How to Do Your Wedding Makeup on a Budget – 10 Tips & Ideas

bride makeup selfIn an effort to save money for my wedding, I asked my sister-in-law to apply my make-up. The only problem? I’m a low-maintenance girl, and didn’t own a lot of make-up. So I went to a cosmetics counter and ended up spending more than $200 on new make-up just for my wedding.

The lesson? Make-up application isn’t the only expense when it comes to looking gorgeous for your big day. Sometimes in saving money on the application, you can actually spend more on the make-up itself! Don’t make the same mistake I did. Here are 10 ways to save on both the make-up and the makeover for your wedding:

Ways to Save Money On Wedding Make-Up

1. Stock Up on Make-Up with Coupons
I absolutely love shopping at CVS Pharmacy and taking advantage of their ExtraCare Bucks. There is definitely an art form to using them properly and getting free stuff, and it takes some training and practice to get the best deals. But one thing I have noticed in shopping at CVS with discount grocery coupons is that it’s a great place to get make-up deeply discounted or free when extreme couponing. So if your wedding is a few months out, start checking the ads weekly to combine sales with coupons for free, or almost free, make-up. Then self apply your own make-up for your wedding, or have a friend help you out.

2. Go to Cosmetology School
Just like with your wedding hair, consider going to a cosmetology school to get your make-up done for your big day. Make-up artists in training need to do a certain number of makeovers before becoming a full-fledged make-up artist, so you are actually doing them a favor as they try to reach their goal. And if you are already planning on getting your hair done on your wedding day at the school, you will have the advantage of not having to go to multiple places for your wedding beautification process.

3. Schedule an Appointment with a Cosmetics Counter
Most make-up counters at department stores will give you a free makeover, with the  expectation that you make at least a small purchase. Schedule an appointment on your big day, and you will look beautiful all for the price of a tube of lipstick (which you can then reapply after all the smooching).

4. Go to a Cosmetics Counter During a Gift Time
Department stores often offer free gifts when you make a purchase at one of their cosmetics counters. For example, Macy’s may give you a free make-up bag containing eye shadow and blush with the purchase of any cosmetic purchase at their Clinique Counter for a limited time. These deals are almost always running at their cosmetics counters, and only the gift varies. Make a habit of looking at department stores’ websites to see what gift deals are available, and buy your make-up when the gift is what you need to complete your wedding make-up collection.

5. Trade Wedding Services
Let’s say that you are great with hair or great with crafts, but you have no skills when it comes to applying make-up. You may be able to offer your skills in exchange for someone else who’s getting married on a different day. Check message boards in your area and see if you can strike a deal.

wedding bride makeup

6. Have a Make-Up Party
When you throw a make-up party with Mary Kay or Avon, you receive free gifts based on the amount of sales during your party. This will allow you to get some of the pieces of make-up that you need for your wedding for free! Let your friends know your plan, and they’ll be more inclined to make a purchase.

7. Use What You Have
Like I said, I am not a regular make-up wearer, especially since I am a stay-at-home mom. But I do have some make-up which I wear occasionally, like eyeliner and blush. As long as nothing has expired, your own make-up drawer is probably sufficient for your wedding make-up needs.

8. Borrow What You Don’t Have
If you do want a new shade of lipstick or eye shadow, ask your mother, sister, or friend if you could borrow a few pieces of their make-up. Or have a make-up party that’s not affiliated with a brand, where all your friends bring over their make-up stashes, and you get to go through it all and choose the perfect palette for your big day.

9. Say that You’re a Bridesmaid
When my cousin called a salon to inquire about wedding make-up prices, the bridal application cost twice as much as a bridesmaid. In that instance, book your appointment as a bridesmaid – they never have to know! Also, many salons jack up their prices when they know it’s for a wedding, so try just saying that you want your make-up done without revealing that it’s for your wedding. You’re likely to get a much better deal.

10. Go Natural
If all else fails – or if you just don’t wear a lot of make-up normally – just go natural. This would work very well if your wedding venue is a natural setting, such as the beach or the outdoors.

