Having a great make-up artist for your wedding can make a huge difference in the outcome of your wedding photography.
Below is the transcript from my interview with Melli from Melli Cosmetics at Terrigal on the Central Coast. If you’d rather listen to my interview about everything you need to know about booking a wedding make-up artist for your wedding on the Central Coast, Newcastle or the Hunter Valley, head over to this page.
Why part 2? In the past, I sat down for a chat with Lee Hanly, one of the top wedding make-up artists on the Central Coast and that post can be found here.
Andrew: Hi Melli.
Andrew: Thanks for doing this today. I just wanted to get a bit of an idea as far as wedding make-up goes, when should a bride come and book their make-up and what’s actually involved in the whole process?
Melli: I would suggest not leaving it to the last minute, mainly due to availability. A lot of girls who come in and say how close to my wedding do I have to book? And you leave it to the last minute, your make-up artist or whoever that you’re looking at booking, they could be away on Holidays, they could already have a full day, and also the sooner you book you’ve got peace of mind that you’ve got that person.
Andrew: So once the bride has actually made a booking, so with you, I know that you have other girls working with you that you’ve trained, do they make a booking with a particular make-up artist?
Melli: It depends, some of them will request me because they’ve seen my work or they may have been a bridesmaid before. Others may request one of my girls due to their budget because obviously everybody’s on a different budget and my rates might be not fitting with their budget.
Andrew: So it’s a little more to have Melli rather than somebody you’ve trained.
Melli: Yes, yes, well I’ve been working as a make-up artist for over 20 years; sort of giving away my age there. And mainly not just bridals, but also looking after a lot of national and international celebrities, so my style and my experience is obviously a lot more than the girls that I’ve trained. In saying that, the girls that I’ve trained are very good. But their work may not be as detailed or as polished as mine, but they’ll still be very beautiful and so their rates are a little lower due to less experience. But you’ll still get a beautiful job.
Andrew: So that all gets worked out when they make that first appointment?
Melli: That’s right.
Andrew: I know that most girls will have a trial make-up before their wedding. Does that happen sort of close to the wedding or six months out?
Melli: Don’t do it too far ahead because often, if you’ve got a 18 month engagement, often you can change your minds several times… Oh I’ll do a vintage wedding… so their thinking like a statement red lip and these big lashes, and this sort of 1940/50s hairdo and six months down the track they can be going for something entirely different. But you do have to be careful also not to… I’ve had brides come to me and want to book 2 weeks before. Now if I’m off doing weddings or off on other jobs, or if I’m away on a job, I’m not going to be able to fit them in for their trial. But then I do get a lot of brides who go, “I’ve seen your work, I just want something natural and beautiful and soft, just do it”.
Andrew: And you said the first time you actually apply make-up to them is on their wedding day?
Melli: Yes, or sometimes I’ll just do a face to face consultation and we’ll do a face chart and they’re happy with that.
Andrew: So a face chart, that’s where you work out which products, what colours?
Melli: Yes, so I’ll write down different… so I might make notes, we might talk about what they like or dislike in make-up. They might say, look, I really don’t like anything underneath my eyes, I don’t want a glossy lip or I like a nude lip – all things about what they like or dislike in make-up. Then I’ll work out a colour chart depending on maybe their flowers and their dress, their whole colour theme in their wedding, something that will just blend in really nicely, and write down the colours, and just notes on the chart. I’ll often even take a digital photo of them because often when you see so many faces… then I’ll put it in my phone so that when they call me up their face comes up, and I’ll go Oh, my bride Suzanna.
Andrew: Great. Okay. So you’ll do that face chart, you’ll do that whether you do a trial or a consultation?
Melli: Either the trial or consultation
Andrew: I imagine most brides are the same with you as they are with me, they want to have natural looking make-up or natural photos. Obviously with your experience, a natural look isn’t going to fit everyone or even going for a natural look you might have a bit more make-up than what they would first expect.
Melli: Well that’s right, especially if they’re a bride that’s never worn make-up. They’ll go I’ve never worn make-up in my life. The most I’ve ever done is sort of lip balm and a bit of mascara, so I don’t want a lot. Well, obviously they’re going to want more than that otherwise they wouldn’t be paying me to do it, they could do that themselves. But often if they’ve gone from never wearing hardly anything to then having a natural look, it can still be more than what they’re used to, so I say to them just give an hour or so and often in my trials, I’ll even do it up to two hours so now I really get to know the bride in that time, and I do try to do a lot of emailing with them throughout to get to know them. Even get them to send me photos of how they do their make-up when they go out normally so I can sort of have a look and get a feel of their level of what they like with their make-up.
