Aaron Ellerbrock, BRIDEface Richmond, and the many faces of love

When it’s time to face the music and marry someone, BRIDEface Richmond will make sure that face is not only a vision of beauty, but one that won’t betray you when the tears start flowing. Hopefully, they will be happy tears, but that part, at least, is up to you.

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Last year, we interviewed a number of wedding-industry professionals, but this interview with Aaron Ellerbock of [BRIDEface Richmond](http://www.bridefacerichmond.com/) was particularly memorable. Check out the rest of our RVA wedding interviews [here](https://rvanews.com/tag/2015-wedding-guide) and be sure to check out the rest of this year’s wedding content as well—[many tips and tricks to be had](https://rvanews.com/tag/2016-wedding-guide)!

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Original — May 11, 2015

By all accounts, Aaron Ellerbrock of BRIDEface Richmond is, by all accounts, is just as warm-hearted as he seems below. Entrepreneurs in the wedding industry face stiff competition, often work under stressful circumstances, and have a lot riding on their performance. Aaron genuinely loves his craft (makeup artistry), loves his staff, and loves his industry–he comes highly recommended by many, many brides.

Aaron’s Story

While in grad school for clinical psychology, I was doing theater at the same time, so I needed a job that was flexible. A friend of mine was a makeup artist at Saks in Cincinnati, and she suggested that since I already knew the basics of makeup from my theater classes in undergrad, I should go and train with her. Then I would be able to freelance for in-store events or when National Makeup Artists visited to meet with their clients.

A couple of years later, I took a job at the Laura Mercier Counter at Saks and was eventually promoted to the National Artistry Team for Laura Mercier. I did end up getting my master’s, but I also took the National Artist job, thinking I would do it for a year or two. Well, I was hooked!

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In my 11-year career with Laura Mercier, I went from counter artist to National Artist to Global Artist to Regional Training Manger to Director of Training. It was a wonderful experience, and I got to work alongside of some of the most amazing artists: Laura Mercier, Bobbi Brown, and Ross Burton.

However, all the travel finally took its toll on me–I was on five or six planes each and every week, and I just needed a change and a life of my own. I soul-searched for quite awhile and the two things I kept coming back to were how much I loved working in the beauty industry and how much I loved Richmond.

The only logical thing to do was to start my own business, and that’s how BRIDEface Richmond was born. While weddings are our main focus, we also teach classes, do guest lecturing/speaking, work with photographers for photo shoots, and as much print work as we can!

What do you like about the wedding industry?

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The wedding industry is like no other! You get to work with all different kinds of people and personalities. I think that is what I like the most. In many industries, you see the same thing or interact with the same people every day. In our business that is not the case. We get to work with the relaxed and carefree client who is just enjoying the moment, but also the very organized, Type A client who wants to manage everything right down to the angle of the place cards.

I love that every day and every client is unique, and you get to experience so many new things. Another thing that I love about our industry is that with all the wedding professionals out there, we become like a little community. Just a couple of weeks ago I went to a Pancake Breakfast hosted by a consultant who invited over 70 different wedding professionals. When we get together at things like this, it’is like a big family reunion. We laugh, share stories, swap ideas; it’s just so much fun!

What effect do you think sites like Pinterest and wedding blogs have had on the industry?

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest especially.

I think it’s a wonderful tool for brides and grooms to get ideas. How fantastic for them to be able to pull up tons of images that might reflect their style or the look of what they are going for! BRIDEface Richmond has a Pinterest account where we show our favorites looks, products, ideas, etc. and that’s another reason why I love it.

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If the makeup artist is using the right products, a bride could jump into the pool and her makeup will stay put.

However, it can also start to become cumbersome. Sometimes couples pin so many things that their focus starts to soften, and all of the sudden they aren’t really sure what they truly like. The other main issue I have is that I often see pins that have been photoshopped and professionally lit, and the model they hired has a ton of eye lid space and is looking straight down. Then my bride sees that, and she has a small, deep-set eye and wants that exact look. I have to take the time to explain how that model shot may not be the best choice for her.

Most of the time my clients get it, especially once I explain how when the model would look up, that look would be very different. But sometimes a bride gets set on something that just won’t work for her, and that can be a bit of an obstacle that we have to work around.

