How to Get the Most Out of Your Hair & Makeup Trials

Tried-and-tested expert tips to maximize your pre-wedding beauty trials.


Wedding hair and makeup
Photo: Terry Doyle

1. Choose Your Pros Wisely

There is no one-size-fits all beauty stylist. Make a list of the ones you are interested in and check out their social media to see if the past looks they’ve done are ones you would like on yourself. If you want a more subdued look but the artist sticks to bold, colorful styles, they might not be the one for you.

2. Bring Your Inspo

And be specific about why you like it. Taking inspiration from social media is always helpful and creating a Pinterest board never hurts. Pulling from the big screen works as well. “I like to recommend watching older movies or period pieces,” says hair and makeup stylist Amanda Shackleton. “It’s a great way to get inspiration from generations past that we can modernize and bring into the current year.”

3. Speak Up

During the trial, specifying what you don’t like is just as important as pointing out what you do like. “If you do not like any color on the lips, be open about it," says makeup artist Sally Duvall. “A trial should include input from the bride as well as the artist.”

4. Go Clean

Wash your face and hair beforehand to ensure that the stylist can do their job smoothly and get the look right so you are both satisfied.

5. Come Prepared

Be ready with pictures of your dress to ensure the look works with it. Don’t forget to bring any accessories that may be worn for the big day. A half-up half-down hairstyle might look stunning during the trial, but wearing a veil on the big day may completely alter the look.

6. Snap Pics

"I always take tons of photos of each look so the bride can see how it photographs,” says makeup artist David Maderich. “I do three versions of the look, each with more makeup, and photograph the style — because at the end of the day, all that remains are the photos.” It’s a good idea to write down the product name and shades.

7. Buddy Up

“The trial is for getting to know each other and is about communication as much as it is about the skills of the stylist,” says bridal hair stylist Lauren Decosimo. “This is a collaborative effort. Once I get to know my bride’s personality and we talk about what she likes, I can make suggestions.”

8. Plan Ahead

After getting engaged, setting a date for a beauty trial may be the last thing on your mind, but don’t put it off. Most stylists recommend setting a trial date right away to ensure they aren’t booked on the same day and to have the trial around three months before the big day.

9. Discuss Price

Beauty trials can range anywhere from $100 to $400 depending on the stylist. Take into account the cost of a trial if you plan on having different ones or need to have another if the first one isn’t great. Keep in mind the day-of service will cost more than the trial.

10. Do You

Your wedding day is not the time to experiment. Opt for a hair and makeup look that feels the most you and have the stylist give it a little glam. “I always take the approach of less is more,” says lead makeup artist for Elcie Cosmetics, Angie Mikaelian. “If a bride desires more drama, I can always add, which is much easier than removing, for a more natural look.”