Staff by Day, Stylist by Night

While many of us are RSVPing to weddings this season, Pace staff member Christie Nadratowski is playing an extra special role: Making sure brides look as beautiful as can be when you see them walking down the aisle.

At Pace, Christie Nadratowski works in the Office for Student Success advising students on policy and procedures and helping them get over any roadblocks they may encounter. On weekends, roadblocks come in the form of bridezillas for Nadratowski, who moonlights as a hair and makeup artist.

An opera major in college, recitals were a common event for her and her friends. And with recitals come hair and makeup, but the prices were unreasonable for any college student.

“I started playing with my roommate’s hair and thought ‘I could do a lot of with this,'” Nadratowski said. “I started to do typical styles that people like and became good at it, so people started asking me to do it.”

When Nadratowski moved back home from school, she was working at a boutique when a phone call would take her college hobby and turn it into a part-time job.

“This soon-to-be bride came in and took a phone call in the middle of the store and started crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said that her hair and makeup person had cancelled and her wedding was the next day. I told her I would do it for her,” Nadratowski said.

Grateful for her saving the day, the happy bride wrote her a letter of reference and referred her friends, giving Nadratowski clients of her own.

When she moved to New York, a friend of a friend who was a photographer needed a hair and makeup person and soon she was working with several photographers, including one of The Knot’s “2011 Best of Wedding Photographers” Michael Chadwick, doing more headshots, beauty shots, proms, weddings, and theater.

She’s also conducted stage makeup workshops at Elmwood Playhouse Theater in Nyack, which includes special effects makeup like aging and injuries (bruising and bleeding).

But her favorite? “Weddings! Brides don’t usually have an exact [style] in their head, so I get to be creative and make it happen.”

Of course, we couldn’t leave you without some quick tips from our Pace expert…

For brides who say less is always more, when it comes to makeup, Nadratowski says that’s not always the case. “Bright sunlight washes out the look of makeup on camera, so if you’re going to be taking pictures between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. you need to wear more makeup than you think.”

And while some said Kate Middleton’s eye makeup was too much, Nadratowski argues that “it was probably intentional so that her eyes would show up big and bright in pictures. Her entire eye was lined which is done to set her eyes apart from the rest of her face in photos, especially when there are so many cameras, they want your eyes to be distinct.”

For your hair do’s, hairspray is essential, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, she says. “Gel dries too hard and mousse does not hold shape for an entire day, so if you want your hair to stand the entire day, I’m going to use a lot of hairspray.” And if you’re going to be wearing your hair down, be sure you don’t apply it right after a hot blow dry. “Make sure your hair is cool to the touch, otherwise the curls will absorb the hairspray and they’ll end up being weighed down and falling by picture time.”

For those of you who like the hairspray so much that you’re willing to use it to keep your makeup in place, Nadratowski says “Don’t! It doesn’t make your makeup stay; it just makes it easier for dirt to stick to your face. Use translucent powder instead!”

You can see some of Nadratowski’s looks here.