Jessica + Brandon

09-23-17-Leo_SP_0806

I started something new this year. Instead of just responding to emailed bridal inquiries, I tried to schedule quick phone calls with all potential brides. I like the personal aspect of a phone call in a world in which we spend so. much. time behind screens. I had toyed with the idea of a quick get-to-know-you chat, and when I had lunch last January with one of my favorite fellow artists, Joanna Bastermajian, she mentioned that was one of the first things she does with potential brides. I have learned that Joanna is a thoughtful and all-around wise woman, and I respect her business acumen as well as her artistic talent, so I decided to go for it. When I think about that day back in January, there are a number of things that were discussed and mulled over that actually really set the tone for this year (but that’s a separate blog post).

This is all to say, that when I got an email from a potential bride named Jessica, I asked if we could have a quick chat. She agreed, and 2 minutes into our call I had decided she sounded kick-ass and I was hoping she’d decide to move forward with booking. AND it turns out that she had gotten my name from Joanna! (It’s a small world, friends. I love my band of makeup artists that work together and spread the love–more on them in another blog post, too!)

But back to Jessica. As we talked, she shared with me more about the day she and her fiance had been dreaming up. A small, intimate party on the rooftop of one of their favorite restaurant’s in Chicago’s West Loop, Little Goat. Their closest friends, lots of beer and great music. And the bride would be prepping that morning in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel because–get this—she was on the architectural team that oversaw it’s re-design. And all of this awesomeness photographed by Jennifer Shaffer.

Did I say K-I-C-K-A-S-S?!?

You can imagine my delight when Jessica decided to book me for hair and makeup for her wedding day!

09-23-17-Leo_T6C4345-2

I met Jessica, along with her mom and sister, on the day of her trial. At that point, she was planning to wear a short, deep-blush-colored dress that she had found and loved, and that was NOT a wedding dress. It fit perfectly with her non-traditional approach. We did her hair and makeup preview, and left undecided in terms of a lip shade, because she really wanted to pinpoint one that would look perfect with the color of her dress. BUT THEN….

She just happened to pop into BHLDN…and well, you can guess what happened! She found an amazing dress with a CAPELET and so on wedding day, we just had to go with a gorgeous warm red lip to play up her beautiful coloring. I mean, seriously!

09-23-17-Leo_T6C4375

Jessica’s directions to me were to make her look “like myself, elevated”. Perfect! With skin like that, and such a lovely contrast with dark brows and hair, my task was easy. I love to give my brides glowing skin (meaning strategic coverage that isn’t caky–with just the right amount of highlight!) and a balanced eye and lip look.

Jessica had also emailed me just before her trial that she’d chopped off her hair, and asked me if that was a problem. I assured her, as I do all my brides, that the most important thing is that YOU like the way YOU LOOK. I will work with you to make you look your best, but you are the judge of what makes you feel beautiful and look amazing! We went with sleek bouncy curls that played up her hair’s natural shine and her jeweled pins added the perfect touch and contrast in her dark hair.

I also got to do hair and makeup for her mom, sister, and soon-to-be Mother-in-law. What a fun, relaxing morning we had! When Jessica sent me her pictures from that day, I had to ask for some of the detail shots, because she and Brandon really incorporated their personalities into every aspect.

Donuts on the Paperless Post invite! (Jessica’s dad handed out pink donuts instead of cigars when his daughters were born—are you kidding me?!) Heart eyes…

09-23-17-Leo_SP_0267-2

Custom (and I mean Jessica designed this bag!) welcome packages for all the guests…they love Bloody Mary’s and Brandon works for Miller–is this so Chicago or WHAT?

09-23-17-Leo_SP_0263-2

Then, her friend gave her this and we all died. DIED.

09-23-17-Leo_SP_0260-2

She made it with the help of Unearthed Paper Co. via Etsy. I want one!

Have I digressed from talking about hair and makeup? Can you blame me? Back on topic…

Because of Jessica’s role in the re-design of the hotel, she and Brandon were able to take some photos inside some of the sexy spaces of the Chicago Athletic Association, a privilege usually reserved for those tying the knot on-location. These lucky two got to have their fun photo shoot and then go party at Little Goat!

I’m gonna say it again, K-I-C-K-A-S-S!

09-23-17-Leo_SP_0649-209-23-17-Leo_T6C4403-2

09-23-17-Leo_SP_0590-Edit-2

What a great group. Look at those proud parents!