Andrew: Say for example they send you these photos and have a chat, and they normally run with blues and greens when they’re going out and they come in and you’re thinking to yourself… wow, you know that’s really not working that well for you, I think the browns or greys are going to be better.
Melli: So what I’ll do, I’ll just say look, I know this is what you especially, sometimes you’ll get somebody who’ll ask and say they want a dark smokey eye and you just think it’s just not going to work. So I’ll say how about you let me do what I think will look best. Then if you don’t like it, we can go and add the blue or green, or we can give you a dark smokey eye, and we’ll take a photo of how I’ve done it, the look that I really think will look beautiful for you, and then we’ll do another shot. 100% of the time, they’re not going back to.. and sometimes you will, I have done a trial to begin with what exactly they’re asking for when I have known in the back of my head, no this won’t cut it. You’ve got to learn to trust your own instinct, you’re the professional, but we also want them to feel happy with what they’re getting as well. But with all my experience I’ve learned now to trust my own instincts so you know what, I’m going to do something for you then we can always add what you’d like. Especially for the girls that might have a really small lip and they might ask for the deep red lip which you know is going to shrink them down – let’s just start with the nude, we’ll do the rest of your make-up, and then we can also show you a red as well. Sometimes they’ve got to see it themselves, they’ve seen it on a movie star or they’ve seen it on a friend and say oh I really love that red lip but once they put it on themselves… so they’ve got a picture and they’ll see it.
Andrew: So sometimes it’s not right for them.
Melli: It’s not right.
Andrew: When do you start making that assessment? Is it as soon as they walk in or it’s once you start applying make-up? When are you starting to think colours?
Melli: I can generally get an idea straight away as soon as I see the client what I want to do with them. But in saying that, I don’t have it all exact in my mind how it’s going to end up. It’s often a developing process as I see their eyes coming out as I’m doing their make-up. I can have done a whole face and I’m like stop, wait, I’m not finished…and I’ll go and do something else or I’ll add more or take away a little bit or add just a little bit of something else. It is a developing process, but often as soon as I see somebody I know how they should be looking.
Andrew: When they come for that first appointment or to talk about maybe even have their trial, do they need to know what colour flowers they’re having, what style of dress – like how much information do they need?
Melli: Sometimes they won’t have any of that. Sometimes I’ll be the first port of call because they’ve heard about me and they go look I just want to book you today, I just want to get you booked in. So then I’ll often… we’ll still get an idea about flowers and all of that, even though they haven’t got all that booked in, just to sort of give me an idea. But it’s more about their personality, finding out really what’s in them.
Andrew: You just want to make them shine and that’s going to fit in with whatever theme they’ve got.
Andrew: As far as budgeting goes, obviously it depends on how big the bridal party is, who’s going to be doing the wedding make-up, how does that all work? Is it just set fees for everyone? Is there a different price for the bride?
Melli: Yes, the bride I do charge more. The bride is $150, but for the $150 you’re getting eyelashes, individual lashes, a lot of make-up artists will add on again for that. I also do airbrushing if requested. I also stay for a touch up service, now there are a lot of make-up artists who will do the job really quick, only a 20 minute, 15 minute make-up, they whizz around to everyone really quick and then they’re out of there, on to their 2nd, 3rd, 4th wedding of the day. I tend to do 1 wedding per day. I’ll stay there right until the end, until final touches before they’re leaving to make sure that everything is perfect. I like to have a look at the -from the photographer, have a look at their camera to see how it’s all coming up, i f I’m 100% happy then I’ll leave.
Andrew: So you’re really paying for that extra service and the extra products as well.
Melli: Yes, obviously if I do have a big bridal party then I will often help out with the package, but it all depends on what time of year it is, how far I’m going.
Andrew: So if it’s a winter wedding it might be a little cheaper than a spring or autumn wedding when it’s so busy.
Melli: Yes, it all depends.
Andrew: Okay, so they can phone you or come and see you for a quote. You mentioned photography there, and I know when I photograph some brides, it’s probably more so when they do the make-up themselves, or they have a friend do it, they’re super shiny. That’s just a nightmare to deal with, with photos. It’s hard to fix later. How do you avoid that or what do you recommend?
