I am so pleased to be able to assist you in planning for your wedding day with these tips from Kimberley Palmer, hair and make up artist of Bliss and Co. Hairdressing+MakeUp. Kimberley is a long-time industry professional, with her attention to detail, mad skills and gregarious nature making her a favourite of Brisbane brides and Brisbane wedding photographers both.
My thanks to Kimberley for taking the time to chat with me to put together these invaluable tips for you – straight from the professional’s mouth.
All of the brides on this page feature hair and make-up by Kimberley and were photographed by me, Lara Lane Photography.
Kimberley, what’s your number one tip for brides when it comes to hair and make-up?
Often brides may not be quite sure of what suits them, which is absolutely fine, but it’s great if you can give your hair and make-up artist an idea of what you like – even photos of what you don’t like is helpful. If by the time you come to see your hair and make-up artist you have it narrowed down to one or two looks that you’d like to try, it goes a long way to making sure you get a look that you’re happy with for your wedding day.
What do you do if someone comes to you with a look that they love, but that you know is just not going to suit their colouring or their style?
First of all, I try and be very realistic. I like to point out what I can see in the image that they’ve shown me and talk about what is possible. For example, with a lot of the make-up looks that we see on Pinterest, the models are Middle Eastern women, and Caucasian women often don’t have the lid space for some of those really dramatic eye looks that we’re seeing, like with the big cut crease – those very dramatic sorts of looks.
For hair, hair texture and even colour can affect how a style looks, so I try and point out the similarities and differences to be realistic in someone’s expectations of what we can achieve. If they are dead set on having that particular style, they may need hair extensions, or they may need colour added to their hair to get it to look like the reference image that they’ve shown me.
Sometimes I suggest a different look that might suit them better, but of course if someone’s really set on something, that’s what I will give them. That’s why a trial is always good too, because it gives them the opportunity to look in the mirror and see that it doesn’t suit them.
But I’ve had some brides absolutely love it, even though I’ve thought that it didn’t look the best. I had a bride who absolutely wanted to look like a drag queen for her wedding, and at the end of the day, I gave her what she wanted.
What’s the number one thing that you wish brides knew about wedding hair and make-up?
The biggest one would be: not all make-up artists are created equal. Do your homework – look at the hair and make-up artist’s portfolio and make sure that the work that they are showing, on social media and on their website, fits your aesthetic. Do they have a variety of faces in their portfolio, not just the same person? Or the dead giveaway: the selfie of the make-up artist. That’s ok for a bit of a fun post on a Thursday afternoon, but if that’s the majority of what they’re showing, it may indicate a lack of experience.
Your wedding is not the time to experiment with someone who is learning and practising: it’s too important. You’ve hired a photographer; you’ve paid a lot of money. At the end of the day the images are what you’re left with, and you want to look your best in them.
It’s probably not the time to price shop. I realise that everyone has a budget, and you have to stick with your budget. But, to me the things to prioritise are hair and make-up, wedding photography and the wedding dress. That’s what you’re going to be left with at the end of the day.
As with wedding photography – everyone is a wannabe wedding photographer these days and I feel a bit like that with – not so much hair – but make-up artists. Because we now have YouTube make-up tutorials, and everyone thinks that if they’re good at their own make-up they can be a make-up artist. There’s so much more that goes into it. Even simple things: many people are shocked that I have a set of brushes for every face. If I have eight faces, I have eight sets of brushes. Untrained people may not even clean their brushes between clients – that’s a basic that we learn as professionals, whereas someone who is self-taught may not necessarily realise these things.
Shop around, do your homework, look at someone’s portfolio and really make sure you’re getting someone that knows what they’re doing.
What’s a common mistake that you see brides make with their hair and make-up?
That would probably be: see above. The price between someone who is experienced and someone who is not so experienced can come down to twenty or thirty dollars a head. Over a period of twelve months of wedding planning, that’s a couple of dollars a week. It’s a cup of coffee. To me, that would be a mistake that I see people making. You’re spending so much money – please don’t skimp on the person who’s going to make you look and feel amazing.
Because you can have the best photographer in the world, but if the make-up is bad…
If your hair is falling out in your photos because they didn’t take into consideration that the veil needed to be stitched in because it’s a windy day – simple things like that. Because they just didn’t have the experience to know that.
Trust your professionals. Hire them and then trust them.
What are the benefits of doing a hair and make-up trial before the wedding day?
I think that a hair and make-up trial is essential.
I try and advise brides to, if possible – and it’s not always possible – to have a dress fitting on the same day as their hair and make-up trial, so that their hair and make-up is in place for the fitting. If it’s not possible – because, for example, you are getting your dress from overseas – wear a white shirt to the trial. Or, obviously if you are wearing an ivory coloured dress, or a red dress or a pink dress – whatever colour dress you’re wearing, try to wear a shirt the same colour so that you can as best as possible see the look together as a whole.
