Posts in Education
Jen with Makeup For Your Day | How a Hair and Makeup Service can Make or Break Your Wedding Day

I am so excited to share with you an interview between myself and one of the co-owners of Makeup For Your Day! Makeup For Your Day is a hair and makeup company catering to couples in the state of North Carolina and beyond. I have been anxiously waiting to share this, as it holds some great information that soon to be newlyweds could use when picking out their beauty services for their wedding day.

From a photographers standpoint, I have worked with so many great beauty companies. I have also worked with some not-so-professional ones. That’s okay, because every person has to start somewhere. And yes, people have bad days. It’s when you work with professionals that make the biggest difference for us.

For instance, if the hair and makeup team runs late, a photographer loses precious time for those getting ready photos. If they are running late, then that would also put my clients in an anxious state…which in return makes for some interesting images. The whole point of getting ready is to put the clients in an easy state of mind. It’s their wedding day, and when you have people who are still learning the ropes, I find it a bit chaotic for my clients.

Photographers, I am anxious to hear your thoughts after you read this. Am I alone or do you agree?

N: How long has Makeup For Your Day been in business? How did it come to be in this wild and wonderful wedding industry? Tell me more about the client you serve.

J: Makeup for Your Day has been in business 12 years this April!  We started our company as an artistic outlet to our full-time corporate jobs in banking and property management respectively. After referrals started going through the roof from planners and photographers who were thrilled with our business model of showing up on time, dressing and working in a professional capacity and getting our client done on or before scheduled time we got more serious and began recruiting and developing staff to take on more accounts.  Our typical client ranges from young professional to established career veteran. Usually, it’s a woman that wants to feel lovely on her big day by looking like herself...only perfectly polished for the cameras.

N: What separates Makeup For Your Day than the other companies? 

J: A few things separate Makeup for Your Day from other companies. Namely, we have a large, experienced team to draw on for bridal parties both large and small. In addition, we live in an age where a lot of our clients are flying in from out of state to get married back in the Triangle where they may have gone to school, or to the coast or mountains where they may have vacationed growing up. The benefit of hiring Makeup for Your Day is that we have teams across the state in Raleigh, Charlotte and Wilmington that can accommodate any location and we even have teams in Atlanta, GA and Nashville, TN to pull from, as well.  Our clients can rest assured that they’ll get a consistent, luxury experience no matter which team they work with! Other distinctive qualities that we take pride in are personalized beauty schedules for our brides that expertly map out their “pre-wedding planner timeline” to ensure their day gets off to the best start and that everyone is completely pampered in time for the photographer, planner or coordinator to take over the reigns as expected. We also have a boutique studio location in Raleigh that is convenient for our brides that are flying in to RDU (less than 4 minutes from the airport!) and our Triangle and surrounding area brides to come in for all pre-wedding appointments and festivities such as their trial run, bridal portraits, engagement photos, boudoir session, etc.

N: For myself and my clients, I want the best for them, especially when it comes to wedding day. I have noticed in the past that if clients choose hair and makeup artists who are not well versed, or have not been in the industry long enough, etc., actually cause the timeline to shrink. This will, in return, give the couple anxiety, etc. Why is it important for a couple to have a decent hair and makeup artist? What are some things that they should look out for when booking this service?

J: Great point and one of the biggest talking points for us with our brides! The makeup artist and hair stylist completely set the tone for the day first thing so if they are late, working too slow or worse, can’t manage the bridal party to keep them on task of “cheeks in the seats” when they’re supposed to be...the whole train become derailed.  Hiring a professional makeup artist and hair stylist (read “professional” again and again) that is talented in their art for color and styling is only half the battle. A client truly has to find someone with an understanding of business and customer service in order to not have any worries going in to their day. I stress this because a lot of people can do beautiful makeup on themselves and their friends and some can even style hair that looks gorgeous for a few hours or for a night out but how do they work under pressure?  Can they conform to a strict timeline? Do they show up early and with everything they could possibly need? Do they communicate well with not only the client but her guests and other vendors? Do they understand what mediums the photographers and videographers are shooting in so they can adjust the makeup accordingly? Most importantly, do they have a contract and is it THOROUGH? I could go on and on! The biggest advice is do your due diligence and research the artist or stylist you want to hire. Read reviews and dig for more than just the superficial “look” that they gave the other client. Find out how professional they really are from the way they dress, their timeliness to their discussions with people in their chairs. That will help you decide if you’re working with someone that takes your day seriously and approaches it from a business transaction standpoint or just a hobby that earns them a quick buck on a Saturday.  

N: How often do you receive images from wedding photographers who have photographed weddings that you or your team have done hair and makeup services on? Which images are you looking for in regards to showcasing your work?