09-23-17-Leo_SP_0833

I absolutely love that Jessica invited Brandon’s mom to hang out that morning and have her hair and makeup done. As the mom of two boys she had never done anything like it, and told me when she sat in my chair, she’d never had her makeup done! New favorite!

I LOVE SISTERS.

09-23-17-Leo_T6C4488-2

And her sister wound up wearing the dress Jessica had planned to wear. PERFECT with a rose lip and romantic hair ( I wish you could see the back of this updo! You can on my Instagram 😉

Also, I LOVE MOMS.

09-23-17-Leo_T6C4491

I seriously have the best chats with the mothers on wedding day. Job perk, for sure! Mom’s just needed a bit of volume and softness for an elegant finish. I LOVE doing makeup on moms because it lets me focus on brows, which many moms share with me have faded. Mothers of the brides—I got you!

I loved working with Jessica and her family to come up with hair and makeup looks that highlighted their best features. And of course, one of my favorite things about this job is getting photos back to see how everything came together!

Jessica sent me this shot because the art matched her lipstick, and it is AMAZING.

09-23-17-Leo_SP_0894-2

And it even looks awesome in black and white. I love when I get photos like this so I can demonstrate what to me is a crucial aspect of good wedding makeup. Wedding makeup MUST look good in color AND in black and white! No debate!

Jessica, you were a glowing bride on your wedding day, and a joy to work with in the months leading up to your wedding. Thank you for choosing me to be a part of such a special day. #leofiorellafest was truly a celebration of the love you and Brandon share! I wish you all the best for the future, and many more joyous times full of good friends, great music, delicious food and beer! Cheers!

09-23-17-Leo_T6C5083-2

Photography: Jennifer Shaffer

Getting Ready Venue: Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Ceremony and Reception: Little Goat

Invitations: Paperless Post

Gown: BHLDN

Hair and Makeup: Tricia Clarke Makeup

Renee + Fabien

I “met” Renee the same way I meet most of my brides–via email. But unlike most of my brides, who have found me thanks to personal referrals from a past clients, friends or photographers, Renee was the first of a new wave of brides–the ones who found me on Instagram. I find it hard to describe how thrilling it was to get her email, and realize that all those hours of typing with my thumbs might actually have been for good reason! I think I floated on a happy cloud for a few days after our first exchange. #winning

While Renee lives in Brooklyn, she and her fiance were planning a Chicago wedding at one of my favorite city venues, Room 1520. We set a date for her trial, and when I met her (finally, in person!) she was just as warm and as lovely as her emails had suggested. As we chatted about the details of her wedding, she revealed a truly all-star line-up of vendors, headed by Nicole at Urban Allure and I started to get really excited for her and Fabien’s big day. I can’t wait any longer so get excited, because photographer Lidia Codrean captured every single part of Renee and Fabien’s vision exquisitely.

RFWed0525

As we talked about her vision for her bridal look, Renee shared with me that she normally wears a deep red lip as part of her signature look, but that she was hesitant to do so, because of the colors she had chosen for her bridesmaids. Look at these beautiful pink and blush tones–with those bouquets by LaRue Floral!

RFWed0150

I agreed, and we decided that maybe it would be better to still do a statement lip, but veer more towards a deep pink. We knew no matter what, we wanted her lips to be the focal point, so I kept the rest of her bridal makeup very classic, old-Hollywood. To me this means, soft matte skin, defined eyes with crisp liner and just enough lashes to bring out her eyes and balance her whole look without over-powering.

RFWed0028

 

I left our bridal preview with detailed notes on what I had used,  and also pictures of the look we created. On wedding day, I might make skincare adjustments based on how my client’s skin is behaving, and of course I match their foundation and color to whatever shade they are that day, regardless of what we did at the preview…after all, if a bride gets a tan, or loses sun-kissed color, I want to match their wedding day skin, not whatever they looked like on trial day! I also always encourage my brides to wear their makeup for the rest of the day, taking note of how everything holds up, and letting me know if they have any feedback for me. It’s really a collaborative process and I love that while I bring my expertise and professional products to the preview, it’s also really important that my brides share with me what they want for their bridal beauty look, and are honest with me about how they feel I interpret their vision!

A few days after our trial, Renee emailed me and said that while she loved the look we created, she just didn’t feel like herself without her signature red lipstick. I am so glad she was honest about what made her feel beautiful, because my friends, you cannot believe how stunning she was…

RFWed0083

Are you ready?

RFWed0089

It’s almost TOO good!

