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  • Writer's pictureLauren O MUA

Get The Most From Your Bridal Trial

Image of inside Lauren O's studio with makeup chair and ring light

Your trial is a must-have for any bride-to-be, helping decide not only your overall look but all the product, preparations and planning that will ensure you look beautiful on your big day and that everything runs like clockwork. If you've got your trial coming up - or if you're still not sure why you need one - read on to find out how to get the best out of your appointment!


Most brides-to-be understand the need for a bridal trial - after all, you're not going to walk down the aisle without trying your dress on first, so why would you wait til the day itself to know what your makeup or hair is going to look like? But whereas we've all stepped into a changing room to try clothes on before, many people haven't ever had their makeup or hair done for an event, let alone had a makeup trial, and so how do you know what to expect? And how do you make sure you get the best from your experience? Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you get everything you want from your bridal trial - as well as what to expect if you're booking with me!


I work with a lot of brides who aren't necessarily big makeup wearers or are worried that they will end up looking like a different person with their wedding makeup. Whilst I'd like to say one of my specialities is helping everyone to feel comfortable with their makeup and creating a look that is 'your best self' whilst still feeling like you, if you are nervous about your makeup do let your artist know. It can be a good idea to wear your usual makeup to your trial if you want to – this will give your artist an idea of your normal ‘comfort level’ of makeup. If you have sensitive skin that can get irritated by taking your makeup on and off, or if you don’t want to put on a full face just to have it taken off again, then by all means leave your face bare, but it's a good idea to bring some pictures of yourself with makeup you've worn before to give your artist a benchmark to start with. Likewise if you have any favourite makeup products you would consider part of your 'signature' look, take them with you to give your artist an idea of colours or finishes to incorporate. Lip colour is also the one product you will likely need to reapply during the day, so if you have a favourite you'd like to wear, or would like your artist's help in sourcing a new product for you to buy to wear on the day, bring it along!

Prep Your Outfit

I would recommend wearing a similar coloured top or outfit to the one you are wearing on your big day – make up can ‘pop’ differently against different colours so it’s an idea to be able to see your look against the same colour. Likewise if your dress has details like a low back or a strapless or off the shoulder style, try and mirror this kind of neckline when trying both makeup and hair. Different hair styles can compliment different cuts and can look very different against bare skin vs fabric.

If you have any hair pins, a tiara or accessories you are wearing on your day, do bring them to your hair trial so they can be tested together. As you can see from the picture on the right the same hair style can look very different with and without accessories.

If you haven’t bought your hair accessories yet, or aren't sure if you want them, I keep a selection of different style pins and combs to hand so you can see what your hair looks like with a bit of bling.

For a hair trial I'd always recommend washing your hair the day before and avoid using excessive styling products, dry shampoo etc which can effect how the hair styles. This also gives you one less thing to fit into your day! If you're a naturally curly girl and want to use your curls in your style by all means use your usual serums or curl creams once you've washed your hair, just try not to use any products that will leave a cast on the hair such as mousse, gel or hairspray.

Be Inspired But Be Open

Most of us love a good Pinterest board for picking everything from table centres to our eyeliner, so if you've got a collection of hair or makeup inspiration pictures do take them to your appointment, but be prepared to use these as a mood board, and not an end product. I always explain to my brides that it's best to use any images as a jumping off point for creating your own bespoke look as that takes into account your chosen colours, styles and finishes but also makes them work best with your own complexion, features, hair length and texture, and personal style. With so many images online relying on tricks of the trade, be it great lighting, photoshop, or just four hours in makeup and two packs of hair extensions, trust your artist to create the best look that works for you in real life. Which also means, don’t worry if you can’t find any pictures that are exactly what you want! As long as you have some idea of a direction - for example hair up vs down, whether you'd like curls or waves, more natural makeup vs a full glam, you've got a starting point. In a bridal trial I will ask you to tell me everything from your venue, outfit style, flower colours and theme to help me create a look that will truly suit everything about your big day.

leave room to learn

Bearing in mind this will be the first time your artist has seen you in person, sometimes there will be elements to your look that in the trial that won't be 100% how it will be on the day. For example if you have dryness or skin texture this can show through your foundation on your trial but there is always skincare advice you can use before the day to help remedy this, or your artist can amend their skincare prep. Likewise if you have your heart set on a certain hair style that doesn't quite work with your hair length or thickness during your trial your artist can always make changes in time for the day such as adding extensions or padding, or prepping the hair differently. The point in your trial is for you and your artist not only to get to know each other, but to get to know your skin, hair, features and style and to test what works so that everything goes right on the day.

