Dish: Hair and Makeup

Ok girls, dish. One of these days I have to decide if I hire someone to do my hair and makeup for the wedding and make me feel super prettified, or if I have some friends/me do it (caveat: I don’t have secret stylist friends). As you guys know, I’m not dogmatic on this kind of thing. I really believe that each of us should figure out what will work best for us. In this case, I just don’t know what’s going to work for me. I’m not terribly worried about makeup (I have a way with the little that I wear), but my hair…. is… difficult. Feisty, even, if hair can be feisty.

So. I figured since you all are basically an enormous group of smart, savvy, sassy girlfriends I should ask you. Did you do your own hair and makeup? How did that work for you? If you splurged on a pro, were you glad that you did? If you’re trying to figure this out and have other questions, ask them in the comments.

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  • I’d vote to at least hire someone to do your hair. I did my own make-up for my wedding, but hired a hair stylist and don’t regret it for a second. I could have gone for a more simple style that wouldn’t have required a stylist, but for me, not having to stress out about my hair that morning was totally worth it.

  • I went to an Aveda Institute beauty school. They did a great job, and the TOTAL for hair and makeup was $25! It’s a bit risky because you don’t know who you’ll get, but you might be able to talk to them about working out a trial and then having the same person on the big day? My summary and pics:

  • I also did a stylist. I accidentaly booked a newby at the Mia&Maxx; at the mall, where I usually get my bangs done. I have over a solid pound of hair (well, I did at the time) and there was no way I was going to mess with all that on my own. I dont regret it a bit. Plus, sitting and getting my hair done with my lady and one of my bridesmaids was a great, calm part of the day. All I had to do was sit still for an hour. No phone, no work, no anything. Just gossiping and trying not to wiggle too much. it was nice.

  • I have just booked someone to do my hair and make up – after some hesitation I decided I deserved a treat, we are doing so much of the wedding ourselves I am looking forward to taking an hour out to be pampered. Plus when I added up all the new make up I would need to buy to DIY (I very rarely wear any), it worked out cheaper to have it done for me.

  • EBM

    hire someone to do your makeup. make sure that person is good too. my friend got married and overpaid for a makeup artist who was not really good and you could tell. the pics show the makeup breaking down. you don’t want that happen to you.

  • I’m very lucky to have a close friend who is a hairdresser, but if I didn’t, I definitely would have got a stylist. To me, good hair is the absolute most important part of looking polished, so it would have been the last thing for me to give up.

    With regards make-up, having no idea how I would feel, I didn’t want to risk doing my own. (I get shaky hands when nervous!) Unfortunately in this case there was no one I could have asked, so I hired a professional. It cost a fortune – we only went with her because she was someone Nate knew and he misunderstood her offer, thinking she was going to do it for free! (She gave me 10% off… not much of a discount.) It was one of those things I just let go of in the last weeks before the wedding, but if I were doing it again I would have gone to Mac or somewhere and got it cheaper.

  • I hired someone to do my hair but not my make-up. I went to a local salon, where I had gotten my hair cut once before and was totally satisfied and pleased about not having to worry about a thing. This was the only time since prom and my sister’s wedding that someone had done my hair, so as EliandMesaid, I felt like I deserved the treat! The only drama was that the woman who had done my trial a week before the wedding quit 5 days before the wedding. I went back in, had another trial and was totally happy. As with everything you’ve said, put your ducks in a row and once you decide, don’t stress…it will all work out!

    My sisters and I did my make up together. I thought about hiring someone to do my make-up but I hated “theater” everyone looked after getting their make-up done. My sisters and I had a good time and I ended up looking like “me” and everything looked great in the pictures.

  • I am quite good at doing my own hair & make-up and as our wedding is a relaxed country affair I was planning to do my own hair and make-up. If it had been a more glam do in a city, I might not have reached that decision.

    Then, a good friend of mine who is a make-up artist has offered to do both for me. Went for the trial last week and it looked fantastic, so I am very pleased and I know she will do a great job.

    I think brides should choose whichever option causes them the least stress on the day.

  • cltirish

    I finally gave in and booked someone. I was convinced this was a cost-saving opportunity and that surely I could teach myself the makeup and just go really simple on hair. Of course, this was the philosophy that got me lots of crazy eyed looks from friends and colleagues.