J: I’m chuckling at this question because I can answer it two ways. The first thing that came to mind was, “rarely”. Even though our handiwork is featured on every shot of the bride and bridal party, MOB, MOG, extended family, etc. we are so often overlooked for receiving credit on such images and even more so included in albums that get shared by photographers. It’s sad, really!  The reason why I say I can answer it two ways is because the second thing that comes to mind is that I actually get images of our clients pretty regularly now because I go after them. It’s like a second job sometimes to track down all of our clients’ photographers info and reach out and follow up (and follow up again...sometimes with the planner instead) but it’s worth it once we get access.  Other times it takes some serious internet stalking to find the photos and reach out but it’s all taught me to be super thankful for blogs with a search feature! :) We’re typically looking for a series of images that tell the story of their day. In general I like to have bridal portraits from the day both profile and face forward with eyes up and gazing down - to appreciate the awesome lashes and eyeshadow work -  as well as an aisle shot (for the hair), ceremony shot, the kiss, after they’re pronounced married, first dance either with spouse or we always love a good bride/daddy shot or groom/mama shot, and finally the exit.

N: Why is it important to know the style of your clients photographer? For instance, I shoot film on a wedding day. Does this have any inkling to what you do as the stylist to mesh well with that? If so, what is the process of determining how to correctly apply makeup, etc.?

J: It is IMPERATIVE to know the style of your client’s photographer and the medium in which they are shooting!  For a makeup artist, we need to know if the client will be photographed in film or digital and if film which type of film. The type matters because, as you know being a film photographer, certain film is more saturated than others and that’s important when applying color to the face.  The makeup artist only has one shot to get it right with film because it isn’t like digital where you can edit to the hills for more or less saturation. With film, a client generally doesn’t want as much post editing done because that defeats the purpose of using film in the first place and negates the authentic feel of the overall image. Therefore, if a makeup artist puts too much blush or a lip that saturates to fuchsia or worse, a chunky highlight that renders like glitter in the sunlight on film the photographer is going to be in for a heap of issues to try to tone all that down without losing skin tone in the process.  It’s a mess! And that’s just one example. So, I’d highly recommend that photographers also start referring clients to professional artists that really invest in their craft that take classes and educate themselves with multiple mediums so they can better inform their clients where to go and save themselves an editing headache in the process.

N: What advice would you give newcomers that are coming in to this wedding industry? 

J: Newcomers to the wedding industry: welcome! Find your niche and go after it. We are blessed to be in a big wedding area and there’s more than enough business to go around. Don’t undercut others and do a disservice to yourselves right out of the gate...charge what you’re worth!  Network with others and really LISTEN to experience so you can take the good with the bad and make something awesome for yourself.

All images were taken by Fancy This Photography of Makeup For Your Days work.

Sarah with The Matthews House | A look into how photographers can help other business owners

Sarah with the Matthews House

A look into a Cary, NC wedding venue and how photography plays a part in their venue

Photo by 627 Photography

N : How long have you been with The Matthews House? Tell me about the history of The Matthews House, how it started in the wedding industry, why did it become a venue?

S : We have owned the property for 2 years since this past December. Our family bought it as a joint venture. It was originally a private home, then it was a dress shop, then it was a florist, then a wedding venue. It is kind of funny that it all comes full circle to the wedding industry. We moved back to the area about 5 years ago and wanted to branch out into the market. My husband, Vincent, does the day to day work at The Matthews House and also does the graphics. I have an event planning background and assist with the events and weddings that take place here.

N : What are some key things about The Matthews House that separates it from the other wedding venues?

S : We have some prime things that separate our venue from the others. For starters, its in downtown Cary. Once youre at The Matthews House you actually feel a bit secluded via the gardens and the brick--it’s almost like a little oasis. We have great parking. We also provide easy options for guests. We have some vendors they could happily choose from, or we can give them the option to customize--it is completely up to the couple.

N : Do you work off a preferred vendor list? If so, why? If not, are there any vendors that are absolutely necessary from a venues standpoint--like catering, etc.?

S : The only preferred vendor we use is Southern Harvest as they are the ones that work out of the kitchen. However, you do not have to use them at all if you do not prefer. The only thing we require of guests to use them for would be for the bar service--which is great because they have all of the necessary permits to serve, etc. We include a day-of coordinator, Jeanette or Heather, but again, if you’d prefer to bring an outside vendor you are more than welcome to. For catering we do ask to approve of them in advance.

N : How often do you receive images from photographers who have photographed weddings at The Matthews House? Which images stand out more from a venues perspective? Which ones are you more likely to share or showcase on your website?

