AND it needs to last and look great on camera, too.

Trials Matter, A lot!

Definitely take all of the guesswork out of it and look for a wedding makeup artist that’s willing to do a trial run. Do not skip this one. This will save you so much worry and make for a happier day. Don’t be shy – bring photos to share with your artist.

Pictures help establish a language that may otherwise be difficult to obtain (especially with a bride that’s a makeup novice).

A true pro clearly and calmly establishes what’s best and lets the bride feel comfortable sharing her feelings and expectations. Remember you’re going to be looking at these photos for the rest of your life, so the role your makeup artist plays is not to be underestimated.

Greenwich Wedding Featured In Brides Magazine

warning - everyone and I mean everyone "thinks" they're a makeup artist

God help me, but I’m going to take a very deep breath and try to talk about this one nicely.

To Social or Not To Social

With the advent of social media outlets like YouTube and Instagram there are thousands upon thousands of people out there who call themselves makeup artists. Eh many of them are harmless kids sitting in their bedrooms. Not a big deal.

However, some of them are actual grown ups who call themselves bloggers or influencers. Many of them make careers by telling you what products to buy and how to apply them. Again, not a big deal. Or is it?

Influencers Scare Me

This is where the influence part of influencer can get super scary. The vast majority of them are not beauty experts, makeup artists, estheticians, cosmetologists nor have they worked even remotely in the beauty industry. They are simply people sharing their opinions, which is their First Amendment right after all.

The scary part is that they put out a ton of information and misinformation. This muddies that waters for those of us that have made careers in the industry. All of it can be very confusing, at best. We pro’s have to untangle all of it. Then responsibly reteach our clients to make choices that are right for them. In most instances an influencers’ motives are going to be very different than what’s right for you, especially on your wedding day.

Wedding Makeup or Clown Makeup

Now if patching your face with 10 different shades of concealer and foundation, then blending it with an egg shaped sponge for 3 hours works for you – be my guest. I believe in the type of contouring that makes you look like a golden goddess, not the kind that makes you look like you had a fight with bronzer and bronzer won. It’s up to you to be true to yourself. So if heavily glittered unicorn eyelids, blindingly highlighted skin and brown stripes on the side of your face speak to you, then by all means go for it.

I’m honestly not being flippant, I’m only asking that you be careful.

Truth be told, most of the wedding makeup artist happening on social media is a PAIN. Please don’t expect a true wedding makeup artist professional to be excited to see the photos you show them on Instagram from some random influencer who’s makeup applications are more suitable for Ru Paul’s Drag Race than they are for your sweet, once-in-a-lifetime wedding day.

Think about it. Do you go to a doctor who’s never gone to med school? Do you take your car to be fixed by a mechanic who’s never fixed a car? Of course not. So why are you listening to people on social media who are not real beauty industry professionals? Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life. Don’t ever lose sight of that.

Keep an open mind and keep an open dialog going with your makeup professional. Look to A list celebrities, top models and fashion houses. They are always excellent examples of beauty, artistry and creativity. You want your love to be remembered on your wedding day, not the fact that you were drowning in makeup and no one tossed you a life preserver.

Greenwich Wedding Featured In Brides Magazine
Greenwich Wedding Featured In Brides Magazine

save the drama for your lashes

Does your makeup artist constantly run late for appointments? Do they walk in on the phone or text constantly throughout your appointment? Do they complain to you about the client before you? If so, you might want to work with someone else. There should be zero drama on your wedding day.

What may seem funny, will not be cute the day of your nuptials – trust me. Your hair and makeup people should arrive at least 15 minutes early to set up. Scheduling their timing should be established well in advance. Please don’t leave it up to chance that it’ll all work out, because it won’t.

Hair, Lights, Camera, Action

The time you spend on your hair, makeup and getting in to your gown is truly one of the most beautiful and intimate parts of the day. Languish in it. Gift yourself those tender moments. Absolutely think twice about hiring any “professional” who doesn’t make you feel like you and your day are their highest priority.

but my friend said....

Chances are you and those closest to you aren’t exactly alike. Even in the tightest relationships tastes and personal styles vary. Take the time to be appreciative and thankful for your well meaning friends and family. Most importantly, show your individuality. Work with hair and makeup professionals that reflect your unique style and individuality.

You’re The Star

This is your moment in time that will be etched in the memory of all who attend. Please make sure to breathe deep and let your loved ones know that you’d prefer to make your own decisions. I have known countless brides who said “I wish I didn’t listen to ______” after the fact.