    At the end of the day, I really don’t know a darn thing about hair and makeup and, having spent a lot on a great photographer, I don’t want to be responsible for not making the pictures look right. :) I also know I’ll be a ball of nerves that day, resulting in eye liner across my face from shaky hands.

  • My hair is not feisty (I love that you described your hair that way). My hair is flat and subtle. I’m not a subtle person – I like my hair to make a statement (even if the statement is usually understated, it’s still better than “flat and subtle”). So I’m getting my hair done.

    I probably would do my make-up myself, but my fiance’s cousin offered to do it for me. She does make-up for weddings part-time. So that took care of that decision!

  • I had my regular stylist do my hair. It was almost a gift to her as she’s done my hair for every major party/event that I’ve had with (now) husband.

    My wonderful maid of honor is a dancer and does her own makeup, so she was kind enough to do my makeup after we watched very carefully at a makeup trial.

  • I am planning on getting my hair done, but it’s really not that much of a splurge around here. I’m just not good with my hair, and it will be totally worth it. I will skip the trial run though, I simply trust my hairdresser (we can always talk about it before and I can show her pictures).

    As for my make-up, I’ve been using Clinique products for years and every time I have a party, wedding or other occasion, I pop by their counter at a department store as soon as they open the morning of and they are more than happy to do it for free. They love doing glamorous, elaborate make-up as they don’t get the chance to do it very often, and the results are always fantastic.

  • CraftyBeaver

    I have short hair (the longest part is jaw-length), so getting my hair done by someone else really doesn’t make sense.

    I’m still trying to figure out what to do about makeup. I have been to a couple of makeup counters and not been pleased with the result – looks too fake to me. I normally don’t wear much makeup. I want to look polished and clean in photos, but still look like myself – any suggestions (particularly for a foundation-type thing) would be much appreciated!

  • I think split the difference — have someone else tame your “feisty” hair (which descriptor I love!), and handle your own makeup/have a friend do it. I’m definitely having someone do my hair (which also has it’s own personality!), but I don’t wear much makeup anyway, so paying someone to do it wouldn’t make sense.

  • Lee

    I originally planned to have my sister do my hair for my wedding, but when I stopped and thought about it I knew that this would result in us fighting and being stressed out the morning of the wedding! I have very straight, flat hair, and I just wanted a little more style for my wedding. I asked my hairstylist if she would do my hair for the wedding and she agreed, even though she doesn’t normally do a lot of styling. I asked her way in advance and went in a couple of times so she could practice the ‘do I wanted. (This sounds extreme, but she really wanted to make sure everything would go smoothly and quickly the morning of, and that sounded good to me!)

    Since I rarely wear any makeup at all, I worried that maybe I should hire someone to do my makeup. But I bought some neutral makeup and experimented with it, and decided that I could just do it myself. I was also very worried about shaky hands, but I was calmer that morning than I expected, and it worked out just fine!

    I think every bride should just ask herself what would make her feel most relaxed on her wedding day. For me it was asking for help with my hair, but doing my own, very simple makeup.

  • Meg

    Oh! And I should clarify. We have to be at the wedding site at 9am, so there will be no running off to get pampered. Whatever happens it will happen at 7am, probably in the hotel room where we are staying (nice and close to the site).

    Wise words all, keep them coming. I think not having to worry about my hair might make me feel more relaxed, and you’re right, it’s probably worth it (esp after spending all the other cash… it’s sort of a little final outlay)

  • Look around at various makeup counters. MAC and Perscriptives both will do your makeup for free if you buy $50 worth of stuff (and at least that way you get stuff), but the best deal I found was at an Origins store (not counter) in downtown Boston. When I asked them if they did wedding makeup, they said “Oooooh! We LOVE wedding makeup!” and then told me it was free. For four of us. And they’d open the store early for us. And then they gave me a free trial on the spot. And they were incredibly nice. So that’s what I’m going with!

    And get your hair done- it’s totally worth it.

  • I’m in the same boat as you, Meg: I have “feisty” hair and I have no idea whether I should trust it to a professional or do it myself. My thinking: on the one hand, the hairstyles I know are very limited, but I know my hair and how it behaves; on the other hand, a professional knows oodles more about hairstyles, but often does not understand the ins and outs of thick, kinky, curly hair. When I was my pal’s bridesmaid I got my hair professionally done with her–and it was an unpleasant experience. My hair looked fine in the end, but the process HURT, the hairstylist didn’t believe me when I told her how difficult my hair could be (halfway through she said her hands were getting tired), she used unkind methods to “tame” my hair, and it took me an hour to fish all the bobby pins out when the event was over. I’m still up in the air about a professional, but has some options (and step-by-step instructions) for ladies with kinky, curly hair.

