Why You Shouldn't Require Your Wedding Party to Have Professional Hair & Makeup

We know everyone wants to look their best on their wedding day, and we know you want your wedding day squad to feel beautiful and pampered. Sometimes, we assume that the only want to make “beautiful” happen is with the help of hair and makeup services, but it’s important to note that not all members of your wedding party may feel comfortable getting their hair and makeup professionally done for your big day.

So, we posed the question to our vendors: “Should you require your wedding party to get their hair and makeup done for your wedding?” Here’s what they had to say.

Obviously, we at Catalyst and all of our vendors are approaching this topic already believing that terms like “bride,” “groom,” “bridesmaid,” and “groomsmen” aren’t inclusive enough to cover the variety of gender identities of people getting married. More and more, even if the couple is cisgender and hetero, there’s no need to force their friends and family who they have chosen to stand with them on their wedding day to fall into gendered groups. So out of the gate, we want to stress that we need to drop these terms. Now, back to the styling!

First, Stop Thinking About Hair and Makeup Styling As Something Only Women Want

I’ve seen (and been a part of) many weddings where hair and makeup styling was considered an unspoken necessity for all female members of the wedding party, but no one ever gave any attention to the male members of the wedding party. Any time we use gender to divide up our loved ones into groups, we risk alienating people. For the majority of this article, we are going to talk about hair and makeup services as something that applies to ALL members of your wedding party, regardless of gender identity. We ALL get pimples, dry skin, and the occasional stray hair that we may not want to show up in wedding day photos. Consider this carefully when hiring your hair and makeup stylist and avoid jumping to the conclusion that only women want to look their best in wedding photos.

Give Guidelines & Make Sure Everyone Knows that Hair and Makeup Services Are Optional

If you’ve decided to hire a hair or makeup artist to help you and your wedding party look your best on your wedding day, make sure you discuss this with your wedding party ahead of time and let them know that this service is completely optional. If you are thinking of forcing your wedding party into utilizing professional hair and makeup services, you may want to think again.

“Respecting everyone's personal expression (including, but especially gender expression) means you shouldn't dictate what anyone does with their face or hair.” says St. Louis wedding planner Cindy Savage of Aisle Less Traveled, though she stresses that it is okay to provide some guidelines if you want your wedding party to adhere to a certain style or look. For example, she says you could give guidelines such as, “‘If you're wearing makeup, please do a natural look, nude lip, dramatic color, or whatever general aesthetic you are going for’ or ‘Please don't use any hair accessories’ or ‘If you have long hair, please wear an updo.’" These types of guidelines allow your wedding party to still choose how they express themselves, but keeps everyone looking cohesive.

Support Your Wedding Party in Feeling Like Their Most Joyful Selves

The important thing is to ensure that no one is being made to feel uncomfortable by being forced to get their hair and makeup done. “The purpose of hair and makeup artist on a special occasion is to allow everyone to feel pampered, comfortable and confident,” says Virginia photographer Tyler Adams of The Girl Tyler. “So, if they feel best with a naked face and ponytail, embrace it! You invited that person to be part of your wedding party because you love them as they are.”

Photographer Raquita Henderson of Pinxit Photography in St. Louis also encourages couples to be more focused on their relationships than on how their wedding party is going to look. “You know which of your friends are cool with makeup and which are not, just like you know which of your friends will be okay wearing a dress and which you should maybe let wear a suit. I think brides’ focus for their wedding parties shouldn't so much be uniformity in look, but choosing people who are uniformity in joy for the new journey the couple is starting.”

And because you want to ensure that everyone is feeling joyful on your wedding day, be sure that you don’t center activities around hair and makeup services too much, especially during the hours leading up to the wedding ceremony. “When I planned my wedding, I offered this as a gift to our friends on the wedding day,” says Connecticut photographer Teresa Johnson. “Some opted out, but we planned it as a fun day with lunch, snacks, etc., so hair and makeup wasn’t the central focus, and nobody felt left out if they chose not to participate. Ultimately, the most important thing is making memories with people you love, and making anyone go through professional hair and makeup services might actually backfire. If people are feeling pressured or feel like they don’t look like themselves, the photos will preserve that discomfort, too.”

If You Make Hair & Makeup Services Available, Be Sure to Hire an Artist Who Knows How to Make Everyone Feel Like Themselves

“I truly believe that if one is investing in professional photography for the event to invest in professional makeup and hair styling, as well,” says hair and makeup artist Latia Curtis of South Carolina. “This does not mean you need to make everyone into someone who they are not. A good makeup artist will ensure things like sweaty foreheads, unkempt hair, pimples, or general bad makeup is not seen in photos. A good makeup artist will help someone's special features SHINE.”

It’s also equally important that you hire hair and makeup artists who have skill and experience working with clients with a variety of hair textures and skin tones. Many times, this is completely overlooked by stylists who primarily work with white clients.

“I have had so many non-POC bride's make a special note ‘My bridesmaid is African American. Can you do this? We've had challenges before...’” says Latia Curtis. “Nothing gives me greater joy than to say ‘I GOT CHU. I keep a kit covering Sweden to Sudan...’" But not all hair and makeup artists are as inclusive as Latia, so look closely at the portfolios of possible stylists to ensure that no one will be made to feel uncomfortable when your makeup artist suddenly doesn’t have foundation that matches your skin tone.

Finally, If You Insist on Having Your Wedding Party Use Professional Hair & Makeup Services, Be Prepared to Pay for It

We’ve talked before about the financial strain that weddings put on all those involved, but this is just another example where it’s important to remember that not everyone is in a financial situation where they can foot the $50-150 cost of a professional hair and makeup artist.

”Professional hair and makeup are expensive. Requiring it may be a strain on your wedding party members' budgets,” says Cindy Savage. “You can offer it, but be clear about the cost and make it optional. If it's really important to you, plan to pay for the entire wedding party’s hair and makeup yourself.”

This article is a followup to “Should You Really Tell Your Wedding Party What to Wear?


Jen Siomacco is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Catalyst Wedding Co. She works to mesh together her love of feminism, love stories, accessibility, equality, and design into the Catalyst brand. When she’s not traveling the country working to make the wedding industry a more inclusive place, she’s writing on her couch and snuggled up with her husband and SUPER lazy cats.

Photo by Tiffany Josephs Photography