There’s something so fun about gathering with your bridesmaids and getting glam on the morning of your wedding. The stories, jokes, happy tears, and glasses of celebratory champagne are what make those hours so memorable. Paying for all those services can get pricey, though. Does the bride really have to cover the cost of all her bridesmaids' hair and makeup?
Opinions vary on who should pick up the tab, according to Amanda Shackleton, a New York-based wedding hair and makeup artist and the owner of New York Bridal Beauty. "In my experience, it's about 50/50 on who pays for hair and makeup, and it's mostly determined by the bride's total budget," she says. "For example, at destination weddings, I see the bride paying for beauty services more, since bridesmaids have already shelled out money for flights and hotels, which really add up."
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Sometimes, brides and bridesmaids can come to a compromise and split the costs. The bride may agree to pay for makeup while the bridesmaid pays to get their hair done, for example. Depending on their ability, a bridesmaid may choose to do either their hair or makeup on their own to save herself or the bride money, says Shackleton. "Weddings can get expensive on both ends, and having a few options is great for everyone," she says.
If you can't pay for all your bridesmaids, opt to foot the bill for your MOH only. It's fairly common, says Shackleton, and your number-one gal will appreciate the special gesture.
If you're a bride or a bridesmaid wondering what the etiquette is surrounding who pays for bridesmaid hair and makeup, you've come to the right place.
Bridesmaid Hair and Makeup Cost
Being a bridesmaid is expensive—so much so that the costs can be enough to make someone turn down the invitation to join their friend’s bridal party. Unfortunately, there is no "average" cost of bridesmaid hair and makeup, so it's hard to know how much to prepare for, however, you can make an educated guess depending on where you live.
Bridesmaid fees across the nation vary dramatically, says Shackleton, from small cities to large ones and from north to south. "It's mainly relative to the cost of living or how well-known an artist is. Average national rates can run from $50 to $300 per service," she says.
So, you know you'll be dishing out at least $100 for hair and makeup. But who is going to reach for the bill when the time comes?
Who Pays for Bridesmaid Hair and Makeup?
Some brides opt to cover some of the costs of being a ‘maid to thank their friends for their support (and to make it more affordable for them to be a part of the wedding), and hair and makeup services are one of the most popular ways to do so. If paying for your bridesmaids’ hair and makeup on your wedding day fits in your budget, go for it!
This isn't always the case, though, especially if you have a large bridal party. "Every bride wants her gals to look amazing, but the budget doesn't always stretch far enough to accommodate paying for both hair and makeup," says Shackleton. Fortunately, covering the costs of hair and makeup services is definitely not required.
If you can't pay for the services, you can still help everything go smoothly by procuring prices from your hair and makeup stylists and offering book services for your bridesmaids in the bridal suite. Then, they can pay the stylists directly.
Make sure you find out exactly how much each woman will owe, including the tip, in advance so they can bring money with them the morning of your wedding.
If you have a bridesmaid who can't afford to pay for her hair and makeup, Shackleton suggests offering to pay for one or the other, or both, regardless of your budget. "If you've asked a friend to stand up for you, everyone needs to feel included in the group," she says.
Either way, getting ready with your bridesmaids on the morning of your wedding should be a joyful experience and not a stressful one. "It's a celebration with your friends, and primping before the wedding together has become a ritual," says Shackleton.
How to Save Money on Hair and Makeup
Of course, it’s always nice to give your bridesmaids some options if they’ll need to get glammed up themselves. Offer a few suggestions for local salons they should check out, and make sure you find stylists on the less expensive end of the spectrum, too. This could be the hotel’s spa or a salon nearby. "This gives the bridesmaids choices so there's no pressure to pay for services they may not be able to afford," says Shackleton. Remember to encourage everyone to make appointments far in advance!
One money-saving option is to have a stylist's assistant work on some of the bridesmaids' hair and makeup, as their rates are generally lower than the main artist's, says Shackleton. One service she offers is "eyes only," which is half the price of a full face. "Since the eyes are so important and the most intimidating part of doing your own makeup, bridesmaids can finish the rest and still look bridal-party-ready," she says.
There's always the option to have the bridesmaids do their own hair and makeup, or, if one of your bridesmaids is handy with a curling iron or great with a makeup brush, see if she might be interested in helping some of the other girls get ready. "Thanks to so many great hair and makeup tutorials, there's always at least one person in the party you can look to for help," says Shackleton.