The Makeup Artist's Guide to Wedding Season Makeup

Hayley Morrell
Makeup Artist
Wendy Hill Cosmetics

The wedding industry within NZ is booming! And with the average NZ wedding costing $35,000 this is definitely a financially viable area of beauty therapy, as well as a great creative outlet.

I have been using Wendy Hill Cosmetics for weddings and other makeup areas of my business for almost 20 years and I am so passionate about the product and this part of the industry. I mean, who doesn’t want to be part of one of the most important days in someone’s life. I love getting out and about and working on location. I have been asked to do weddings all over the North Island and it excites me to see all of the creative ideas people have for their big days. In the past year alone I’ve had everything from high-end affairs at Huka Lodge to a glamping wedding by the river and all sorts in between.

Over the 20 years, through a lot of trial and error in this part of my business, I have fine tuned our systems and have some great tips and tricks I’d love to share with you…


Firstly you need to get the bookings. The most effective way I’ve found to do this is to align yourself with as many reputable vendors around your location as possible. Meet with the owners/managers and come up with a plan to help each other out. What goes around comes around in this industry. Visit photographers, celebrants, cake decorators, wedding planners, florists and venues. Get to know their work, collect relevant information about their businesses, give them information about yours and build a relationship. 

Offer help

When you get an enquiry, after you have done the quote, ask if there is anything else you can help with. Explain that you have a lot of great contacts in the industry - brides love this, the fact that you genuinely care. Take the time to give out as many details as you can and you will find by paying it forward people will do the same for you.


Another thing I’ve found works really well is to collaborate with a really good hair dresser. Create packages to make life easier for your brides. Or alternatively, contract in hair dressers you trust 100% and clip the ticket on their work to cover the costs of admin, advertising etc… Brides love a one stop shop. Keep it simple for them.

Ask how they found you

When you get an enquiry ask how did they find out about you? 1) So you can monitor your advertising and 2) If it was a personal referral so you can thank the person and hopefully they will feel appreciated and continue to refer people to you.


We take a 50% deposit before we even take a booking. I have probably become a bit hard-nosed on this, but I have been burnt too many times and since we implemented this policy we haven’t had any problems. No more, “Oh my cousins friend is doing my makeup now” or "I’ve booked a couple of places and the other one is cheaper” etc… So this is a non-negotiable for me now - 50% at the time of booking (even if it’s two years out!) and 50% two days before the wedding. This solves a world of problems.


Makeup trials are imperative in my opinion. It’s so important to meet the bride and make sure you are on the same page. Ask her to bring along any fabric samples, photos of her dress and the bridesmaids dresses, photos of makeup she likes, and ask about the theme of the wedding so you can create a look to suit. Take meticulous notes about start time, where they are getting ready, who you are working on and what you have done at the trial. Take photos! This is also a great opportunity to sell a lippy and pressed powder for touch ups. This is really important, especially the powder as you don’t want them touching up later with some non-photographic makeup!

Maximise your booking. Not only to generate more income but also to help the bride… most people haven’t done this before so you prompting them is actually helpful. Ask things like, “Have you thought about having a pamper party a couple of days out from your wedding? An opportunity to catch up with your girlfriends, have a glass of bubbles, a platter and get nails and tanning done? We can offer that”. Or “Do you think your Mum or the Mother of the Groom would like their makeup done too?” Or “Shall we book you in for a course of facials to prepare your skin for the big day?” You can easily double (or more) the income from each wedding with these simple questions, and they may as well spend their money with you rather than down the road.

Be confident

Be confident in what you do. I imagine it can be a daunting industry to be starting out in, in this age of self taught “makeup artists”, YouTube tutorial “experts" and avid Pinterest followers. But remember, you are the trained professional.

Stand behind your product. I flat out refuse to use the clients own foundation if they ask me to. I can’t guarantee my work if I do this and 90% of the time they have been colour-matched incorrectly. I just won’t do it! With so many ranges out there it is a massive decision choosing a range to stock that works for you. I love Wendy Hill Cosmetics for the quality, I never doubt my work, the makeup lasts perfectly even when it’s been on over 12 hours. I’m confident it will always photograph well and flash back from the camera is never a problem. Use a brand you can trust 100%. 

This season’s look for brides….

  • Glowing skin is always in. Mix a small amount of one of our Candle Glow highlighters in either, pearly pink, gold, or bronze through Wendy Hill Jojoba Liquid Foundation to get an all-over fresh, dewy complexion.
  • Define the contour of the cheek bones using Duo Blusher/Bronzer; stroke your blusher brush through the compact and then blend onto the cheeks with the pink as the highlight on top of the cheek bones, and the bronze creating a shadow below. So simple but so effective. The brush basically does the contouring for you.
  • Show your bride how to amp-up her softer, day makeup to a chic party look after the formal photos by adding a little more Gel Eyeliner and a bright Tiffany@Wendy Hill matte lipstick. Some brides also like to swap out the veil at this point for a floral garland or some other alternative.

Photographer credit: Jo Davies Photography.

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