It took me an hour to drive from work to my wedding makeup consultation apppointment at their Temple City studio, in spite of which I was an hour early. The place was way bigger than I’d expected. They had a very visible storefront in the same plaza as major department stores, and they were also a storefront selling not just makeup/hairstyling services, but also photography, bridal gowns and accessories, special occasion dresses and shoes. After I made contact with the award-winning makeup artist Sylvia and her photographer husband, I was taken apart by their expert artistic eyes. The verdict: I am “not bad.” No major facial problems, good bone structure, nice size eyes and features. But the gray contacts had to go, they warned. They explained the contacts may look unique in person but in photography, it’d look freakish and artificial. That was a point I’d been debating and I was leaning toward my natural dark (dark dark dark) brown eyes anyway so that future generations don’t look at my wedding photos and go, “WOT da fok?”

I was shown before/after photos of past customers and Asian celebrity customers, as well as makeup done by other professionals vs. makeup redone on the same people by Sylvia. Sylvia pointed out why certain people were given certain hairstyles to hide flaws, and apparently she knows some Hollywood makeup magic, because she evened out crooked uneven eyes, slimmed down square jowls, narrowed wide noses, opened sleepy-shaped lids, hid protrusive cheekbone angles. Based on how fugly (yeah, I said it) some of these girls looked before makeup, I can’t wait to see how I and my three naturally beautiful bridesmaids turn out.

I was happy to learn that their photo studio had a small package that fit what I’d been wanting for engagement photos. I had decided to forego engagement pics because I didn’t want to pay all these studios’ costs of $2000+ for giant bound albums (who’re we gonna show those to? We’re gonna have a separate wedding album.) and ridiculous 48-inch framed portraits (how do you put that up without looking terribly conceited?). But for under $400, this place will do full bridal wedding makeup and hair, touchup makeup on Mr. W, studio photography, and print out a modest number of photos of our choice. I can handle 10 4x5s, 4 8x10s (+1 more free cuz of the referral from bridesmaid Sandy’s mom), and 1 11×14 that we can frame and use for our welcome photo at the wedding site front entrance. Plus it’s a perfect trial of the hair/makeup for the actual wedding day.

I ended up walking out 2 hours later with not just a makeup/hair package for me and my bridesmaids, not just an engagement photography session, but also my bridal shoes (half the price of what I was gonna pay for similar shoes at David’s Bridal!), a secret surprise gown (Mr. W’s gonna see me in my white bridal gown before the wedding in order to pull off the logistics of timing for photography immediately before the ceremony, so SOMETHING I wear should still be a surprise) that I should’ve paid at least three times its actual price for, an appointment for a facial, a recipe for a homemade facial mask using basic and edible ingredients, and a special medically-approved, proven-effective quick weight loss diet plan. The last 3 items were free.

Oh, and I got a referral to a florist they recommended. The florist is blocks away from the makeup/photography studio, and although I was unable to talk to the head designer/storeowner who was engaged in a planning session with unbudging customers, a sales rep at the shop chatted with me about my options and gave me some prices. It looks like everything is going to be cheaper than I’d expected.

What a productive day! Shoes – check! Hair/makeup artist – check! Bridal shoes – check! Engagement photos – check! Florist – check! Pretty much all that’s left is to finalize the guest list, mail out invitations, and figure out what veil and headpiece I want based on my hairstyle.