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10 Beauty Tips for Brides on a Budget

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The hair. The makeup. The nails. When it comes to getting married, the price of beauty can go sky high. Up-dos start at around $80 and can top $100, says Ashley Reynolds, owner of Make My Day Event Planning in Lewes. Hair extensions boost the price another $50 or more. Many brides do a test run with the stylist or makeup artist, which is another $50. That’s $200 or more just on the hair—not counting cut and color.

Janice Sullivan of Wilmington, however, didn’t pay a penny. Her stylist at the time was an invited guest, who offered her services as a wedding gift. Sullivan, who favors a natural look, did her own nails and makeup. “I wanted to save money,” she says.

To be sure, cutting wedding costs is a benefit of the DIY approach. But there are other reasons to take matters into your own hands. After lessons from a pro, Kate Middleton did her own makeup. Apparently, the outdoorsy princess wanted to be sure that William would recognize her at the altar. 

Granted, you needn’t do it all alone. Here are some beauty tips that will help you save money on primping.

Ask a friend

We all know someone who’s talented at applying makeup or who can create hairstyles with ease. Get together with this polished pal to practice. Share your vision and thumb through magazines so you can show him or her the look you like. Like Sullivan, you may also know someone who is a stylist. Don’t expect a gift in addition to the contribution, particularly if he or she is a professional. Their service is enough.

Visit department-store makeup counters

Because Sullivan’s bridal registry was at Macy’s, she received a free makeup session for her rehearsal dinner. “I bought the lipstick and eye shadow, and my bridesmaids, who were at Macy’s with me, helped me re-create the look the next day,” she says.

A number of brands offer free makeovers

Schedule several with a rep from your favorite brand in advance of the wedding. Ask questions while the artist or sales associate is applying the products, and use your phone camera to capture the makeover at various stages of the process.

Ask about group rates at the salon

If you and your bridesmaids are planning to use professional services, see if the salon offers group discounts, particularly if you schedule certain services—such as pedicures and manicures—during off times.

Hold a practice party

Turn a shower or bachelorette event into a party, where you can practice your technique. Hold it either at the salon or in a private home. Consider inviting a sales associate with a national brand, such as Mary Kay, which specializes in parties.

Be a coupon clipper

Stores and online sites, including Sephora and Ulta, often feature special promotions with free products or discounts. Department-store brands may also give away gifts with a purchase. In advance of the wedding, start assembling the products you need.

Visit a cosmetology school

While students are practicing, you’re gathering some good tips. Just don’t go on the big day; you’ll want to take the school for a test drive first. 

Borrow

While you won’t want to use a friend’s mascara, you may wish to borrow the hairpiece that looked so fetching on her at her wedding. Or, ask to use the bottle of pricey Chanel nail polish she purchased a few months ago.

Go to the pro

Brides who want the stylist or makeup artist to visit the hotel or home are paying plenty for that benefit. “Travel fees start at $150 for stylists to come out of the salon,” Reynolds notes. See the pro in the salon or shop on your wedding day instead.

Kill two birds with one stone

There are professionals who do multiple services—hair and makeup or makeup and nails. He or she may charge less than if you booked two or three separate people.

Clearly, saving money is always a plus. However, don’t skimp on hair color or cut. Most planners also recommend trial runs. But the practice sessions still present a thrifty opportunity. Schedule them before your bachelorette party, so you can paint the town red in style.