And Now I Ask *You* A Favor

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

Oh Team Practical,
Sometimes I go for weeks and weeks forgetting about how wedding planning can be totally ridiculous, because I’m mostly past the planning part and on to the IMPLEMENTATION (which can be it’s own kind of stressful but is generally less absurd). But then, wedding planning pokes it’s crazy *ss head in, just to remind me that while I may be done with it, it is *not* done with me.

So. Remember how I decided to splurge, trust myself, and get my hair and makeup done? And then how I found a sane stylist with orange feather earrings who’d never done a wedding before and gave me a somewhat spendy but reasonable rate? Well. Sigh. Before she gave me a finalized rate, she talked to some people who did weddings on a regular basis, and we all know where that leads. The final quote was not for “hair” but for “bridal hair” (red flag!) annnnddddddd…. all in, the final hair and makeup quote was significantly more then my wedding dress.* Agggghhhhhh….

So, I had a quick bought of crazy after getting this quote. I remembered that someone once had told me that The Knot’s local message boards were actually sort of helpful, and um, wow. They were not helpful, but boy do I want to start writing a column that’s just “sane answers to questions asked on The Knot.” But I digress.

The point is, this is where you guys come in. Do any of you have hair & makeup recommendations? Better yet, do any of you DO hair and makeup? I would love-love-love to hire one of you to make me pretty. These are my requirements:

  • Someone trained in hair & makeup (obviously).
  • Someone who can deal with feisty wavy hair.
  • Someone who can also do natural looking makeup.
  • Someone who will be willing to get just before dawn and drive to East Bay on a Sunday morning in August.
  • Someone who will not charge me my first born child in payment.
  • Someone who will just do “hair” not “bridal hair.”
  • Someone who will make me laugh.

I would think this was impossible, but you guys are Team Practical. Every day you remind me that everything is possible when you put your mind to it, and I love you for that. Fingers crossed.

Smooches (at the moment without lipstick),

*I know, we’re making my wedding dress. But it’s made with nine yards of silk, so it’s not *that* cheap.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit

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  • Have you told the original stylist that the style is the same as the first time you talked to her, and that if the price is THAT out of your budget you won't use her at all? Maybe she'd consider giving you a break since you'll be her first bride and to not would mean no business at all. Aren't people desperate for work at the moment?
    If that doesn't work, tell the people you're going to SOMEONE ELSE'S wedding. I don't really like lying, but maybe the price for that (if your 'do isn't super-crazy elaborate) would be more in line…

  • Don't mention it's for a wedding at all when making the appointment. When I made my hair appointment, I said it was for a special event. It wasn't until I went in for the appointment that she found out it was for my wedding. Also, instead of having my hair AND makeup done, I just had my hair done. I did my makeup myself, after splurging at the Bare Escentuals store. It didn't feel as crazy spending the money on makeup that I will wear every day.

  • Hi Meg, not being in the States, I'm sorry I can't help. But I'm with prettyisa – did you discuss it with the girl? Maybe she'll be willing to do it for the original price (since she clearly thought that was reasonable initially) rather than not at all?! After all, there's a difference between what she can charge, and what people are willing to pay! Otherwise, I'm sure Team Practical will come through for you!!

  • I totally want to write about all the dumb things written/asked on the knot. I routinely use my blog to vent about mean and stupid people.

  • I had a lot of luck with craigslist, post with the amount you are willing to pay, firm. I promise you will get at least 5 responses.

  • That is so frustrating. I have not been telling anyone that things are for a wedding, otherwise the rate triples. Seriously. I was even advised not to mention it was my wedding dress at the dry cleaners, until I decided I didn't need to spend money on drycleaning.

    My friend doing my hair and makeup is sadly only in the UK I think but she does come out to LA from time to time. Where are you in relation to LA?

    Otherwise, how about looking for makeup artists who are looking to build their portfolio and offer them some photos?

  • Here's one i've done before for special events (i lucked out and had a very talented friend do my beauty for the big day, but alas she is in Mich.) pick your favorite makeup counter , go with savy friend, get makeup done, splurge on some key purchases, do practice runs, have friend do make-up day of. similar for hair.
    Good Luck! You'll be gorgeous!