RFWed0401

Perfection.

Renee’s lovely friends were some of the sweetest bridesmaids I’ve ever worked with, and our morning at the Chicago Athletic Hotel was dreamy. We had a view over Millennium Park of sailboats on Lake Michigan, and once everyone was ready, they  headed out for pictures at the Art Institute. Oh, Chicago!

RFWed0109

Stunning. I mean, STUNNING.

RFWed0136RFWed0158

Beautiful romantic hair by Annie of Epoch Salon!

RFWed0151

Beautiful bridal makeup will look good in black & white AND in color photographs!

I also make sure my brides makeup looks good from all angles…those LASHES!

RFWed0287RFWed0293

I mean, these pictures. So good!

I also have to include photos of some of my favorite people on wedding day–the moms! I encourage my brides to include mothers in the hair and makeup on wedding day, even (and especially) if they don’t normally wear makeup. They also probably don’t wear a sequined dress, and it’s all about finding balance and looking special, but not overdone. In many cases, I do a trial with the mom as well, so she gets excited for the big day, and not nervous that I will make her look unrecognizable, I did a trial with Renee’s mom, and it was great to get to know her a bit before we met on wedding day. I just love moms!

Room 1520 has beautiful light and amazing rooftop views. Just look at these!

RFWed0679RFWed0471RFWed0446RFWed0937RFWed0947

Now, I know you are already having a hard time handling all this beauty, but I have to tell you, Renee and Fabien’s celebration didn’t end here. They flew to France and said their vows again in a beautiful cathedral for Renee + Fabien Part Deux. SWOON.

Renee, thank you for scrolling through the hashtags and thousands of pictures on Instagram and finding me! It was a joy to be a part of your wedding day, and bear witness to your and Fabien’s incredible love, and the joy your family felt at coming together to share in your happiness. Every detail of your day demonstrated what a special couple you are. I wish you years of happiness and adventure, together! And thank you for being honest with me about what would make you feel like the most beautiful version of you, because that red lip… I mean, come on! You are a knockout!

RFWed0163

Renee + Fabien Vendor Love:

Planning and Coordination: Urban Allure

Photography: Lidia Codrean

Videography: Ruben Codrean

Florals: LaRue Floral (formerly Casey of Pen and Petals)

Calligraphy:  Jen of Pen and Petals

Hair: Annie Framstad, Epoch Salon

Venues: Room 1520 and Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Entertainment: Toast and Jam DJs

Catering: D’Absolute Catering

Sweets: Sweet Mandy B’s

Photobooth: Fotio Co

And in a case of serendipitous timing, you can read Renee’s take on everything by reading her review of my services here. Thank you Renee! You were a highlight of my 2017 and I will treasure these beautiful pictures of you looking so radiant and happy.

2016 Reflections

I don’t know about you, but for me, 2016 was a year of exhilarating highs and very discouraging lows. I often say I make a lot of mistakes, but never the same mistake twice. I learned a lot of lessons the hard way this year and I won’t be repeating those mistakes. But this post is not about re-hashing my struggles and challenges. I had a lot of great experiences this year and I’d like to end 2016 on a high note, celebrating the happy achievements and sweet successes that will stay with me longer than the sting of disappointments. So join me for a little New Year’s Eve reminiscing, won’t you?

1. A Feature on Style Me Pretty

It’s still a thrill to see my bride Ally and her beautiful Room 1520 wedding featured on Style Me Pretty, thanks to the gorgeous photography of Betsi Ewing. I loved absolutely everything about this wedding, you really have to read the feature for all the gorgeous details!  Trying to pick favorite images is almost impossible, but here are my top three:

ally_rob_030ally_rob_206ALLY_ROB_065

2. A fantastic Milwaukee wedding 

Another thing I say a lot is that I have the best brides, because I DO. I am grateful for each and every one. But some are especially dear to my heart, and Jenna is one of them. She was the manager at the Starbucks I frequented every day when I was still in the corporate world, and she cheered me on during my career highs and lows, pregnancy and maternity leave and subsequent dive into the world of freelance bridal makeup. She booked me for her wedding 2 years in advance, and over the course of her hair and makeup trials I got to meet all the women in her family and fall under their spell. What an amazing and fun group of people! Her beautiful wedding in Milwaukee was a definite highlight of my 2016 season. Bellow Blue Photography captured so many breathtaking moments! Jenna, thank you for letting me be a part of this magical day. You are the best.

