In just one year, Robin Schisler has spent more than $1,000 on facials, gone to three makeup artists for makeovers and exhausted hundreds of dollars on cosmetics and skincare products.
There is a simple reason for Schisler's sudden obsession with looking beautiful -- she's getting married.
"The pictures will be one of the most important things of that day -- they're going to be the thing that lasts," said Schisler, 29, a Lutherville, Md., research program coordinator who is marrying in May. "To look perfect for that day, you're going to have to do anything."
Schisler is hardly unique in her costly quest for big-day beauty. Women always have wanted to look perfect for the walk down the aisle, but now they are spending more money on pre-nuptial skincare and makeup. Instead of doing their own makeup, many now hire professionals. And engaged women in America spend months experimenting with cosmetics -- and hundreds of millions of dollars on makeup every year.
It's a fact that cosmetics companies are realizing. Companies from Clinique to Bobbi Brown have stepped up their outreach to the newly engaged, in the hope of reeling in some of those bridal dollars. They've been training counter makeup artists specifically in creating bridal looks and holding events at department stores for brides and their wedding parties. And in March, Laura Mercier launched a "Wedding Party Collection" of lip and eye colors repackaged specially for brides.
"We have a statistic -- there's something like 7,000 marriages that happen every day somewhere in the world," said Tracy Miller, director of global education development for Clinique, which has created ads targeted at brides and developed a "You May Kiss the Groom" pamphlet available at counters. "It's a huge market out there of women who need to look their best on one day."
Part of the reason cosmetic companies have begun focusing on brides lies in the growing awareness that brides have evolved.
"The bride has been an unrecognized consumer for a very long time," said Denise O'Donoghue, beauty and jewelry editor at Bride's magazine. "But finally, she's being seen as someone who has the money to spend, who is beauty-savvy, and her engagement period is a time when she is experimenting from head to toe. She's not who she was 10 years ago -- someone who'd never had a pedicure before. She knows skincare and she's having fun with makeup."
There are several reasons for the evolution. Now that women are marrying later, they have more money to try out different skincare products while engaged. And splashy magazine spreads focusing on wedding hair and makeup and TV specials on celebrity marriages have added to the hype surrounding the big day. Also, more couples today are opting for pricey and sophisticated wedding photography and videography.
"If brides have never been photographed before, that makes them think twice," O'Donoghue said. "Like, 'My gosh, I really need to know what I'm doing.' "
According to a 2002 Conde Nast Bridal Infobank survey, American women spent an estimated $606 million on beauty products during their engagements and forked over an additional $497 million on wedding hair and makeup.
There are long-term benefits to making brides happy. Women often are fiercely faithful to their favorite skincare products, but she's likely to switch loyalties if she likes her wedding day makeup. A recent survey the Infobank conducted showed that 94 percent of women questioned said they tried beauty products they'd never used before in the year leading up to the wedding. Three years later, 88 percent reported using the same products.
And having a bride choose your makeup for her special day can be the advertising equivalent of having a celebrity showcase your products on the red carpet.
"I definitely see people saying, 'Oh I got married in Bobbi Brown and I've been wearing it ever since,' " said Ellice Schwab, director of global education for Bobbi Brown cosmetics. "Or, a girl will come up to the counter and say, 'My girlfriend got married in Bobbi Brown and now I want it, too.' "
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