  • vanessa

    I think it's ridiculous that she thinks she can upcharge you all of a sudden just because she's talked to a few friends that overcharge their brides.

    Isn't it the norm when people are starting out in the wedding world they charge way less? Maybe she needs to be explained this practice.

    Tell her you'd pay her price if it included an hour long foot and back rub as well.

  • Jacquei

    Do you have something like an Aveda Institute where you live- like a beauty school but with better products? I always go to AI in Chicago and have nothing but great results because the students who work on you are weeks from graduating. You can go that route for your hair- but I would just look up a makeup look/style and try to create it yourself- like on Hope that helps!

  • Meg

    Hey All-
    Thanks for the advice but A) I can't go to Aveda or anywhere else at 6:30 AM on a Sunday morning (when my hair has to be done. Ah, morning weddings.) And B) I can't hide the ball when I have to have someone come out and do my hair in a house with my wedding dress, you know, right there. You can hide the ball for a salon appointment, but not at 6:30 am on site.

    The stylist was lovely, please don't get me wrong. I've already talked to her but for various reasons I don't think I can bring the rate down to something I would say was resonable. So! Right now I'm just looking for fresh leads. Fresh Leads! So many of you in the Bay Area, I *know* one of you is going to know someone talented and grounded!!


  • How annoying!

    I wish I could help.

    If you don't find anyone to do it have you considered going to a Mac (or similar) counter where you can book a time to choose products and try different looks with one of their make-up artists?

    A friend could come along to help and make sure you have an extra pair of hands on the day.

    Hope you find something that works for you.

  • "Bridal hair" eh? You gotta be kidding me. I'm really glad you decided not to go with her and her deceiving orange feather earrings after all. Shoooooo people who try to hop on the "brides will pay an outrageous price for something that's not really worth it" bandwagon!

    Maybe you could inquire with a beauty school in the East Bay? I had my makeup done at the drugstore but as for my hair, I was really pleasantly surprised. I felt so bad asking but in the end my hairdresser didn't mind coming in the salon at 8:15 on a Sunday morning just for me and my mom.

  • Oh, if only I was on the West Coast, I'd be there for you in a heartbeat. Hair and makeup is a hobby of mine, and since I mostly use myself as my model, I specialize in wavy hair and natural looking makeup. :)

    If there's one of me on the East Coast, you'll find someone the West Coast, I'm sure of it! And there have been several other good suggestions here. Good luck!

  • Meg – that is rough. "Wedding prices" make me furious.

    Having just gone to the makeup counter last week to get some pointers on doing my makeup as well as trials to see what colours work well for me , I would highly recommend it. Especially if you are wanting something simple, and natural looking.

    If you think that will be too stressful for you on the day, I would second/third what a few others have said – take a trusted friend, or a bridesmaid with you to the makeup counter and they can help you the morning of. You never know, this may actually be a really lovely part of your day – sitting with one of your girlfriends doing your makeup and chatting.

    Unfortunately I don't live in the US and don't know any hair stylists in the bay area. I would agree with whoever said to either post on craigslist or maybe send an email to a beauty college – students are always looking for practice and you never know, maybe someone would come to your place at 6:30am??

    All the best!

  • Good luck! It will work out! (Yeesh, I don't know if you want "wedding hair" anyway!)

  • Michelle

    I had similar "holy cow!" price experiences, so I just went to my local mall and asked around the makeup counters to see if anyone did wedding makeup on the side. One did, so we ended up doing one of those mall makeovers as the trial run and I purchased the lipstick and eye shadow, and she'll come to my house that day with samples of the same things we tried. Unfortunately they don't do hair, but it's definitely a lot cheaper on the makeup.

  • Noelle

    When I hear "bridal hair", I think of a complicated updo, and in that case I could understand charging more.

    But if you're wearing your hair down, there can be no excuse for an upcharge. Perhaps you can delve into that with her?

    As for makeup, if you already know what products look best on you, then you can do it yourself. If you don't, then you have time to experiment.

    If you want an expert and you don't know the person from Adam, you must get a trial run. You never know what you're going to get.