Melli: I just make sure that I use a good mattifying powder or even a Sweat Stop if they tend to be a sweatier type person, or if it’s a 40 degree day, there’s a product called Sweat Stop that will help with that, an anti-shine, I use a good foundation that’s going to last that also is a matte finish.
Andrew: So those other products you mentioned, are they part of the foundation?
Melli: They’re separate items, before the foundation. And then an oil control loose setting powder which is very light. Often a lot of girls will try and use a heavy pressed powder over top of the foundation, and what happens then your skin can’t breathe and that starts to produce more oil. I have had a lot of brides who see photo shoots and dewy looking make-up and go I want to be very glowy and dewy. It’s not going to last, it doesn’t look great in photos. They’ve got to remember when they seeing those photo shoots, that it’s in a controlled environment with the make-up artist standing over them, and they’re not necessarily shiny all over it’s just spots. So what I will do if they’re liking that sort of dewy look is compromise with them. I’ll go how about we’ll do a matte foundation, but it still doesn’t have to be powdery dry matte, a nice, I’d like to call a more satin finish and then do a glowy crème cheek. So when they smile, they’ll still get that little bit of dewiness and glowyness but then they’re not going to get that greasy look.
Andrew: It’s normally on the foreheads or the noses and it really just stands out and it’s difficult to fix later. So you can control that with the right make-up?
Melli: With the right make-up.
Andrew: And I know that a lot of girls are using or talking about mineral style make-ups, good or bad? You’re smiling at me.
Melli: The powders, I find they can get quite cakey, they’re not a professional product. Sometimes, somebody will sit in my chair and go do you use mineral make-up? Knowing the brand, we’ve got different products with mineral qualities, but it’s not a professional product.
Andrew: It’s an everyday thing.
Melli: It’s just an everyday, so I wouldn’t recommend touching a mineral foundation.
Andrew: I’ve also heard, and I don’t know if it’s true or not, whether the sun screen inside the make-up can cause the shininess.
Melli: Yes, sometimes sunscreen, or even the natural version which I think is zinc oxide can cause problems, more so with flash. I don’t know how it works but yes, if you are doing your own make-up stay away from any foundations that do have sunscreen in it, because once flash hits you will get that, also for brides that do do their own make-up, to use a foundation that’s more warm based, like yellow in it. Once you use a foundation that’s too pink on your skin, it’s ashy and in photos it will be ashier again and that’s when you often get the lighter face, darker body thing happening as well, or that can happen with a bad spray tan as well.
Andrew: I actually talked to a couple of girls about spray tan and I do know from experience they’re getting better. How do you feel about spray tans, or if you were going to do a trial, would you rather the girls have a spray tan for the trial as well?
Melli: I’d prefer it but I can work around it as well. Definitely you should trial for the spray tan. If they’re not done right you’ll get dripping marks and darker marks around the knuckles. I’ve even had to go and fix chest areas, and backs and arms, and where it’s been streaking. A good make-up artist should be able to work around that and help you with that.
Andrew: Get a good tan to start with. Have a trial.
Melli: Yes, and plenty of time. Also have your trial even a couple of months before, if you’re allergic to spray tans, which does happen, I am, and it’s not any particular brand, it’s an ingredient that’s in every single one of them, I’ll break out with hives. You’ve got to think about that. If you want that, a week before your wedding you have to go on anti-histamines.
Andrew: So you do that trial for the spray tan a couple of months out, or a month out so that you have time to recover if there’s any reactions.
Andrew: So if they turn up with a spray tan on the day, you can deal with any colors, you do the blending, but it makes it easier if they have the spray tan before the trial.
Melli: Because obviously with the spray tan, if you’re very fair normally, and then you’ve had your make-up trial done when you’re very fair, and then you have your spray tan done, your make-up is going to look different. It’s going to give a whole different look. I think spray tans are a bit passé now. I like to see, especially if you’re beautiful and fair, I love to see that.
Andrew: I say that for all my brides and I’ve actually just written a blog post on exactly that. But I know that the girls, they feel a little more confident, they feel little slimmer with a bit of colour.
Melli: It does. When I put a little bit of color on my arms they look a little bit more toned. But if I’ve got six months until my wedding, I would rather go to the gym and tone up a little bit instead of a spray tan.
Andrew: I’m not going there being a guy, the girls can talk about that. I know you have a lot of your own products here. Do you use your products when you do wedding make-up?
