The really short answer here is that the average falls around $300 (in the U.S.).
More locally (Charlotte is the closest with these stats to Asheville), brides paid an average of $325, with the typical bracket being between $150-$600.
Now I did a little digging myself, for numbers closer to Asheville, NC. I researched 12 different studios and salons that choose to publish their rates (by the way, this usually means they are slightly more budget friendly - many don’t publish rates for a reason). I took an average of their rates for bridal hair and makeup services. The average cost for hair and makeup, with a trial, was $401.67.
I tried to be as consistent as possible, but many of these studios offer varying levels of services included - some have additional fees if your wedding is on a Sunday, one had a bridal minimum of $750 (even though bridal hair was only $350 -- a push for brides to get bridesmaids’ hair done as well), some charged extra for lashes, added fees if they had to be there before 8am, less or more according to how long your hair is, etc.
So, the most accurate answer to how much bridal hair and makeup costs is (and you probably saw this coming), it depends.
I know. But you wanted the real answer, right?
What does it depend on? What add ons or services make it jump sky-high or stay within a smaller budget? These questions will help you decide whether you want a professional to do your bridal hair and makeup, and can even help you decide what style you want (if you’re working within a budget).
Let’s go over some of the factors and options that will change the price of your wedding hair and makeup.
This is a double whammy. When I say location, I mean two things.
First, getting your hair and makeup done in Lincoln, Nebraska, costs less than it would if you’re getting it done in Manhattan. Just as the cost of living changes according to where you live, so does hair and makeup. It’s the going rate of things.
How much it costs to live somewhere partially determines what people charge…also how jobs determine what they’ll pay their employees. It’s the same thing.
The second part of location, and something that you can actually change without uprooting your entire life, is if you’ll have your stylist and makeup artist (sometimes the same person) on site, or if you’ll go to their studio.
Having your stylist and makeup artist actually come to you can be really nice. It’s one less stop to make before the wedding. It’s comfortable. It’s easy. It’s fun and a treat (when else do you do it?). And, it can add more money to your final bill.
Some stylists and makeup artists don’t charge extra for mobile hair and makeup; this is pretty wonderful, and something you can ask about (or look for) when looking around.
Some people also opt to have their makeup artist and/or stylist stick around for touch ups after the ceremony. This is usually an hourly cost, with a wide range. I’ve seen stylists charge an hourly rate of $30-$125 per hour.
#2 THE KIND OF STYLE.
Maybe this is a no-brainer, but think about what you want. Are you waffling between a beachy, natural, half-up do, half flowing locks kind of look, or a crazy fancy up-do that requires hair extensions and hours of construction?
Pondering whether to go more natural, or sultry, smokey vixen using airbrush makeup?
The complexity of your style and makeup can absolutely affect the price.
If you’re working within a budget, you can ask your stylist what are the simpler, more cost-effective styles that would work well for you. Techniques that typically cost more are:
- Hair extensions (usually about $200-$600; clip in around $100-$200)
- Complicated up-dos (usually add $50 more than a blow out style)
You can also discuss this with your makeup artist. The typical factors that consistently add cost to makeup are:
- Airbrush makeup (add at least $50)
- Using non-toxic, “cleaner” makeup (this is still pretty novel and unusual, so not a great average available. If this is important to you, you may be able to supply the makeup artist with what you want to use, although you’d have to ask about this when consulting with them)
- Fake eyelashes and lash extensions (adding anywhere from $15-$200)
A special little note here: there are legitimitate extra charges for services that will take more time and more effort. There is also so much pressure for perfection in hair and makeup on a wedding day that additional time is spent on making everything perfect and everything last well through the night.
That being said, there is something called the “wedding tax.” Sometimes, services can be pumped up in price simply because it’s a wedding. While there is extra precision and care for, say, a bride on her wedding day compared to a daughter attending her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, sometimes it’s excessively slapped on.
If a price seems like too much for what you’re getting, shop around.
#3 HAVING A TRIAL RUN.
I’m honestly all for trial runs, if you can swing the price. A trial run is going through the hair and/or makeup ahead of time. This helps you see if what you have in mind, and what your stylist and makeup artist have in mind, are in fact the same thing.
This also gives you a chance to tweak what you thought you wanted and what actually works really well for you and your hair type, skin type, facial structure, etc.
It basically lets the air out of the giant balloon of stress you may be having of wondering how you’ll look on your wedding day.
Trial runs usually come with an added fee of $50-$150, depending on the studio.
Quick tip? Bring pictures, loads of them! Pinterest will be your best friend, if it’s not already. Different angles and expressions of what you’re looking for speak volumes to your stylist and makeup artist.
Yep, doing your research and making those phone calls sooner rather than later is going to help your budget. And honestly? It’s going to help you feel better to have this locked down anyway.
Early Start Fees are usually assessed if it’s kind of a last minute thing, as well as Holiday Fees, if your date is on or around a holiday.
What’s last minute?
This varies by the salon, but usually you want to be planned *at least* 3 months ahead of time, if not more. I’d err on the side of caution and plan ahead at least 4 months, if possible. The world of weddings can be intense and booked far out -- you’ve probably already noticed this if you did any planning with a venue.
If you want the best deal, as well as the stylist and makeup artist of your choice, book as far out as you can. Most hair and makeup studios will happily book out a year in advance.
Once you know the date, start setting up your hair and makeup (consultations, trials, then the actual day).
Just as you do when you get your hair cut and colored at the salon, it’s also normal (and polite) to tip your hair stylist and makeup artist.
It also follows the same rule as you might follow when you get your hair done. If you’re happy with how it all turned out, consider tipping between 15-25%.
This goes for the entire bill, whether it’s just bridal hair and makeup that was done, or bridal plus bridesmaids, mothers of the bride/groom, etc. Which leads us to...
#6 THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE.
There are some other options we haven’t talked about yet, like additional people getting hair and makeup done (bridesmaids, mothers of the bride or groom, and flower girls). The more people are getting hair and makeup, the more, of course, it will cost.
If brides require their bridesmaids to get hair and makeup done, usually the bride (or brides’ parents, or whoever is paying) will cover the cost.
Some brides like to offer hair and/or makeup as a bridesmaid gift, as well. Otherwise, bridesmaids may elect to get hair and/or makeup done, and pay for it themselves.
IS THERE ANOTHER WAY?
Another option some stylists and makeup artists offer is a styling or makeup lesson. This is where you can go in, almost like a trial, and the stylist or makeup artist teaches you how to get the look you’re wanting.
This is an option for those needing some help, but maybe not wanting to pay for getting it all done.
All in all, you’ve got a lot of options that can affect the price of your bridal hair and makeup.
I’d suggest sitting down before hopping online and looking at everyone’s website, and envisioning yourself on your wedding day. What are a few things that pop into your mind? Do you see your hair flowing? Do you see long, accentuated lashes, or do bright couture-inspired lips pop into your head first?
Sit quietly with yourself for a minute before entering all the noise and people pulling you towards their Pinterest ideas (I mentioned earlier it will be your best friend...it can also be a frenemy!).
This is an exciting time, and it ought to be fun! Follow the thread of what inspires you, who you feel really comfortable with, and what will make your day easier for you to enjoy.
It’s an investment, and one that offers a gigantic return for your special day.
Jeanne's Hair and Makeup Studio speacializes in Bridal Hair and Makeup in and around Asheville and Western North Carolina. For our specific pricing and services, visit our Bridal Hair and Makeup page or contact us to setup a trial.