It's engagement season. Everywhere you look on Facebook and Instagram, people are posting photos of engagement rings, smiling faces, and kissing couples. Whether it happened at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or is going to happen tomorrow night on New Year's or even in February for Valentine's Day it's "that time of year" for us wedding vendors. Our inboxes are starting to flood with inquiries for our pricing and availability for 2016 and even into 2017.
Weddings are usually pretty slow here in Virginia during January and February due to the unpredictable weather, but it's a good time for brides to set up a time for their hair and makeup trials. Fewer weddings means more appointment times on weekends, which is a great thing for brides who need to juggle work and planning a wedding in the fast-paced DC area.
I thought it would be a good time to start writing about what to expect during your trials so that whether you're planning on having me be your beauty specialist for your wedding or someone else, you'll be armed with accurate information and expectations. Here's my advice for setting up a trial for your wedding hair and selecting a look you'll love for years to come.
Setting Up Your Appointments:
I can't stress enough the importance of meeting with your hairstylist sooner rather than later, even if you don't do a full trial right away. Photos online can be misleading and don't always give the most accurate picture of the experience you'll receive. This person will be with you during a very emotional and intimate moment in your life. They'll be responsible for how you look in photos that you will show to your friends, family, and future children and then grandchildren. You want to be sure you connect with them and their personality to avoid unneccessary stress on your wedding day.
Every stylist has their own way of doing things, and I understand the mentality that meeting with the hairstylist closer to the wedding day has it's benefits- such as having more details in place, a definitive style in mind as well as your accessories purchased, and the desired length of your hair grown out already. However, if you and your stylist don't click or you don't like the quality of the work they provide (either in their ability to acheive the style you want or how well it holds up after the appointment) leaving yourself only a few weeks before the wedding day could be a disaster should you need to bail and find a replacement.
My studio has plenty of space for us to discuss, detail, and refine your hairstyle in a quiet, stress-free setting.
Personally, I like to meet with my brides as soon as possible. I like to evaluate their hair and how it will work with the style that they are looking for. You don't always need to grow your hair out, and why add extra stress dealing with a hairstyle you hate for months leading up to the wedding day for a look you'll only have for less than 24 hours? Extensions can be added for fullness and length, or we can always tweak your look to give the illusion of much more hair. Sometimes a style that you like will require more or less layers to your hair, so knowing how to work with the cut you have or adjust your cut ahead of time can be the difference between a sleek classic look and a messy boho style. Keep in mind that color plays a part in how well a style translates, too. Highlights can break up a solid block of color and give neccessary definition to an up do or curls.
I'm going to get really honest here for a second, so just bear with me. Not every bride and I are going to have that level of connection that makes the experience I bring to my brides what it is. Sometimes it's going to be me. Sometimes it's going to be you. And it's better we discover this before things get too last minute. I've had to turn down weddings before, and while it pains me to do so, it's always ended up for the best. Sometimes you can be the best hairstylist in the world but the client just doesn't like you or your work. And I'd rather put my ego to the side and serve the needs of my brides as best as possible by referring them to another hairstylist.
So when it comes time to set up an appointment for a wedding day hair trial run, find a date that works for you and your hairstylist that leaves you time to bow out if things go awry. Also, when scheduling keep in mind that several factors are going to influence how well your trial goes outside of the skill of your hairstylist.
1. Give yourself enough time to get a thorough consultation, the style, and any tweaks. Your appointment shouldn't last less than an hour if you're doing one look. If you're unsure if you want your hair up or down, let the hairstylist know BEFORE your appointment so extra time to try both can be scheduled. Also, understand that extra time is going to be extra money, so if you really can't make up your mind and need two hours instead of just one you'll have to be willing to pay the extra costs. You also don't want to be rushing out of the appointment, because you didn't leave yourself enough time. If you need to do a second appointment down the road, it's going to cost you extra as well. That's why timing is so crucial to getting the best results as well as value.
Want some coffee? You may be here a while, so help yourself! My studio has a full selection of coffees, teas, and cocoas to quench your thirst while we get all your details in order.
