Friday, June 6, 2014

Bridal Experience: Mariam Khawaja and Madeeha's

I’m sure the ladies agree with me when I say that the social media images of bridal makeup & photography leave us daydreaming about our nuptials. For those who have had their weddings crave to relive the bridal mania in all its glory. The ones who are about to have their wedding ceremony Search + Save + Download images as a benchmark for their own preparation. Even the ones with no wedding celebrations in sight are still awed and inspired by the bridal glitz and glam.

I am one of those who have went through ALL three phases in a year’s time MashaAllah :-)

I had been a silent stalker of photography pages and bridal makeup studios – making a mental list of do’s and don’ts. When the actual stress of picking one out of the amazingly increasing number of quality makeup artists & photographer hits you – everyone tends to feel lost in making the final decision, Budget, availability, and personal style are some of the major factors. So, after you’ve got done with those lovely moments, you do think that you could have improved jussssst a bit here and there :-P or may be I am the only one who is neurotic like that.

Natasha Khalid of Natasha’s Salon was my ultimate bridal makeup crush :-D Yeah, it’s a thing. The peachy glowy skin and the gold glittery eyes with a statement pout, I always thought my skin and features would take to her signature style really well. Sadly, she is based in Karachi and I was getting married in Lahore, so couldn’t have her. Lol, for a wild moment, I also genuinely calculated if I could go and get my makeup done and fly back and forth to Karachi :P Yes. I was seriously considering it.

So, after plethora of online information, brides’ feedbacks, and soul-searching, I landed on the most obvious choice for Baraat – Mariam Khawaja for Baraat. The other pick was Preferred Artist at Madeeha’s Bridal Salon for Walima. The Mehndi package was complimentary-ish at Madeeha’s.

Let’s read and know what was my experience (and the salon horror story):

Mariam's Bridal Salon – Signature Makeup by Mariam Khawaja

I approached Mariam’s Bridal Salon (off MM Alam Road, Adjacent to Tabaq Restaurant) in the first week of January 2014 for my Baraat day on March 30, 2014. The bridal package including services was for PKR 60,000/- and I opted for that. The cost of “services” was only PKR 2,000 for threading, manicure, pedicure, face polish, facial, and mehndi application. I thought it’s best to get it done from one place, so that would be better. The booking was done with PKR 30,000/- in advance payment. The reception staff was professional and courteous in facilitating the whole thing.


Two days before my Mehndi function, I went for the pre-wedding services – everything except threading & mehndi application which are done on the same day as your Mehndi function. I asked if waxing was included, they said it will take another PKR 3,000/- for full body except bikini line. As generous as I was feeling, I went for it and paid the amount. The services room was separate and comfortable with an attached bathroom. The place looked clean and reliable. There were three girls who started my work. Two of them were waxing each arm, while the third massaged my face. It was HIGHLY uncomfortable, to say the least. One reason – the wax was hot and I have super sensitive body skin. I was telling them and they were not budging. Other reason, the one massaging and scrubbing my face was doing a clumsy job because the cream/scrub kept contacting my eyes. I wear contact lenses and could not use my own hands to sort stuff, so it was irritating. After they had done my arms and legs, I asked them to stop because I could feel that even the usually-waxed arms and legs were showing angry red patches, the remaining skin was never waxed, so might show a severe reaction. Through this ordeal the facial/polish was done. I was getting into the bridezilla mode, but the lady who came to do my pedicure did a fab job and I became calmer. The manicure was incomplete-ish, but okay.