Melli: In my kit, I use all different products. I do have my own range, Melli which I do use, but I also use everything from Mac to Naas to Cryland to Stiller to Giorgio Armani, and a good make-up artist, even one with their own brand, should really carry a lot of different products because obviously not every product will suit everybody and the more you’ve got to play with, the more beautiful job you can do as well.
Andrew: So you have different brands of the same product and the same color and you get a different look?
Melli: Yes. There’s different textures, even with liquid foundations. I’ve got Make-Up Forever, and then I have the Armani which are that little bit dewy, but when you do it with a nice oil control setting powder over it you get that really lovely natural look as well. Then I have stick crème foundation which give a really beautiful full coverage and they stay on from morning until the next day. I’ve had mothers of the bride come see me in the store 2 days later and go look, I’ve still got my make-up on. No, please go have a good facial. So it does stay on.
Andrew: That’s great. So anyone that sees this article or hears you talk about make-up today, they won’t necessarily be able to have you because you might be overseas or in another state, what should they be looking for if they can’t have Melli as a make-up artist? What should they ask their make-up artist to make sure they’re going to do a good job. How do you find a good make-up artist?
Melli: Lots of research. Lots of research. Be careful, there are make-up artists out there who even use for bridal photos, stock images. Or the other thing you’ve got to be careful of, they’ll do photo shoots with models in bridal gowns, now, generally not everybody looks like a model. You want to see real brides, so I would say can you send me photos of real brides. It’s really important if you can meet them as well before you decide because you’ve got to gel with each other. With your photography you’ve got them all day, but you’ve got to remember with your make-up artist they’re so close to you, we’re in your face. You want to click with that person. It’s such a big, important day, I must say, the majority of my brides I’ve remained friends with over the years. I still see them but it’s really important.
Andrew: Should you ask about any certificates or training, does that really matter? Is it all about if you like them?
Melli: Anybody can go and do a course. I wouldn’t even worry about that. Just because they’ve got a certificate, they could have done a 2 year course, doesn’t mean they’re going to come out a good make-up artist. I really look for the eyes, make sure everything is blended and beautiful, I even ask them what products they use. There are make-up artists going around with Chemist brand in there, and that’s not going to have the staying power. So make sure they’re using professional products.
Andrew: How do you know it’s a professional product? Just Google it after they tell you?
Melli: I guess if you hear, girls would know, or if they say something like a Maybelline or Cover Girl, or a Chemist style brand, to stay away.
Andrew: Make sure they’ve got good photos that are actually their photos, and have a look at the blending, particularly with the eyes, and just get a general feel for them and their personality.
Melli: Yes, that’s right and with the trial, make sure they don’t rush you in the trial. Even have a look at testimonials or ask around, find if they’ve been used by any friends. You want to make sure too that they’re reliable. I have known of make-up artists that have cancelled brides at the last minute because a larger bridal party has come along. So you want to make sure that they’re really committed to you, and that they’re going to be there.
Andrew: Sure, that would happen quite often I would imagine. You have a small bridal party and then someone books another popular date.
Melli: I’ve had brides call me, I’m getting married this weekend and I’m like what happened? Did you have a bad last minute trial or had you just forgotten about it? And they’ve said no my make-up artist has cancelled. And quite often it’s due to that. I remember once being offered to do for a High School Musical for Disney, it was $1,500 a day, three days in a row. It was a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and I had 1 Friday wedding, and it was only a very small bridal party and I couldn’t let her down, so I let go of all looking after Zac Effron and all of that mob to look after this bride because once I’ve committed to somebody, you can’t do that.
Andrew: Sure, I agree. Just lastly, how long should brides allow to have their make-up on the day. I’m pretty big on the timeline being a photographer.
Melli: Yes, I must admit, there’s nothing worse, you rock up and the make-up is still being done.
Andrew: Especially when the bridesmaids are done and the bride is still sitting there with nothing. It’s like oh, man.
Melli: Yes, it’s like, what have you been doing? Get your finger out.
Andrew: That’s what I’m thinking, not saying. So how long should they allow for their make-up.