    As far as makeup is concerned, I’m lucky that my sister is a professional makeup artist. Otherwise, I probably would do it myself or have my mom do it. However, in response to Ellie, no professional makeup artist should be applying makeup with previously used or uncleaned materials. I’ve gotten makeovers by my sister and by other professionals many times and NEVER, not once, have my lips touched a used lipstick or my lashes touches a used mascara wand. I’ve watched my sister work, and she either uses disposable tools, or rigorously cleans her brushes after every use. I agree with Ellie in that one should never have to be subjected to used materials.

    I may be biased, but it’s a real treat to be made up by my sister. She has a soft, delicate touch and the experience is very soothing. In addition, the end result is very natural-looking, not like “theater” at all. [Shameless plug alert!] For chickies in the NYC area who may be considering a professional makeup artist:

  • Unless we have a budget windfall, my bridesmaids will help me with my hair and make-up. I never, ever wear make-up, so I don’t intend on wearing a ton on the day. I have super baby fine hair that wouldn’t hold any up-do, so I’ll probably have it loosely pull it back and hope for the best.

  • Liz

    I am definitely having my hair done by a professional. I don’t have problematic hair, but I decided to do my hair for one of my proms ONCE. It looked great, but then after an hour it looked flat and sad. To avoid this kind of stress I decided to have mine done by someone who knows what they are doing. :)
    Makeup, I’m not quite sure. I think I do a fine job with my eye makeup every day, but I never wear foundation. (And I know I should.) I have a beautician in the family but she hasn’t offered yet, so we’ll see.

  • Like you, I have a way with what little makeup I wear. I don’t have the knowledge or the energy to want to do anything with my hair (it’s since been cut off into an Audrey inspired pixie and I HEART IT!). I hired people to tackle both tasks, mostly because I wanted to look my absolute best and I wanted a bit of pampering the morning of. It was worth every penny.

  • I think I’d be able to manage make up, but my hair – no way. I don’t know what to do with it, apart from a ponytail or a loose bun that looks like it’s been done in 2 seconds (that’s because it was). So I’m going to have a hair stylist but happily not to expensive (if the trial is ok of course). AND he can do my make up too so I guess I’m going to take it easy because I know I’m no make up artist…
    But I must say the whole thing will cost me less than 100â‚Ź (60â‚Ź for 2 trials and hairdo + make up…). So not a splurge.

  • I will be doing my own hair and makeup, but I am really good at doing hair. I’ve done hair for my friends for proms and weddings for years.

    If you want something fancy done. An updo, or french twist or something sophisticated looking, I would spring for the pro. Afterall, even if you were an amazing stylist, you can’t very easily work on the back of your own head.

    If you are going for something more simple or natural looking (half up with curls, or down or something) I would do it yourself, or have a friend help.

    Either way, plan a few dates or nights out where you can practice the hair, see how it goes, and then decide if you’d be satisfied with the results, or not.

  • For me, I’m having someone do my hair and make up because there are days that I cannot for the life of me, be successful at a ponytail, or graceful with the mascara brush! So I hired a pro for me, but just made the offer to my bridesmaids. Some of them of wanted a pro because they like feeling fancified, and some of them want to DIY to feel more themselves and relaxed. Overall, I think they liked having the option best.


    You want to feel slammin. And it’ll be worth the money just to have it off your mind.

  • I did my own makeup (but took the opportunity to get some decent products, instead of using my 5-year old, rarely used makeup), but had a stylist do my hair. I enjoyed having my hair done because I didn’t stress it, and I took a my maid of honor along so that we could spend some quality time together.

  • A common dilemma, and I won’t skirt around this one. The bride is going to be the main subject of 50% or more of your photos. If it came down to spending $200 the bride’s hair and make up vs. a fancier cake or an extra type of flower in the centerpieces, I vote hair and make up every time. While you should look natural, it takes a professional to make you look natural in person AND to good in photos at the same time.

    Talk to your wedding photographer and your everyday stylist- they should have contacts for you. Negotiate what you can (you go to them instead of them coming to you is a good one if you have time). Make sure to have a trial run and take photos of the outcome. Get double duty out of a trial by scheduling them on another important day, like a bridal shower or a dress fitting so you get the full effect.

