This guide to bridal hair prep and planning will take the stress out of wedding glam

bridal hair prep
EYNTK to make bridal hair prep and planning a joyJemal Countess - Getty Images

When it comes to planning a wedding, it can often feel like the ‘to-do’ list is never ending. From finding the right invitations to securing the dream venue, and of course, planning your look for the day… As someone who planned – and re-planned – my own wedding four times (thanks Covid!) I get it. You want to look like yourself, but at your very best.

Of course, once you’ve found the dress, it’s worth spending some time thinking about the details. From bridal accessories to wedding day makeup and hair styling, there are so many choices to consider. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to bridal hair, but there are a few things I picked up from my own ‘big day’ that made all the difference. Plus, I spoke with Sarah McKenna, Founder of Vixen & Blush hair salon, to get all the expert insight when it comes to prepping your strands for the big day...

Decide on your hair colour

Sarah Mckenna recommends thinking about what colour you’d like to achieve for your wedding day at least a year in advance (if time allows). “12 months before, it’s time to find a good colourist who can create a stable and flattering colour, whilst taking really good care of your own hair health.” If you’re thinking about changing up your hair colour for the wedding, it can take time to get there without damaging the strands, plus, it can’t hurt to have the extra time in case you change your mind. “Ask your colourist to map out a plan for getting you to your ideal shade and depth of colour for the big day” says Sarah.

If in doubt, stick to what you know. I’ve changed my hair colour many times, from bright red to platinum blonde and deep brown to caramel balayage, but for my wedding day, I decided I wanted my hair colour to be as close to my natural shade as possible. That way, I knew I wouldn't be committing to a trend that might date in a couple of years.

Improve your hair health

You should be doing this all the time anyway.... but if you aren't, getting to work on your hair health in the long-term lead-up to the big day will elevate any look you choose. Glossy happy hair is always in style, but it's something that can't be achieved overnight. Hair supplements can make your hair stronger, fuller and longer, but it's good to try these well in advance as they take months to really make an impact. Our beauty writer Elena swears by these HairGain Gummies.

Also look at boosting your hair care routine by investing in quality products that meet your particular hair needs, and introducing a regular mask or deep conditioner will help you have the best hair of your life on the big day.

Switching to silk scrunchies and pillows reduces friction and damage on your hair, minimising frizz, dryness, breakage and split ends, meanwhile taking time to brush or detangle gently from the bottom up is essential.

If you've got split ends or dry damaged lengths, brace yourself and get a good cut now, as far in advance as you can, so you won't be startled by losing length closer to the big day. This will also give your hair time to grow back healthier.

Find the style

Around eight months before the wedding it’s worth thinking about what hairstyle you might want to wear on the day, explains Sarah. “Start collecting inspiration images for your ideal hair and remember to consider the neckline of your wedding dress.” Intricate beading around the neckline might be better suited to an updo, so as not to hide the detail, whilst a cleaner neckline could be paired with loose lengths.

Boost your locks

Once you’ve selected a hairstyle, it’s important to discuss with your stylist how best to achieve the look. “Hair extensions are often suggested as a way to reach your hair goals. Inspiration images tend to have a lot of volume, and this is usually only achievable by adding in extra hair” says Sarah.

If you do opt for extensions, there are a number of different application methods to consider, as each has pros and cons.

“The Micro Ring method is very popular because it is reusable and very safe. No glue is used to fit the hair extensions and both the fitting, and the removal process are straight-forward, comfortable and simple. Your micro ring hair extensions (also called nano rings) will last for 3 months and can then be re-fitted again.” Explains Sarah.

“The Micro Bond method uses keratin resin to fit loose hair into moulded bonds by hand. This method is discreet and comfortable and is useful for those with finer hair and for those who would like to add hair in more prominent areas, like the fringe. However, this method does not allow the hair to be reused, so new hair is needed each time” says Sarah. “We love this versatile method – as we can make very tiny bonds where needed and offer something more for clients who need a really discreet method of adding hair. The micro bonds will last for 3 months.”

“The 'Invisible' Tape Hair Extensions are suited to those who want hair added for 6-8 weeks and for those who want a quick and easy service at the salon. This method is also suitable for those who are on a budget as the service is charged per piece of hair and so the client has full control of the amount of hair added. Also, the tape hair extensions can be re-fitted, offering greater affordability, but still guaranteeing the same amazing quality of hair.”

“Clip In Hair Extensions are best for those who do not want to commit to permanent hair extensions” says Sarah. “We developed a new range of clip in hair extensions that are the most discreet way of adding hair. The roots are slightly darker than the ends, the colour range is full of multi-tonal colours and the pieces are carefully handcrafted, making this 100% undetectable.”

Trial is key

If you choose to book a professional hair stylist for your bridal hair, it’s well worth having at least one trial with them. “Around 3 months before the big day, it’s time for your first hair trial”, says Sarah, “remember to take images of the chosen look with you”. “Then, be sure to book a final trial a week or so before the wedding, especially if you have chosen to have hair extensions fitted.”

If your style involves braids that last weeks or even a couple of months, it's best to have your trial around six months in advance so you get the full wear of the style from the trial (unless you're trying to keep it secret). This also leaves you time to trial another style if you don't like your first. With any braid trial note which day you like them best, as you may prefer them once they've settled a few days into the style.

bridal hair prep
Jemal Countess - Getty Images

If you’re going to DIY your wedding hairstyle, be sure to have a couple of practice runs in the lead up to the big day. Time yourself, that way you can be sure to set aside enough time on the morning of the wedding.

The final countdown

It’s time to book in those final pre-wedding appointments. Sarah recommends having your final colour appointment just a month before the big day, and if you’ve opted to have hair extensions, it’s best to have these fitted two weeks before (along with any colour touch ups or trims where needed).

On the day

Your wedding day morning is whatever you want it to be, whether that’s surrounded by your many pals popping champagne and singing along to Ariana Grande, or, it’s you having a long bath with a vanilla latte, cucumber face mask and some classical FM. At this point, all of your organising and planning is done, so now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy it all.

If you’ve booked a hair stylist, it’s worth having them show up earlier than you need them, to ensure you don’t feel rushed. The rule of thumb is to be ready an hour before you need to leave. The stylist will be able to advise you on when they need to arrive by for your desired look and schedule. If they're also doing your bridesmaids' hair, it may be best to have those styled first so your hair is freshest, but that also depends on your makeup schedule.

If your hairstyle requires a fair amount of heat, it’s worth having your locks styled before your makeup is applied, as this will ensure the excess heat doesn’t cause your makeup to smudge or run. And if that all sounds confusing, remember these are pros and will be able to help you with the glam logistics ahead of the day.

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