Ding dong—hear that? It’s wedding bells, telling you there’s only a matter of months before that aisle you’ve spent months envisioning (and paying for!) becomes a reality.
Being a bride is something of a wild ride. No sooner is the ring on your finger than you’re already mentally booking venues, plating entrees, and trying to picture how you’ll look sashaying down the aisle. How are you going to do your blonde or dark brown hair? It’s a high stress day for your mane, which will have to look beautiful in photos and last through every last song in the current Top 40. If choosing a wedding hairstyle and a wedding hairstylist are on your short list of to-dos, let us make that decision really easy for you—no last minute DIYs in the bathroom here!
Luckily, we spoke to Laura Dyer, Kérastase brand ambassador, and Detra Smith, Matrix artistic educator, who specializes in picture-perfect, dreamy bridal hair, the kind you see in the glossy pages of magazines while waiting to check out in the grocery store. They're breaking down everything you need to know about how to choose your wedding hairstyle and artist for your wedding day hair appointment.
Grab a notebook—you’ll want to write these tips down.
Six To 12 Months Before Your Wedding: Choose Your Wedding Hairstyle And Secure A Stylist
If you’ve just gotten engaged, mazel! We’re thrilled for you—you’re about to have the best hair care routine of your life. Like celebs and all other beautiful people with lots of eyes on them, you’re going to want a professional to keep you looking gorge on your very important day. Once you’ve stopped admiring your ring (we know—shiiiiny), it’s time to start feeling out the vibe for your wedding day. If you’re a boho bride, modern and minimalist, or want to look like an extra from a Victorian romance miniseries, you’ll need to look the part with a hairstyle and a dress (jumpsuit, formal wedding shorts, etc.) to match.
Pin and post away, saving any images that look attainable and exciting for your hair. By the time you’re thinking of booking a stylist, you should have a sense of the kind of styles you’re looking for.
Before any pinning or curling can take place, you’ll need to make the most challenging decision of all: Who do you want to style your hair? We always lean toward an artist who’s known you for years. He or she will undoubtedly have an understanding of what you like and an ability to help you feel like yourself in the midst of giant, spinning wedding industrial complex.
However, it may be that you’re envisioning a very specific style that your go-to pro doesn’t have much experience in weddings specifically. If that’s the case, use social media and community review sites to zero in on an artist who specializes in bridal hair.
“Find someone who has a personality and style similar to yours,” Smith recommends. “They will understand you and your expectations on the wedding day. This stylist should have wedding experience and know how to stay on a tight schedule.”
Once you’ve found a pro who lines up with your aesthetic, chosen date, and budget, it’s time to actually sit in his or her chair.
One enormous factor to consider is your budget. Stylists exist at all price tiers, which means it’s up to you to find one who won’t cut into your peony bouquet money. The decision might feel overwhelming, but Dyer recommends setting a top three list of spending priorities soon after getting engaged. If hair is in your top three, you’ll know it’s worth the extra money.
“Have reasonable expectations and you’ll know what you want to spend on your bridal style,” she adds.
Dyer says you should also take your wedding date into account. If you haven’t yet set one, now is the time.
Once your deposit has been processed, it’s time to start thinking about what you want. We recommend perusing social media, grabbing a wedding magazine or two—even give old movies try if glamour is the name of your game.
Two Months Before Your Wedding: Book A Consultation And Take Your Hair For A Trial Run
If you have tattoos, the process of bridal styling will seem very familiar to you. There’s a lot of back and forth, creative energy, and indecision about which updo to run with. Dyer says it’s all a normal part of the artistic process. The most important thing is that you end up with a style that genuinely makes you happy. If you’re just pretending, neither the stylist nor you will make any headway.
Here’s the part where you break down the logistics of your ceremony and reception with your expert. With just a handful of months before the biggest day of them all, take the time to sit in your stylist’s chair and talk about logistics. Maybe your hair tends to frizz up in the humidity and you’re having nightmares about curly tendrils in all your wedding pictures. Maybe it feels like your hair has fallen out of every updo it’s ever been forced into. Whatever the issue, now is the time to air your deepest fears for your stylist. If you’d like to hire your stylist to stay with you through photos for emergency touch-ups, bring it up.