  • Meg, I'd do it in a heart beat (for free, even!) if I lived anywhere near you. But alas….

  • Oh i wish I lived near! I have done hair and makeup for years! I even taught make-up at a college.

    Even though I rarely wear it and can't be pressed to brush my own hair, I am doing my own makeup and hair for my wedding and I'd love to help another budget friendly bride!

    Best of luck!

  • MLE

    Have you tried looking on the Indiebride vendor boards? The Bay Area thread was very helpful to me when I was planning and I wrote reviews after my wedding. I haven't been back to IB in a while but I'm betting you might find some good information there.

    I did my sister's hair for her East Bay wedding last year. Sadly, I'm in Colorado, or I'd come do yours for you!

  • So sad! Will your normal stylist do it for you? You've probably already totally considered this, but if you have someone you've been loyal to for a long time maybe she would do it for you? I used my normal stylist and he was totally great.

    Depending on what you want, too, it really may be possible for your friends to do it. Put all your hair in curlers to set it, then twist/pull up/comb out into whatever style you want.

    Also, I agree with all the comments about doing makeup yourself, especially if you want a more natural look. I did my own and was very happy with it – looked and felt like myself, with just a little extra makeup for the wear of the day.

    I went to Clinique, got a little advice, updated my makeup, and splurged on good brushes, which now I use every day. It was easy to do it all myself, and honestly, I know my face and what I like better than a makeup artist, I think.

    If you do your makeup yourself, though, it's good to supplement with some under-makeup products like these:

    – Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer
    – Smashbox Photo Finish (for under foundation/powder)

    I used both of those and my makeup stayed really fresh and natural all through a rather hot day and outside ceremony. I feel like those products were all that set my makeup apart that day from a more "professional" job.

    Good luck, Meg! Fingers crossed for you – hopefully it will all turn out to be a good thing in disguise.

  • I got my "wedding hair" done at 17 Jewels Salon/Spa in the temescal neighborhood of Oakland (near the Berkeley border, though!), and I loved it! My favorite stylist is Ari, who knows what to do with wavy hair – she herself has super curly/wavy hair! I'm planning on getting my hair cut and colored (and my brows done) there before the wedding, and just letting a friend take over after that. I think I was charged $70 for a shampoo, blow dry and curl. You can email me if you have any questions about them – I love that salon! (

  • In the past, whenever I've had on-camera auditions I've taken digital photos of myself while I was doing my makeup. That way I knew exactly how my "natural" makeup was going to look on camera. This is what I plan to do on my wedding day to save some bucks, and I highly recommend it. I don't usually wear much makeup at all, and the pictures help a ton! Good luck!

  • First off, on the Knot boards: I haven't posted there myself, but a brief glance at the pages quickly told me that participating there would be about as much fun as jumping into a dumpster full of rabid raccoons. That is a scary, scary place.

    But! I've found that the Weddingbee boards are actually pretty useful for this sort of stuff. If you track down your local board, there are usually lots of people willing to help you find various vendors in your area. Weddingbee has its own issues, but at least the people who post there generally avoid being nasty for absolutely no reason.

  • K

    meg – you should totally write the "sane responses to questions asked on the knot" column. seriously. do it! we all need your sage sane wisdom! :)

  • and in the meantime, does anyone have any recommendations for someone reasonable & nice who won't make me look overblown – in the kansas city area? :)

  • Meg

    My dears,
    I am well aware that I can do hair and makeup myself (that was my original plan, remember?) However, at the moment, I'm looking for leads on getting it done. And yes, this was the person my regular stylist referred me to – I of course looked into that option first.


  • Hey Meg —

    Shannon Solano, at Elixir in Berkeley, has been doing my (straight) hair for about 15 years! I love her so much that I've followed her to several different salons, and even to her house when stay was staying home with her young kids. She does amazing things with highlights, and always manages to cut my unruly hair so that I can just wash n' go (the hairdryer and I aren't friends, much.)

    When I got engaged, she was one of the people I was most excited about involving in my wedding, since we've known each other so long. So she's doing my wedding hair – or hair for wedding – and she's in the east bay.

