When I thumb through the pages of my parent’s wedding album, it’s the smile on my mother’s face that captures the spirit of the day. Her petite frame drenched in a lace gown, with hand-sewn covered buttons, and a tiara fit for a queen. Her thick auburn hair, half-up, half-down (a “do” reminiscent of the late 1960s), is picture perfect.
Kathy Kelly, 1966
Not much has changed in wedding-day hairstyles since the 60s – with some updating, they remain elegant, classic and timeless. For some, creating that timeless look seems like a formidable task.
Wedding day hair ranks in the top five wedding-day concerns for many women. “It’s pretty important – it’s your appearance,” said Tiffany Atkinson, who will celebrate her fifth anniversary this month. While wanting a formal look, Tiffany wanted simply “to be comfortable on my wedding day.”
Brides want to look their best, yet maintain their own style. Thankfully, bridal hair consultants abound in New York City – and they are here to help to create that balance.
Now that the ring is secured on thy ring finger, there are few things to consider while deciding on a style. The hair should compliment the dress, and create an entire look. “When choosing a hair style keep in mind the neck line of the wedding dress, the jewelry and of course the veil,” Christophe Belkacemi, Yves Durif Salon stylist, said. “All of these things should work off each other.”
Experts suggest that you should have an idea of how you want to style your hair – before you buy the veil. In preparation of making any hair decisions, they say to consider the following:
– The texture of your hair. Don’t choose accessories that are too heavy. The longer the veil (think fingertip, chapel and ballet styles), the heavier it is and will weigh down your hair.
– Short hairstyles look best with short veils.
– Rounder faces look better with longer veils.
– Fuller hairstyles and veils flatter narrow faces.
– Fuller styles tend to pull down, so if you’re looking for a style with more hold, a tighter, sleeker style is best. – You can’t go wrong with French Twists – they work well with both short and long veils.
– Think about accessories – pins with crystals, pearls and beads, jeweled hair sticks, headbands, flowers, and the tiara
– Don’t overwhelm your frame with too many accessories.
– Too many can be a distraction. “When it comes to pins and hair accessories LESS IS MORE…Placement is key – take your stylists advice,” Christophe said.
– If you plan to remove your veil, think about how it will change your style, and practice accordingly.
It’s best to call your stylist six months in advance of the wedding date to talk about the ideas you have for your hair, and then put a hair care plan into action. Some things to consider: should you grow it out, do you want to maintain the color and cut?
Christophe recommends that brides-to-be schedule their consultation three to four months before the big day, leaving plenty of time for other consultations, if necessary. “It’s also important to take your stylists schedule into consideration. The sooner the wedding is booked the better, especially if the stylist is to be on location.”
The consultation may not be with your favorite stylist. When scheduling the appointment, tell the salon that you would like to schedule a Bridal Consultation. Many salons offer free consultations, but be sure to ask when you call.
To prepare for a consultation, the bride may arrange for the stylist to view the dress at the bridal salon. At minimum, the bride should bring a photo of the dress to the consultation. “It is a must,” said Gil Ferrer, stylist and owner of Gil Ferrer Salon. He prefers to go and see the bride in the dress so he knows exactly how to create the look. The bride should also bring any and all accessories and the veil.
Gil emphasizes that the bride should feel comfortable with the consultation. Many brides try three or four salons. Try places that are recommended. Brides should look for “someone they really like, because the bride should have confidence in the person.”
And they need to communicate what they want. “I think the main thing is the communication between the client and the stylist,” Gil said. “The bride should bring ideas that she has…and tell the stylist if you’re conservative, or more fun. Communicate her feelings and what she expects from the stylist and all the details about the wedding.”
At the consultation, expect pictures to be taken – from the back, side and front. They should write down colors they use (if doing makeup, etc…). They should keep a record of what you’re having done. “It’s very touchy, emotional,” Gil said. “You’ve got to make sure they are happy.”
Karen Studwell, a woman with a plan, knew from day one that she wanted a tiara, her hair away from her face, but not an updo. Karen has naturally curly hair, and didn’t want it to be blown out.
“Sometimes you have to be pretty explicit about what you want,” Karen said. So communication was key when discussing her hair with the on-sight stylist. “There is a certain expectation that your hair looks the ultimate best that it will ever look on your wedding day. You have to be able to trust to stay in place.” Not just when you are walking down the aisle, but three hours later when people are still taking your picture and you are on the dance floor. “You want it to be perfect.”
Perfect, But You
“I didn’t want a style that was not me because I wanted to be comfortable in my own body,” Karen said.
Christophe agrees. “One thing I explain to my clients repeatedly is that all women are born with a unique hair texture, some curly, some fine, some straight …One is not better than the other,just different.” To bring out the best qualities of your hair, he has a few suggestions:
– Short hair:
Keep it simple, a smart blow-dry, a touch of product to enhance shine and an understated flower or jeweled pin. Balayage (French highlights) always pulls the look together for shorthaired girls. Finger waves are also a great option forbrides looking for a more retro vibe.
– Long hair:
Hair down, hands down! Show off your long locks. One side pulled back is always elegant. Focus more on the right layers and a great blow-dry.
– Fine Hair:
Updos are a prefect option for fine-haired brides. Again, keep its simple. Smooth on the sides, a bit of volume on top and a low placed chignon. Add some product of a nice gloss.
– Curly hair:
I like to see curly girls married in curls. Definitely defuse for the right body. Half-up works well for curly brides. Work with freshly cut layers and a good mouse.
Extensions are also an easy option for brides you want to fill out fine hair, or those who want longer hair, bangs or simply want to have fun with their hair. According to Gil, they take only a few minutes to place in the hair, and he recommends extensions to put on that day, as opposed to the kind that last for three or four months.
As for last-minute color, highlights, or cut, schedule the appointment about two weeks in advance, Gil recommends. “Because you never know how it will turn out.” And steer clear of drastic changes.
The Big Day Basics
If your stylist is going to be on-sight, be sure they have precise directions with cell phone, hotel and location numbers to reach you. Don’t throw in any surprise mothers, aunts or cousins for the stylists. Give them an accurate headcount in advance – this also determines the cost.
Be sure to allot one and a half to two hours for hair and makeup. And remember to wear a button down shirt. After sitting for two hours, you don’t want to mess it up!
B is for Bad Weather
Have a plan B for the weather. A friend of mine got married in July of 1998. Her fiancée researched the Farmer’s Almanac, dating back to the 1960s for the weather conditions on that date in July. According to the Almanac, it was to be sunny, mid-80s, and not a cloud in the sky. Of course, it rained.
No matter how well you prepare, Mother Nature has her way of getting in the way. Gil said that “the bride must be prepared to have a different choice” in case of rain, snow or otherwise unfriendly hair weather.
To have a stylist to save you from that rainy day comes with a price. Be prepared to spend upwards of $500 for an on-sight stylist. It all depends on the location, the number of girls in the wedding party as well as the duration of the service. Going to the salon is the cheapest way to do it, and you should expect to pay at least $200.
It’s difficult to imagine that a bride could ever replicate what the stylist does in the salon. Hair is what they do, and “most things are so intricate,” said Gil. Isn’t creating a timeless you worth the cost?
Creating the Timeless You
Determine what inspires your style and communicate that to your stylist. Be it Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn, find your inner beauty and create your picture-perfect you.
For Karen, it was the tiara, “You feel a little bit taller, a little more elegant. Everyone wants to be Audrey Hepburn.”
It’s your chance to walk into the ball, with everybody watching you.
Yves Durif Salon
130 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10021
Gil Ferrer Salon
21 East 74th St.