Vendor Spotlight :: Make Up Artist :: Natalie Lelless

One of the questions I get asked a lot at client meetings is if I can recommend any other vendors - from DJs to Videographers, Florists to Wedding Planners - I have a little list that I send out.

I take vendor referrals very seriously; I'll only recommend other vendors that I really feel confident in and that I've enjoyed working with on past weddings. I don't take or charge any kind of referral fee (and booo to those who do) it seems somehow underhand.

Anyhow, I thought it might be helpful if I introduced you to some of the people on my vendor list and explain why I recommend them. And so a new blog category is born....Vendor Spotlight! For my inaugural post, I've chosen Natalie Lelless who is a make-up artist extraordinaire!

I first worked with Natalie back at Caitlin & Matt's fabulouso wedding at Rockport Art Association last year. I arrived for the getting ready pictures and was greeted by Caitlin and her bridesmaids and family members calmly enjoying Mimosas and Natalie carefully doing all of the makeup in the dining room. If I'm counting correctly, I believe she did make up for 12 including the bride, bridesmaids, both Moms and even the flower girls got a touch of blush and lip gloss:

I've seen the work of some very good make-up artists and the brides look like they're wearing beautiful make up. However, for me, the sign of a phenomenal make up artist is when the bride simply looks stunning and you don't even notice the make up! Exhibit 1:

Natalie has a number of different (and in my opinion, very affordable) packages that offer options to have her stay through the ceremony or beyond. At Caitlin & Matt's wedding we did a little extended walk through Rockport with the wedding party to get some beautiful relaxed portraits and Natalie kept up with us, blotting away any shine and touching up the gloss for a flawless picture! Here's one of those pictures and underneath is the "behind-the-scenes":

I recently met up with Natalie to ask her some Q&A for this Vendor Spotlight and first I made her let me grab a quick snapshot of her as I think most brides have a fear of the scary make up artist at the department store who offers to do your make-up and you leave 20 minutes later looking like Ru Paul. Here is the non-scary Natalie:

LH: So Natalie, how did you get into wedding make-up?
NL: I was hooked on make-up once our neighbor who worked at the Lancome counter made me over for my high school dance! One of my earliest jobs was doing just "lips" at MAC in the holidays but I soon progressed to full training and make up for MAC ultimately freelancing at events, weddings and photoshoots for MAC for years. Then I moved to Chicago and one day I was in Sephora with a friend showing her some fun new makeup by Smashbox when the Smashbox National Rep saw me in action, approached me and before I knew it I had been interviewed and fully trained for Smashbox.
[Side note from me: during the time that Natalie freelanced for both MAC and Smashbox she worked on a number of celebrities from both TV and film and despite my begging, she won't let me tell you who due to the confidentiality agreements she's signed. But just note that if Natalie does your makeup you're in very good Hollywood company!]

LH: Why should you get your makeup done professionally for your wedding?
NL: Good makeup can take off 10lbs! No seriously, a professionally trained makeup artist will know how to enhance and define your features so you look exactly like you just better! Unlike a normal day, your makeup needs to last from that walk down the aisle, to everyone hugging and kissing you congratulations, to the cake smash and through the dancing at the reception. A professional will use top quality products and application techniques to keep you looking amazing. Having made up celebrities and public figures for magazine shoots I know what works well but still looks natural on camera too.
[Another side note from me, I had my make up done professionally for our ceremony in Las Vegas and I look flawless in the pictures. So modest right? I did it myself for our post-wedding reception and despite spending $100s in Sephora and carefully applying it, I mostly look like I'm wearing a bunch of make-up. Silly me]

LH: So what do you love about doing makeup for weddings?
NL: I love the creativity of weddings, each bride is different and needs a different look to make her look and feel great. But most of all, I love making people look the absolute best they can, it's thrilling to me to make a bride feel absolutely beautiful. Having been in a LOT of wedding myself
[Me again: Natalie's 28 dresses experience rivals even mine!] I know that sometimes the make up artist can actually add stress to the day, I like to do everything I can to take it away. At a recent wedding, one of the bridesmaid's dress tore, I sewed her back in, fixed her make up and was back before the bride even noticed I was gone.