    That said, I don't know if her prices are going to be 'reasonable.' We haven't talked prices yet. I stared to get worried when she wanted me to come in for a consultation AND a trial, before the big day. I think I need to talk her out of one of those appointments… That said, I trust her implicitly and highly recommend her work. And I know she'd be willing to come in early on a weekend, as that's what she's doing for me.

    Good luck!

  • Ok, here's what I'm doing. Because I'm getting married (maybe the same day as you? July 18?) in my small Connecticut hometown where I haven't lived in 10 years, I'm having my hair done by my mother's hairdresser (which should be interesting in itself) but I'm doing my makeup myself (and I never really wear makeup usually).

    Before you gasp, hear me out. On the advice of a friend who is a makeup artist for film and TV, I decided to splurge and buy some Chanel foundation. So I went to the Chanel counter at Macy's and met this awesome lady, and ended up having my makeup done, and she did it in an amazing natural way, and I told her I was getting married, and asked her to show me how to recreate the look myself. I bought the essentials from Chanel — the foundation, lipgloss and eyeshadow, and I bought more reasonably priced versions of everything else. I spent probably about $150, which may seem steep, but I get to keep everything, so I think it balances out.

    Then I practiced my makeup at home, and it looked *almost* exactly like how the lady at Macy's did it. So, I think getting someone who is well trained in makeup to show you how to do it is a good option. I also liked that she chose colors for me I never would have chosen on my own, but it really looked very natural.

  • Ha, I hadn't read the comments so I see many others have recommended the same thing as me! Sorry to be redundant!

  • Will you please just pay the lady? She rocks. You know you'll look great. You need to stop stressing out about this. (Trust me.)

    There is no rule that says makeup/hair MUST cost less than the dress, Meg. There are no rules.

  • p.s. If one more person tells Meg she should do her own makeup I'm gonna hack in and block comments. I'm dead serious.

  • K

    Amen, East Side Bride, amen.

  • Anonymous

    I'm with East Side, you should consider the possibility that this person might be worth the amount you would have to pay her, if she has done awesome things that make you so excited about having someone come and do your hair and makeup instead of doing it yourself. Consider also that if you find someone else you may end up paying more if you have to do another trial, and you might not like that person as much as the one you already know you like.

    Just to counter some of the anti on here, I want to note that I found my (relatively reasonably priced for these parts) hair and makeup people on the knot, as well as other somewhat useful vendor reviews. Not generally a fan or participant on that board, but when I've looked for something specific like that it has been helpful for me. Along with other local wedding boards that I otherwise don't participate in.

  • Meg

    Oh, ESB, if I told you the price quote, and what was going into the price quote, you'd see. Trust me. I draw the line at paying two hours of travel time between SF and Berkeley. And renting them a car.

    And LADIES. Doing my own hair and makeup is not even the ISSUE. Am I scared of doing my own makeup? NO. Might I do it? YES. Do I know what makeup I wear? YES. Have I looked into other options? YES. Am I asking for leads from people who might have them? Um, YES. That's called being sensible.

  • Well I am not sensible. I flew my stylist from NYC to the west coast of Canada.

    Meg, breathe.

  • Good luck, I'm so sorry I can't help with any leads! (and also- stylist deserves a serious b*tch slap!)

  • Hey Meg – I'm a constant reader and wedding grad, but have never posted. I always get my hair done at Carlton at the mall in downtown SF (i work at the mall, they give me a discount, it rocks). I didn't have them do my wedding hair, but Kristine quoted me at $120…I don't know what their cost would be for coming out to Berkeley.

    ps-don't do your own makeup if you don't want to
    pps- just because the makeup/hair is more expensive than your dress doesn't mean you aren't practical

    Good luck!!!

  • sent you an email w/ 2 recommendations.

  • and um, esb…what are you doing on the blogs??! get back to work! xox

  • Wish I could help Meg, but I can't even do my own make-up (and am super far away), just wanted to say goodluck! And that I am sure you will find someone great!

