Wedding Makeup


Leave the painting to the pros.

To be picture perfect at any event, most women prefer to have their makeup done by a professional. This is especially true for brides. Chicago-based celebrity makeup artist Kate Johnson of Kate Johnson Artistry says it’s critical for women to have makeup trials a few months before their wedding day or special event to avoid any surprises or added stress for both the bride and makeup pro. “The line of communication needs to be wide open between both parties,” explains the artist, who’s also a CoverGirl Cosmetics brand ambassador. “Most women have an idea of how they want to look on their big day, but as a precaution, I always tell them that every smoky eye isn’t always created equally, so it’s best to test the waters first.”

For smoky eyes, Ms. Johnson recommends waterproof and heavily pigmented products that will show up in photographs. Her favorites are pieces from the CoverGirl Queen Collection, Inglot Cosmetics and NARS Longwearing Eyeliners, which claim to stay put even if you were caught in a tsunami.

Another solid reason to use a makeup artist: they’re not only trained to make their clients look their best, but they also have an eye for special lighting techniques and products that may not otherwise work for photographs. TCW talked with two brides to put this theory to the test.

Nadia Rawlins was married in August 2011 and recalls going through leaps and bounds to make sure she was picture perfect on her wedding day. “Four weeks prior, I had half of my face made up in a more dramatic style with a typical application and the other half airbrushed with both liquid foundation and colors for a more natural look. The staying power of airbrushed makeup – something I’d never done before – proved to be crucial on my day.”

Chicago-based hairstylist Allyson Irving, married in July 2011, shares that not all makeup artists are the same, which is why she participated in multiple makeup trials, each with different artists. “Not everyone knows how to do wedding makeup. In the end, I ended up going to a national makeup artist at Chanel, because she understood everything I was imagining. And now I’m super loyal to the brand.”

Factor Artist Frances Tsalas notes that while some brides are naturally good at applying their makeup, it’s beneficial for a pro to take the lead on the day of the wedding to avoid any mishaps. “As consumers we like to go to a professional for hair, makeup and styling purposes, simply because it will be done right,” affirms the beauty pro. “The one thing I notice is that a lot of brides get stuck doing the same makeup look every day, or their nerves get the best of them, and things turn out wrong. Makeup artists help get them out of that routine, and we take a bit of the stress off. Plus, we take constructive criticism fairly well; if you don’t like something, say so.”

So what should you expect on the day of your event? For starters, keep in mind that some makeup artists will spend up to two hours with clients during makeup trials, but getting camera ready on your big day shouldn’t take as long. Your glam squad should come fully equipped with sanitized makeup brushes, Q-tips, cotton balls, makeup sponges, an extra magnifying mirror, eyelashes and adhesive, makeup remover, alcohol, tweezers and (of course) the makeup.

It’s not uncommon for some makeup artists to suggest that you pick out your own colors during your trial, but you should be fully aware of that before the final take. If at any time during your session you don’t feel 100 percent at ease, you have two choices: either run or make sure your backup plan is on speed dial.


About Nicole L. Townsend

A freelance beauty writer, Nicole L. Townsend knows anyone who’s anyone on the Chicago beauty scene and contributes to a weekly beauty column for called “Beauty School.” She also spends her days as a social media strategist for the hair care company Strength of Nature – MegaGrowth, where she manages all content for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more at Pretty in the Windy City on Facebook!