A trial is also a great idea because, for example, if you are someone who wears your hair up all the time and on the day of your wedding you decide to have your hair out, you might find that it annoys you – it falls in your face, or sticks to your lipstick – things that you hadn’t necessarily considered when you were choosing the style that you thought you might like.
Having done the trial and had the opportunity to see it and experience it beforehand enables you to relax on your wedding day. You can just let your hair and make-up artist do their job while you focus on having fun, rather than being stressed about how it’s going to turn out.
It’s also a great day to schedule your engagement shoot, on the day of the trial.
That will allow you to see how that look photographs, because it’s not necessarily going to be the same as what you see in the mirror and it also gets you comfortable in front of the camera.
Additionally, it allows you to build some rapport with your vendors. I think that is huge. We’re the people who are going to spend your wedding day with you. You have to get along with, and have some kind of connection with, these people. Imagine if you had a make-up artist who was really sullen and quiet and didn’t speak. If that’s what you prefer, then that’s fine, but most people – you want a bit of rapport with your vendors.
How long do you recommend brides allow for hair and make-up on their wedding day?
I usually allow about 45 minutes for hair and about 45 minutes for make-up.
I’ve been doing this job a long time, so I can be quicker if I need to, but I work on that timing when I’m working out our schedule for the day. It gives me a buffer in case, God forbid, something goes wrong – we’ve got time to deal with that.
I’ve had all sorts of things happen. I have had fire alarms in hotels, I’ve had power going out. This, again, is how professionals are worth their weight in gold, because we’ve seen it all. We can adapt and overcome.
What are the upcoming hair and make-up trends for brides?
We’ve been seeing a lot of vintage, boho, flower crowns – things like that. I love a good flower crown – I think they’re awesome – but I think we’re going to start to go back to seeing something more polished. Polished, clean, classic beauty.
No one wants to look at their photos and go, as we all do – you got married in 1986. It’s such a distinctive era. Of course, everything dates, but if we can preserve our hair and make-up looks to be as timeless as possible, I think that’s a good thing.
Classic, timeless beauty never goes out of style. I try to encourage my brides to be the best version of themselves, not to try and look like someone different on their wedding day.
What are your tips for brides for their skin and hair care in the lead up to their wedding day?
My big tip for skin would be: don’t try anything new in the month before the wedding! You don’t want to risk a breakout on the weekend of the wedding. Whatever skin care you choose, one of the most essential things that you can do is to stay hydrated. Make a conscious effort to drink lots of water. Cleansing twice a day – morning and night. The toxins come out of our skin when we sleep at night, so cleansing in the morning is essential to get rid of those toxins, and cleansing again at night, and then moisturiser. For both hair and make-up, treatments in the month leading up to the wedding are essential.
Depending on your hair type, I suggest brides don’t do conditioning treatments in the week of the wedding, because it can make the hair quite soft and hard to style, but I love it when brides do lots of conditioning and moisturising leading up to the wedding. In the month before the wedding, or even when you start your wedding planning – the year out – start looking after your skin. Your hair and make-up – your photos will look ten times better if you’re not worried about those aspects.
If you do have a break out on the day, please don’t stress. We can’t change texture, but we can change colour, so If it’s red and looking angry – with foundation and tricks and tips for skin, we can cover all of that: please don’t stress about that.
How long before the wedding day should brides be looking to engage their hair and make-up artist?
If you have a particular person in mind for your hair and make-up, I would book them as soon as you book your venue. We tend to book out very early.
I have brides booking me a year in advance, particularly for busy, popular dates – May weekends and September weekends, particularly.
I would recommend that you book as soon as you have booked your venue and wedding photographer. I still have people messaging me three months out, or six months out from their day, but you take a risk because sometimes I’m booked. So, if you really have your heart set on someone, book them as soon as possible.
I only book one year in advance, not more, because that’s just my business practise.
I usually recommend booking the hair and make-up trial about four to six weeks before the wedding. Sometimes it can be earlier – especially if you are planning it for your engagement shoot – but sometimes I find that if it’s too early, you’ve got too much time to change your mind and you will change what you want. You’ll see an amazing hairstyle and really want to try that. Which is fine – I’m happy to do as many trials as you like, but we do charge for trials, so if cost is an issue, you don’t want to have ten hair and make-up trials before your wedding.
What hair and make-up issues do you find are increasingly important to brides?
We are definitely a lot more glamorous than we were ten years ago, as brides. If I think back to when I got married, even having a make-up artist wasn’t a huge thing, whereas these days, most people wouldn’t dream of not having a make-up artist.
