Bridal Trials – Are they Necessary?

If you’re a makeup artist or hairstylist working in the bridal industry, you’ll be very familiar with doing a trial for your bride.   I’ve noticed a growing trend towards my Formal (prom) girls having a trial, and this year, for the first time, I’m also getting booked to do mum’s makeup for the formal, and mums are wanting trials too!

Lately I’ve been reading posts in Facebook groups with artists saying they INSIST on their brides having a trial.  I also hear other educators teaching this too.  I’ve always offered trials to my brides, and while I do recommend they have one, it is completely optional.

I started my career doing weddings in Tropical North Queensland, a real destination wedding hot-spot (pardon the pun!)  As the vast majority of my brides were travelling from out of town, I probably only did trials for around 10% of my clients…  I just learned to work that way.

In this blog post, you’ll learn why I DON’T insist my brides have a trial, what I believe the purpose of a trial is, when is the best time to have a trial, and how to incorporate trials into your business.

Firstly:  what is a trial?  On the surface, the point of a trial is for your bride (or formal/deb/prom client – but for the purposes of this post, let’s just use the term bride) to test out the makeup or hairstyle design you create together.  That is, for her to see how you work, and to make sure she is happy with the makeup and/or hair look, and that it lasts all day.

Realistically though, a trial goes a lot deeper.  On the morning of her big day, your client is likely to be hyper-sensitive, after all, this day is the culmination of months (maybe years) of planning, and she wants to ensure everything is just as she dreamed it.  You will be spending a significant amount of time with her during her preparations, and be getting right up in her personal space.

So there is the emotional/psychological aspect of a trial that is important too.  Does she like you?  Are you the sort of person she wants to have around on one of the most important days of her life?

As I always say, our job is a lot more than just putting products on faces, or manipulating strands of hair, and we are selling so much more…  a big part of what we are selling is a FEELING…  so a trial is a great opportunity for our client to be re-assured about that aspect of our service too.  Knowing that she will be relaxed and stress-free, confident in our ability not only to recreate the look of her dreams but also in our ability to get it done in good time, and be a pleasant person while we are at it!


So, as makeup artists and hairstylists, why would we want to do a trial, and why do some artists INSIST on a trial?  What’s in it for us?

I believe for a lot of artists, particularly those newer artists, they too like the feeling of security, of knowing when they arrive on the wedding day, they already have the look sorted and know the bride isn’t a complete psycho.

If you’ve done a trial, you’ve had a chance to chat to the bride about the bridal party and can make any necessary kit or time adjustments to allow for clients skin tone, skin types or hair types that might not be what you are usually used to working with.

One of the other big advantages of doing a trial for us as makeup artists and hairstylists is the additional income.  I hear artists being annoyed at being asked to do formal trials!  That makes no sense to me!  Sure, you want to book me for an additional appointment?  Go right ahead!!



OK, hands up who has turned up on the wedding day (or received an email between the trial and the wedding day) and heard “I really love what you did at the trial, BUT…” and then a whole list of things she wants to change.  Like, its now an upstyle not down with curls!  Or that her mum didn’t like the smokey eye and red lip and has talked her into going for a more natural look.  Or her husband to-be doesn’t like her with makeup on and recoiled when he saw her after the trial… or one of 100 other reasons meaning that you’re back to square one and doing something completely different.

It happens ALL the time. I always re-assure my clients saying “Oh that’s absolutely fine, and this is the reason we do a trial, so you can get to see what you DON’T like!!”

As a professional working makeup artist or hairstylist, you should be able to create any look that is asked of you.  Your kit MUST contain foundations for every conceivable skintone (or, you need to have the ability to custom blend the correct foundation using colour adjusters and other products in your kit).

If you work (or have any aspirations of working) as an editorial or commercial makeup artist, in TV or with celebrities, you certainly won’t get the opportunity to do a trial then, so you need to be confident in your abilities to communicate adequately with your client to create the look they want.  (And this has gotten SOOOO much easier now we have smart-phones!) Communication is the corner-stone of our business.  What’s a “natural look” to one person is Kim K to another!

And then there’s the issue of what is best for your client.  If your client is coming in from out of town, if she has a crazy schedule in the lead up to her wedding/event, or if she’s totally chill about her look, a trial might be very low on her priority list, and you insisting on her having a trial could jeopardize your good working relationship.

It’s for this reason that I like to say “A trial is recommended but not necessary.  If you choose not to have a trial, I am confident I can create your dream look on the day” and I just add a little extra buffer time in case we need to do tweaks.


I recently read a post where an artist said she insists her brides have their trial within the two weeks prior to the wedding.  Like most of the other artists who responded to that post, I believe that is way too close to the wedding date.  Her logic was that she would forget what she had done if it was any further out. (Thankfully someone in the post recommended she use Bridal Beauty Pro App, as the best way to keep all her bride’s details and trial notes & photos together for easy recall on the wedding day).

I always recommend my brides have their trial at least 4-6 weeks before their wedding.  By that time they should have finalised their dress, flowers & jewellery, so we can ensure the look we create works in harmony with those.  But this is enough time should we need to address any issues like needing an eyebrow shape, and to remind her not to have any facials close to the wedding.  If I’m styling hair, it’s also enough time to organise clip-in extensions if they are required for the look she wants.


Ultimately, remember that a trial is a service for your bride.  It is designed to give her peace of mind, to be sure about the look she has chosen, and to feel comfortable working with you on one of the most important days of her life.


Do you insist on your brides having a trial?  I’d love to hear your thoughts…


If you want to be more organised on your brides’ wedding days, check out Bridal Beauty Pro – the best solution for keeping all your bride’s wedding details, trial notes and photos in one place. Sign up now for a FREE 30-day trial!


This week’s images supplied by Makeup Mastermind member Sophie Johnson Makeup Artist.  You can see more of Sophie’s work on her INSTAGRAM PAGE @sophiejohnson.mua

Photographer @underthefigtree__
Model- @tylapearl
Hair stylist @tanzgaragehairstudio
Flowers @arusticaffairfloraldesigns

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