The big debate: should brides have to pay for their hair and make-up trials

Bleugh it’s a dreary, rainy, miserable Wednesday morning. To get you over that Wednesday hump, I thought I’d spice things up with a little debate post! The reason I chose this topic in particular is because it’s one that always incites debate depending on what you do for a living. Being on both sides of the industry, the bride side and the supplier (sort of) side I can see some shades of grey. So I’m taking the very unusual step of debating myself! Without further ado…

Should brides pay for their hair and make-up trials?


Of course brides shouldn’t pay for their hair and make-up trials. Your wedding day hair and make-up has to be perfect, right? Well how can you make sure it’s perfect when you can only try and get it right for as long as you can afford. For a start, you have to choose the right hair stylist and make-up artist. How can you do that when you can’t try anybody out? If you’re unsatisfied with one set of suppliers you have to pay full whack elsewhere for another potentially disappointing hair and make-up trial.

And what if you do like a supplier but you feel you haven’t quite got the look right? Are you meant to part with another huge chunk of cash or leave it up to chance on the biggest day of your life?

Brides can sample different cakes, try on different dresses and check out potential venues free of charge and without having to commit first, so why is wedding beauty the only aspect of a wedding where you essentially have to commit to buy before you’ve even tried it out?

Finally, what about bridesmaids and mothers of the bride? Hair and make-up trials are so unaffordable most brides can’t even realistically afford to bring one bridesmaid in just to see what it might look like.

In short, it’s a bride’s prerogative to change her mind. Everyone else in the industry offers commitment-free samples, trials and assistance, so why not hair and make up?

John’s hair trial and make-up didn’t go the way he hoped… hahaha! Image © 2012 Modern Vintage Weddings 


Would you walk into a hair salon and demand a free treatment? Then why would you expect one from a wedding supplier? While it’s true that it is your wedding day and you do have to get it right, hair and make-up artists also have to pay their bills and eat. If you’re taking up hours (and some trials can last up to four hours) of their valuable time, isn’t it right that they should be paid?

Also consider this: if you offer a free hair and make-up trial, how long do you think it will be before you’re inundated with people posing as brides in order to snag a free style for an evening out? Or brides that have no intention of booking but that want to keep an eye on your techniques to learn more about how to do their own hair and make up on the day.

The moment you offer something for nothing, you get an influx of time wasters looking for freebies, and while this isn’t a tragedy when all you’re missing is a few cake samples, when it takes up most of your day, time and energy, it can be very disheartening. The price tag on the hair trial makes sure people are really serious about buying before they arrive and mitigates this risk.

Finally, it’s not just time that gets wasted. Make-up and hair products, especially the luxury products one would use for a special occasion, are extremely expensive. I dread to think what a make-up artist’s kit costs. Not only do they need to charge properly for their time to maintain their kit, but they also can’t afford to waste it on people who are just after a free makeover.

In short, as horrible as it sounds not to be trusting, people can take advantage of a situation where someone won’t or can’t charge, and hair and make-up artists have to take steps to prevent this.

The verdict:

There are shades of grey to this situation. While I completely empathise and feel that everyone should be paid properly for their time, I can also, as a bride, see the frustration of someone who’d want to try a few different people to make sure she’d picked the right one, rather than feeling she has to go with the first supplier she tries.

My suggestion would be to offer hair trials at a far reduced fee. While I know this will cause some controversy in the hair and make-up world (please feel free to disagree with me, my opinion is by no means gospel!) I think that charging half of the price of the overall hair and make-up can really pressure brides into committing to buying before they try. I also think that a lesser, but still relevant fee, would put off freeloaders.

Finally, I would make brides fill out a survey about their wedding before they arrive, including their wedding date and venue. Once you’ve quickly confirmed this with the venue, you can go ahead with the trial. That way you weed out those who aren’t real brides without forcing brides into a difficult decision.

Some tips for brides

Read, read read. If you can’t decide what you do like, make sure you’re aware of what you definitely don’t like. A seasoned professional will be able to start to work out what it is you want through process of elimination.

Come to your hair and make-up trial with your hair and face prepared naturally. For example, I turned up at my hair trial with semi-straightened hair which was a bit silly really as we couldn’t tell what it would look like styled from curly before we straightened it!

Do your research on hair and make-up artists. Compare portfolios, compare prices, and ask to see pictures of brides later on in the evening to see how their styles held.

Be honest. I wasn’t sure about my first hair style (which was my fault for turning up with straightened hair!) so I worked with my hair stylist to talk about something different. If you pretend you’re thrilled with something when you’re not, how do they know you’re not convinced by it? It doesn’t mean you think they’re bad at what they do, it just means you’re not used to or crazy about one particular hair style!

Don’t be a diva. There are ways to say you’d like to try something else without being insulting or demanding.

What do you think? Should brides have to pay for their hair and make-up trials? Is it only fair that someone gets paid a proper wage for a day of work? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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