Airbrushing. I think that airbrushing is absolutely flawless for weddings. The longevity is amazing. It is designed to last for 16+ hours. Sweat proof. Cry proof. Most brides have a little bit of a tear on their wedding day.
Lashes are huge. Ninety percent of my brides have lashes. I love a good natural lash for weddings. I don’t like anything too dramatic. It’s personal preference – if brides want dramatic lashes, I will give them to them. But I find they can create a shadow if they are too dramatic, and sometimes in a photograph all you see is a big undereye shadow from the lashes.
They need to lengthen and thicken your natural lashes without being too over the top. You want to have a lash that is comfortable to wear with a nice fine band that is not going to irritate you, but just open your eye up. And once again, that’s where a professional hair and make-up artist will recommend a lash style that suits your eye shape, rather than just banging on the biggest, thickest lashes they can find.
We did touch on this at the beginning, but do you recommend that brides research styles on Pinterest or is that more of a hindrance than a help?
I do like brides to have picked out at least one style – not too many, because as we were discussing earlier, having too many ideas can be detrimental, but so too can not having enough.
Brides should be aware, though, that Pinterest is an unrealistic view. Because often hairstyles are done for a shoot, and they look amazing – but they take a photograph and then that’s it. They don’t have to last. We have to build longevity into our styling, so we need a practical style, as well as something beautiful and ethereal and romantic and soft and wonderful. Be aware that what you’re looking at on Pinterest is often not real. It’s filtered. The make-up particularly, is so filtered. Everyone has pores on their face. Unless they’re just born.
Do you recommend that the bride and bridesmaids have matching make up, or would you rather see something suited to that individual person?
I would rather see a theme but suited to the individual. You can’t have someone who’s going with a dark smoky eye and purple lip and the next bridesmaid having soft natural pinks and chocolate browns. So, there needs to be a theme, but we still need to accommodate each person’s skin tones and eye shape and facial features within that.
I find most brides are quite open to their bridesmaids looking slightly different these days. We’re seeing a trend with different bridesmaids dresses too, with them not all wearing the same dress, because people are different sizes and shapes and heights and what looks great on one doesn’t necessarily look great on everyone. I suggest the same with hair and make-up. For example: braids. Let’s all have braids, but you can have one person with a braid with their hair down, or if someone’s got a shoulder length bob you can have beachy waves with a little braid on the side and the bridesmaid with hair to her waist and super thick hair might have an up-style with a braid on the side.
So it’s a theme but everyone’s not looking like clones.
How long have you been in the wedding hair and make-up industry and what changes have you seen in that time?
I have been doing wedding hair for 25 years and wedding make up for about ten years. I think that the biggest change that I’ve seen in that time is that everyone has a mobile service these days for hair and make-up. Once upon a time, we used to do wedding hair in the salon.
What do you think about the mobile service? How is that for you?
I think it’s wonderful. We offer a luxury service to our brides: it’s about them and they should be relaxed and comfortable on their day. Whether it’s a hotel, whether it’s the bride’s family home or the groom’s family home, an Air BNB or wherever we end up – the important thing is, if we’re on location, the bride can get on and do other things while we’re working on the rest of the party as well.
When you’re in the salon, there’s other people looking at you, they’ve got their regular, busy, Saturday morning clientele coming through the salon: no one particularly wants that on their wedding day. That’s probably one of the biggest changes I’ve seen in the last 25 years.
Brides have always been my passion. When I started my apprenticeship even, I knew that I was going to be a bridal artist from day one. I just always loved doing weddings. A lot of hairdressers don’t like doing weddings because hairdressing salons don’t see a lot of up-styling, whereas we do hundreds and hundreds of up-styles a year. Up-styling, down-styling, red carpet styling – all that kind of event work. Styling to last 16+ hours.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with brides about hair and make up for their wedding day?
Your wedding day should be relaxed, it should be fun and it should be one of the most memorable experiences of your life, so you really want to make sure that the person that you’re hiring is someone that is going to complement the aesthetic, the vibe that you want to create on your day. You want someone who is calm and also someone who is fun.
As a general wedding day tip – food! You need food on the wedding day! So many brides tell me that they had cereal at 5am on the wedding day and it’s now a quarter past 2 – they’ve had three glasses of champagne and they’re silly as a wheel. What I recommend is platters: food that people can pick at -nuts and little sushi rolls that don’t require two hands; that won’t ruin your make-up. You will need to eat. Your bridal party will need to have something to eat. Often weddings are late in the afternoon and you’re having a dinner that won’t start until 8pm and sometimes brides are so excited, they don’t even eat then. Even if it’s something really light – you must eat on the day.
And then what about the lipstick?
I always give my brides a touch-up lipstick. I always do touch ups before I leave, but I also always do leave a touch-up lipstick so that you’ve got something to touch up with.
The consummate professional.