Everything You Need To Know About Bridal Makeup Trials

Deciding on a bridal beauty look to wear on your big day is the easy part, finding someone to help you achieve it is a little trickier. One of the key things to do when searching for the right make-up artist is to have a bridal make-up trial. To help you prepare and get the most out of your bridal make-up trial, we went to Sophie McMullan, specialist bridal make-up artist and owner of Beautisserie to answer all of our make-up trial questions.

What is a bridal make-up trial like?

It's the very important first opportunity for you to meet your make-up artist and go through some beauty looks. At the trial you'll spend a couple of hours together, talk through ideas and try them out on your face. So it's quality time for you to get to know one another and bounce ideas around whilst having some fun with make-up. I always want my clients to enjoy the process and almost think of it like a treat, especially for such an exciting upcoming occasion.

Where does a bridal make-up trial usually take place?

I travel to all my client's homes for their appointments. I work 7 days so try to be super flexible to their busy schedules. What's also important is I like to request that our trial happens in the daytime so we can utilise any natural daylight available to us as best we can.

When in the wedding planning process should someone book a wedding make-up trial?

Well this does tend to vary. Recently I've had brides booking me for trials a year in advance, which is very organised! On average though, I'd say they happen 4 to 6 months ahead of your wedding date. It's important not only to ensure you have your dream look created but also that you get on with your make-up artist because it's a very personal relationship. I'm there on email, phone and Whatsapp at every stage, day and night! Once you're happy after the trial, confirming your make-up artist for your date is another thing you can check off your list. This is usually done with a deposit to secure things from both ends.

Is there anything that the bride-to-be should bring to the trial?

I ask several things before meeting my clients.

Firstly that their skin be cleansed and make-up free. I can then assess their skin, determine any concerns and apply what's needed whilst giving advice.

Secondly, if she has any make-up images that she likes ready for me to see, that's always useful. Whether it be bridal inspirational ones or simply a celebrity that they admire. I can then assess and say how that might be able to be translated to her face.

Thirdly, I like to see as many elements of their wedding as possible. Obviously the dress is the key starting point (images, swatches etc), but also details like the flowers, colour scheme, bridesmaids dresses and general personality of the wedding. Once I've had a look at the bride's skintone, eye colour and hair shade, all of this will tie up perfectly into the make-up look we create together.

What should the bride-to-be wear?

Something comfortable. We will be spending a couple of hours together where she'll be mainly sitting, so something she will feel at ease in. Also, a white top is always useful. Whether it be a t-shirt, collared shirt or sweater, it's amazing what wearing white will do for your face and in turn, how the make-up look comes across.

How long does a trial usually take? And how much, on average, does it cost?

I always ask my clients to allow for us to spend two hours together. Sometimes it's less and sometimes it's more but that's usually the right amount of time for us to thoroughly go through things. Cost will depend on the skill level of the make-up artist you choose but expect to spend between £70 to £150.

Should the bride-to-be bring someone with them to the trial?

I don't mind at all. It's always interesting to get other people's opinions, this can be from friends/sisters/bridesmaids, to mums and even the groom. I'd say perhaps one or two people is fine, otherwise it can get a bit 'too many cooks'.

Also perhaps they might want to come towards the middle to end as it's a process that they don't necessarily need to sit through completely. I also like to bond with my client initially. It's quite an intimate thing having someone touch your face and with me doing facial massage at the beginning, I like it to be a peaceful start.

Do you advise on products and skincare?

Absolutely. Once we've had a chat through ideas, I give the skin a thorough analysis. From there I can see what from my kit I'll need to apply, pre-make-up application. I spend time on this stage, with different treatments and cocktail together layers of skincare that is tailored to the bride's skin type and concerns.

I then start the facial massage, this allows the products to be delivered into the skin efficiently, the blood flow is stimulated and therefore collagen is promoted too (and it's all rather relaxing).

Afterwards I can explain what the bride could be doing and using in order to get her skin in top condition for the big day. Post-make-up, I can also advise what make-up products she might like to have with her on the day as well as generally for life.

The good thing about bridal make-up is a lot of it you'd totally wear again, utilise your make-up artist and their advice as much as you can! I also offer a sort of 'personal make-up/skincare shopping' service where I go and get all the products for my clients and deliver it to them, useful for those who find the beauty world somewhat daunting!

What tips do you have for brides to get the best out of their trial?

I'd say to generally be open and prepared. I believe it's a truly collaborative process. You need to tell your make-up artist what you'd like to achieve, show them as much as you can, as well as trusting their input and opinions. Therefore you will talk, try and arrive at a result that you're both really happy with and you'll look like the best version of yourself. Remember that it's just make-up though, a trial is about trying things, it can be removed, lightened, intensified, altered etc, so be prepared to see what the power of make-up can do.

I always say to clients too, post-trial, take lots of photos. Use your phone camera or a 'proper' camera, use flash, non-flash, go outside in natural daylight, go next to artificial light, take more in the evening too. All of these shots will show you how the make-up photographs. Then too, especially if you get your trial in the daytime, you'll see how it will all last and wear on your face.

What do you wish clients would know?

It sounds strange but sometimes the make-up can look 'worse before it gets better'. By that, I mean that a make-up artist will normally start with your base. So they will be evening-out your complexion and creating a blank canvas. From there, light and shade, colour and texture will come into play.

It's a process so be patient with your artist. Trust is very important and if they are sensitive to your needs, they'll show you at each stage what is happening. Remember too, that for most ladies, this is the most make-up that you'll perhaps ever be wearing. Not that it's heavy, but that it's light layering of various products. You need to realise that on your wedding day, you're going to be photographed like crazy. You need to find a happy medium between what you're comfortable with, and how it will come across beautifully on camera. Hence why I said earlier to take loads of photos yourself after the trial, to see the evidence!

Don't be afraid to be honest either, if you don't like something or want to try something else, just ask. You are the client, it's your trial and this is where you want to iron out any details and requests, it's your time to get exactly what you want.