  • i would like someone to do my hair, because i have cascading curls that do reckless things at times, and i don`t trust myself enough.
    as for makeup, i am buying some nicer stuff that will last me for years to come. as a general rule, i do a good job on my makeup, and i know what i like. so, why change it? i sort of see it as “let`s make this me, but better”. in other words, let`s make sure the pictures make it look like me.

  • i’m diy-ing both. it was a tough decision. actually, not really. the clincher = my ceremony’s starting at 10:30am. which means i have to be at the wedding site by 9:30ish. which means i have to be ready by 9ish. which means if i want to get my hair/makeup done, i’d have to wake up at like 5ish. NEXT. i’ll be able to do my own hair and makeup in about an hour, tops. so. that’s what i plan to do.

  • Whichever you choose, make sure to do a trial run. Do. A. Trial. Run.


  • I wouldn’t dare try to do my own hair because I can barely get it presentable for a trip to the store, but I did do my own makeup. There were ups and downs to this decision. I wrote about the process in my blog. Here’s the url, in case it’s helpful: Click.

    I saved money and I actually thought my job was better than that of the makeup artist I tried out beforehand, but doing my makeup the day of was stressful and time consuming.

  • littlemissgreeneyes

    I had a stylist and had my make up done. My thoughts were the wedding day is the one day I really have a good reason to splurge on something I wouldn’t ever feel justified to spend the money on. I went to MAC in Nordstrom and had my make-up done for $50 in product purchases. Not only did I look great but I walked away with product I actually liked. DO A TRIAL RUN whatever you decide!

  • I told my fiance I was planning to save some money by doing my own hair and makeup and he cracked a joke… “Do you KNOW what happens when you have a bad hair day?!?” I wanted to be annoyed but I had to laugh… I do get a wee bit cranky when my hair does not behave. He even managed to squeeze in a Christmas Story reference about how “putting my eye out” with a mascara wand on my wedding day would be a shame. I often get nervous and mess up my make up when going somewhere important. Does he know me or what?! This is why I’m marrying him. I will also be getting someone else to do my hair and makeup!

  • I’m not having a hair/makeup person. Primarily because I want to look like myself. I wear my hair down everyday, so rather than hire someone to give me a fancy updo, I’m just going to blowdry and wear my hair like I do everyday.
    I want to look like the best version of me, but I still want to look like me.
    Same for makeup. I like how my face looks every day, and I want to look like me.

    • K

      Phew! I was getting really, really nervous reading comment after comment about hiring professionals. It didn’t even occur to me to hire professionals actually. I’m quite picky about my look and I like the way I do my hair and makeup on a daily basis (and I hate the way foundation and pro blow outs make me feel and look), so having someone else do these for me would actually create so much more stress! I plan on keeping my same daily look for my wedding. Hair down and blown out and basic makeup (with maybe a special mascara for extra umph, eyeliner and a sheer lipstick vs gloss).

  • I did my own make-up and I was very happy with it. I was practicing for a while before the wedding, so it was easy. I also have feisty hair. I hired a professional for the hair, I did the trial run, and $160 later (from the tria and day of) I HATED what she sent me away with on my wedding day. My friend (who is in no way a stylist) and I basically undid the whole thing and redid it. In the end, it looked amazing, but it probably took 3x the amount of time. So my advise with the hair is either get someone who knows what they’re doing and you REALLY trust, or just be okay with letting it be not quite perfect, but having a blast doing your hair with a friend.

  • Getting it all done can be so much fun, but it also takes a bit of time out of your day. But with feisty hair, I would say go for a hair trial and see if you can find someone you like, then decide.
    I see so many more hair disasters from stylists (big hair, shellacked hair, weird hair that makes you look a decade older than you are) than when people do their own hair.

  • Meg

    Me too, honey. Our ceremony starts at 10:15, and we have a Ketubah signing ceremony plus all the pictures before that, so I gotcha beat. That said, I’m not sure doing my *own* hair is a time save….

    Anyway, really wise words all. I’m still thinking of doing my own makeup… but maybe not hair….