Even if it’s over something that seems small like the shade of your lipstick. If it bothers you, don’t bother with it. Stay true to yourself and be comfortable with what’s happening. If you’re not it will surely show on your face. Clenched jaws do not make for a pretty picture.

Greenwich Wedding Featured In Brides Magazine

Let’s Talk Budget

When planning their wedding day, most brides want to keep a handle on their expenses. That’s totally normal, so obviously the subject of price is going to be part of the conversation when looking for the right makeup artist. It’s HOW price gets addressed that can be important.

To the brides out there, I respectfully say BE REALISTIC! Do not expect a makeup artist to work for whatever rate you think is fair and please do not badger them with pricing from one artist to another. That is absurd and insulting. Do you sit at a restaurant and start haggling about the price of food? No, you do not. So please do not do that with your hair and makeup people.

It Isn’t Cruel To Be Kind

You are planning the most important occasion of your life. Be courteous. I have read nightmare stories in closed makeup artistry groups on social media. Bride’s can be unrealistic and hurtful. Being a makeup artist is someone’s livelihood and pride. If the artist you want to work with is too expensive for you, that’s genuinely not their problem.

Be kind and respectful and let them know you are looking for someone at a different price point. It is up to the artist to offer a different rate or pay structure. It’s that simple.

Pricing, Pricing, Pricing

To the artists out there I adamantly say KNOW THY WORTH! Show your professionalism by having your rates set & ready for discussion. Have a short and sweet contract ready for the bride to sign. Be confident in the value of your art. Do not feel a burden of guilt because someone may not be able afford you.

I would love to be driving a Maserati, but it’s not a realistic thing right now. That’s life. It’s no reason for you to twist yourself into an emotional pretzel or to feel awful because you may be outside of someone’s budget. This is a part of what we do and it’s ok to know that you won’t be a right fit for everyone.

your feet vs. your face

Ok, I’m just going to say this and leave it right here. Every bride splurges here and there. Many of them do so on a fancy pair of shoes like Jimmy Choo’s or Christian Louboutin’s. I mean who wouldn’t, given the chance? A pair from these luxury designers costs thousands of dollars.

It’s truly a princess feeling that every bride deserves. They are however, customarily worn under a long dress that no one gets the pleasure of seeing. Unlike your face that’s the focal point of the entire occasion. Do what you will, but maybe – just maybe – think about budgeting a little less on your feet and a little more on your face.

Greenwich Wedding Featured In Brides Magazine
Greenwich Wedding Featured In Brides Magazine

keep the peace while saying your piece

If I had a dime for every nasty mother/daughter/sister argument I have been in the middle of I could retire today. And when I say the middle, I mean literally the middle. Brush in hand, loaded with product to apply and boom suddenly I have two angry faces glaring right through me. Not pretty.

By all means, say what you need to say to each other, but do it amongst yourselves in an appropriate place conducive to meaningful conversation. You owe it to yourself to be heard and felt in a space that is going to obtain positive results for all involved. Outbursts make everyone uncomfortable & rarely lead to creating the happy vibe you deserve.

bridezillas aren’t always a real thing

Very few people know this, but I was a part of one of the first Bridezilla episodes that was ever filmed. The funniest part about the whole thing was that I had no idea. The bride was super nice and super chill. When I got to her suite at the W Hotel in midtown, I was greeted warmly by her and noticed a small camera crew behind her.

She explained that her fiancee was a film artist and that they were creating a documentary about their wedding. I said yes when she asked if I was ok with being filmed. We then proceeded to have the most lovely time while I did the wedding makeup for she and her family.

Bridezilla, Is That You?

Months and months later one of my friends called and told me about the Bridezilla episode! She called to say how sorry she was that I had to deal with such a crazy person. I said that could not have been farther from the truth and that the experience was wonderful.

That’s when we all began tune in to the fact that editing is a huge part of what we see on TV. They edited this bride’s behavior to make sure that she fit in to what the concept of their show is about. She wasn’t a monster at all.

Reality tv is often not rooted in reality. Everything is a business. The success of any tv show is ratings. So keep that in mind and please don’t imitate some of the crap we see on the small screen. It’s just not cool.

Greenwich Wedding Featured In Brides Magazine

love is the word

I am blessed to say that my brides and I enjoy a true love fest. They trust me and I never, ever let them down. I truly hope that some of my somewhat unorthodox makeup advice has helped you to plan well, relax and have lots of fun on your wedding day.

Good luck to you and I wish you a wedding day that’s as smooth as that satin train of yours.



Dina Altieri
questions or comments? write me at

Dina Altieri

photo credits: greenwich, ct 2017. featured in the knot.
genya o’neall of vue photography

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