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Talks with Destination Wedding Makeup Artists

by Milana

Destination weddings are more popular than ever today. Adventure, romance, and of course a getaway is something that attracts a lot of couples these days. It’s a trend that one in four couples consider. Whether it is a resort in natural surroundings, tropical beaches, an exotic destination like Japan, exciting Las Vegas, or a charming European city – it is a given that the entire party will have a memorable experience.

This trend of course then means a plethora of traveling opportunities for makeup artists and hairstylists. However, being a destination wedding makeup artist is no vacation. Although it can be a very rewarding experience, you need to be well organized to enjoy the entire experience yourself. To pursue a career as a specialist in Wedding Makeup Artistry, we recommend reading these notes becoming a bridal makeup artist as a starting point.

And further, to shed some more light on the experience that makes a successful Destination Wedding as a Makeup Artist, we talked with some veterans of the game 😉 …..

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting to you superb makeup artists : Jessica Saint, Hannah Bush and Jenna McElroy. Let’s hear about their experiences first hand and get insider tips and advice from the pros.

Related: Notes on Becoming A Bridal Makeup Artist

Notes on Becoming a bridal mua - Talks with Destination Wedding Makeup Artists

Makeup Artist – Jessica Saint

What was your (Makeup Artist) journey like?

Jessica: I have been a Makeup Artist for close to 17 years now. I kind of fell into it as it wasn’t my plan to become one. I’m primarily self-taught but did attend beauty school twice as well as many continuing education classes along with A LOT of on the job experience. Friends would ask if I could do their wedding and so I would agree. I quickly realized I could build a business with it and did. Now here we are years later, and I am still doing it alongside photoshoots, production work, etc.

I feel like as a Makeup Artist you should be well rounded in your field and since I did not get into makeup to do weddings, I prefer to keep doing shoots, etc. Also I prefer my team to do that as well. I think it is what makes us stand apart in the bridal industry. We all primarily do production, stage, shoots, etc and weddings are something we throw in there as well. It gives us a different view of the industry and we also come into it with a much broader knowledge and skill set.

Is there something about destination wedding gigs you didn’t expect and that surprised you? 

Jessica: I didn’t expect to enjoy them as much as I do. I expected it to be more work trying to get my kit there and back, trying to navigate to get to the wedding on time, etc. But I am so used to traveling for work that it has been so easy. I’m very organized as well so getting to each wedding has never posed a problem once I’m in town. I actually prefer destination weddings at this point in my career!

You cannot plan too much or be too organized.

What would you say to someone who is about to branch into destination wedding makeup?

Jessica: If you want to get into doing destination weddings, then keep in mind that you may have a lot more work to do as you will be in a town you may not know. Do your research on where you are going. Know what modes of transportation are available to you, look up where the bridal party is getting ready, etc. All the things I expect of my team for local weddings, but definitely things you really have to think about when traveling for a wedding too. Also, you may start out discounting your rates just to get the first few under your belt and to become known as the destination MUA/H. Put your feelers out there and let others know you’ll travel.

Jobs Mua - Talks with Destination Wedding Makeup Artists

What would be your best advice to prepare for travel?

My best advice would be just really doing my research on where you’re going. Making sure you have your timing in place, how you’re getting there and back, where you’re staying, etc. You cannot plan too much or be too organized. Have it all figured out as well as written down just in case. Do your research on the town you’re going to, how your kit is getting there if you’re flying, etc. And don’t stress yourself out. You got hired for your work. You’re going to kill it. Be excited and be prepared and you’ll do great!

What would you say to the brides who are looking for a destination wedding makeup artist? 

Jessica: I would tell them to not only look for someone whose work they love, but to also talk to them and make sure this person is serious, will travel to them, and will not leave them high and dry. If I were a bride looking to book an MUA for my destination wedding, then I’d want to talk to them to feel them out.

I’d want to know they will be there with bells on and that they have planned everything accordingly, so everything goes smoothly on my big day. I would want to feel confident that they have everything covered and it’s one less thing I have to worry about on my big day. I don’t want to have to worry that they will show up on time or at all, not have their kit with them, etc.

Follow Jessica’s and her team’s work:

Website: https://www.jessicasaintbridal.com and  www.jessicasaint.com

IG | @JessicaSaintBridal, and @jessicasaintbeauty


Download NOW – The Ultimate Makeup Artist Career Guide

Makeup Artist – Hannah Bush

What was your makeup artist’s journey?

Hannah: My background stems from childhood when my mother sold Avon. The company used to send samples along with brochures with how-to instructions for the makeup application. This was in the early 90’s so you can imagine that brushes weren’t used yet, and the makeup style was very sharp and not blended well. As I got older, I played around with makeup a lot, and went through a Mod 60’s style and did that on a lot of friends. The Proms, and eventually landed my ‘dream job’ at Macy’s and after one year, moved to Nordstrom as one of their prestige Artists. Macy’s taught me how to work as a team, and Nordstrom taught me about speed and nurturing people (Clients/Customers) and playing a role in enhancing their inner confidence and outward beauty.

While at Nordstrom, I found out I was expecting but had a lot of complications and had to stay home on bed rest. One year after I left Nordstrom, I was hired for a Couture Bridal Gown Shop in Seattle, and fell in love with the Wedding Industry. I was feeling guilty about all the time away from my baby and still really wanted to do makeup, so I decided to start a side job, which of course, was bridal makeup. That side job quickly progressed and grew large enough to need a second Artist.

It’s important to always network and create a business relationship with the other people in your Industry. 