I kept telling myself throughout that okay, what’s done is done. I could not have been able to manage the regular stuff from different places any way, given my last minute commitments and hassle. The red patches were mostly gone by the end of second day, so I was okay. The next time I went for Mehndi application and the threading, I was in bit of a time fix. My makeup appointment at Madeeha’s was at 3PM and the Mehndi application + Threading was at 1:00 PM. The function itself was at 7:00 PM. I didn’t want to wear the shirt and have any stain or so on my shirt, so I thought I’ll wear it when I go for makeup, while the mehndi dried. At Mariam’s, I arrived at 12:55 PM and waited for 50 minutes to have someone FREE for my Mehndi application. This left me agitated because I was running out of time. Just a backstory, I apply mehndi perfectly well myself. It is very neat and symmetrical. However, for my wedding I wanted something simple because when the color is wearing off, it looks horrible during dinners/events afterwards. The woman who applied my Mehndi did the SICKEST, WORST, THICKEST, WATERY, STUPID tattoo kind design on my hand. She didn’t ask me what I wanted. When I told her, she said THIS is how they ALWAYS do it. There were other brides around me whose bridal mehndi was not heavy at all, but at least neat and well put-together. I asked her to finish this horrible-ness ASAP. Then she said “Oh aap ne arq se bharwaii nahin tau buri lagay gi”. Then I asked her to get the reception manager. She fled and it was 3:00 PM at the Mariam’s Salon, I couldn’t grab/ move at all due to mehndi stupidity all over my hands and there was NO ONE to help. I threw a tantrum and the floor manager helped me get to the car. ALL those helper ladies were chatting among themselves and God-knows-what. I reached the car and started crying. It was dark mehndi which i couldn’t take off my hands either to replace it with a better one. I washed it out of frustration after 20-30 minutes.

Thank God, I was swept off my feet by the amazing Mehndi function, Alhamdulilah, so I didn’t have any time to mull over the sadness that is my mehndi application. Nonetheless, every time I saw my hands closely, there was thing pang :-( Had I not been this busy, I would have obsessed over this fiasco and cried myself to death. Yes, i am the type :-P

Bottom Line:
The BIGGEST NO-WAY-IN-HELL to their bridal services which are below mediocre with a cynical and unhelpful staff – at least, the ones who did my work. Not worth the money I paid.


So, a new morning, a new day, a new beginning. I reached Mariam’s Salon the next day for my Baraat at about 9:30 AM. I have heard that the latecomers get a penalty fee. Frankly, I wasn’t in the mood of a brawl on my Big Day, so my appointment time was 10:00 AM and I reached evern earlier. Yes, crazy early. Reason? My photo shoot with Irfan had to start at 3:00 PM or before because he was thoroughly booked all day, but made a special place for me. Between the delays and stuff, I didn’t want to ruin it at all. So, i wore my heavy maxi dress at 9:45 AM while my function was at 8:00 PM :-P Will dedicate a separate post to how THAT worked out for me. Anyhow, I was still wary of the salon attendants... Thinking if anyone gave me a bad time today, I will give them a piece of my mind and what-not. 

Interestingly, the lady who made my hair was so kind that I relaxed and had a pleasant interaction. I have layered haircut till my neck, so the bridal updo – LOL, you can imagine how tough a task that could have been. My hair were literally stuff with cotton for the back-combing to support my heavy dopatta. I love huge poofy hair on me because it makes my chubby 10-kg face to look 8.5kg :-P Just while my hair were being done, Mariam Khawaja arrived and she checked my hair herself, asked the lady to give me more height, bigger back-combing, more drama. I wore my jewelry and went to Mariam for the preliminary makeup. She was pissed off due to a personal matter. I thought this would mean sulky unhelpful attitude – but BOY was I wrong!

We started talking while she was doing my makeup. We discussed the issue details and she calmed down considerably. We were gossiping our heart out. Then a little break because the base had to sink in. She didn’t let me wait so long and called me back and we chatted again. I saw her continuously for 4-5 hours, she would not sit down at all and did her job one bride after another. Not just the makeup, she would take a walk around and set the dopatta and comment to improve the hair and setting of everything for most of the brides. The second time I sat down with her, I told her I was a beauty blogger. She was so excited and we discussed BRANDS and PRODUCTS! It was almost surreal. Too good to be true! She was very open and shared her product knowledge and techniques. She told me what personal usage brands/shades/products she loved and recommended them for me. It was my first time having so much makeup on me, and I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all with her. I almost forgot the previous-day’s fiasco.

A little downside to us being gossiping girlies was – I didn’t love my lip color and shape and the inner corners of eye sockets. They weren’t a deal breaker at all, and nobody else could see anything wrong/bad with it, but I wish I had been a bit attentive to give my input :-D No grievances, though. May be the next time if I get my party makeup done from Mariam, I might try it my way.