Final Word

These ideas to save money on wedding make-up can be used on their own or in conjunction with each other as a way to gather all of the elements that you need to complete your wedding make-up look. Once you have everything you need, either practice to learn how to apply the make-up yourself or find someone who can help you out. If you do that, you will avoid the high costs of both the make-up and the application of the make-up by a professional.

Did you get made up for your big wedding day? Which of the options did you decide to go with?

  • Melanie Ho Ken | Makeup Artist

    Interesting post, however from a makeup artist’s perspective I have a few thoughts that some brides may wish to consider. I am aware that oftentimes the word “wedding” or “bride” leads many vendors to increase their prices astronomically. I also appreciate that most brides are not operating on a “Wills & Kate” budget. However, given the rates that many brides are willing to pay for a professional wedding photographer, why waste all that hard earned money on photos that capture potentially poor quality makeup application? Most professional makeup artists have a knowledge of lighting and product durability that is worth the investment. Furthermore, for those who don’t wear or own a lot of makeup, hiring a makeup artist can be cheaper than buying an entire “face” of makeup from scratch because you’re not saddled with a pile of products you’ve “only used once” going to waste.

    The idea of trading skills with someone who is getting married on a different day is a creative idea I’ve never thought of before and is a great way to save money. However, I would not recommend sharing or borrowing makeup for hygenic reasons as many cosmetic products and brushes are notorious for harbouring bacteria that can lead to irritations and infections which are the last things a bride will want to deal with on her wedding day. Chances are highly unlikely that the average person is going to be as concerned with sanitizing their makeup and applicators with the care of a professional makeup artist.

    I would suggest that if a bride wishes to hire a makeup artist for her wedding, to be honest with the makeup artist about her budget. Some artists may be willing to negotiate. Or, find an artist who charges the same rate for brides as bridesmaids. This is my practice, as I don’t see why for the same time/effort/product a woman should pay more simply because she is a bride versus a bridesmaid. Lying saying you’re a bridesmaid is the oldest trick in the book and really, only a very gullible makeup artist is going to believe that a “bridesmaid” is going to seek out her own makeup artist. Depending on the makeup artist, this tactic may result in the “bridesmaid” being charged the makeup artist’s standard “bride” rate anyway simply out of suspicion that this overused strategy is at play. I’ve enjoyed reading this blog for a while but the lack of integrity in making this suggestion is very disappointing.

  • Jill Smith

    Great post and fabulous first comment. From a photographer’s point of view – I agree that a makeup artist is a great option. Knowing that your makeup will look just as great at the end of the day as it did at the beginning will give a bride a lot of confidence – and that totally comes through in each image. I know lots of fabulous makeup artists that are very reasonable (cheaper than buying all the makeup brand new).
    Casey, I am thrilled that you gave so many great ideas on how to get the best bang for your buck. My only idea…if you decide to go “natural” – at least wear some eyeliner and mascara….It’s difficult to make images look amazing when the bride’s eyes are drab.

  • Barb Friedberg

    Although I got married in the last millenium, I didn’t even consider doing anything different with my makeup than I would for a “fancy event.” I did my own make up, looked lovely and that was the end of it! What’s the big deal?

  • Elizabeth Moreno

    Ok I do have to agree there are some good points to this article. However, as a makeup artist myself I find it very insulting for you to be suggesting people lie and say they are a bridesmaid. Yes, many artists and venues charge a lot more for bridal makeup and hair, but its a wedding. This is one of, if not the biggest days of someones life which in turn takes a lot more detail and preparation and care to execute a perfect day/look for the client.
    I also agree very much with the previous comment from Melanie. In addition to lying and saying you’re a bridesmaid, you’re also cheating yourself of a different service that we provide to brides vs bridesmaid or just a regular makeup application. The bride is the center of attention and requires much more detail and care than a bridesmaid. There are many things to take into consideration when having your makeup done, and not everyone is as worried about makeup as others which is fine. But if you’re going to spend the money on a huge wedding, dress, photographer, everything else, why be cheap on the makeup when your face is the main focus of all the photos! Find what works for your budget but at the same time please respect the vendors, chefs, makeup artists, hair stylists, etc. We work hard to stay educated, up on the trends, and keep our kits and skills top notch, we should not be cheated for that. We are there to make you the best for your day, and expect to be respected, not lied to.