Give Yourself Time!

Don't rush your bridal trial! The whole point in a trial is so that you and your artist can come away knowing you've planned your look for your big day and you're both happy about it. I always allow at least 2 hours for a single appointment (more for a combined trial) to give us time to have a chat about what you're looking for, try out the look, and make any tweaks and changes until we get it right. If you don't like a lip colour, want to change an eyeliner, or try more than one hair style - let your artist know! They might nail your look first time, or you might want to try a few variations - this doesn't mean that they or you have done anything wrong, it's just all part of the process, so make sure you've both got enough time to do this without feeling rushed.

Don't Overwhelm yourself with opinions

We've all seen those episodes of Say Yes To The Dress where the poor bride-to-be brings 8 people with her to her to pick 'the one' and everyone has a different idea of what she should be trying on - not to mention those awful moments where the bride's face falls as a dress she absolutely adores gets met with disparaging comments from the entourage! For this reason some artists might ask you to come to your trial alone. I am happy for you to bring someone with you, especially if you are nervous about the experience or you really want a second opinion, but I'd always recommend choosing just one or two trusted friends or family members that you feel are on your wavelength. It is nice to have someone reassure you about your choices and be honest with you but at the end of the day the person that needs to feel happy and beautiful is only YOU, so pick someone who will make your experience fun and not fraught.

Make The Most Of Your Makeup

I always give my brides the option of trying to tie their trial in with another event - be it a date night, party or engagement shoot - so you get to make the most of your look. You could also arrange your trial on the same day as a dress fitting to give you the chance to see your entire look all together, or if you are booking different artists for your hair and makeup, see if you can book your trials on the same day so that you can view your look as a whole. Of course if you don't have anything special lined up it's just as much fun to wear your makeup round Sainsbury's for the afternoon, but if you have planned to go out afterwards or have another appointment just let your artist know and make sure you've given yourself enough time to get from one to the other. I'll always happily give your look a quick tweak at the end, such as changing a lip colour or adding a bit of sparkle or smokey liner, so you can make the most of your night out or your pictures without wearing exactly the same makeup as your big day.

So what does it look like when you book a bridal trial with me? Well for starters you'll get to have a cosy few hours in the 'pink palace' I call my makeup studio. As any makeup artist will tell you, our kit is usually something that would give Marie Antointette a case of the green-eyed-monster - with different primers and powders for different skin types, foundations for a wide range of shades and coverage, and enough blushers, eyeshadows and lipsticks to stock a small branch of Boots. Add in the ring light, makeup chair, plethora of hair styling tools and accessories, and it's not really what you'd call mobile, which is why I host trials here rather than travelling to you. Once your trial is complete and your look is decided on I can streamline my kit into something that's much easier to bring to your venue on the day - of course I will always bring extra options with me but it's not going to be a full chest of drawers to travel with! For brides within the local area for whom travelling really isn't an option, or if you're getting married in this area but live elsewhere then I can always find a work around so don't feel excluded! Just send me a message to discuss what you need.

During your appointment we're going to chat about everything that goes into creating your look from the practical points like your skin type and the time of year you're getting married to the more fun stuff like your outfit, your flowers and your theme, before getting down to actually applying the look. At that point the conversation may well pivot to anything from pets to your plans for the day and random puns. If I haven't already talked your ear off before your trial then as well as trying out your wedding look this is also your chance to really get to know me and make sure you're comfortable. Being with you as you get ready for your wedding means it's not only my job to make you *look* beautiful, but to help you feel happy and enjoy your morning too, and I take this part as seriously as I do your makeup and hair!

Once we've finalised your look everything will be recorded with a face chart and pictures, making a note of all the products and shades that have been used, and then we can discuss what your day will look like. If you have other members of the wedding party having their hair or makeup done who aren't having a trial we'll talk about what kind of looks you are hoping for, and what time everyone needs to be ready, so it's best to come armed with pictures of your wedding party!. I can always help advise on styles if you're not sure what will work, but being able to assess everyone as much as I can, from hair types to colouring, will stop any surprises down the line!

After this I will work out a schedule for the day, or if you have other suppliers booked I'll plan how to work with them for an overall timetable.

The service doesn't stop once the trial is over as of course I am still on hand between your trial and the big day to help you with any advice you need, if you want to talk about changing a colour or product, amending a schedule, or just need someone to chat to!

If you'd like to book your wedding services with me, just drop me a message or check out the Bridal and Special Occasion section of my website.


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