How I'm Helping My BFF Choose Her Wedding Hairstyle

One of the first things I learned as a hairstylist is how to create aesthetically pleasing styles for people that don’t consider Blossom and Jack Sparrow fashion icons.
Publish date:
January 21, 2014
How-To, weddings, hairstyles

When its your turn to walk down the aisle--if that’s where you’re headed--how are you gonna go? I’m not really in that frame of mind at this time, but OPW (Other People’s Weddings) are damned fun times.

I come from a large, ridiculous Italian family, so I’m no stranger to the crazy wedding, but I've never been to a non-family wedding. I will be 27 in less than two months, so it goes to show you the company I keep. Not. One. Single. Friend. Wedding.

Don’t mistake--I know a few married folk, but my crazy ass wasn’t invited. Apparently I’m too cuckoo to keep in touch with, and way too cuckoo to invite to a wedding. Usually it’s either that or my ex is there instead of me every time someone I know gets married.

NOT THIS TIME! My BFF from high school is engaged to her longtime college beau, a lovely teacher and champeen fencer. What a catch! And I am not only invited, I am a bridesmaid! WOO!

Dara, my fantastic best friend, is currently wrapping up her master’s degree in public policy at Johns Hopkins University and living in Baltimore. Her wedding is taking place in June in Freehold, New Jersey, which is the town next to my hometown. Her town is cooler because BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN is from there. No joke. My little brother went to the same high school as the boss!

Instead of the lavish cannoli-ridden banquet hall productions I am used to attending, I get to be with some of my oldest friends, dancing our butts off on Dara’s family farm. This is a liberating and welcome change of pace from what I am used to.

My BFF is not just any ol’ cupcake bride; she wants to look like a bride, but not a pantomime of a bride. Because of my past dealings with brides in many capacities (hair, invitations, accessories), Dara knew she could consult with me about the choices she would be making and the budget she would have to allot for hair and hair accessories.

Despite my lack of wedding attendance, I have a killer inner rolodex of wedding traditions, styles, and working knowledge of what actually goes down in the hours before the ceremony. Just because I am, in fact, very much unmarried and very much untraditional, the first thing I learned was how to create aesthetically pleasing styles for people that don’t consider Blossom and Jack Sparrow fashion icons. (Newsflash: hairstylists with crazy style are usually not looking to do that to your hair unless you very specifically ask for that.)

Since we live in different cities now, we want to spend as much time as possible PARTYING on Dara’s wedding day, leaving the hair responsibilities for others, but we met up to discuss consultation techniques and help shape her ideas before she goes in for a trial with her intended stylist. I will, of course, be on hand to help out either Dara’s stylist or any of the other bridesmaids who need hair help. I’m a pretty antsy person and very eager to help others, so I’m sure I’ll be going around with a curling iron and some bobbies with a big ol' grin and a glass of champagne (but more likely a bloody Mary).

Dara’s hair is medium brown, medium length, and wavy. Like many newly engaged ladies, Dara will be growing her hair out to allow for more options close to the actual day. This is a very common practice, and I condone this strategy, provided regular mini-trims still go down every four to six weeks. This will ensure that all new hair is healthy and free of split ends.

Luckily, Dara doesn’t heat-style very often, which will be a major aid in growing it out, but consider doing at least a partial heat fast anytime you are looking to grow your hair out. Daily brushing with a natural bristle brush on the scalp as well as eating hair power foods (almonds, avocado, chickpea, cucumber) are also welcome routine additions that can only help.

As for hair accessories, Dara is not too sure if she is doing a veil or not. Since her fiancé is probably going to read this, we will not be discussing her gorgeous dress, but we agreed a full veil would be a bit much, considering it will be summertime and outdoors. If we find or make a cutesy little veil, it will probably be strictly an accessory, not too decorative and perhaps incorporating some fresh flowers.

It is important to either have the actual piece, a photo of the piece, and an idea of how you want to wear any accessories in your hair on your wedding day. The stylist who will be completing your look needs EVERY SINGLE available tool and piece of information during your consultation. Most times I have seen bridal hair go down, last-minute changes were almost always to blame for potential dissatisfaction. Luckily, Dara’s stylist is beyond laid back.

For the actual day, it is likely that Dara will be wearing her hair with a similar curl to her natural look, with a relaxed half-up look. This will be keeping her hair off of her face if it is hot, but preserving a bit of hair falling around the face. This will make the look natural and soft--she isn’t really looking for an ornate full updo or any major changes to her natural texture.

Basically, just getting slightly longer, healthier hair for this coming June is her goal. Not 100% out of the question is hair extensions. You all know how I feel about those. If she decides that she wants more hair, POOF! It’s as simple as a few wefts and some clips.

The process of planning bridal hair usually involves at least three and maybe more appointments, depending on your current hair maintenance schedule. A consultation is 100% required and 200% recommended.

To express what you want, use sites like Pinterest to print out photos of what you like. It is perfectly acceptable to mix and match, for example, one photo for the veil positioning, another for the texture, one for the style, one that looks more like your actual hair.

Reference photos are not only meant to look like your hair, but are also clues to the details that you pay attention to. For some, the overall shape and texture is more important; for others, small details are more important. If you see the same stylist for regular hair maintenance, discuss your long term hair goals for your wedding day with them.

Some things to remember when you are considering your wedding hairstyle:

• You want to look like the best version of yourself. Whatever that means to you, you can achieve it. Some brides want extra hair, complicated updos, and plentiful accessories; others want simplified but still glamorous incarnations of what they look like every day.

• You might consider the day to be more important to your guests than to you, or vice-versa! Dara is ecstatic to be getting married, but is more concerned with how much fun the attendees will be having than how big her hair is, so she is going with a trusted friend as her stylist and doing a low-maintenance look.

• Decide as soon as possible on your length and color if you tend to be very concerned about your hair. Goals take time to achieve, and you also want to be as clear as possible with your regular stylist during all of the appointments preceding the big day.

• Budget is VERY important to iron out as soon as possible. Also, note that your budget doesn’t have to reflect how much you can afford, but how much money you actually want to part with. Wedding budgets don’t HAVE to be met or even topped with the right planning.

• Don’t be afraid to seek the opinion of other stylists if you don’t feel comfortable asking your current stylist to do your bridal style. There is a chance that your stylist doesn’t do special-event hair, and maybe their colleague or friend is incredible. You will only know if you ask!

Dara is near proof that you don’t have to decide between traditional and alternative; she is picking and choosing what to do every step of the way with no stringent guidelines. No something blue, no something borrowed, but perhaps a delightful hair ornament from Etsy and some killer Audrey-style flats. If money was no option, we would be turning the backyard into a recreation of the Shire, just like that Napster dude, but a tent and a dance floor will do much better!

Staying true to yourself is very important, if that is important to you, but to someone like Dara, making sure that her family and friends get to see her get hitched without a hitch is the most pressing detail, and I can’t wait to be a part of it!