PreCeremony(54of222).jpg

creative-8-copy1creative-127

3. First a sweet bridesmaid, then a radiant bride

There is no higher compliment than when a bridesmaid contacts me and says it’s her turn to walk down the aisle, and asks me to work with her on her wedding day. Julia got married on a beautiful day in early summer in the heart of Chicago. We started the day prepping her wonderful family and friends (who had met the year before at her friend Claire’s wedding, and I dare you to find a lovelier group of girls) and then they took photos in Millennium Park before an enchanted reception at the University Club of Chicago. I also got to meet Julia’s mom and sister at her hair trial (makeup for this wedding by Ryan Jaeger), so I felt like we were old chums by wedding day, and I just love that. 2016 was a year of great families! Lucky for me, the whole day was documented by Avery House!

i-pfx5hjr-xli-pmcbc5f-xli-qztgr26-xli-rxnndzl-xl

4. Master Class with Anthony Gordon

In October I was thrilled to attend an intensive hands-on class with The Makeup Man himself, Anthony Gordon. Anthony has been a professional makeup artist in Hollywood for decades, and brought his amazing range of skills to us Midwestern artists and it was a day I will never forget. We were challenged to create 3 iconic looks from 3 different eras, 1940’s Glamour, 1960’s Mod, and Chinese Opera (!)and I was stretched wayyyy beyond my comfort zone. I learned so much and was reminded of how important it is to continue to seek out quality education and always be pushing myself creatively. Thanks to Your Name Pro Cosmetics for bringing Anthony to Chicago, Sonia Roselli for hosting the class  (I got to meet so many other working pros, like Cass Barron pictured with her model) and to the fantastic Ben Fink for capturing so many cool images from the day. Thanks also to my dear friend Shannon for being my model for the day!

Anthony_10_19_16_301.jpgAnthony_10_19_16_351.jpgAnthony_10_19_16_1206.jpg

Anthony_10_19_16_545.jpgAnthony_10_19_16_684.jpg

anthony_10_19_16_1289

5.Trials as Try-Outs

To be honest, one of the challenges of 2016 has been facing up to how the makeup industry is changing. There is more competition than ever before, and I am choosing to embrace that fact as motivation to work harder than ever. In years past, clients would book me for their wedding and then we would schedule their trial so we could collaborate on a wedding look. Now, with so many options to choose from, brides are very particular (as they should be!) and want to make sure they find the right artist by doing their trial BEFORE booking. So a trial is truly a try-out to see if I can achieve the look they want, and if I am the right artist for them. Although I am not a competitive person by nature, I do get a rush when I meet these potential brides and have to demonstrate my skills and make a genuine connection with them. Happily, I have “Passed” every try-out and been booked!

6. High Standards, Happy Customers

Another highlight of this season was Claudia’s wedding. She was my first “trial as try-out” and she warned me she had high standards, and I enjoyed meeting them. That her bridal bouquet was almost exactly like mine only cemented my idea of her having impeccable taste. I did makeup for her mom, aunt, sister and friend, while Magnificent Brides provided beautiful hair styling. Aside from the laughs we shared, one of my favorite moments was when her sister-in-law who had opted to do her own makeup (beautifully!) pulled me aside and said she was impressed with my work and wished she had gotten in on the fun! Thanks to Natalie Probst for the beautiful images from this day!

claudia-and-nick-npp-017claudia-and-nick-npp-022claudia-and-nick-npp-268claudia-and-nick-npp-274

7. Being Featured on Glossible

As I said previously, 2016 has brought the realization that the beauty industry is changing. One pro leading the charge to maintain industry standards of artistic quality, professional conduct and overall integrity is Sonia Roselli. Not only is she one of THE top artists in Chicago (I do not exaggerate when I say I looked up to 2 people as I was getting started, Sonia and Bobbi Brown) debuted a game-changing skin care line created in Japan and the most sinfully soft brushes I’ve ever worked with (hello, Nudes!) but she has created a forum where makeup artists can gather to learn from each other, and this resource has helped me immensely this year. To be featured for my work with bride Ally on Glossible in the artist showcase was a true high point for me this year. Sonia, you have given me the fuel to keep going, stronger than ever in 2017!

ally_rob_023

Well friends, those are my lucky 7. I wanted to end this year focusing on what has been great, and resolving to learn from ALL my experiences. Thanks for sharing in this journey with me, and CHEERS to 2017!

kristine-casart-photography-chicago-photographer-tricia-29-1