The dopatta setting was somewhat controversial in a way that I have huge fat arms. The sleeves that my bridal dress had were meant to make them appear slimmer. However, it was somehow making them appear bigger and take the focus off the gorgeous dress & jewelry. Mariam again came out to help with the setting and assured me that I am being nervous, the arms don’t look bigger – LOL, she was being nice, they were actually bigger than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s :-D Sometimes “slimming” illusions don’t work out. Meaning, I should have ACTUALLY lost weight :-D Again, not their fault.

When I was leaving, I asked her what to do if my base/lipstick starts to come off. She said it largely won’t – but if it does, we discussed the items in my makeup stash that i can use. She was sure that I can handle. So, i went and had my photo shoot done. My husband was the first person who saw me ready from the family – and he was AWED. Money’s worth paid off :-D He’s not the one to like huge cakey makeup, but the overall look made him go bananas :-D Alhamdulilah. I almost cried.

Now the crazy part, I came back home after the shoot at about 5:30 PM, there were no guests there, so I went to my room to LIE DOWN and SLEEP. As bonkers as it may sound, i was too tired. I got up after 40-50 minutes. My dopatta setting was ruined. The makeup and jewelry were intact. Before leaving for the venue, i added my own lipstick (MAC Crosswires), blush (Nars Orgasm + Illamasqua Dixie), and highlighter (Mary Lou Manizer) as well as buffed some pressed powder (Rimmel Stay Matte) since I sweat A LOT. It didn’t ruin the makeup at all, and gave me a fresh look once again. I must give a “Please-don’t-try-it-at-home” disclaimer because this stunt can effectively ruin the cash spent on your face, LOL :-D

Sadly, the dopatta setting was not too precise since it was heavy and no one could manage it well. That didn’t spoil my mood though. For the next few hours, the makeup stayed fine but the sweating and lights did bother me. They generally do. At the Rukhsati, I bawled like a baby and 30% of my eye makeup came off. It was a mess, but around that time we didn’t have much post-Rukhsati photography to be done, so i didn’t touch it up, but wiped it off.

Bottom Line: 
A big THUMBS UP for Mariam’s Makeup! The price is veryyyyyy steep, though. PKR 60,000 for Signature Makeup. Still, the truckloads of daily brides I have seen there every day, doesn’t make it seem like people are bothering about it :-/ They do have senior artist package for PKR 35,000, but that is subject to limited availability, I guess. Do inquire for your booking.

Madeeha’s Bridal Salon – Preferred Artist Makeup With Final Checks By Madeeha

On an unrelated note, I have a theory – The red color is traditional and gorgeous, but I feel the brides in overwhelmingly red ensemble are invariably caked into heavier makeup. The resultant – The nervous bride’s features and personality seem tarnished in comparison to the makeup & outfit. This is why everyone has that belief: Brides look better on Walima. Finding the perfect red shade and combination are difficult, so I opted to wear beige-gold on my Big Day. Also, red on Baraat is forgettable for me. Can you remember the best RED dress you’ve seen? May be one or two, Else, most of it is simply a blur of red-gold :-/

Why the preamble? Because I wanted to share that most (95%) brides by Madeeha’s salon I have seen over the years, have been caked on for their Baraat, but the Walima looks have been chic and soft! Precisely my reasoning to select Madeeha’s.

I selected the package with the Preferred Artist because I was confident that i can guide her for the kind of look I want with my dress – Mauve/Grey Crystal maxi. The Final Checks by Madeeha were there to give me the extra oomph and an expert opinion.

The lady who greeted us was smiling and polite – but TOO robotic. Not a bad factor, but just.... I don’t know. The Walima package cost was PKR 25,000/- with PKR 5,000/- in advance. One strict thing was that your TIME/DATE cannot be altered without penalty fee. Even if you’re changing it a month or two in advance. Anyhow, they know their procedures well. I didn’t face any problem but you need to keep it in regard.

Later on, the Mehndi Makeup was also offered for their brides at PKR 5,000/- only (with PKR 1,000 Advance). I didn’t want proper makeup done on Mehndi function, so I thought it’s okay.