2. Speak with your hairstylist about what your intended style is (up or down), your hair's current condition (oily, dry, colored/damaged, etc), natural curl pattern (straight, curly, wavy), and thickness (fine, normal, or thick). Some stylists will want you to wash your hair the day before. Some will want you to wash it that day before the appointment. And some stylists will let you know whether or not to use products or a flat iron. All of this will effect how well the hair is able to curl, hold the style, and whether or not you'll have some flyaways. Each person's scalp is different, and I like my brides to shampoo and dry their hair the morning of their appointment and not use any products or a flat iron. This gives me a clean slate to manipulate. During their trial, I can use products to add more grip and grit to the hair and evaluate whether or not for the wedding they should wash their hair the night before or not. If their hair is curly or tends to frizz, a smoothing balm is ok when they blow dry to help control the hair, but a flat iron can straighten the hair too much and makeup it very difficult for any curl to hold.
3. Schedule your appointment early enough in the day that you can see how the style holds up. It's not just to evaluate how well they stylist secures it, but also the styling products used. Small changes might need to be made to how the hair is prepped for the wedding, and being able to give your hairstylist feedback is key to your hair lasting from dawn to dusk and beyond on the big day. Plus, if your head starts to ache after a few hours, adjusting the height of your style can prevent a major headache on the wedding. Same thing goes for your style rubbing your neck, your ear, or just in general irritating you.
Preparing For Your Appointment:
If you've only just recently gotten engaged and haven't set too many details in stone yet, there's going to be an element of uncertainty to your wedding planning at the trial. Flexibility on the part of you and your stylist is going to be a big part of your communication. That being said, there are a few details you do have to have set before you sign on the dotted line.
1. Get your date and a general timeline settled. You can't expect a professional to execute a contract and be depended on delivering services if you can't tell them when and where they need to be. Wedding pros, especially ones who offer mobile services and as such need to block off enough time on their schedule to not only perform the services but travel to and from you, can't just hold an entire day open to your whims. Unless you want to pay a premium penny for them to be at your beck and call all day that is. If you're going to have a morning wedding or an evening wedding, this needs to be determined. If the actual ceremony start time moves up or back by an hour or so, that's fine. But be prepared to answer questions on what time everything is going to be happening so they can let you know how long your getting ready process will take and if any extra hairstylists will be needed (which can incur fees and up your cost).
2. Know your getting ready location. Or at the very least, the town. Will you be getting ready at the venue? Check with them first to see if there are restrictions on what time you are allowed on the property. I've had weddings change last minute when the bride realized we couldn't start as early as we needed, and she had to rent a hotel room nearby to accomodate. If you're getting ready in a hotel, make sure you rent a suite. A single room does not have enough space to fit a full bridal party plus a hairstlyist and a makeup artist. Not when you add in wedding dresses, shoes, bags, luggage, breakfast/lunch, and personalities. Give yourself space. Even if it's just to get a minute of peace. Lots of light is a big help, too. Picking a family home? Choose a neutral location, preferably where family isn't sleeping.
3. If you have your dress, bring photos. If you have your accessories, bring those. At the very least, have a general idea of the style of neckline for your wedding dress. It will play a big role on how your hairstyle flows with the rest of your look.
4. Please, please, please.... have an idea of what you want. In the age of Pinterest, I go back and forth between absolutely loving it as a tool during consultations, and absolutely loathing it. I can't tell you how many times I've had a bride sit down with a board of hair and makeup looks that has absolutely no common theme. There's some half up, some all up. Some sleek and modern, some messy and bohemian. Some with braids, some with tons of volume, sleek, just all over the place. Pin what you love as you see it, but as you do UPDATE THE DESCRIPTION of each pin with EXACTLY what you like in each photo. And then reevaluate the board as a whole every so often. You'll start to see a pattern. Maybe you're drawn more to the makeup looks or the overall feeling of a photo rather than the hairstyle itself. Maybe you like the lighting or the composition of the photo. Delete anything that doesn't represent what you're really looking for in the hair. It'll help you narrow your focus and keep you from feeling overwhelmed. A clear picture of what you want will make the trial run go so much more smoothly. There's a saying in the hair world: "If a client takes more than 15 minutes to tell you what they want, they're probably not going to like anything that you do." I love hearing brides tell me "oh you're the expert I trust you", but remember it's still your head, your wedding, and your style. What I think is beautiful may not fit what you like about your looks. After I've secured everything with a million pins and hairspray is not the time to tell me you like your part to the other side or that you wanted a few pieces left out.
I hope all this information helps you with planning and hiring a hairstylist for your wedding day. And if we'll be working together, yay! I can't wait to meet you. Thinking of hiring me? Check out my booking page for more information and to be sure your wedding day is open. And Congratulations! Wedding planning is one of the most stressful yet wonderful times in your life, and I hope that I can help provide a little more of the latter than the former. Happy Planning!