LH: How should a bride go about finding a make-up artist? What should they be looking for?
NL: There are a lot of makeup artists out there who claim to have been trained on "bridal makeup". I don't believe in having one "bridal" look, I prefer to use my skills and experience to apply the most flawless and natural looking makeup to make each and every client look amazing. And the fact that's she's getting married simply means I use products and techniques that will last all day long.

A consultation is essential! I really listen to what's important to the bride, find out about her style, her fears and concerns. And why not schedule your consultation/trial prior to your engagement pictures, engagement party, shower or batchelorette night - then you can see how you photograph and how your look holds up. It's good to provide specific feedback on your trial and your makeup artist should listen to you carefully and adapt your look without getting defensive or trying to persuade you otherwise.

Ask your make up artist for specific information on their training and experience (2 weddings a year for 10 years does not equal 10 years of experience!), ask for the specific number of weddings done, look at pictures from those weddings and ask to speak to a previous bride.

LH: What advice do you have for brides who can't afford professional make up on their wedding day?
- Practice your make up look over and over again until you're comfortable.
- Check your make up in natural light and artificial light.
- Blend, blend, blend! And then blend some more! No orange stripes on your jawbone please!
- Drink lots of water for the week leading up to the day, you'll be hydrated and will avoid bloating
- Avoid pastels/neutrals on your eyes and lips, you'll look washed out and tires
- Finishing powder is essential! I love Smashbox High-Definition powder. Apply throughout the day to remove shine
- Waterproof mascara - grab the pink Maybelline one with the black top - great for swimming on your honeymoon too!
- Do NOT fake tan or tan for 3 days before your wedding
[Me again: Amen! And tell your bridesmaids too - orange is not a good color for anyone]
- Don't be experimenting with false eyelashes and don't try to look like someone else!
[Final note from me: A make up artist is often more affordable than you think! I know it's hard to stick to a budget but you can probably skip the monogrammed cocktail napkins and no one will notice. Whereas everyone will notice and it will show in your pictures if you are simply glowing as you walk down the aisle! Spend your money wisely ladies!]

LH: How about 3 last secret little tips or tricks:
NL: OK, easy, first of all mix a little concealer and anti-aging eye cream on the back of your hand (mix it well!) and then gently smooth under your eyes and on blemishes - it won't settle in to your wrinkles or dry out.
Secondly, use Crest White Strips three days before your wedding, it'll take your teeth just one or two shades whiter
Thirdly, if you want to make your lips look plumper without collagen shots, use a dab of a sheer highlighter over the cupids bow of your top lip. Fill in your lips with a natural colored lip liner and finish with gloss. You'll have a natural looking lip without the trip to your dermatologist!

So to finish, I made Natalie open her own make up bag to show me a couple of her favorite products - observe the Smashbox Lip Blush pallette (allows you to find the perfect pop of color and makes your teeth look whiter), MAC Brule eyeshadow for the perfect base (sweep all over your eyelid and up to your browbone to prvide a neutral canvas for your color) and MAC Taupe eyeshadow (perfect for a smokey eye but not as heavy as black). The eyeshadows as eyes picture on the bottom right was my idea - sorry Natalie!

And the all important contact details (Natalie's website is being updated, I'll post the address once complete):
Natalie Lelless
Phone: 813-404-2090
And note that Natalie does complimentary consultation/trial meetings, so for all of my 2010 and 2011 brides with an engagement shoot coming up, why not schedule a consultation/trial with Natalie if you don't yet have a make up artist and then you get to see how you look in the pictures!

1 comment

  1. This is great info - thanks Leah! - I'm looking forward to the next vendor recommendation!