10 Questions with Meleah Nelson

WeddingRule Interviewed one of the most popular and sought-after wedding hair & makeup artists in California, Makeup, Hair and Dance by Meleah. San Diego based Meleah is the founder and owner of Makeup, Hair and Dance by Meleah.

Makeup, Hair and Dance by Meleah

Hair & Makeup Artist - Meleah Nelson

10 Questions with Meleah Nelson
  • Business: Makeup, Hair and Dance by Meleah
  • Location: San Diego, California CA
  • Experience: 20 Years
  • Website: www.meleah.com

1. Introduction: What's your story?

Hi, I'm Meleah and I have had a passion for making people look and feel confident for as long as I can remember. I was styling Mom's hair at 5 years old and doing makeovers in my teen years. I was practice teaching fitness classes and dance by the time I was 12. I joined the fashion industry after High School and started modeling and working on wardrobe styling and fashion shoots. As a model I needed to do my own makeup and began helping other girls with theirs. I began teaching all types of men and women to apply makeup and soon I had my own line of cosmetics. One of my makeovers was a bride and she insisted that I do her wedding....I was hooked! Then she wanted help with her first dance and with my dance background, I had some easy tricks to show her and decided to make First Dance Lessons part of my services.

My driving force has always been to help people look and feel better about themselves. Weddings are such a positive time in a couple's journey...but they can be very stressful. If I can help them have less stress and more fun I am all in. That is where "Makeup, Hair and Dance by Meleah" was born over 20 years ago.

I strive to exceed expectations and create the best version of you for your wedding day. The First Dance can be intimidating, but with a little help and practice I show all types of couples that they really can dance and enjoy themselves. Many tell me it was the most fun part of prepping for the wedding, and that it gave them an activity to work on together.

2. What's your experience as a bridal hair & makeup artist? How many brides are in there in your portfolio?

I have over 20 years' experience in creating beautiful brides. I have 100's of examples in various portfolios on my website, IG, Facebook and Pinterest. I never get tired of looking at them and seeing how everyone glows with happiness!

3. What are the different packages that you offer and which one is your most popular package?

I try to stay competitively priced. I am not the cheapest, nor the most expensive; I settled in the middle and keep it fair.
I offer a group rate with 8 or more services. I also offer multi-service discounts, meaning if 1 person gets both hair and makeup, there is a price break.

My most common size wedding is a Bride plus 3 attendants right now. I can handle very large groups as well as the Bride only.

4. Do you have a team of assistants or will you be the only artist that day? What will happen if you're sick or have an emergency on the wedding day?

I have a team of 6 professional stylists. I gather my crew as needed based on the number of services and the timing. For larger groups I try to keep the prep time to 4 hours or less. You don't want to be exhausted before walking down the aisle! For just one bride I allow about 2 hours for hair and makeup.

Emergencies can happen, (fortunately never for us) and I can call on one of my team to help.

5. Do you charge a travel fee? For what distance? What does that cover?

I do charge a travel fee. It varies depending on how far we need to go and at what hour. For example: a 6am start time puts us on the road by 5am, so that would be a higher rate than starting at 10am.
Typically travel fees start around $15-20 for locations central to San Diego. La Jolla area is $25, North County is $35-45 and Temecula-Julian is $75-85.

6. Can the bride book a wedding makeup trial appointment and will you also do a trial before the wedding?

Yes I highly recommend a trial before the date. I like to see my brides at least a month prior. There may be skin or hair issues that need to be addressed, and that gives us time to get things in better shape.
I always offer ways to improve a skin care routine, brow shape, hair care and whatever I see that will help my bride look her very best. If she needs a hair treatment, cut or color shift it gives time to make that happen. For skin, she may need to do some exfoliating or some detoxing, so a month-6 weeks in advance is enough time.

The trial is a rehearsal of sorts. It shows us how the look she wants will wear for the day and if she really wants that look. Sometimes we think we want something, but when we see it, we decide to go another direction. I certainly don't want that happening on the day of! A trial gives the chance to work all that out.

7. What beauty products do you use and would you be open to the bride using her own make-up?

I am lucky, I have my own line of high-performance cosmetics. I carry six different formulas of foundation alone! Everyone's skin is different. One type of foundation does not suit all brides. I go from light to full coverage and matte to dewy, including airbrush. It depends on what the bride ( and groom) wants. We don't want to shock the groom with a bride he does not recognize.

With my photo styling experience, I can see what the camera sees, so I know which finish works best on which skin. The weather, photo location, lighting and skin type all play a part in how the photo will look. We have to take in all the variables and then decide.... this all happens at the trial.

I sometimes will do each side of the face with a different formula, just to see how it wears. 4-6 hours in is really the test, so I have my brides send me photos throughout the day of the trial so we can see how the makeup lasts and also the hair. Then I can make corrections on the day of.

Some people are very allergic and if they prefer to use their own cosmetics, I am happy to do so. The wearing power may not be as strong as mine, but better to be safe from an unwanted reaction.

8. How can you make the bride's wedding makeup last and look good in photos?

There are many tricks to achieving a long lasting finish; good quality products and skin prep being the two most important. There are so many brands to choose from and it is important to have a quality standard. Some brands just do not last. Fortunately my line has been formulated for makeup artists and is very long lasting.

Skin prep is crucial. The skin must be smooth and clean with a light moisture base and no sunscreen. When I meet with the bride for the trial, I can see any issues then and help her get smoother more clear skin by the wedding.

I am a big fan of primers. I choose the one best suited for her skin type and let it settle in, then I spray with a setting spray before and after the application. I want that face to last 12 hours.

Touch up is usually a good idea to keep the skin looking fresh and everything in its place. Some eyes tend to blur the liner, some skins absorb more that others, and some are dry and creased. Touch up is realistic to expect and is typically lips, setting powder and sometimes eyeliner.

9. How long will makeup take on the day and how long will you be staying for on the day?

I allow 2 hours for the bride's hair and makeup, and 60-90 minutes each for the rest of the party. When we get 3 or more people (6 services), I bring in additional stylists so the timing stays reasonable. Hair extensions, lashes and airbrush all add additional time so I allow for that as well. We want to have everyone looking spectacular in 3-4 hours max.

I build in a 30 minute buffer to allow for surprises, drama, lateness etc. We pride ourselves on always finishing on time or early.

In some cultures, the bride needs to change wardrobe, hair and /or makeup. I can arrange to return later for that, or stay onsite for continued touch ups and changes.

10. What is your cancellation and/or refund policy?

I collect a 50% non- refundable retainer to guarantee the day. You can reschedule or change the timing without additional fees if the time and date is available. Services are considered final once I have a signed contract and collect the retainer. I guarantee on my end and you guarantee on yours. If I book additional stylists, they book out of the salon and turn away work, so both sides are protected.
Sometimes, we get a surprise person who wants services and we do our best to accommodate them. We have always managed to fit them in and keep everyone happy.

That is the goal, everyone happy, everyone beautiful!

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Awards

WeddingRule Editor’s Choice 2020WeddingRule Editor’s Choice 2021