S : We only receive images from weddings about a third of the time. We mostly receive them because we have sent a follow up asking for images. We are always looking for photos that are unique; we want to see great emotion. Detail shots are always a great bonus, but we are more so interested in the full room shot so that our couples could see what they could do to the space. We have a clean slate ballroom, so the sky is the limit when it comes to making the space unique. We would love images that help give our clients ideas on how to make it their own.

N : What are some things that you wish more photographers did on a wedding day shooting wise?

S : I dont really have a suggestion on what to do on wedding day, per se. However, if there was a way to make the sharing of images easier, we would much prefer that. We are more likely to share if there was an easy an approachable way to do so. We would love to spread the word, but in order for us to do that we would need images of events and weddings from the photographer.

N : If you've never worked with a photographer before--do you suggest having them reach out to you? Do you ever suggest them to come by to take a look at the property? What makes for a good vendor relationship?

S : For starters, we are always available to reach out to. If someone has never shot here before, we would be more than happy to show them around the venue. This would help build a great vendor relationship, but also, ensure for a smooth day. It is our top priority to make sure our clients are taken care of, so if this means to have their photographer come by to take a look at lighting, etc., we would definitely accommodate that.

N : What is something that you wish more brides knew before booking certain vendors for their big day?

S : Typically the first thing a couple needs to book is the venue. I would then suggest to sit down and try to figure out the biggest priorities of the day. Is it the best food? Is it the best dance floor? Is it the best wedding photography? Whatever the case is, start looking at those vendors first. These will typically be a good portion of your budget, so I would do those closer to the beginning stages of booking your vendors.

N: Any advice for vendors who are looking to go into the wedding industry?

S : I think one of the best things you can do is network. You learn so much about everyones perspective come the wedding day. Always be open to communication. Communication is key to a solid wedding day.

A Beginners Guide Prepping Your Clients for their Engagement Session

I have to admit, my engagement sessions have to be some of my favorite images I may have ever taken. I love that I have the chance to connect with clients before their wedding day, but I also love that it serves as a bit of education for the client—it preps them for their actual wedding day.

If you are a beginner photographer, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the thought of getting all of your systems in place for your business. Trust me, I am still figuring out tweaks to my current systems. The process is never-ending, but needed and appreciated.

In the beginning years of my business, I thought that I didnt need a system for sessions. I mean, I knew I needed a system for contracts and payments, etc. However, I wasnt aware or thought that I needed a system to help prep my clients for their engagement session. I once had an engagement session that literally went so horribly wrong— ie, they wore the exact thing I told them not to (hello 1995 white button up shirt with khaki pants), that I just knew that I had to prep my couples diligently moving forward.

Your clients deserve as much information as possible. However, they dont deserve unnecessary information. The main things that you should set in place are spaces that give them examples of attire (hey Pinterest!), enough pep talking that helps them relax before their session even starts, and opening up the conversation that allows you to get to know them on a personal level. It is our job as a photographer to tell their story. So, why not give them an engagement session that evokes that?

If you want to jumpstart your systems, and prepare for every single engagement session—sign up below! You can download a free PDF that goes over everything from outfits and why I allow atleast two completely different choices, getting to know the couple beforehand and asking the questions that matter, and the process to booking and sending off their contract.

Belhaven Wedding Venue | An Interview with Kate Brown of River Forest Manor

An interview with Kate Brown of River Forest Manor

Photo taken by Sara Coffin Photography

As most of you know, I am from Eastern North Carolina. Now, I know some of you may think that eastern NC is like the rest of the state—but, it is not. There’s a harder southern drawl, things are typically slower, and honestly—the people are more tan. I miss living in this part of the state, there’s some sort of magic to it. That’s why when Kate agreed to chat with me about her venue in Belhaven, I was just so happy!

Kate is a wonderful point of reference for business, but also for brides in general. Kate is one of the owners of River Forest Manor located in Belhaven. Now, if you have never been to River Forest Manor (which just opened up only a few years prior), you should really take a trip to go see her in its glory. Imagine a white house with the tallest of columns belting loud and proud on the patio porch right in front of the water. I mean, it is something spectacular to see even if you are a local. It is such a sight that it will immediately put you at ease—this is a place for celebration in the happiest of ways. I am excited to share with you more from Kate on how River Forest Manor came to be what it is today.

The images that you will see in this blog post are not my images. Please see the verbiage written under each image to see which wonderful photographers shot which image.

Photo taken by Renee Sprink Photography

Photo taken by Renee Sprink Photography

N: Tell me how you came to be part of this wild and wonderful wedding industry. What is the history behind your venue?
: My family is from Belhaven and I grew up on its waters, so the River Forest Manor & Marina has always been in my life.

