Destination Weddings – How to quote them

So, you’ve just been asked to quote a destination wedding.  How exciting!  Can you already taste that cocktail on the beach?

Getting flown to some exotic tropical island or gorgeous European city, or heck, anywhere that isn’t here is a major milestone in any freelance makeup artist or hairstylist’s career.

But before you get your passport dusted off and start thinking about how to pack your kit, you’ve got to GET the job!

You might be unsure how to quote, because of course, it’s not just about the hair & makeup, there’s so many other things to consider too.

Rather watch the video?


Before you quote, here’s a couple of things to consider:

Can you legally work in the country your bride wants to fly you to?  The answer is most probably NO, so you will need to be a little careful when you’re filling out your official immigration documents on the plane, or applying for your visa.  Most destination wedding makeup artists get around this by saying they are going for a holiday and attending someone’s wedding, and if asked about their kit when going through customs, will say the bride is a friend/family member and they are doing her makeup as a favour to their friend.

Secondly, does your insurance cover you when you are working in a foreign country?  You may be able to insure your kit on your travel insurance policy, but what about your public and products liability insurance?  It might be worth a call to your insurance company or broker to check – you may be able to get an endorsement for that trip. Anything for peace of mind, right?

Once you’ve got those boring legalities sorted, then there’s the pricing.

I often read posts in the forums where artists get so excited about being flown to a destination wedding they are considering discounting their rates.

Let’s be absolutely clear here:  someone who is flying overseas to get married is NOT a budget bride.

I began my career doing destination weddings.  I’ve done over 300 of them.  I KNOW destination brides!  While there may be some thoughts of saving money on the reception by inviting fewer people, they are already spending more money on flights, accommodation, hire cars, etc etc…

So don’t think you need to discount just because you get to go to some amazing tropical location.

There is a reason the bride is asking you to quote:  she doesn’t want to trust her face to someone in a foreign country who might not even speak the same language, on the most important day of her life. This is probably the day she will be most photographed ever!

She can always rely on Uncle Bill and his fancy camera if the local photographer is crap (or doesn’t show up – one of my favourite regular clients first booked me to do her makeup here in Brisbane as she was having a post-wedding photoshoot after her destination wedding photographer didn’t show up on the day!), but it’s not like she can just pop down to the MAC counter if she doesn’t like what the local artist did, even if she did have time.

So charge your usual rates for the actual makeup and hairstyles, or, you can offer to charge her a day rate and follow her around for the photoshoot and to the beginning of the reception.  I have done this many times, particularly when brides were concerned about the longevity of their hairstyle and makeup in the humidity of a tropical climate.

Then there are the supplementary costs.

Obviously the bride needs to pay for your flight, and transfers from the destination airport to the wedding location.

You are probably going to need to stay at the location, so the bride should cover at least 2 nights accommodation – the night before the wedding and the night of the wedding.  Don’t accept her accommodating you in a cheaper hotel down the road.  You don’t need to be worried about getting from one hotel to another with your kit.  She should accommodate you in the same hotel or resort where she is staying. And make sure you get your own room!  You don’t want to be staying with a single bridesmaid or one of the other vendors she’s flown in.  I got flown to a destination wedding once where I had to share a room with the hairstylist – she snored…

If you need to pay for parking at your home airport while you are away, she should pay for that too.

Of course while you’re travelling and working on her wedding, you can’t be taking on any other jobs, so you should charge her for those travel days too, either a half or full day rate.

Invariably when the talk of destination weddings comes up, someone asks about staying longer.  The reality is, when you go to a location to work, you don’t really have any time for sightseeing.  If you want to stay on for a bit longer, that’s great, but you should pay for your own accommodation over the night’s required by the bride.


Make sure you keep receipts for EVERYTHING you pay for, food, taxis, Ubers; and your credit card statements (showing the exchange rates).  Your accountant may be able to get these expenses accepted as tax deductions, or at least claim a “living away from home” allowance – depending on where you reside for tax purposes.


So, with all that said and done… get that quote out, start downsizing your kit, and start thinking about that cocktail on the beach!!