That was 10 years ago, and now have 10 Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists on my Team. In those 10 years, My company and I have graced many magazines, publications, features, awards and elite shows, and other achievements. I am completely self-taught and still learn with every face I work on. I learn by asking a lot of questions, watching other’s techniques, trying, practicing. I have had a lot of failures but ultimately have succeeded on my own terms. Also, I have my own techniques and signature style. 

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IG | @urbanistaweddings

How did you land your first destination wedding and where was it?

Hannah: My first destination wedding was actually still in the same state but required an overnight stay. That was really exciting. The Wedding was at a high-end resort which meant I could bring my family. After that wedding, I began promoting my business as destination and elopement specialists and added more artists and stylists to the team, that are stationed in other states and parts of my state. This makes it really easy to accommodate.

My second actual destination wedding was in the Hollywood Hills in a Castle. I will never forget that one. The bride is from my city, in Seattle and that’s how she found me. I’ve had a few weddings now, where they fly me out, but my most memorable was one in Paris. That Bride also found me locally because her photographer is someone I work really closely with. It’s important to always network and create a business relationship with the other people in your Industry.  

Is there something about destination wedding gigs you didn’t expect and that surprised you? 

Hannah: The cost that goes into traveling. It’s really important to factor in flights, car rental, lodging, meals, any entertainment, checked luggage for your kit, purchasing smaller items for travel, how to have a trial appointment if they don’t live near you, and how to charge appropriately to cover all of the above expenses.   

What would you say to someone who is about to start doing destination wedding makeup? 

Hannah: Know what your time is worth. If you’re traveling to a destination that requires any overnight accommodations, you will most likely miss out on other bookings the day before and after. Don’t take the job just because it’s a ‘cool’ destination because you could end up losing money rather than profiting. Accept a job that you know you can do. 

What would be your best advice to prepare for travel?

Hannah: Do your research on the location. Such as where to stay (if booking yourself) so that you’re not overcharging your Client and taking advantage of them. Research places to eat, things to do, travel time from your lodging to the getting ready location. What you’ll need for your kit and if you can take it on board.

The most important tip, however, is to communicate with the client. Alert them when you’ve left or boarded a plane, landed, arrive at your lodging, etc. Over-communicate so that the client is at ease and they know you’re a professional they can count on.  

What would you say to the brides who are looking for a destination wedding makeup artist? 

Hannah: You will want to make sure that they are experienced in traveling and know which details you might not have thought about. It’s risky to take a chance of your Artist arriving the same day. Also be prepared to pay for accommodations, travel expenses. You should only be responsible for the round trip travel and one-night lodging the night before unless the job requires your Artist to stay late for you.  

Follow Hannah’s and her team’s work:

Website: https://www.urbanistaweddings.com/

IG | @urbanistaweddings and @hannah_bush_beauty

Jenna McElroy

What was your makeup artist’s journey?

Jenna: I have been interested in makeup since about 11 but I really started getting involved with the artistry side when I started to sell a makeup line about 6 years ago. It was then when I fell in love with how fun it was to create and I realized how much I loved applying makeup on people. It took me a couple of years to practice on family and friends before I accepted payment for my artistry. As of today, I have been applying makeup professionally for 4 years. 

 There are a few ways that you can enter into this industry and one of them is to be what people call ‘self-taught’ which is what I am and basically means that I did not go to school for makeup but I do take professional workshops and continue education courses for professional makeup artists. 

How did you land your first destination wedding and where was it?

Jenna: My first destination wedding was while I was a contracted artist for a bridal makeup and hair service company in Boston. The wedding was on Nantucket Island which is a popular island to get married in the New England area. The second destination wedding was for my own company, Makeup By Jenna. And that was in the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont, think 15 minutes from Quebec, which is about 5 hours away from my home studio and overnight accommodations were required for both myself and my hairstylist. 

Is there something about destination wedding gigs you didn’t expect and that surprised you?

Jenna: I have been an international traveler since I was 15, and I also have a degree in International business due to my interest in business and traveling. Traveling has always been something that I have loved to do and a service I am very comfortable offering to my clients. Needless to say at this point in my life I do not have many things that surprise me as I know planning and research of the destination is always a MUST. 

Remember this is not a mini-vacation although you could certainly plan some extra time in the location after your job is complete.

What would you say to someone who is about to start doing destination wedding makeup? 

Jenna: I would say please make sure this is not your first time traveling outside of your state or country. This is one of the biggest days of a couple’s lives and there is no time to be taking a risk on traveling and all the surprises and bumps that come with traveling at their expense. I highly suggest if you have not traveled then book yourself a trip and get exploring to a location where you see yourself traveling to for a destination wedding. Just as important, get a passport! 

What would be your best advice to prepare for travel?

Jenna: If you have contracted to service a destination wedding and have not visited the location before, please please research! The food, the lodging, the language the monetary conversion and means of transportation (just to name a few)  If you need to seek advice from a professional travel agent then do it because I can guarantee if you don’t cross all your Ts and dot your I’s then this will be the last destination wedding that you will do and I say that not to be mean but realistic.

And most important of all, remember this is not a mini-vacation although you could certainly plan some extra time in the location after your job is complete. This is about your client and making her or his day as stress-free and memorable as possible.

What would you say to the brides who are looking for destination wedding MUA? 

Jenna: I would suggest they look for a professional MUA that has experience traveling specifically to the destination where they plan on getting married and make sure the artist has a VALID passport. Passports can take up to 6 weeks with a minimum of 2 weeks when they are expedited for an additional fee. 

Follow Jenna’s and her team’s work:

Website | www.makeupbyjennamua.com

IG | @makeup_by_jenna_ne

Have you ever worked at a destination wedding makeup artist? Follow us on Instagram and share your experiences with others in the comments!

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