Getting the Most Out of Your Wedding Makeup Preview

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One of the best things you can do for your own bridal peace of mind is to try out your wedding makeup in advance. Bridal preview sessions (aka, trials) assure that you will feel confident in your artist and in the look you’ve selected, and have a better sense of the timing and steps involved to go from bare-faced to camera-ready. You’ll be able to relax and enjoy your makeover when the day arrives (instead of having to make stressful decisions on an already busy day).

Here are some answers to common questions about previews so you can make the most of your time in the chair!

1. When should I schedule my preview?

The majority of my brides book me 6-14 months before their wedding, but schedule their preview sessions for much later (usually a few months before their weddings). Why? Because the best time to do your wedding preview is after you’ve worked out the details of your overall look and wedding styling: the cut and color of your wardrobe, how you’ll be wearing your hair, your chosen jewelry & accessories, even your shoes. Are you planning to get a tan (real or faux), or change your hair color? What colors will your wedding party be wearing? What about your flowers or other design elements? All of these details provide the artist with valuable information about how to work with you to create the wedding look that will complement everything beautifully (without clashing!)

You may feel more comfortable trying out an artist’s services before booking them officially – in this case, you can schedule a much earlier appointment to decide whether you would like to work with the artist. Once booked, you can always request a follow-up appointment closer to your wedding date once all of your details have been worked out.

Assuming you don’t wish for your wedding makeup to remain a secret, you may also choose to have your wedding makeup preview before an engagement shoot, bridal shower, or other pre-wedding event (assuming the scheduling works out). This can be a great way to have your session do double-duty, but make sure that the look you’re requesting is suitable for wherever you plan to wear it next. (For example, if you’re getting a dramatic evening look for your wedding, it might be too much for an outdoor engagement shoot or a bridal shower – especially when paired with casual clothes instead of a wedding dress!) Talk to your artist if you have such plans for your preview session – they can always soften the look before you leave if your next stop is a more casual one.

2. What should I bring to my appointment?

The most important thing to bring is your beautiful face, of course – everything else is negotiable! An unmade up, freshly washed face will save the most time at your appointment, but if you’ll be coming straight from work, and/or if you have a specific way you like to wear your makeup, arriving with your makeup on can actually aid in effectively communicating your personal style.

But since you’re unlikely to forget your face, here are some other things that aren’t required but might come in handy:

  • Pictures of your dress & accessories
  • A top that’s a similar color to your wedding dress
  • Fabric swatches (your dress, wedding party wardrobe, any important wedding colors being featured)
  • Inspiration photos that convey your sense of style (these can be torn from magazines or shared on Pinterest – you can either send them in advance, or display them on a phone or tablet at the appointment). Be sure to choose images that are representative of your actual taste in makeup and, wherever possible, choose subjects with similar features to your own. Choosing your favorite images from an artist’s portfolio – the ones that made you want to hire that artist in the first place! – is also a great way to demonstrate what you like. Note: a skilled artist will use these images as an illustration of your personal taste, NOT as a template (your features are unique to you, so copying another person’s face exactly wouldn’t necessarily enhance your face – the goal is to look like the best version of yourself!)
  • “My favorite selfie!” I love to ask clients for a photo of themselves that they REALLY love. Knowing what makes you feel fabulous is a great insight into your personal style.

3. Who should I bring with me?

Lots of my brides ask if they can bring a trusted family member or friend to provide a second opinion, and that’s always acceptable to me (although I usually discourage a large crowd as it can be overwhelming – makeup is not best designed by committee!) As long as you remember that your opinion is the most important one, bringing a guest can be a good way for you to feel comfortable and confident. If you have a family member or bridesmaid who also wants their own trial (which can be a good idea for anyone with concerns about skin sensitivity, or those who have a very specific look in mind), be sure to let your artist know in advance so time can be set aside accordingly.

I do advocate leaving a bit of mystery for your fiancé, however. Grooms in particular are rarely accustomed to providing feedback about makeup, and asking them for it can put them on the spot (they won’t want to imply that you look better than usual, and may not understand why you need makeup at all since you’re naturally beautiful! D’aww.)

Taking and sharing a photo of your finished look is an option, but I always caution brides that cell phones and point-and-shoot cameras don’t always pick up much detail (your pro wedding photographer will do a much better job!) A photo is most effective when properly lit, angled, and focused, and that’s a tall order for your average camera phone. The best judge of the look will be your own eyes in the mirror.

4. How can I provide feedback about my look?

Three words: honestly, specifically, and directly! Professional artists know their craft and what will enhance your face, but they are also interested in making YOU feel amazing – and appealing to your personal taste is an important part of that. But since even the best artists are usually incapable of reading minds, here are a few things to consider when asking for what you want (or adjusting a finished look):

  • Coverage: My personal taste as an artist veers toward lighter, natural-looking, satin-y coverage, and I like to maintain the integrity of unique features like freckles. But I’ve also served clients who feel more comfortable in fuller coverage makeup. If you have something that you want concealed (or something you DON’T want concealed), whether it’s a birthmark or a tattoo, be sure to speak up so your artist is on the same page.
  • Intensity: When you finally get the big reveal, is your first impression that your makeup is too strong, or not strong enough? Your first order of business is to give your artist the opportunity to describe their decisions (for example, wearing blush – even if you usually don’t – helps make sure that your face doesn’t appear flat or lifeless in your wedding photos). But intensity is a very easy matter to adjust, so be sure to share your feelings and honor your comfort zone.
  • Color choice: I’ve found that color – especially lip color – largely comes down to personal preference. While there are some objective guidelines based on your skin tone (some colors will just never look flattering on us), ultimately it’s about what YOU feel fabulous in – and within any given color family there are lots of options for tone, finish, and opacity, so be sure to state your preferences – the trial is a great time to work out these details!

After your trial, it’s good to wear the look for at least a few hours to observe its longevity, as well as your overall comfort. You can email any final impressions with your artist so they have notes for the big day, or if you decide you want to try something completely different, you can schedule another appointment. Be sure to share what you liked as well as anything you wish to adjust, and how the overall experience made you feel – this feedback is incredibly valuable to artists, so don’t be shy!

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