Continuing from where I left off after the mehndi application disaster at Mariam’s Bridal Salon, I reached Madeeha’s late and washed my hands to get into the dress. Their Mehndi makeup is done in the “Party Makeup” section and believe me, it is STUDDED with SO many people – all aunties and bacchies staring at you in different stages of their own preps. Not a very pleasant sight :P The process is confusing too. All the while I thought my stuff is going to get lost. There are tags involved and what not. Since I was emotionally fragile, I took a backseat and relaxed – talking to a lady who was there to get her party makeup done. My turn came at around 4:30 PM. I asked the hair lady to make a simple front back-combing to set my heavy maatha patti. Since the dopatta was heavy as well, I asked to make it extra stronghold. She made a hairstyle and put my jewelry on. Then I went to the makeup artist, she didn’t seem like too experienced and all they have displayed in front of them is Diana of London Makeup. Brands don't matter, but the look does. But seeing DoL items was a silent turn-off. I had no issues with her per se, but to be honest, I could have done way better makeup at home by myself. Even spending those 5K pinched at that time. I asked her if I could apply some myself, she was happy to comply – but I wasn’t too pleased since my maatha patti started slipping on my forehead. I went back to the hair lady, she said I have to go to ANOTHER SECTION to get my dopatta set and they would make my jewelry proper. With the heavy jora and shopping bags, I went all the way to the Bridal section. OMG! It was fish market. Imagine 25 brides in a small enclosed space. I felt so undone in front of them, hated my makeup even more. Bam! My maatha patti fell. After waiting and practically getting shoved to the sides by “doll-faced” brides, finally I sat to get the dopatta set. News Flash: The dopatta lady said – “Yeh jewelry humari responsibility nahin hai, hum koi pin nahin theek karein ge, aapko dobara ja ke hair aur jewelry set karani ho gi. Phir ayiega. NEXT!” I was outraged and suddenly the Floor Manager (Madiha) saw me and asked what’s wrong. She called a few people in the other section while I waited. Meanwhile, a lady gave me a Feedback Comments form. Bad timing, boo. VERY POOR rating across the board.

The Floor Manager took me back to the other place and scolded the lady who messed up my hair and setting gently. Another woman now started making my hair and setting the maatha patti. I felt she didn’t spray my hair well. Bottomline, my maatha patti started weighing my back combing down. Losing all the pouf. Making my forehead and crown prominent in all sorts of bad ways. Finally, the dopatta setting was a struggle in itself – weighing my hair down even more. :-/ She did an okay job and I left for my home.

After I got back, my family thought I looked fine, and told me I was being overly critical. However, they also commented that the hair are being weighed down by the minute. I sprayed tonnes of hairspray. Slapped on Mary Lou Manizer highlighter. Applied my lipstick (Theirs faded already). I forgot to add the blush, but that was fine. My Shirt and Dopatta were Shocking Neon Pink with Bright Blue Sharara. Everything had Gold Dabka work. With a statement dress, I went with minimal  jewelry (earrings and maatha patti).

By the end of next 3-4 hours, the makeup had almost died down – but my Mary Lou was THE highlight of my look :-P “glowing compliments for glowy skin”

The makeup or hair DID NOT work out for me. Even for PKR 5,000/-, it was not worth it. For girls who have no understanding of makeup and want a fuss-free natural application might opt for this. I did see some good natural Mehndi brides there as well. It was not “fuss-free” for me, however. A better way could have been to get the dopatta and hair setting done from a salon and manage the makeup myself.


Worn down by the two days of festivities, I was dreading going to the parlor again. I made it to the parlor on time, cleared the dues and my sister-in-law escorted me inside for moral support. As a procedure, they asked all brides to wash their faces with Neutrogena Liquid Soap. I used that few years ago and it made my skin very dry patchy and tight. I didn’t want it to happen again, but I did as told. Thankfully, my skin did not react. Got into my dress and waited for my turn to have the hair done. I asked the lady to make a “side wala joora” LOL, I could not think a better word. Asked her to make it messy-ish with my shorter hair in the front to be waved on the side as a flick-ish. In all, it was a typical walima hairdo that every bride does. The messy side hairdo with my hair was the size of a baby’s fist :-P The big pins hurt my head and I had to go to her several times to set those. The back-combing that she did was excellent. Although Madeeha recommended to increase the height of it even more, I was happy already.

