The Ultra Pricey Wedding Hair Stylist Brides Say Is Worth Every Penny

White Rose Collective is not for every bride. “This place spits the wrong person out. We’re so image- and brand-heavy, and it’s not cheap,” says Teddi Cranford, 32, the owner of White Rose Collective. “The rate sheet turns away 99 percent of anyone who inquires.”

Cranford started White Rose Collective, an agency that now also features a jewel box of a salon in NYC’s East Village, three years ago. Cranford will provide hair and makeup services for weddings and any parties leading up to it, such as bridal showers and rehearsal dinners. Brides often book her and her team for up to six separate wedding events, sometimes requiring four to six artists, and then fly them out to a destination like Napa or Aspen.

White Rose client Caroline Hedges on her wedding day, with hair by Teddi Cranford.
Photo: Caroline Hedges/Christian Oth Studio

A former runway hair stylist, Cranford worked for 10 years backstage doing shows like Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino with the team from Bumble and Bumble and then later with master stylist Guido Palau, who designs the hair at pretty much every major fashion show in New York and Europe. But working in beauty in the fashion world is a grind, and she often did 40 shows a season.

In 2012, Cranford styled jewelry designer Pamela Love’s hair for her wedding, which Vogue covered. Cranford got some attention after that, and had an idea that she could specialize in weddings. For a certain upper echelon of hairstylists, though, working on weddings is “frowned upon,” according to Cranford. “People I worked with said, ‘You’re selling yourself short. Why would you be doing weddings?’” she says. “And I was like, ‘No, we could actually make girls look cool!’ Also, women spend a lot of money for this one day for beauty.”

Rates at White Rose Collective start at a minimum of $1,350 for a bride plus two other people to get their hair done for a local New York wedding. Double that to add makeup services, and add several hundred dollars more to have Cranford herself be your personal hairstylist, and you’re up over $3,000. Each additional person in the wedding party you add accrues another fee, and that increases again if you want to keep a stylist around for touch-ups or a new look for the reception, a common practice among brides. Trials are not included, and Cranford says she has done up to four before she and the bride settle on a final style. For a more complex weekend, White Rose will negotiate a single rate for the event, because every wedding is unique. Cranford personally does about 20 percent of the weddings that White Rose books.

A big chunk of White Rose’s business is coordinating the beauty at destination weddings. The agency employs a “concierge” to organize and schedule the beauty preparation for every event to ensure that it’s as seamless as possible. Many of the makeup artists and hairstylists on the White Rose team come from the world of backstage beauty, too, so they’re used to a hectic pace, dealing with beauty disasters, and managing, ahem, challenging personalities.

Cranford says that she is about to do a wedding in Aspen she estimates is costing about $12,000, requiring a team of four to take care of a bride, eight bridesmaids, and at least three separate wedding events. That will include travel and accommodations as well as being on call for the wedding’s weekend events. It’s not the most White Rose has ever charged for a wedding, though; the most expensive one cost $15,000 and involved hair and makeup for 14 people. (To put this in perspective, according to our luxury wedding report, the average price of a wedding in 2016 was $33,329.)

White Rose Collective brides say it’s worth every penny, though. “A lot of people think about beauty as the last thing that they book for their wedding, and they don’t really allocate much money for it. I’ll say that she was worth everything I spent because it was the peace of mind, it was knowing they were going to do a really good job,” says Sasha Bartnett, 29. Cranford and a team of six did Bartnett’s 2015 Napa wedding, styling the bride, seven bridesmaids, and the two mothers, as well as engagement photos. “You spend so much time finding and picking out the perfect dress, but if you don’t have the right hair and makeup, it can ruin your entire look.”

Caroline Hedges, 33, agrees. She booked White Rose Collective for her 2014 wedding in East Hampton. She used Cranford for her engagement shoot, bridal shower, wedding welcome cocktails, bridesmaid lunch, rehearsal dinner, wedding (including her mom and bridesmaids), the after-party, and brunch the next day. “I did a lot of other trials, but the minute I met with them I was like, ‘Yeah, this is it,’” Hedges says. “Their energy was really nice and cool and calming, and they’re really fun to hang out with.”

Caroline Hedges at her bridesmaid lunch, hair by Teddi Cranford.
Photo: Caroline Hedges/Christian Oth Studio

Cranford’s fashion credibility and experience was also really attractive to Hedges. She had outfits from Dolce & Gabbana, Balmain, and Valentino lined up for her wedding events, and the fact that Cranford had worked on the shows that those looks came from was exciting for her. Cranford even had an ornate comb from the actual Dolce & Gabbana runway show that she incorporated into a braided bun look that Hedges wore with her D&G dress to the rehearsal dinner. (Hedges just used White Rose Collective again this past January to do her hair and makeup for her baby shower.)

