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Everything You Need to Know About a Wedding Hair Trial, According to a Hair Stylist

Sabina Gadecki – GL Bride
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Seating assignments aside, figuring out a hairstyle that will stay put through tearful vows, the first dance and thousands of hugs and kisses is a huge stressor. But there’s one simple way to ease your mind when it comes to deciding between curls or an up-do: creating a solid plan with your hairdresser.

Here, Brooklyn-based hair stylist Shaun Lewis (who’s currently based at Self Salon and has been in the biz for 12 years) tells us all about booking a hair consultation and a hair trial (or two), so your wedding hair will be picture perfect from first-looks to last dance.

What’s the first step a bride should take in terms of figuring out a hairstyle that will work?

I always suggest booking a consultation before your trial. It’s such a great way to prepare yourself for the research you need to see your hair vision through. Your hairdresser can give you some guidance in terms of your hair texture, what will compliment your dress (or jumpsuit!), what to think about for the season, the weather you might be expecting on your wedding date and how to find a style that feels like you, but elevated. Additionally, they can advise on extensions and the process of ordering them before your trial.

How early on in the planning process should a consultation and trial be booked?

Ten months to a year. Ideally, once you’ve booked your venue and photographer, you should book your hair and makeup next. I book weddings out over the year and I’ve had to turn people down for their dates because they waited too long, so the sooner you book the better.

What are some images or reference pictures that brides should bring to their hair test?

I ask brides to bring in two to three visuals of the styles that they have in mind, or a collection of photos that piece together one idea (including the front, sides, style of curls, part line, accessory placement, etc). I encourage the bride to find photos that reflect their personal style because you want to avoid looking back at your wedding photos and not recognizing yourself. 

You should never feel shy about over-communicating your expectations and ideas. You’re paying for a service, you should get the results you want or be coached and given a timeline to achieve your hair goals. 

What are some of the most important things a bride can consider when looking for hair inspiration?

When you’re looking for a style, make sure you’re giving yourself realistic expectations. Do you have more hair than the person in the photo? Do you have the same hair texture? Do you have the same hair color? For example, if you have dark hair it’s not going to photograph with a lot of texture or detail. I encourage my brunette brides to add a few natural highlights for their day so the style really pops in photos. Keeping all this in mind, make sure you communicate your past experiences with formal styles. What worked for you and what did not? How does your hair hold when you use hot tools on it? What products do not work well in your hair or work best? 

Will one hair trial usually be enough?

I book one look per appointment, usually lasting for about two hours. Or I charge per style if the bride would like to book more time in one session. I’ve also had brides schedule two trials on two different days so they can really get a feel for each of their looks. I encourage brides to book trials on the days they have fittings or on a day you have time to leave the style in for several hours, so you can see how the style settles. If you’re wearing a veil, hairpiece, or a headband you should bring that to your trial, even if you’re unsure about it for your final look.

Do brides usually bring anyone along for their consultation or trial?

I recommend only one person joins for the trial, if anyone at all. However, take a lot of photos once the trial is complete—and ask your stylist to help capture some of the trickier angles. This allows you to easily share your look with people you want feedback from. It’s important to enjoy the one-on-one time with your hairdresser during the trial. You need to build trust and feel confident with the person who is creating your hair on your big day.

What should brides consider when choosing to do hair on- or off-site the morning of the wedding?

It’s all about the level of comfort you want for your day. I find that when I travel to the bridal party, the morning feels so different. Everyone is in robes, enjoying some sort of beverage and time feels like it goes a little slower. There seems to be less worry and more ease. Depending on if or where you are hosting your bridal party it may be easier to be in host in a salon/studio space.

Any tips for a bride who wants to keep her hair looking perfect during her entire wedding?

It’s all about your schedule and your maid of honor. The bride should never go last for hair or makeup but should be second to last. This gives you time for your style (and makeup) to settle and for the bride to take in the last few moments before getting her dress on. I schedule touch-ups after the bride and bridal party are completely dressed. 

Then, the maid of honor will be with me as I place the veil in so I can coach them how to take it out. I also give instructions and extra pins, so they have everything they need in case touch-ups are necessary. 

If brides would like the option to have a hairdresser on call for touch-ups throughout the rest of the day you can, usually for an hourly rate. A lot of brides that do first-look photos like this option, so the bridal party can come back for touch-ups before they leave for the ceremony.

What products or tools should the bride (or maid of honor) keep on hand for touch-ups?

This completely depends on your style but this is a great question to ask your hairdresser so they can give you a small list. It will probably include things like a travel size hairspray, pins, a pocket Mason Pearson and a clutch that can fit these things. Or a MOH clutch that can fit all these things!

What are some trendy hairstyles that brides are currently asking for?

I’m getting a lot of requests for more natural but polished looks. The kind of looks that resist the hands of time. Specifically, Hollywood glam or anything Blake Lively.

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Annaelle Beenstock image

Annaelle Beenstock | March 5, 2020

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