An important point that i truly appreciate – I was scheduled to get free by 6:00 PM as per the original appointment. However, Irfan Ahson and I decided to have an outdoor shoot done at Avari Hotel (the venue) and for the soft daylight, i had to reach there by 5:00 PM. It is a 45-minute commute from Madeeha’s to Avari during that office rush-hour. So, that means I should be free by 4:00 – 4:15 PM to make it in time. I talked to the floor manager Madiha to help me out. She called up the owner Madeeha if she will be able to come to the salon earlier for final checks since she had prior commitments. They reassured that they would help the max they can. After my hair, there was NO WAITING and they simply rushed me from one section to another, directly to the MUA and other ladies for dopatta and jewelry setting. Even Madeeha came in earlier and I was free by 4:20 PM. Genuinely and truly thankful for their efforts.

Now we come to the MUA – a Preferred Artist. A little background, Madeeha’s offers different packages. The Senior Artist has 3-4 years of experience with PKR 16,000 package (approx). A Preferred Artist has 8-10 years of experience with PKR 20,000. If we get Final Checks done by Madeeha, it becomes PKR 25,000. Then package with Siffat was something around 35,000+ and Madeeha’s Signature Makeup was for PKR 50,000. My makeup artist made me sit and discussed the look. I told her that everyone simple gives an intense smokey eye with grey-silver walima combinations. I had a smokey-ish eye yesterday, so i don’t want it today. She suggested putting gradients of grey and plum with a little black smokey look. We agreed and she started. Again, there were loads of Diana of London makeup items in front of them. The makeup didn’t take long and they had very limited shades of lipsticks. She put on a soft rosy-pink-nude kind on my lips. The eyes were perfect grey plum smokey. The blush wasn’t good. It was too subtle and the bronzer she used for contouring was very ORANGE. That too was applied wrongly on my jawline and chin. I asked her to remove it, but she said it will be okay in pictures and I was getting late, so i thought I will sort it myself.

Madeeha gave me a consultation for 10 minutes. She was very warm and nice to talk to. She asked if the staff was alright with me. She commented my cheeks are super high and a bit more blush & highlight will suit me better. She applied Bobbi Brown lipstick, highlighter and blush. Guided the ladies to improve my jhoomar setting and give more height to my back-combing.

Everyone loved the eye makeup by the Preferred Artist. The orange bronzer/contouring shade was a big miss, but that faded significantly in the next 3-4 hours. The makeup remained intact throughout the ceremony until I removed it myself.

AMAZING Preferred Artist, she was. I should have asked her name for proper mention, but forgot at that time. It was worth every penny and even more. I will totally recommend the preferred artist and ask you to communicate well with her to get your desired results.


Wow! So this was my longer-than-usual rant and rave session on my bridal makeup experience. As most of you were asking for my bridal photographs, I have not received them from the photographer as yet. Since I have shifted to Karachi and all the action is in Lahore, I will be late to share the juicy deets. With all due respect to you all, I will not be sharing my full-blown wedding photo shoot, but will definitely share the peeks of my dress, jewelry, and other details.

Whether you’re a “veteran” bride, a newly-wed, or a bride-to-be – I’d love to know your experience and expectations for the bridal makeup. What advice would you give as a public service message? Share your thoughts below!




  1. Well I was a Mariam Khawaja bride ...**hugs**... and I know that that woman is a master at the art of soothing frayed bridal nerves.I never got to throw any tantrums in my wedding prep period,because my mother did not allow any :p But the wedding day itself was too trying for me.Dunno why but I remember sitting on that chair in the makeup room and having fat tears in my eyes.Mariam swooped in the room and in that sweet frank manner of hers,said,"Ah ah girl no time for crying.Agr itna dil hai to abi ro lo I will wait but then its not allowed" :p it was all said in a very light,jolly tone and did make me smile.After that it was just talk and makeup.I told her i wanted red lips .Period.Although she didnt do them back then ,she humored me and after some modification we settled on a matte red with faint copperish hues.I cant explain it but it was gorgeous.My husband still ruminates about the day saying that I was looking 1000 times better then katrina :p haha.The best thing about makeup by Mariam is that it doesn't feel heavy,it looks beautiful and she manages to bring out innocence in every face.Like every single one of my friends (6 in total, with totally different features) looked pretty AND innocent :) So yeah she does magic there.Also love her attention to detail.Its not like she leaves you at the mercy of attendants after makeup.