As far as wedding blogs, I usually love then. Don’t get me wrong, we often do what are called “styled shoots,” where we bring in models and professionally stage and light everything. I love working on these because we get the chance to really be creative and collaborative with other vendors. But again, you can sometimes fall into the same traps as Pinterest with these. When the blogs feature the “real weddings,” those are just amazing. This gives the couple the chance to really see how something can come together.

What are some things you think that brides worry about that they really shouldn’t?

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Something that many brides worry about (but at least when they work with us they do need to) is wondering if the makeup will last. Technology in the cosmetic world continues to get better and better. I know that may sound a little cliché, but cosmetics is BIG business. Think about our cell phones 10 years ago and where we are today. The same holds true for makeup–research and design is done so carefully and meticulously now. If the makeup artist is using the right products, a bride could jump into the pool and her makeup will stay put. Brides are concerned that if they cry, the makeup will run. But if it’s properly applied with the right products, she could sob, and it will be fine. Of course, brides need to remember to always dab and never wipe tears away!

As a matter of fact, I was walking my dog on a Monday morning and I ran into a bridesmaid I worked with that Saturday afternoon. She told me to not look at her because if I did I would see she was still in her makeup from Saturday! Not washing your face at the end of the evening isn’t something I would recommend, but it sure is a testament to what we can do.

One thing I wish more brides would worry about is booking a makeup artist sooner in the planning process. You would not believe the number of brides that start looking for their makeup artist in the last couple of months. We just never have availability that late in the game, and I have to turn them away. They often come back and ask if I can recommend someone else, but by that point all my makeup artist friends at other companies are booked as well. May and October are traditionally big wedding months in Richmond. I personally was fully booked for May 2016 before the end of April 2015 (although we do still have some availability with some of my other artists!).

Who are some of your favorite local vendors? And why?

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That is really an unfair question!! I love all the wedding vendors equally.

However, we do work more closely with photographers and hair stylists than the other vendors. Jessica Maida Photography is one of the first photographers that I ever worked with and she is wonderful. She’s so easy to work with and is very humble. Don Mears1 and David Abel are both very talented photographers whose work I really respect. Mike Topham and Jason Collins are two other sought-after photographers, and a lot of my brides have worked with them.

1213 Hair Studio has a couple of really talented hair stylists, one of which trains with Nick Arrojo (from What Not To Wear). Lara Bridger of LBG Hair Designs is amazing, too, and she often goes to New York to work during Fashion Week. Lauren Perkins of Event Hair by Lauren is awesome to work with as well and has a lot of creativity.

I adore Amanda Robinson of Sweet Fix and have actually used her for my own occasions. You would not believe what she can do with a cake!

Events by Elizabeth Palmer has the sweetest young ladies ever, and they know how to put on an event. Jake at Lighting Professors is just amazing and such an easygoing guy. Lighting can really make a difference.

I feel like I need to list so many more terrific vendors that I work with, but then there would not be room for anything else in this piece. Please forgive me, all those I didn’t mention!

Tell us your very favorite wedding story, whether it’s a horror story or a moment of beauty.

I think the one story that sticks with me as the most memorable was an August wedding I did in the Charlottesville area. It was a day after one of the hurricanes came through, and a lot of places were just a mess. I was on my way up to the venue when I got a call from the bride. She mentioned that the venue did not have power and that we were going to be getting ready at a nearby hotel. It turns out that they didn’t even know the venue did not have power until a couple of the guys went to make sure everything was set. At that point they were racing against the clock to try and get generators to the venue so that everyone wouldn’t melt. Did I mention it was in the upper 90’s by noon?

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Because power was out all over, they were having a hard time locating generators–some members of the wedding party were trying to locate some in Richmond and Roanoke. Along with this snafu, the photographer’s flight was cancelled, so they were making other arrangements (including a lot of disposable cameras so guests could capture their own moments) and, I am not making this up, there had been a fire at the florist’s place and a lot of the flowers had been damaged.

I just kept doing my work and was listening as it seemed one bad thing after another was revealed to the bride. I can honestly say I probably would have been in tears, as would most couples. When the maid of honor looked over at the bride and asked, “How can you be so calm about all this?” the bride simply stated, “I am marrying the man I love today and that is the only thing that matters. Nothing can make me unhappy today because that is still happening.” I thought to myself, wow, what an amazing young lady. Weddings are fun and fantastic, but when you really stop to think what the day is about, it is the marriage, the union of two people that love each other more than anything. I know that bride is going to have the best marriage ever!


  1. Look for more on Don Mears later this week! — ed. 
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