Melli: Generally it will be done in less time than that, but I always like to allow more time up my sleeve, especially if you’re getting ready from home and not a hotel – neighbours will show up, aunties will show up, and it’s so exciting and then you’ve got to have a little chat.. so allow extra time. The flowers arrive and everybody rushes over to look at the flowers. All these things happen, and you get phone calls so you’ve got to stop. So I at least for the bridesmaids will leave an hour and then for the bride another hour to an hour and a half, and then generally I try to obviously be done in a lot less time than that so that I can then start all touch ups again with whoever I started first.
Andrew: I suggest to my brides not to go last if they have a big bridal party just in case something happens. Are you happy with that?
Melli: You know most brides do want to be done last but I actually prefer to do them maybe half way through, maybe not first but half way through. And then I’ll say come back and we can touch you up again to make sure everything is fine. Because you find that at that time of the day when the bride is being done, that’s when it’s getting quite close, and the photographer is generally there and the cars will be arriving soon, and that’s when the nerves kick in as well and they can start to get quite anxious. That time when you’re getting your make-up done is the time when you should be able to sit, close your eyes, breathe and take stock of what’s happening and what you’re about to do.
Andrew: I agree. I always say middle of the bridal party, don’t go last, you don’t have to go first.
Melli: And I’ll sometimes if everybody’s at the bride while I’m doing her, I’ll just say look guys, just give us half an hour, just so she can just sit there and process it all. Often when you’re being done last that’s when it’s starting to get all a little bit crazy, have you seen Tracy’s shoes or where are my earrings…because the beginning of the day starts quite slow, then it just starts speeding up…speeding up.
Andrew: It’s like a snowball, isn’t it? It just gathers speed. I was going to ask you, I’ve seen with some brides, some make-up artists will be attaching false eyelashes, but some girls will already have that done on the wedding day. Is there a preference for you?
Melli: There are eyelash extensions that are semi-permanent and last for a couple of months. In saying that you do have to go and get infills done every two to three weeks. I’m not a huge fan mainly because there’s sort of a stock standard the way that they apply them to the eye and often they’re not always applied that well. When I put the individual lashes on I like to use all different lengths. I’ll use a short, a medium, a long. I’ll also use different thicknesses, and sometimes I’ll even layer them as well and use even tiny mini ones and look for little gaps in the lashes. So you get a beautiful, graduated, more natural look. And that will be obviously different for every eye. Some girls will only require a couple on the corner, some will need them filled further in. So I like to design the lashes.
Andrew: You’re really sculpting the eye, rather than just going for stock standard.
Melli: That’s right, and a lot of make-up artists will go and even just put three on the end, and I’ve had other make-up artists watch me do them and go… wow you use a lot of lashes on the eye, you really take your time. Because as I’m doing it I’ll get them to look left, look right, look up, look down, to look for any little gaps, and to make sure that it’s also looking really natural and that it all blends in really well, because you don’t want anybody to know that you’ve got them on too. You just want them to go wow, they look beautiful. A lot of people who aren’t aware of the individuals will think, eyelashes no, they remember what they had put on for their physy concert when they were eight and they’re thinking those big long full sets which were really heavy. If you are having a make-up artist apply them, make sure that they are also applied properly. You’ve got to be very careful, if you put ones that are too long on the outer corner of the eye, they’ll actually droop the eye down, so if you’re actually using the longer one, you have to bring it in that little bit shorter to help lift the eye.
Andrew: Is that part of the make-up service on the wedding day?
Melli: Yes, for me it is. I include that in my rates. Because I don’t want to see a bride without lashes.
Andrew: So it’s about thickening.
Melli: Some girls will go I don’t need lashes, I’ve got long lashes. They’ll sit in my chair and I go yes you have really long beautiful lashes but we just need to thicken them up on the outer corner so that when they smile they get that lovely definition without actually going and using too much eyeliner. What the lashes do is create that definition without them using too much eyeliner or too much black around the eye.
Andrew: Quite nicer. And you mentioned the price for brides, we sort of got side-tracked before you talked about bridesmaids and flower girls.
Melli: Brides on location are $150 and bridesmaids are $125. I do do a location fee, but it depends on how far I go. Obviously if somebody’s got a large bridal party too, I can work out a package for them as well. In store, I’m $150 for brides and $100 for bridesmaids. Flower girls are free, and junior bridesmaids always work out a little bit cheaper for them as well.
Andrew: That’s unreal Melli, I’m so happy that you could do this and give those tips. How do girls find you?
Andrew: You have a street front shop as well?
Melli: That’s at Shop 2, 18 Church Street in Terrigal.
Andrew: Fantastic. Thanks Melli.