  • hey meg,

    first off, that is so ridiculous. bridal pricing makes me crazy.

    being a fellow sf-chick, i do have a recommendation. i LOVE my hair guy and he just did a friend's wedding and she looked great. buuut i don't know what his pricing is for this and i don't know if he does make-up. those uncertainties aside, i can highly recommend him. his name is brooke and he's a mane attraction in cole valley

    good luck!

  • Shab

    Two things: (1) not sure it's what you're looking for, but take a look at Exquisite Faces for hair/makeup and (2) the Project Wedding Northern California forum is good for Bay Area vendor recommendations, especially since you can look at the recommender's bio where they'll often have relevant pictures posted.

    Also (um, yes, that would make it three and not two things), I think "bridal hair" requires more staying power (even if worn down) than regular hair–I am completely afraid of having my hair falling in my face for pictures–but, wow, who knew hairspray was so expensive in the Bay Area??

  • similar to some other suggestions, if you don't end up finding someone to come to you, book an appointment at a hair salon you trust, and just ask for a "wash and style" or a "casual updo". i did this on the weekend (as a wedding guest) and it worked fab.

  • Amy and Jill at Blow Salon in Berkeley are awesome, and I know they do wedding hair. I don't know prices and I don't think they do make-up…so this may not be that useful…but they are really great and worth checking out! at least you wouldn't have to pay for 2 hrs of travel (i mean really…from SF??? is she swimming across the bay?)

  • meg

    PLEASE start a blog featuring the sane answers to questions asked on the knot!!!!!
    PS- i'm a "meg getting married" too! no official date yet as we are still scouting venues but probably Oct.10

  • I really, really, really wish I had leads for you…but I'm on the wrong end of CA.

    The Knot is insanity..never, ever, ever go there. I almost had doves (doves!!)at my first wedding because of that's the machine, and it will eat your soul.

    I totally second the craigslist idea though…FWIW.

  • check out – she's an extremely talented colleague and a doll to work with. pls tell her lisa wiseman sent you

  • Wow! This is a lot of comments – I'm going to second Aveda. I'm going this route, although I might do my own makeup after a training session at the makeup counter at Nordstrom's. For my hair, I'm planning on a tryout session earlier the week of the wedding, perhaps w/ a dye job (I haven't dyed my hair since 8th grade!!) to make sure the girl and I are on the same page. But at less than $20, it's so affordable!

  • Hey Meg, I'm having a similar issue, but in the North Bay. :-) I did find someone in the resume section on Cragislist who would do hair for $75 (which is the top I'm willing to pay) but she was currently couch surfing and wasn't sure what her situation would be in Sept. Nonetheless, here's here 411 in case you're interested!
    Kelsey Hartley
    dolluxe (at) gmail (dot) com

    She said, "I live in Marin and tend to keep freelance work fairly local. I charge roughly $125 for make-up applications and $75 for hairstyling including kit fees. My rates do flex however upon complexity of looks."

    If you want her whole resume, drop comment on my blog. Good luck!!

  • Lili

    This may not be useful or practical for you, but my personal vote is recent beauty-school grads. They'll do it for cheap or even free just to have something for their portfolio, and are often even more motivated to do well because they're trying to establish themselves. Of course you'd want to try it out before (not everyone is talented), but this is the way I plan to go, as I have a friend who's just finishing up school and I like what she's done so far.

  • My sincere sympathy. I decided to do my own hair for just this reason.

    I do know a hairdresser who is solo, so she's cheaper than a lot of salons. She's in Los Altos (Peninsula) and a pretty good haircut from her is $50. Email me at peppermilleresq on yahoo if that might put her in range – I get the sense she'd be willing to negotiate to get the business. She has kind of a nervous personality, though.

    I think the price should be based on what you're trying to do – maybe if you want something simple, mention that up front. FWIW, my plan is a high ponytail, then twist little sections until they fold back on themselves and bobbypin them around the base of the ponytail. It looks rather complicated but takes all of five minutes. Could work for curly hair?

    P.S. Word verification is "alter"! But not altar.

  • tasterspoon

    Oh, but I don't know if she does makeup.