“By this time the bride has everything planned and can decide on a look that goes with her theme. If you do it too early she might change her mind as things change with the wedding plans,” Smith explains.
Want to know what’s going through your stylist’s head as you sit in front of her? She’s taking in everything from your face shape and hair type to how long the style needs to last.
“The trial run is the time to discover the perfect look for your face, hair type and dress,” Smith explains. “You may see a picture of a style that was perfect on someone else. Once you see the same look on yourself you may decide there is a better option.”
Once you’re on the same page about how the hair will go, you’ll know that this stylist is right for your wedding and work out any kinks long before the date so that you have even less to think about when the actual day happens.
A consultation also likely the time to discuss extensions with your stylist, as they’ll need to be color treated when and if you change your hair color. You’ll also want to cut them to match your ‘do. In many cases, practiced stylists have a preferred brand of clip-ins—but if you’re already in possession of your own set, ask about including them in the updo.
Extensions aren’t for every bride, but Dyer says they can add fullness and sense of dramas to updos that many women love. Plus, they can actually help hold your style in place until the early hours of the morning. If you’re a bride who’s worried about her ringlets falling flat, extensions may be the way to go.
“Be sure to have your extensions unboxed, washed—they’re real hair after all—and dried for your hair trial,” Dyer says. “They come packaged after being processed and flat ironed, so if you want them to act more like your regular hair, they’re going to need a good shampooing.”
Once all factors have been discussed, get to styling.
“One hair trial should be enough, because your stylist should be ready to try more than one style, especially if you’re unsure which direction to go,” she explains. “Make sure you try until you’re totally happy! Hairstylists appreciate honesty, and are more than willing to keep working until you’re completely satisfied and relieved to check one more thing off your wedding to-do list.”
If you feel like additional hair trials are in order, feel free to ask for them. In Dyer’s experience, it’s not uncommon to have a bride request more than one run-through.
One thing that can cause stress? Too many cooks in the so-called kitchen. Smith advises leaving your mom, best friend, and college roommate at home for the trial run.
“If you have a friend or family member with strong opinions I suggest you don’t involve them in decisions about your bridal look. This will remove a lot of stress and second guessing. It’s your day and you should feel good about the way you look.”
Duly noted! Let’s add that to the wedding checklist.
Two Weeks Before Your Wedding: Cut, Color, And Add-On Treatments
While you’re busy putting the finishing touches on your event planning—no, Aunt Linda cannot sit next to Aunt Karen—take the time to book yourself several hours at the salon to get those ends snipped and color touched up. Two weeks will give you plenty of time to fix anything that’s gone awry but not enough that your roots will grow in again.
If your wedding date is drawing near and you’re still not feeling like your hair is as shiny, healthy-looking, or beautiful as you’d imagined, it may be time to call in the professionals. Dyer often advises her brides to seek an in-salon treatment in the weeks leading up to their nuptials if their budgets allow.
“One service I always recommend for my brides is an in-salon Kérastase Fusio Dose treatment,” she says. “Brides should also consider taking home the Kérastase Home Lab so they can be a part of their hair journey.”
No extra cash to spend? Totally find. Keep using your regular product routine and consider adding on a weekly deep conditioner.
When that alarm goes off on the morning of your wedding, take a second to breathe deeply, enjoy the bedhead, and give yourself a moment. This is it! As long as you’re on time and haven’t, say, decided to surprise cut all you hair off since the last time you’ve seen your stylist, let the professionals do their job and just enjoy the ride. As long as your hair is clean and dry (and your extensions are, too), stylists like Dyer are in the zone.
“My biggest thing is trust. If we have had a solid consultation and trial—or three!—the wedding day should be about relaxing and trusting that I have your best interests in mind. It’s your big day! I’m there to make you shine,” she says.
If an unexpected weather change means switching plans at the last minute, don’t worry. Your stylist has your back. Remember, you paid a professional so that you could relax.
When in doubt, let Dyer’s words echo in your ear:
“The biggest mistake I see brides making is trying to do too much on their wedding day. Either delegate, or let it go. It’s only one day, it goes fast, and I just hope you can slow down and enjoy every moment.”
Need to get that bridal appointment booked STAT? Use our salon locator to find a stylist near you.