When I was little, the River Forest Manor operated as a restaurant and hotel with a fully operating marina. It was a true landmark in the community and our town. The River Forest was a place that people gathered for a special meal or came to buy boat gas. Sadly, it fell into disrepair and eventually closed.

Together with a handful of investors all with local ties to Belhaven, I bought the historic mansion a few years ago in 2014. We were not quite sure what to do with the property at that time, but similarly timed marriages among our investment partners and some of our investors’ children led us to realize the grand place was meant to host life’s most important events.

More than a century-old, the River Forest had set the stage for great celebrations, large and small. We knew that its first owner built it for that purpose in mind and we were ready to restore it to do just the same.

 We officially re-opened the doors in 2016 and the River Forest Manor & Marina again has become a place where the local community and people from all over can celebrate. It is again a place that will bring economic opportunities to our charming waterside town.

N: What sort of couples do you typically have at the venue, etc.?
The majority of our couples come to us seeking a memorable destination for their wedding. We’ve proudly hosted local couples as well as welcomed couples from throughout the state and many parts of the country.  

 N: What are some key things about The River Forest Manor that separates it from the other wedding venues? Is your venue considered a destination wedding venue?
We affectionately call the River Forest Manor & Marina our Grand Lady because she is a true historic gem and definitely a destination. When we purchased the property and started to do renovations, we had to search for key contractors who specialized in ornate ceilings and antique woodwork to ensure we restored her properly. Because of this, we now have the most gorgeous renovated details throughout the house and property.

 We have 13 bedrooms on the property all perfectly suited to host bridal party members and guests. We’ve also created a network with the Bed & Breakfast owners and AirBnBs within the Belhaven community for guests to stay within walking distance of the Manor. We’ve even had guests dock their sailboats at our Marina for accommodations.

 Our events team will also set up fun activities for the bridal party and guests including massages and facials, boat rides off our docks and even hunting excursions.

 Our full-service Marina also makes the River Forest a unique setting that guest really enjoy. We always have boaters on our docks and they especially love to see the wedding festivities on our property. Many boaters will camp out on their vessels to watch the bride and groom depart—some will even sound their horns to send them off. It’s just amazing to hear and see so much celebration right here on the property. The guests love it, too. It truly is special.

Photo taken by Debra Ash Martin

Photo taken by Debra Ash Martin

 N: Do you work off a preferred vendor list? If so, why? If not, are there any vendors that are absolutely necessary from a venues standpoint--like catering, etc.?
We do have a preferred partner list and it includes the companies we have previously partnered with to envision and create spectacular events. We appreciate professional, honest, and fun companies. However, we also appreciate it when a couple has their heart set on a specific vendor or partner—that allows us to broaden our network. We do ask that our caterers be licensed and bonded accordingly, but other than that we welcome all vendors.

 N: How often do you receive images from photographers who have photographed weddings at The River Forest Manor? Which images stand out more from a venues perspective? Which ones are you more likely to share or showcase on your website?
We do receive images from the majority of our wedding photographers. We often receive our couple’s engagement photos, sneak peeks during and after the events and eventually the full wedding gallery. We love to share those photos with our community, on social media and our website. Of course, we always ask permission to share the images and are very courteous to every photographer to ensure credits are included.

 N: What are some things that you wish more photographers did on a wedding day shooting wise? Anything dealing with communication you wish photographers did in advance?
We are firm believers in allowing the photographer to be his or her true artistic self. There is no limit to the images that could be created here, and every eye is different. Our Grand Lady photographs well—ha! Truthfully, we very much appreciate the opportunity to see the special moments each photographer captures.

N: If you've never worked with a photographer before--do you suggest having them reach out to you? Do you ever suggest them to come by to take a look at the property?
We know our brides, grooms and their families want the very best photos to remember their special celebrations and, therefore, I do recommend that photographers visit our venue prior to the events. If a photographer doesn’t have the knowledge of light or hasn’t seen the full property in advance, the photos may not work out as well as they could.

We’ve found that many photographers will scout the property during bridal portrait sessions and speak with the bride about ideas.

N: What makes for a good vendor relationship?
Our job is to make sure the event logistics are seamless. We ask planners to pass along timelines a few weeks before the wedding to notify us when vendors will start delivering materials, like tents and décor, to the venue and offer a schedule for the various activities.

With proper planning and communication between all vendors, we are able to better support our couples and their family to make sure the celebration they’ve dreamed about comes to life.

Photo taken by Dana Jo Photography

Photo taken by Dana Jo Photography