  • Ellie

    I basically forced my sister to go cheap on her hair for her wedding and it was a disaster – we went with the local salon where I had nothing but positive experiences. It was also half the price of all the other area stylists and updos – until they rang us up and added a “long hair” tax. My sister also did a trial. The stylist quit the day before the wedding. They didn’t tell us until we got there. They did a horrible job on everyone’s hair and we all left upset. I had a friend who could have done all of our hair for free, and for a lot less money. (Although I got our money back from the salon the following week.) Get your hair done, and make sure the salon has contact info for you and can call you if anything changes or might happen.
    For makeup, go to a fancy store for an application lesson and buy products that really work for you – it will be about the same price as getting your makeup done by somebody who is using contaminated products. I got my makeup done once and it made me so uncomfortable because no matter how sterile they try to be, you’re sharing a lipstick with 30 people you don’t know. And I’m not a germophobe. But nobody should share eye or lip makeup, or reuse brushes.
    Plus, if you own the products, you can get plenty of practice in beforehand.

  • my wedding is next week so i don’t have graduate status but i would say have someone do your hair and you can do your own make-up.

    unless you are really good at hair.

    i am a disaster at hair and make-up so someone is doing mine so i don’t have to think about it day-of.

    and it’s the one time of the day my mom and i will have to ourselves.

    that’s my 2 pennies.

  • Hillary

    my friend offered to do my hair for another friend’s wedding that i was in…i got so many compliments and people asking me where i got it done, i asked her immediately if she’d do it for my wedding! and she said yes! i would have hired a stylist if i didn’t have her, because i’m not very good at putting my hair up. we have about a year to practice so we’re going to test out different styles. i will be getting my make-up done, but not sure about the details of that yet.

  • Meghann

    I have been going through the same dilemma. LA hair and makeup are super super $$$, and I can’t afford it. My cousin, a hairstylist, offered to do my hair but then she moved too far away. I can’t drive two hours out of the way the morning of the wedding, in crappy LA traffic.
    After getting some coupons in the mail, I decided to check out the local low-key aveda salon tomorrow night.
    My hair badly needs to be cut and colored anyway before the wedding, so I’ll see what kind of deals they can cut me.
    I wear little makeup generally but am good at it, so I think I’m fine doing my makeup and my 2 bridesmaids makeup. My friend coming from out of state is also getting tips from her friend who is a MAC makeup artist.
    But I’m totally stressed about doing my own hair – I’m no good at it! I want to cry just thinking about it. People close to me, who do not have any vision whatsoever, think I’m somehow to going to magically do it all! Just because I’m DIY, and I hand-make a bunch of stuff all the time, doesn’t mean I’m gifted with hair!
    I guess if I have to go into a little debt to have nice hair, maybe I can manage it, maybe it would be worth it.

  • I’ll be hiring someone to do my hair because I am hopeless on my own, and I don’t want the stress of trying to do it myself. My makeup, well, that I’m still undecided on.

  • Amy

    I plan on doing my own makeup. I’m good at that, but… hair! Ugh! I feel your pain. My hair is a gigantic pain in the butt. so, I will have it done professionally.

    I mean, makeup can be easy and classy… some simple lipstick, a good foundation, simple blush and great mascara.

    I’m a freelance makeup artist. If I lived anywhere near you I’d so volunteer to help you out.

  • Hair was a no-brainer, I hired my regular stylist to do it. Makeup, is significantly more expensive and though I have someone lined up, I’m starting to second guess it. I’ve heard stories of makeup counter successes, but I’m not sure of the logistics of making that happen.

  • One Love Photo

    even though we had a simple little party after we eloped I had my hair done and LOVED IT! I’ve noticed at weddings when people don’t have a pro do their make-up their eyes are very dark in the photographs? I am not sure why but just something I’ve noticed.

  • Stephanie

    I really wanted to look like myself so about 3 months prior to the wedding my mom treated me to buying the makeup I would use that day. That gave me lots of time to practice.

    I originally was going to get my hair done, but after two tests I was less than inspired. Luckily, my mom’s best friend’s daughter volunteered to do it. I trusted her since we have similar styles, but her’s is the southern version. That meant after giving my normal curls a perk up she “got southern” which meant everyone in the room had to hold their breath for about 30 seconds while she sprayed a can of “glue” on me. It worked perfectly.

  • I did my own makeup, and I’d do so again. I’m kind of good with makeup and I wanted to look like the regular me. I also did my own hair, but if I was getting married now (10 years later) I’d probably have it styled by a pro so that I could count on something durable and dramatic than the simple style I selected back then.

    This echos several other suggestions to pick the one you feel good at, and do that yourself, leaving more budget for the other.