    Your wedding schedule sounds so risky.But i am glad it turned out to be amazing and you didnt have to dissolve in tears :p great post dear.Thoroughly enjoyed it.Stay blesses <3 <3

  2. This is such an amazing post Bia with minute details and all. I'm glad everything ends pretty well for you. Have a blessed married life! <3

  3. Very detailed post but really enjoyed reading it.....xoxoxo......^_^

  4. read every inch of this post....superb...

  5. I loved reading your bridal experience.. I was trying to imagine the scene while reading the post lol
    Do share your pictures...just want to see how fabulous you were looking
    Have a happy married life my Dear

  6. Amazing post Bia! If I were you I'd start throwing tantrums at the mehndi! ^_^ you are really strong!

  7. I got my mehndi and barat makeup from mariam khawaja as well.. totally agree with u in about everything! Horrible pre-bridal services.. esp the facial.. the bandi poked bleakhead removing pin all over my cheeks! I had scars everywhere for weeks! All through my post shadi dinners and honeymoon :-( i told mariam about it while getting my makeup done and she said that she is more focused towards makeup and planning to stop offering services at all in the future.. this was abt two years.. but she is still doing services.. anyways her own attitude was awesome.. we had such a great chat.. we talked about very personal matters.. she makes you feel so relaxed and comfortable.. while still doing her job so professionally.. and the makeup was amazing.. she could have used better lashes though.. they were too heavy.. could barely open my eyes theak se.. but it did add to my traditional royal look and looked great in photos..
    Cant say much about madiha's.. i have heard its like a fish mandi there.. i myself got my valima makeup from Mighty.. and she only takes one bride at a time.. with complimentary neck/shoulder massage.. so you can imagine how relaxed and fuss free experience that might have been :-)

  8. this is so amazing bia ...what you have written in such detail is much enlightening....I am a bride to be myself and I can imagine how a person who loves minute details being perfect would feel ....I am already throwing tantrums even the wedding is 6-7 months away:D waiting for the pictures ! Stay blessed and happy !

  9. This was very helpful. Thanks so much!
    Im a new beauty blogger, your support would mean a lot by liking my facebook page:


  10. Great Post! Follow each other on GFC, Google+ and Bloglovin? If yes, follow me and i follow back as soon as i see it. Let me know with a comment on my Blog

    Keep in Touch xx Rabea from germany

  11. how much mariam take of walima signatur line makeup

  12. thanx for sharing such a useful and informative article with us.
    i really apprecialte your work.
    All the topics and tips are fabulous .
    thanx again


  13. Thank you so much for sharing this worth while to spent time on. You are running a really awesome blog. Keep up this good work

    Bridal Makeup Chennai

  14. I went to Mariam Khwaja for mehendi and baraat. The pre bridal services were pathetic. Mehendi pathetic. Mehendi makeup was by senior artist, which was okay. Barat makeup was good.
    If I were to do it again I'd just go to Mariam for the barat makeup.

    Madeehas is reasonable and you have so many options in terms of prices. But then again, they dont offer signature makeup services in the morning for afternoon functions, which sucks.

    All in all, most salons use the same etude sticks for base. And now a lot of salons end up doing the same job in the same way. Brides look like they're part of an assembly line from a factory. So I guess you don't always have to spend a fortune to get the Mariam Khwaja look if New Look offers the same etc.

  15. If you had a bridal makeup in the Philippines I doubt you'd go through tons of hassle. Trust me I know one that does things better.

  16. This is such an amazing post Bia with minute details and all. I'm glad the lot ends pretty well for you. Have a sacred married life! bridal makeup chennai


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