Style and restraint is an area where Cranford thinks that White Rose Collective stands out in the over-the-top, Pinterest-influenced wedding beauty industrial complex. The attitude? Wedding beauty, but make it fashion. “The vibe that she goes for is anti-prom, if that makes sense. She’s going for something realistic, what girls really want to look like to feel pretty,” says Bartnett. Hedges said she had some fun with more elaborate styles for her events before the wedding, but her wedding day hair was soft, loose, and simple. Cranford prefers to have all White Rose Collective hairstylists and makeup artists working on a wedding party (rather than bringing in an outside service like Glamsquad) to ensure that the look is consistent across the wedding party.

Cranford’s poster bride could very well be Glossier founder Emily Weiss, who flew Cranford to the Bahamas to do her hair for her intimate wedding last year. Outside of White Rose, Cranford has a growing career in getting very cool and very (naturally) beautiful girls — like models Behati Prinsloo and Anna Ewers, and the Kirke sisters — ready for the red carpet. This clientele definitely informs the aesthetic choices she offers to brides. It’s basically the no-makeup makeup version of bridal.

Caroline Hedges at her rehearsal dinner with Dolce & Gabbana-inspired hair.
Photo: Caroline Hedges/Christian Oth Studio

“It’s very tasteful. We’re doing very understated, chic looks. If a girl wants a big look then we’ll give it to her — if she can pull it off. I’m not afraid to ever talk anyone off of a ledge,” laughs Cranford. One such ledge-talking involved a Staten Island bride whose wedding was “very outside the box” for Cranford.

The bride was getting married in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and “wearing this big cupcake dress.” She had equally huge hair ambitions. “The references she brought me…” Cranford shakes her head. “In my mind I was like, ‘These are so bad.’ I was like, let’s think outside of the Pinterest box and go to fashion and talk about an Italian woman.” Cranford describes the result, a sleek pony with a pile of curls on top and two pads holding the whole thing up, as “Dolce & Gabbana couture.”

“It was so scaled back compared to what she had shown me, but for me it was still the biggest thing I’ve ever done on a bride.” But that’s the exception to Cranford’s bridal worldview.

“Less is more. Keep it chic and keep it rich.”

Makeup Entrepreneur: Styling brides with trendy makeovers, classy outfits

Having carved a niche in hair styling and makeup, Diya Umar, a professional makeup artist recently launched her studio ‘De YOU Makeover’ located in uptown Barzulla. Sitting in the cool confines of her studio, Diya recounts that life was not always a bed of roses especially when it needed to first win hearts for getting into this profession.

“Making family and near ones realize that makeup and styling is a dignified profession like other jobs was the first challenge. Having done so, the next thing was to get a professional hands-on experience in makeup for which I did several professional courses from Delhi. I must say that my husband Umar and parents have been an immense support,” says Diya.

Makeup Entrepreneur: Styling brides with trendy makeovers, classy outfits

After facing several cynics, it was a well-wisher doctor friend who made Diya realize that visiting a client home for makeup has no taboo attached to it as is perceived by many. Once convinced, there was no looking back for Diya who has done makeup and styling for many brides so far.

“It was a doctor friend of mine who explained that how visiting a bride’s home is perfectly alright. If doctors, engineers and architects can make site visits what is the harm if a makeup artist does the same,” Diya says.

Diya’s entry route to professional world came in the form of running a travel company but monotony of this job made Diya think of changing tracks.  For Diya, a dream profession was one that could provide her eternal joy and bring out the creative self in her. “Moreover I wanted to do something that was associated with women and was all about bringing smiles to their faces,” says Diya.

The first serious effort to understand the nuances of makeup and styling for Diya was in the form of a 9-month training programme at ‘MSTC London Based Academy’ in New Delhi. “I learnt manual makeup and hair styling after which I used to do makeup of friends and family,” says Diya.

The learning for Diya has never stopped as she also underwent a training programme at VLCC in Delhi. “I used to contemplate of going abroad for doing some sort of a training in makeup but the fact is that in places such as UK, focus is largely on international standard makeup which goes well with western outfits. In Kashmir it is Indian standard bridal looks, which are prominent. So my training in Delhi helped a lot,” says Diya.

A step further in the makeup skills of Diya was when she did air brush makeup training from the ‘London Based Academy’. “The air brush makeup has become an instant hit with brides in Kashmir. I also learnt Arabic eye makeup at Delhi School of Makeup, which added to my skillset. First, I worked as a freelance makeup artist but realized it is important to own a brand,”says Diya.

Diya is gaining popularity for not just making brides look gorgeous on their wedding day but also help others attending weddings and parties look stylish.

Apart from providing makeup and hair styling services, Diya has added yet another feather to her hat by offering lehangas, jewellery, accessories and party wear on rent.  “I brought exotic Jadau jewellery from Hyderabad and showcase a whole lot of range of accessories at my studio which is put up for rentals. This even includes party wear, which has been appreciated to a great extent. I have clients coming from every part of Kashmir but I offer home visits only in the vicinity of Srinagar. The clutches and potlis, I offer are quite special,” says Diya.

