The women’s bathrooms and lounges at wedding receptions are often filled with guests who are sweaty and sometimes disheveled from a long day and night of activities or a few spins on the dance floor.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a hair and makeup artist on hand to re-pin an updo, touch up eye shadow, or brighten up lips?
Some couples are booking beauty companies for their guests and providing other glamour-focused amenities.
“If you think about it, once you’ve been to the church, in the bus, then get to the reception and go to the restroom, that’s a lot, especially if it’s 100 degrees outside,” said Tara Guerard, an event planner and designer based in Charleston, S.C. “If there’s someone there to fix your hair and take away your sweat, it’s awesome.”
Ms. Guerard, who runs Tara Guérard Soirée, recently started incorporating beauty bars in the ladies’ bathrooms at the receptions of weddings she organizes. Depending on the size of the event, she’ll have two to three hair and makeup artists available, complete with lipsticks, curling irons, hair spray and more to fix any beauty malfunctions. She adds flowers and a “Glam Bar” sign.
She collaborates with a local freelance makeup artist and hair stylist, Deidre Outlaw, who actually came up with the idea. Ms. Outlaw frequently heard from brides that they wanted a zhuzh before the reception after their inevitable tears during the ceremony. “I thought this could be a great service to add for the guests of weddings, too,” Ms. Outlaw said.
The pair noted that the service is particularly successful in hot summer months or generally warm weather. This past June, Ms. Outlaw hosted a glam bar at a wedding in Adairsville, Ga., where the space exuded charm but lacked air-conditioning “To say it was a total hit is an understatement,” Ms. Outlaw said of the steady flow of guests looking for touch-ups. “We did quick five-minute touch-ups to get their frizzy hair off their necks, T-zones de-shined, and a fresh lip.”
Brittany Lo, the founder of Beautini, a hair and makeup business in New York City, also offers beauty amenities to guests at weddings and other social events. She will set up in the lounge area of large restrooms at luxury hotels, or private rooms near the reception area if the restroom is small, or stake out a spot next to the photo booth. Even male guests may receive a puff of powder.
“People run to the bathroom every 10 dances or so to make sure that their makeup is in place and they don’t look like a hot mess,” Ms. Lo said. “This provides a next-level service for them: Someone else quickly does it, and then the guest runs back out to the dance floor.”
Ms. Lo says that about 40 percent of the brides she works with opt to keep a makeup artist and hair stylist on hand throughout the day to touch up their look. And since it’s typically an hourly charge, they often keep the stylist on the clock to be at the beauty bar.
“This added experience and element of surprise leaves guests walking away having a better time than they expected when they entered the wedding ceremony that day,” she said.
At her wedding earlier this year, Katherine Daugherty-Smillie staffed a Beautini makeup artist throughout the day, from her ceremony at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and photos in Central Park to her reception at the Parker New York. The makeup artist was available to help her and her guests.
“It was easily the best decision I made beauty-wise for our wedding,” said Ms. Daugherty-Smillie, 28, a fund-raiser.
It was important, she added, to stay “in the moment” and enjoy her new husband and guests. “Having it be someone else’s job to make sure I didn’t smear my lipstick, run my eye liner, or smudge my contour, allowed me to savor every second,” Ms. Daugherty-Smillie said. “I didn’t want to worry about constantly trying to touch myself up and carrying around a bag of makeup.”
Social media has helped fuel the demand for these services. “Having these services in general shows how important pictures are these days,” Ms. Lo said, noting most couples have a professional photographer, videographer and a photo booth, plus hashtags for sharing images on Instagram. “Couples know people value looking nice, not shiny, in photos, and these options allow everyone to look great.”
The beauty bar and all-day glam squad doesn’t come cheaply, however. Hourly prices typically range from $100 to $250 per stylist. Depending on the guest count, a couple may want three or four stylists for a touch-up bar, which could easily add up to thousands of dollars for the whole day.
But there are less expensive ways to incorporate these ideas. Ms. Guerard likes to hand out cool towels on the dance floor during humid summer months, an idea, she says, she stole from the pool of a Miami hotel more than a decade ago. She simply soaks washcloths in cold water and has the servers pass them out during the reception.
She also suggests gifting guests “emergency kits” in their hotel rooms or in baskets at the reception. Ms. Guerard’s kits include Tums, aspirin, eye drops, and other first aid items to help with any hangovers the next day. She orders muslin bags with an emergency cross on it from Etsy or Amazon, then fills them up. “All the small things are affordable, and people really appreciate the thought,” she said.
Some of the fancier hotels and halls may already offer attendants with various toiletries available. But couples can create their own beauty bars in the bathrooms, too, and even without having a pro on staff. They can buy makeup organizers from shops like the Container Store and fill it with lipstick, Q-tips, makeup brushes, nail files and other cosmetics from the drugstore, Ms. Lo noted.
She suggests placing these makeup organizers next to an inexpensive frame with “Treat Yourself” signage. “Most weddings don’t have a whole counter display in the bathroom, so the objective is still the same: You have a huge array of really fun makeup that your guests can use,” she said. “The concept went from being a few thousand dollars to, at most, a few hundred.”
And then there are those couple who decide to take the beauty-bar concept up a notch or two.
At a recent event at the J.W. Marriott Essex House in New York City, Ms. Lo worked with Birch Event Design to deck out an entire powder room, floor to ceiling, in flowers and pampas grass. (Not surprisingly, it also became a popular backdrop for selfies.)
“Just remember why you’re doing it,” Ms. Lo said. “It’s exciting for someone to walk into the bathroom or any space and see that you thought of them. Any of these little details add up to a create a very unique experience.”