What to Expect During Your Bridal Hair + Makeup Trial // From A Real Bride

Written with love, by Felicia Zammit-McMann

The hair and make-up trial – one of the most important, but slightly overlooked “to-do’s” on any bride’s list. It’s easy to assume you’re going to go to the salon, show them a photo of a hairstyle you like, and end up looking exactly like the model in the photo. Likewise, you most likely wear makeup every day, and think you might just be able to tell someone what colors you want and be done with it.

Makeup Artist: Emma Anyanwu Photography: Alakija Photography Studio Headpiece: To Hold & To Have (The Bride List Preferred Vendor)

Makeup Artist: Emma Anyanwu
Photography: Alakija Photography Studio
Headpiece: To Hold & To Have (The Bride List Preferred Vendor)

Well, that would be nice; but the reality is, they are called trials for a reason. Not only are you trying different hair styles, or makeup colors, but also different salons. Many of you might be marrying in your hometown and plan on going to your favorite salon for your trial. Some of you might be getting married in a different city, state, or country, for that matter, and need to really do some research on salons that offer hair and makeup for your big day. Regardless of where you end up, there are some basic steps to follow to make sure you are happy and looking gorgeous on your wedding day.


Step 1 // Do Your Research!

I can’t stress this enough. Your salon is just like any other vendor you would hire for your wedding. Make sure you ask a ton of questions and feel comfortable with the people you are talking to. If you don’t like what they have to say over the phone, move on. Remember, pushiness or rudeness equals a stressed-out bride, and you don’t want that.

Think outside the box when it comes to salons as well. Just because you’ve been going to the same salon for years, doesn’t mean they necessarily can do your bridal hair and makeup. Ask friends and coworkers for recommendations, go to bridal shows to check out what’s available, check out reviews on sites such as Yelp, and check salon websites for testimonials or before and after photos of real brides.

Once you’ve done all of that, then go ahead and book your appointment(s).


Step 2 // Give Yourself Time

Jay Dixon Photography

Jay Dixon Photography

This is especially true for brides who are getting married outside of their hometown. Give yourself time in two ways: Trials can take up to two hours, so make sure you have the time to dedicate to that. Also give yourself a few months before your wedding to go on your trial. This way, if you go to one salon and don’t like what they did, you have time to find another.

Step two-and-a-half: If applicable, have your trial before your engagement photos are taken. This way, they can do your hair and makeup for your engagement photos.


Step 3 // Bring Photos + An Open Mind

While a chignon is so beautiful and elegant, it’s not for everyone. My hair was neither long enough nor thick enough to support one, so I opted for a half-up, half-down style. I brought photos with me but ended up doing something completely different than what I had originally wanted. You need to be flexible enough to work with what you have. Thin hair might be better down, thick hair might be better up. You never know until you try. Bring photos of a range of different styles and try as many as you can, because just like your dress, you might be pleasantly surprised by trying something new.


Step 4 // Bring Your Bling and A Fresh Face

Just like you would bring your shoes and the proper undergarments to a dress fitting, you need to bring all the proper goods to your hair and makeup trial. Bring your veil, headpiece, flowers, or barrettes to your appointment so you can see what they will look like with your hairstyle. Come with your hair prepped as you would have it the day of your wedding: washed – or unwashed – with little to no product as possible. Same for your face. Show up with a fresh face. Moisturizer is okay (check with your makeup artist first), but nothing else. Once you decide on a look, take a photo! Your stylist should be taking notes, but even at that, if your trial is months before your wedding, it’s easy to forget details. A photo captures everything.


Step 5 // You Should Look Like An Amazing Version of Yourself

Photography: Katie Riviera Photography Hair + Makeup: Stephanie Nelson Makeup & Hair (The Bride List Preferred Vendor)

Photography: Katie Riviera Photography
Hair + Makeup: Stephanie Nelson Makeup & Hair (The Bride List Preferred Vendor)

What you wear to the office is totally different than what you wear on your wedding day. Remember, you are wearing a formal gown, which requires formal makeup (regardless of whether you have an indoor or outdoor wedding). It also needs to hold up through tears, sweat, smooches, and photos … lots and lots of photos. Because of that, wedding makeup by nature, will be heavier, but it doesn’t mean you will end up looking like a clown. Tell your stylist what kind of makeup you normally wear and what look you are going for. Your wedding is not the time to try something drastically different, it’s just a time to try something better.

Step 6 // Travel Fees

Depending on where you are getting married or getting ready, it may require the salon to come to you. If this is the case, make sure you ask if they are able to meet you at the venue. If it’s out of state or out of the country, you may be looking at paying travel fees for your stylists, so be prepared. If travel is something they can’t do, and you can’t go to the salon the day of your wedding, you may need to book different vendors.

Step 7 // Cheaper Does Not = Better

Let’s face it: By now you’ve probably realized that anything associated with weddings or brides costs more than it does normally. Your budget might be on its last legs, but don’t skimp on this important part of the planning process. What you look like is going to be captured forever, so you want to make sure you look your best. Make sure to leave a few hundred dollars or so in your budget for proper hair and makeup.

Jodee Debes Photography

Jodee Debes Photography

Step 8 // Timeline

Believe it or not, getting your hair and makeup done plays a very important role in the timeline for your wedding day. Typically, that’s a bride’s first stop for the day; and if you end up running late there, it pushes everything back, like a domino effect. Make sure you share your timeline with your salon and work backwards from there. For example, my wedding didn’t take place until 2:00 p.m., but we were at the salon at 8:30 a.m. to make sure we had enough time for me, my mom, and my bridal party to get ready, get home to grab some breakfast, and be ready for when the photographer came. Your salon or stylists will know how long it will take to do your hair and makeup – the trial is also the time to see how long it takes to get you prepped – and how long it will take to do everyone else. A great salon/stylist will want you in and out as quickly as possible so that you can get on with your day and photos. Might that mean an early wakeup call? Yes. Might it mean a long day? Yes. But you are going to be so psyched and full of adrenaline on your wedding day, getting up early will be a piece of cake.