Passing on her skills to to-be brides and students is a heartfelt passion for Diya. Such has been her longing for providing beauty, makeup and styling tips to others that Diya has already helped six aspiring makeup artists to learn tricks of the trade.

“I provide them self-grooming tips and among those I trained, recently, also includes two brides. I am glad that from doctors to engineers and lawyers to other professionals, there are so many women and young girls who want to learn the art of makeup,” says Diya.

De You Makeover is a brand emerging fast and there has been no looking back for Diya. However, not everything has been hunky dory for this talented makeup artist, whose Facebook page and mobile was hacked by some unknown person recently.

“The level of competition of makeup artists is becoming so intense that someone recently hacked my accounts and my phone. I think this is purely out of envy for my brand. I had thousands of ‘likes’ on my Facebook page but now would need to start my social media campaign all over again,” says Diya.

While Diya is making all out efforts to ensure that she makes as many women look gorgeous, the uncertainty of the situation in Kashmir is always at the back of mind. “My bookings for makeup and styling have been made till end of October but fingers crossed I hope things remain normal and we get to see a happy and joyous wedding season unlike last year when I had to return advance money of several clients,” says Diya.

Hygience and skin care are of utmost importance to Diya who claims to use brands that are tried and tested from markets in London, Netherlands and Dubai etc. “Cheap products can be harmful for skin so I ensure that I use branded and quality products. In addition I inform all my clients about both pre and post makeup skin care,” says Diya.

Diya signs off saying more than just doing business she believes in making brides look the best on the most important day of their life and “leave behind happy smiles”..

Here are Lahore-based makeup artist Hifsa Khan's essential tips for summer brides

LAHORE: 

Pondering over beauty trends, experimenting with different looks on different models and dressing up more than a dozen brides daily is what makes being a makeup artist a serious job. Hifsa Khan is one such beautician, who chose a completely different path for herself over than a decade ago, determined to establishing a makeup career. From a nine to five banking job, Hifsa made a shift to the beauty industry in 2009 and has become a household name in Lahore since then.

PHOTO: PUBLICITY

PHOTO: PUBLICITY

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“The switch from a banker to a makeup artist was not an easy one. But, after my own experience as a bride, I chose to change jobs. I realised that bride’s need more pampering, a listening ear and a professional who is with them at all times to guide them through one of the most important days of their lives,” Hifsa told The Express Tribune.  “A prominent feature of my style is that all our brides look nothing less than dolls on their big day and that is what sets us apart.”

There’s no gainsaying that the beauty industry is a competitive place. According to Hifsa, she follows the Five Reasons Theory to attract clients. “Our advantage is the strategy we try to follow. The first reason is the consultation we give to the bride about what look we can create for her, keeping in mind her jewellery and outfit. Secondly, we do the essential hair demo on her to make sure that the selected style suits her face,” revealed Hifsa.

PHOTO: PUBLICITY

PHOTO: PUBLICITY

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“Next, we provide a complete consultation on hair, skin and body which involves focusing on areas of improvement. Fourthly, all brides are called for a post photo-shoot touch up so they feel confident and glowing while entering the venue. Lastly, we give the bride quick fix tips incase her makeup smudges after she leaves the salon.”

The core satisfaction for any good makeup artist comes from using products that help customers look their best. “Makeup is not a transformation but the correction of imperfections. The way it enhances a person’s look without changing the features is what I love about it.”

Hifsa caters to approximately 10 to 12 brides every day. What she doesn’t like is how today’s brides go over-the-top for every function, hence losing their charm on the main day. “Guests are so dressed up on all the weddings functions that the bride has no choice but to get decked up on her mayoun also. But, this is not how it should be. As far as the bridal rates are concerned, these depend on the demand and supply in the market,” explained Hifsa.

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Interestingly, the most common mistake she sees in the bridal industry is that most artists try to make their clients appear fairer than they actually are. “Natural skin tone should be maintained at all times. Going a shade lighter is still okay but making someone look ridiculously white is just not done,” she said. Sharing one of her favourite beauty tips, Hifsa said, “The concept of less is more. This is the greatest tip I can give to girls. Please use less makeup for maximum results. Makeup is just for minimal coverage and it should not be used like excessive cream on cake.”

Hifsa Khan PHOTO:FILE

Hifsa Khan PHOTO:FILE

Hifsa highly recommends products such as the Dior foundation, Mac eyeliner and Laura Mercier blush on. “Girls love fake eyelashes these days. Such accessories don’t only add to the makeup but also look gorgeous on their own. This summer’s focus is on makeup that does not show, and so foundations with medium coverage and low resolution are getting the most attention.”

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