Let's Get Down to Business; Navigating the Beauty Vendor Booking Process
“To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success” – Henry J. Heinz
Dear future Mrs. or fellow vendor, thank you for stopping in! This is one of the most important and gritty blog posts I’ll ever write, so I’m grateful that you chose to browse. So, as Mulan’s boyfriend would say, “let’s get down to business…”
Kidder Connell Photography | http://www.kidderconnell.com/
1.) Searching for a stylist:
These days there are countless bridal websites screaming for your attention: Wedding Wire, The Knot, Borrowed & Blue, Aisle Society, etc. In my opinion, they all have equal say, one isn’t greater than the other. Be careful not to search for vendors located further than an hour or two from your venue, so pay close attention to their home address listed on their wedding site link or direct business website. Many vendors won’t travel further than 2hrs., and brides are utterly disappointed when they’ve been chatting for a while with a vendor they mistakenly chose in D.C. who has no clue that she is getting married in Charlotte, N.C., and who effectively can’t make the trip.
Now you’ve chosen a site or two to scan through local vendors, and it’s at least 6 months from your wedding date, ideally 8-9 months. Great timing! Most vendors book out a year in advance, but for the beauty industry it is slightly less, but ONLY slightly. You can’t expect to book a vendor 3 months before your wedding unless your date is in July, August, or January-March. The height of wedding season runs from April to December, peaking in May, September, and October, so as soon as you land a good vendor, DON’T HESITATE!
Book right away – forgetfulness and feet-dragging could cost you a perfect stylist. We take the first booking bride and don’t hold dates open for clients without signed contracts and deposits, and we are equally as necessary to your big day as your florist, DJ, officiant, wedding planner, etc!
Before you book though, you’ve done all of this careful research below…
Let’s say you’ve narrowed it down to three of the top-rated hair and/or makeup stylists in your venue’s area, and you’ve read all the reviews and ogled all of the photos like a responsible individual. You’re ready to move on! What information should youlist in the initial email to these potential candidates?
Your wedding date
Your venue location
Your general timeline for the ceremony (is it in the morning, afternoon, or evening?)
Your bridal party size or number of ladies needing serviced (a general estimate will suffice)
Whether or not you’d like a trial prior to the big day
Right away, I, as the vendor, know everything I need to know to get you exact numbers and pricing estimates to speed up your decision-making process! You’ve done a fabulous job of fully encapsulating your intentions and desires!
Finally, it’s our turn. Now you’re judging us on:
Our response time (less than 24hrs, ideally within 3hrs.) and continued accesible correspondence
Our comprehensive answers that fully complete your questions
Our grammar and cheerful composition
Our full explanation of fees and how our booking system works
Our pricing guide
Assuming we’ve answered your questions, and you’re feeling hopeful, let’s keep going to solidify this budding relationship!
Special Day Photo | http://www.specialdayphoto.com/
2.) Questions to ask your future vendor:
Here are a few extra tips that may help you feel more comfortable with this promising vendor and ways to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, ensuring that you’re booking only the best for yourself and your bridal party!
“Are you licensed and insured?” This always falls by the wayside! Licensed does not mean “cosmetology license” – in the state of Virginia you are not required to hold a license to style hair & apply makeup. Licensed means “do you have a business license that allows you to do business with me”. In other words, are you a legitimate, legal business? If not, drop them like it’s hot, because were something to go awry in the process, you as the client could be left high and dry. Not only that, but you’d be doing business with an illegal entity if they’re taking in large sums of money under the table. Insurance is vital too! They need small business and liability insurance to guard against any damages to your venue or their kits or even your health that could arise in an unforeseen circumstance.
“Do you offer airbrushed foundation?” It’s not the end of the world if they don’t, but if that’s specifically what you were looking for, then it’s a deciding factor. Airbrush is the new holy grail for weddings because of it’s sweat-proof, light-weight, and seemingly photo-shopped nature, and though I personally wouldn’t want my makeup done any other way, you might, and then you and the non-airbrushing vendor may be a great fit!
