Amy Higg Photography

The Best way to build your Bridal Beauty Business

One of the best ways to build your bridal beauty business is by networking with other industry professionals. Having a mutually beneficial referral relationship with other vendors in the wedding industry means more bookings for less effort finding them.  Often when I speak to makeup artists and hair stylists about being referred by photographers, they think it can’t happen because they don’t think they have anything to offer the photographer in return, they say that they can’t refer the photographer because he is usually booked before the makeup artist/hairstylist.  However, referring vendors isn’t the only way you can help them…

Remember that people do business with people they know, like and trust.  People ALSO refer people they know, like and trust.  So becoming that artist for a photographer, florist, wedding planner is really important. Being referred by someone the bride already knows, likes and trusts means you are already on your way to her enquiring and booking with you.

I’ve developed some amazing working relationships with photographers I have met at the wedding day preparations, which has led to them referring me to their brides. The best way to have photographers referring you is to make their job easier.  Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, ALWAYS have your bridal parties ready on time for the photographer. I remember when I was first starting out, and a very highly regarded photographer with a full trophy cabinet of awards called me to give me instruction on having the bridal party ready and I distinctly remember her saying “We don’t want anyone still with hot rollers in their hair or half their makeup done when we arrive”. I could have taken offence at someone trying to tell me how to do my job, but instead, I took it as a learning opportunity and made sure I did what she requested. This lead to her eventually referring a lot of her brides to me, because she knew I wouldn’t be eating into her photography time.  When a bride is paying thousands of dollars for her wedding photos, the photographer needs as much time as they have scheduled to get all those “getting ready” photos.

The very first wedding I ever did… July 2003

When you’re working out the wedding day schedule with the bride, firstly find out what time the photographer needs her ready, and work BACKWARDS from then to establish your start time. And don’t forget to allow AT LEAST 30 minutes as a buffer… more if you know there will be small children present. This way you will make sure you are finishing up in plenty of time for the photographer. Now, when you initially make the booking, or even at the trial, the bride may not know yet what time the photographer wants her ready, this is usually determined in their final meeting in the weeks just prior to the wedding.

If you haven’t worked with that particular photographer before, and you’re not familiar with how he likes to work, it’s a good idea to give him a call before the wedding, to ask about his schedule.  For some photographers the “ready by” time means finished hair & makeup, for others, it means the entire bridal party are dressed – and you don’t need to be around too many wedding prep mornings to learn that in can take up to 30 minutes to get a bride in her dress.

And the most recent… (Feb 2019)

Another reason to add that “buffer” time in, is because there will often be distractions during the morning  – like when the flowers arrive; its nice for all the girls to look at the flowers together and practice holding them. I love to tell the girl in my chair “Get up and go look at the flowers with the other girls”.   It’s a small thing, and it probably only costs 5-10 minutes, BUT it means a lot to the bridal party and the florist if she is delivering the flowers herself.  The last thing I want is for my bride and her bridal party to feel rushed. I always try to create a relaxed, stress free environment for them.

If the photographer is there in the room when the flowers arrive this is another way that you can add value to the photographer because he or she will be able to get some great shots of the entire bridal party checking out the flowers. The florist will also appreciate these photos too!  Speaking of florists you could help the florist out by taking a behind the scenes photo of their flowers and tagging them in any social media posts or Insta Stories that you do. I find with florist sites they usually just put pictures of the bouquet and not photos with the bridal party. So it’s really nice to tag them in your photos so they get to see the bridal party with the flowers as well.

When the photographer arrives, introduce yourself. I always speak to the photographer and let them know where I’m up to as often the photographer will arrive 30-60 minutes before he wants the bridal party ready, to take some shots of the flowers/dresses, jewellery and shoes etc. So I might say “This is the last bridesmaid in the chair, and then I will have everyone come back for touch-ups, so I’ll be done in 30 minutes.” The photographer will usually want to get a photo of the bride having her makeup done and nicer for the bride if it’s a “staged shot”, so she isn’t having a photo done with just half her makeup on, so I will ask the photographer if they would like to do that, and let him or her know when the bride is coming back to the chair for touch ups. For hairstylists, the big moment is when the veil is going in. Some brides and photographers like to have the hairstylist fitting the veil; others like to stage a shot with the bride’s mother or one of the bridesmaids fitting it.

bridal makeup, makeup artist, brisbane makeup artist
This is not a staged shot – I had just started this makeup.

At an appropriate moment (usually when I’ve finished and while the girls are getting dressed, so the photographer is standing around for a moment too), I will ask for his or her card, and offer them one of mine.  I’m finding more and more though, that people aren’t carrying business cards now. If that’s the case, I ask for their Instagram handle, pull out my phone and follow them right away.  After the wedding I will send them an email saying it was nice to meet them, ask how the hair and makeup lasted throughout the day (because, you know, we learn through feedback!) and tell them I’d love to work with them again. You’d be surprised how few artists bother to do this, and what amazing results you’ll have if you do.

I’ve seen a lot of makeup artists complaining in the forums about struggling to get images of their bridal parties. If you build up rapport and establish a relationship with the photographer, you have a much better chance of him providing you with photos, or even tagging you in his Social Media posts. These days its easy to follow (stalk) the photographer on social media, and get your photos from there, however, I still believe you should always ask permission before sharing photos or copying them from the photographers social media profiles.

Remember the photographer is under no obligation to provide photos to you, and if they do it is a huge favour. He may have taken over 1000 images on the wedding day, and you are asking him to go back through those photos to select a couple that best show off your work. Your portfolio is your resume, and investing in your portfolio is a smart move. I believe it was Sir Richard Branson who said: “You’ve got to spend money to make money”. Offering to pay for images is sometimes good business… if you’ve got a stunning bride and a good photographer, you may book tens or hundreds of brides if those images raise the level of your portfolio.

Lastly, always credit the photographer. Always. In your social media, and in your website. Often wedding photographers will watermark their images, which, while frowned upon in the commercial/editorial world, is very acceptable in the wedding industry. Don’t crop out their watermark… So long as it’s not right across the bride’s face, its no harm to you, and remember, if you look after the photographer, they just might refer their future brides to you!

I hope you got value from these tips, feel free to share this post, and comment below with any questions you might have.

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Photo Credits:

(unknown) – my first wedding – before I knew how important networking was!!
Amy Higg Photography
Tom Hall Photography  thank you for all the referrals over the years!!

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