Working With a Wedding Hairstylist

A bad hair day on your wedding day is simply not an option. Seek professional help to get gorgeous bridal tresses.
by The Knot
Bride getting her hair done
photo by Tim Ryan Smith Studio

You may be lucky enough to have a hairstylist who you trust completely, who knows your hair better than anyone else and can create your dream wedding hairstyle. If you don't, well, you'll simply need do some research. Ask other brides whose hairstyles you've admired, then look into a few bridal salons. Once you've garnered a list of options, it's time to set up consultations—that's the only way to determine if a hairstylist is right for you. Skip this step and your wedding look may be more hair raising than head turning.

Come Prepared

When you're meeting with your wedding hairstylist for the first time, keep in mind that since they don't know your personal tastes, you'll need to show as well as tell. The best way is to gather photos of hairstyles you like from magazines, Pinterest and other sites online. You can even bring pictures of yourself that show the way you want to look—anything that will give them a hint about what kind of style you're seeking.

Another smart idea: Wear white to your consultation (even a white T-shirt) so you can see how your hair color looks paired with a white hue. You could also choose a shirt with a neckline similar to your gown, since different hairstyles lend themselves to particular necklines. It's also important to bring along any accessories you plan to wear in your hair, whether it's a headpiece, hairpin or veil (if you're wearing one)—it will make your hairstyle look different. If your hair accessory hasn't arrived yet, if a friend has something similar, ask her if you could borrow it. Or bring along a photo, so at least the stylist knows what to expect.

Document It

Speaking of photos, you'll want to snap a few with your phone. Once the stylist starts manipulating your tresses, ask them to take a photo of each finished look from four different angles: front, back and both sides. That way, you'll be able to see how you look from all views, and you'll get an idea of how the stylist's work translates to photographs. If there's one particular style you like, ask them to write down exactly which products and techniques were used. Since a wedding consultation can take place months before your actual event, it's important to keep notes and take pictures so you can both remember what worked.

Know How to Hire

Before you hire a stylist you need to decide a few things: Do you want them to come to you on your wedding day, or would you rather go to the salon? Will they only do you hair or the bridal party's as well? Do you want them to stay with you throughout the day to do touch-ups before the photo session and reception? Discuss these options with your stylist. Of course, how long you hire a professional to stay with you depends on your budget and their time limitations.

Once you've decided who you're going to hire, hand over a deposit to save the date, and request a receipt. Another option is to have the stylist sign a formal contract, detailing everything you expect on the wedding day. It may seem overly obsessive, but this is not an ordinary hair appointment, so formalize the agreement.

Clock It

A great hair day on your wedding day all comes down to timing—which means you'll need to schedule your hair appointment at precisely the right moment. Do it too early and your coif could start to look stale just as the festivities are getting started, but if you start hairstyling too late, you'll feel rushed. During your hair trial run, time how long it takes to get your hair perfect, then allow that amount of time plus a half an hour of leeway. And schedule your hair appointment for as late as possible. For example, if photos are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., and your hair takes an hour, schedule it for 2:30.

Do the 'Do

When the wedding day arrives, put your undergarments on under a button-front shirt so you'll be ready to slip on your dress when your hair is done and your headpiece and veil are in place. If your stylist is coming to you, set up a place for them next to a low table and sit in a chair with a low back so they'll have easy access to your hair. And make sure there are electrical outlets nearby for appliances like hair dryers, curling irons and electric rollers. If necessary, have an extension cord handy.

If you begin to become alarmed about the way the stylist is handling your tresses, calmly and respectfully suggest an alternative. You need expert help—that's why you hired a professional—but that expert must be willing to help you achieve the look you want. They should give you tips as well for keeping those luscious locks in place throughout the reception. Also, if your veil needs to be removed after the ceremony, ask about the best way to do it. After all, you want to show off those wonderful locks, don't you?

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