When you’re dreaming of your wedding day, you’re likely envisioning how you’ll look as you walk down the aisle: the outfit, the shoes, the flowers, and, of course, the finishing touch: hair and makeup! Your wedding hair and makeup look can be integral to how you feel on your big day—and how you look in photos—so it’s often one of the most important parts of any bridal budget.
However, as the bridal market continues to expand and explode, pricing for bridal hair and makeup can be all over the map. What should you look for when you’re beginning your search for the artists who will bring your vision to life, and how much should you expect to pay for wedding hair and makeup? We chatted with two industry experts, Sarah Naslund and Erica T. Martell, to help you figure out what to expect and what to look out for.
Meet the Expert
Average Cost of Wedding Hair
According to Naslund, the average cost of wedding hair is about $100 to $350. Of course, pricing may change depending on what you’re looking for, when your wedding is, and where you live. For example, you may pay more in New York City than you would in Nebraska. It may also depend on the stylist’s experience level too, as you’re paying for their time and talents.
Bridal hairstyling means just that—you’ll start with clean, dry hair (contrary to what you may have heard, dirty hair is not better) and your stylist will create your desired look, whether that’s an elegant low chignon, an undone braid, or simple curls.
Your stylist may charge for a blow-dry, so be sure to clarify that before you sit down in their chair with wet hair.
Pay close attention to what the stylist offers in their packages or price lists. Some stylists may charge $250 for the bride and anywhere from $50 to $100 per style for the bridal party or the mothers of the couple. Some may include a trial session in their pricing, while others charge separately. When connecting with a stylist, you’ll want to be sure you talk through every potential expense and are very clear about your needs so there are no surprises later. For example, Naslund personally charges $275 for a bridal hairstyle and charges separately for travel and trial. However, she doesn’t charge extra for any clip-in extensions used to create the final look, and creates mini styling kits for the bride on the big day and beyond with hairspray and dry shampoo. Every stylist is different, so be sure you’re on the same page with pricing.
Is a trial something you should build into your budget? It can be key to discovering the perfect style and reducing stress on the day of your wedding, so it may be worth the price. Naslund says trials generally cost around $100. "I don’t require a trial, but some bridal stylists do. I strongly think that you should [book one], but I realize that if your budget is small, it could be something you skip," Naslund says.
She likens a wedding hair trial to shopping online; you may see a style on Instagram that you think is perfect, but when you actually see yourself in it, it’s not love at first sight. A trial will give you and your stylist room to experiment with different looks and make any tweaks necessary. "The trial is time spent adjusting details and getting an idea of how different styles would look," Naslund explains. "Occasionally, you just nail the perfect style in one try! But most of the time it’s more exploration."
Average Cost of Wedding Makeup
Similar to wedding hair, bridal makeup costs can vary wildly from place to place. Martell says to expect a wide variety of price points depending on where you live and the artist’s level of expertise. "There is a huge range of artists and options out there. Inexperienced artists, makeup counters, salons, and large companies with teams will have the lowest pricing, and experienced specialists like myself will have the highest pricing," she explains.
Once you’ve found an artist whose work fits your vision, you’ll want to discuss what’s included in their rate or package—and depending on what you’re looking for, you could develop a close and collaborative relationship in the months and weeks leading up to your wedding day. You may also be able to customize the perfect plan for not just your makeup, but your skincare routine, too. "My pricing includes access to me, flexibility, and a direct line of communication from the moment we go under contract," says Martell. "My pricing can include assisting them with their skincare routine, giving product recommendations...referring them to other professionals in their area if they don't live close by, or FaceTiming with them to give consultations to help them achieve their best skin for the big day."
Your artist may charge separately for a trial session and travel, as well as items like face masks, lash application, and more. "I set pricing appropriately based on each person’s needs," says Martell. "The goal for me when I am done is that [my clients] don't think about or feel their makeup, and they can just be present and worry-free to truly enjoy their day."
If you have questions or concerns about pricing or what is included, the best thing to do is just ask your artist and be very clear about what you’re looking for.
Other makeup services you can consider adding to your wedding budget include makeup for your engagement photos, shower, bachelorette party, or rehearsal dinner. If your mother is having her makeup done, she may request a trial to ensure she feels comfortable with her look, too.
If you’re working on a tight budget, Martell recommends examining what’s most important to you on your big day. "If you value beauty services and surrounding yourself with people who will handle everything and reduce your stress and worry so you can be present and truly feel like a million bucks, figure out how to prioritize your budget to go towards that over something that matters less to you," she says.
Additional Cost Considerations
Remember that you’ll need to tip your stylist and makeup artist after their work is done, so be sure to factor anywhere from 15 to 25 percent into your planning and final totals.
If you’re comfortable styling your own hair or doing your own makeup or have a friend or family member who is handy with a curling iron or an eyeshadow brush, you could consider skipping a stylist or makeup artist altogether. However, Naslund feels strongly that bridal hair is something you should pay a pro for. "You could DIY it, but most people just aren’t used to styling their hair," she says. "Plus, you really don’t want to be working in any capacity on your wedding day, especially in the morning. Your main concern should be, 'Who is going to open the Champagne?'"
Martell agrees, saying, "You can surround yourself with the right people whose only job is to get to know you, what you love, and how to make you feel like your best self, so by the time you get dressed and the photos begin, you are already feeling loved, pampered, relaxed, and worry-free. To me, that's the why, and you can't put a price tag on that."