“Do you offer touch-up kits for me and/or my bridesmaids”? This, too, is definitely not a make-or-break question, but it is a nice little bonus! It can put you at ease that if you decided that you and your party ultimately didn’t need kits, but then one of your gals forgot her lipstick that she was planning to touch up with, your beauty vendor would be there to save the day with an instant kit to purchase! Touch-ups are a necessity no matter the product’s longevity and durability – there is nothing under the sun that is equal parts comfortable, doesn’t look like plastic (here’s lookin’ at you, LipSense), and stays all day despite constant smooching, eating, and drinking…nothing. This means you will definitely need some sort of clutch with an extra lipstick and lipgloss.
“Do you work with natural hair?” If you’re African-American, this should be one of your very first questions. Some stylists only style African-American hair, and some do none at all. There’s no fault in a vendor who goes either way, but it’s key that you know this early on as natural hair is entirely different than Caucasian or Asian hair!
“What are your sanitation standards?” Don’t feel bad about asking this question – it is paramount to you and your bridal party’s health! Do they clean brushes in-between clients, do they alcohol-spritz or sharpen lip and eye pencils, do they use disposable mascara wands, or do they transfer glosses and lip products to their hands first before using the brush to apply? Maybe you need don’t ask all of these prying questions via email, but through your trial, you should take note of these actions and either ask for changes to be made now that you’re aware of their artistry process, or if your trial is completed prior to signing the contract, find another, more cleanly vendor. Just be vigilant!
“Are there any additional fees?” There may be travel fees, additional assistant/stylist fees, and touch-up fees associated with a booking. Most of these are listed upfront, but many vendors choose not to list prices on their website and may not even include them in their welcome emails. These fees are completely normal but should be brought to your attention prior so as not to surprise you later on.
“What products are your favorite/do you use in your kit?” Although at times, this question is a bit irritating on my end, you have the full right to know what will be used on your body! It’s the grandest day in history for you, and you deserve the very best in every regard. If the stylist only uses a single, unknown makeup line or one hair styling brand, be very wary. You want someone who picks and chooses the best of every brand and who is thoroughly knowledgeable about their products. If they are pulling out all NYX, CoverGirl, and Wet n’ Wild products and mineralized foundation from an obscure makeup brand, run away fast! And if they use only Redken hair products because that’s what their salon carries, then I’d be dubious for the sole fact that there is no one brand that is perfect in every product and for every hair texture.
“Do you offer military or group discounts?” One of my biggest pet peeves! I’ve had many a lead ask if I offer these price-reductions. No, and as a reputable, high-end business I never will because my prices are not only completely reasonable in the local market and reflect my hard-earned talent, expertise, and professionalism but are kept below other beauty vendors as a benefit to my lovely clients. Please do not ask for coupons and discounts. For one, it makes you as the potential client sound “cheap”, as if the only reason for inquiring was to book at the lowest price possible, not because of the creativity you’ve seen in photos or the reviews you’ve read lauding our work. Second and lastly, it makes me as the vendor feel like a Great Clips handing out Valpak coupons like candy, not as an artisan who is in a distinctly gifted industry all its own. We are making a living in a specialized career just like you are, and certainly no one has ever asked you if they could discount your hourly or salaried earnings before.
“I’m looking at you and another vendor, and I just don’t know who to choose!” We’re not going to beg for your business or offer a price-cut to entice you to book us. It’s your choice and yours alone. We want you to want us as much as we want you – a mutual excitement and appreciation for you as a bride and us as your artists for the most important day of your life. No one should EVER feel like they are someone’s last resort or second-best. If we have answered all of your questions and we check off on all of your “must-haves” and our reviews are stellar and our photos top-notch, then there is no need to guilt-trip us while comparing us with another vendor. Simply add up your pros-and-cons list and make a decision privately.
And there you have it! A lot of information, I know, but only tips that can benefit you and guide you along the tedious but rewarding process of choosing beauty vendors. We’re the fairy godmothers, transforming you into the glowing, glittering princess you’ve always dreamed of, and we only want the very best for you, not just outwardly but inwardly too. We want to make your prep time feel like you’ve been chatting contentedly with an old friend, not an experience that’s awkward, irritating, or just plain painful. So do the homework; hey, even copy and paste the questions listed above, and you’ll find that you’ve landed your ideal makeup artists and hair stylists that will add immensely to the fun you’ll have on your wedding day!
Mike Topham Photography | http://miketopham.com/