  • Make up tip– I'm getting mine done at the lancome counter at the mall. I have to go the mall, but it is super practical. I just have to buy a few products, which I don't mind because I can use mascara and lipgloss. I just called a local department store to talk to a counter rep (since I don't live in the same state I'm getting married in)

    I realized this after running into the same wall you did. I called a bunch of places and they were talking $50-150 a person for makeup! Crazy, right?

  • I can't help you with stylists in the Bay area, but have you thought about looking for referrals on Yelp? Good luck.

  • LR

    Ah! It just makes me so mad that as soon as you say "wedding" dollar signs appear in their eyes and they charge you double/triple the price!
    I wish I had a resource for you, but I'm here in Philly. Good luck with finding someone, I'm sure they are out there!


    That is absolutely INSANE. Nowhere in Berkeley can be so far from a BART station that requires a car rental. Don't have someone insane do your hair! FWIW, I suffered serious sticker shock for my hair, but paid *only* $25 for 20 minutes of travel time … which placed my hair costs just under the cost of my dress, but definitely more than anything else I put on my body that day.

    I'm really unhelpful, though — I don't have any recommendations for a stylist, sorry! :(

  • I've just emailed a wonderful curly-haired friend in SF for the name of her stylist, so if you get an email from an awesome redhead named Steph, she's been sent by an enthusiastic member of Team Practical! :)
    Good luck!

  • sam

    My advice… since you asked :)
    Unfortunately I'm states away so I don't have any local knowledge, but I have found one of the best ways to find reasonable vendors is through photographers.
    Now it has to be a photographer who shoots sane weddings, but usually the ones I know keep a list of vendors or individuals they've seen that they recommend. Also, they probably have photos of the work that person does, so you can check them out before giving them a call.

  • Aaarghh! I may be able to hook you up with my hair guy. I'll email you if he can do it.

  • Anonymous

    Everyone is trying to be helpful & caring but….Meg needs to get ready very early & the mall is not open at 6:30am! So perhaps no more 'makeup counter' recommendations! (although it could be a good idea at other times).

  • Anonymous

    Also, I know that we avoid talking in dollar terms here on APW because we all value different things and may have different financial positions. However, someone commented that $50+ per person was 'crazy' for makeup. Now allocating $50+ per person might be more than you are willing to spend and thus you must make different arrangements. Applying makeup is a skill & if someone has been professionally trained, with a proven expertise in their field, they deserve to be paid a professional rate. We would never expect a plumber to travel to our home, spend a hour using his tools and then ask for $30 in return!
    I respect Meg's opinion that her particular quote was not good value-for-money, though.

  • Meg

    Thanks Anon on both fronts. Yessss…. somehow the makeup counter at 6:30 AM is a no-go. I'm all about paying people what they are worth believe you me, but alas, I was not quoted $50*, it was more like X15 that (ish).

    *Totally understand not wanting to pay $50 on makeup! Totally. But, it is definitely a skill, and skilled wages tend to run $50 and up and hour.

  • AM

    Here are some easy up-do ideas a friend could do:

    Also, I second the idea of having a make-up "tutorial" at a spa and then doing it yourself (or having a friend do it). I found Bare Essentials totally easy-to-use and natural looking…and I'm a farmgirl who never wears makeup!

  • Hey Meg, a woman in my program at SF State used to do makeup (and maybe hair?) for a living, and she's a starving student now so maybe??? I'll shoot her an email and see what comes back.

  • I have no advice, just sympathy and outrage – it sucks sucks sucks that she realized that "wedding" means "unreasonable pricing."

    You say you have feisty hair, so I completely see the need for a pro you trust. Good luck!

  • I am on the other side of the country, so I am not sure if this could be of help. Why don't you contact a local beauty school? The people there are really just getting started, but typically do a great job. They would probably give you a good price, and they would have something for their portfolio.

    I got so lucky in this department. I am a photographer so I bartered with my hairstylist. She would do my hair and makeup in exchange for free family portraits.

  • I'm not sure when your wedding is/was. But if you're still looking for someone to do your hair and makeup in the East Bay, try Gina at Topps Salon in Oakland. She's like 22 years old, but she is my stylist and is also doing my wedding hair and I trust her completely. (I also have pretty crazy wavy hair).

    Good luck!