The Wedding Industry Shift I’m Seeing and How to Adapt 

In my 15 years as a bridal hair and makeup artist, I’ve worked over 500 weddings, so you can bet I’ve seen it allll (or so I thought)

I’ve worked weddings with moms who want to be as dolled up as the bride. Weddings where there’s 15 bridesmaids and some where there’s two.

The beautiful thing about weddings is that they’re unique to the couple. Carefully planned and created to represent the bride and groom, their love for each other, and what they’ve dreamed of for this day. 

And for the first time in my career as a bridal hair and makeup artist, I’m seeing a new wedding trend that I never expected …


What does elopement mean in today’s wedding world?

When I think of elopement, I think of a bride and groom running away in secret, getting married (maybe in Vegas?), then coming home with rings on their fingers surprising friends and family with the news of their weekend adventure. 

But lately I’m noticing a new meaning for elopements with the brides I’m serving. It’s an intimate, small group of people joining the couple in their marriage ceremony- usually somewhere away from where they’re from. 

Two weeks ago, I had a bride come from Tennessee with her immediate family and the groom’s immediate family. Instead of a big wedding back home in Tennessee, they took a family trip to California and spent the week exploring Yosemite. They rented an Airbnb where everyone could stay together and had a small ceremony before a dinner party back at the Airbnb house to celebrate after. 

They weren’t running off to get married in secret, and they weren’t necessarily spending less, it was just different. 

Why elopements are gaining popularity

That Tennessee bride told me they didn’t necessarily spend less on the wedding, they just spent it differently. Instead of paying for six hours in a venue, food for 100+ people, a DJ, a planner, etc. etc. etc. the bride and groom spent their wedding budget on family memories, bonding experiences, and a different style of wedding that fit their prioritization of family and intentional time together. 

As wedding industry professionals, we know that weddings are expensive. Add in inflation and the overall economic hardships we’re seeing today and couples are getting creative with how they spend their money. 

Whether an elopement is chosen to save money or not, they’re an opportunity for brides to get creative in how they’re spending their money. And the more brides we see doing this, the more comfortable other brides get with the idea of not having a big wedding if that’s not what they imagine for themselves. 

So if brides are planning a different kind of wedding, how can we adapt as industry professionals? 

Every bride wants to feel her best on her wedding day— no matter what style of wedding she’s having

The good news is, elopement brides still want their hair and makeup done! Every bride wants to look and feel their absolute best on their wedding day and our services as bridal hair and makeup artists is part of that. They’re still booking stylists, often in destination locations. 

Even though these brides are spending their wedding budget differently, they’re not skimping on hair and makeup!! 

There’s a big opportunity in this shift for bridal HMUAs to capitalize on non-traditional weddings. (For the record, there’s still lots of traditional weekend weddings with big bridal parties with dinner and dancing. This is just one shift we can be aware of and use to our advantage.)

The positive impact of this industry shift

If you work in the bridal industry, I’m guessing you’re used to busy weekends. You might even fill your week with non-bridal clients to keep your business going because not many weddings happen on Wednesdays. 

Well, with this shift to elopements, I’m seeing weddings on every day of the week! This is a shift we can lean into and make the most of as bridal stylists. Even in my small town, I’m seeing weddings every day of the week. In fact, I just had a wedding yesterday (on a Monday)! 

So what does this mean for you? 

Maximize your wedding work!!!!

Don’t assume weddings will only be on the weekends. You can position yourself as the elopement bridal hair and makeup artist in your area to book weddings any day. 

How to position yourself as the local go-to HMUA

I’ve worked hard to position myself as the best central California elopement bridal hair and makeup artist. Especially because elopement brides are likely to be coming from out of town, they’re using the internet to search for stylists. Going somewhere new isn’t the same as asking a friend who they used or remembering the artist from the last time they were a bridesmaid. 

I’ve had brides recently from Tennessee and Louisiana and both found me online. It reminded me that the internet and social media are such valuable tools in this industry and provide free advertising for where we work and who we serve! 

Here’s how I make sure I come up with they start searching my area:

  1. Use hashtags on your social media specific to your area! Make sure you’re showing up consistently on socials and be intentional with your hashtags. Noting your location in your socials will help someone who finds you know if you’ll work for their elopement destination and help you come up as they search based on location. 
  2. Host a blog with keywords that incorporate your location. Hey look, here you are on my blog! Throughout my blog posts, I mention where I live so that the internet will include me in searches for HMUAs in this area. Having a blog on your site with keywords can help you come up higher in Google results and establish your expertise as a leader in your area.
  3. Create a Google My Business profile. These are based on location, so by having a Google My Business profile, you’re telling the internet exactly where you can be found. If someone searches for “Hair and makeup artist in Yosemite, CA” I want my profile to come up! Having an exact address and location helps with that. 

If you’re still building your business and establishing your name in the industry, sites like The Knot and Style Me Pretty (and loots more like them) offer paid advertising that can make a big difference as you grow your bridal beauty business. I’d recommend looking into those ad opportunities if you’re newer or establishing your online presence! Consider listing elopements as a service to stand out to brides leaning into this new wedding trend. 

Unexpected changes are part of the game

When I realized more and more elopement brides were booking me, I was honestly surprised! This isn’t a shift I would’ve guessed was coming for weddings, but now that I’m seeing it, I know I need to lean in. As a business owner, we have to be aware of industry trends and shift with them. 

I am confident what will never change is that brides want to look and feel their best on their wedding day. There will always be a need for bridal hair and makeup artists, so don’t let this shift scare you. Lean into how you can make the most of it and serve a new style of wedding! This could be the start of weddings all throughout the week (a shift I’d gladly welcome). 

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