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.

Bridal Trial Series: Final Looks, Products Used, and the Blooper Reel

Over the past five days, we have given you a behind-the-scenes look at a real bridal trial with our beautiful bride, Kelsey, and our hair and makeup team from Swell Beauty. And for those of you who have not yet had your trial for your wedding day, I hope that your fears and anxieties were eased, that you learned how to ensure you find the best stylist for you, and that you now have a better understanding of what a bridal trial entails so you can be as prepared as possible when your day comes!

So of course, we have to show you all of Kelsey's final looks...


...some of the professional products that were used...


...and what would an eight hour bridal trial be without a blooper reel! Enjoy :)

A huge thank you to Dee and Stacey from Swell Beauty, Shawna from Bleudog Fotography, and Johnny from AfterDark Media for making this amazing series possible!

And Congratulations to our beautiful bride, Kelsey, for allowing us to film this process! We cannot wait to feature your wedding in October :)



I hope that this series is not only fun for you to watch, see, and read, but that is eases any worries or unknowns about what your hair and makeup trial will be like. Our goal is to guide you through the process of choosing your stylists, offer you tips and tricks along the way, make sure you are best prepared for your trial, and help you through all the way to your wedding day!


Swell BeautyBleudog FotographyAfterDark Media

Tips & tricks from only the best!

Today is going to be extra short and sweet. And while the information you'll be reading may seem like a bit of a "jumbled mess" with no apparent theme (except that fact that is all has to do with hair and makeup), I learned so much going through this process with Kelsey and the Swell Beauty team and just had to tell you about the biggest tips and tricks that I learned throughout this experience! Yes, I've been a bride before and had my bridal trial, but it was a completely different experience looking from the outside in.

The Swell Beauty team provided an overwhelming amount of knowledge and expertise, and throughout the day, I made sure to take notes on the tips and tricks I heard so that I could share them with all of you! So here are the tops ticks and tricks that I think every bride should know!

It's All About Balance

Balance, balance, balance. We talked about it on multiple occasions throughout the day because it is so important to take into consideration when choosing your hairstyle. And this is one reason why it is so imperative to bring a photo of your dress along with you!

Your hair to dress "ratio" must be balanced. So if you have a poofy dress, you don't want your hairstyle to be too poofy. And if you have a poofy dress, you don't want your hairstyle to be too flat, but with a great overall balance of hair to dress
style, you'll able to create a stunning style that brings out the beauty in you!

The "Fake" Tan

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing wrong with spray and airbrush tans, the type of "fake" tan we are talking about here. In college, I used to love getting spray tans, but that is beside the point. But when it comes to your bridal trial, "fake" tans play a very important role and you need to know some important information on the do's and don'ts!

If you are going to get a spray tan, it is important to not get your face done. The reason being is that your stylist can easily match the color of your arms and chest with the makeup she uses, but if you get the spray tan on your face, it often shows up blotchy...not something you will want for your wedding day!

Save Yourself A Couple Bucks

I hear it time and time again, "I am going to hire a friend so I can save some money on hair and makeup." DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT fall into this trap! Your photos are what are going to be sitting on your coffee table, hanging on your walls, and will be part of many "#tbt's" for years to come! And your hair and makeup are, obviously, a large part of those photos! And not only that, you want to feel your best, to feel more beautiful than you've ever felt, on this very special day, so if you need to save some bucks, I am sure you can find some ways to save somewhere else :)

You've Found "The One"

There are thousands upon thousands of hair and makeup stylists out there, plenty which are amazing and many more who claim to be wedding stylists. So before you get yourself into trouble and end up paying more to fix a wrong decision, I've asked Dee to explain to all of you the best way to find "the one" for you, what to look for in stylists you want and don't want, and how to ensure your experience is a positive one from booking through the end of your wedding night!

"Not only do you want someone that does beautiful work, but someone who will go above and beyond to provide you with additional tips and tricks to ensure you look and feel your best on your big day. You want to find a stylist who has a website and many social media outlets full of images and most importantly experience IN WEDDINGS...at least two years!

You DO NOT want to book anyone who has no photos of their work or experience in weddings, or a stylist who works in a salon that focuses on your every day cut and color. These stylist come into a wedding with a different mind frame than wedding professionals. On a normal day, they can have their assistant finish your cut, color, wash, or blow dry but on the wedding day, this cannot happen. They are not sued to timelines and pressure, cannot take you 10 minutes late or run past the designated timeline. Your regular cut and color stylist lacks wedding experience and consistency in this area. Avoid someone who tells you, "I usually don't do weddings, but I will do it for you!"

Your stylist should want to bring out your natural features and your true beauty without trying to make you look like a different person, and you should be able to see this in their images! You want a stylist who uses professional hair and makeup products, and not ones you can find at your local drug store.

Find a stylist who is willing to and truly wants to spend as many hours as it takes on your trial, because he or she cares!" - Dee, Swell Beauty

And with all of this, you should be one step closer to finding your perfect stylist FOR YOU, with some great tips and tricks along the way! And believe me, Swell Beauty sure did go above and beyond on Kelsey's trial...we were there for eight hours perfecting her looks - talk about commitment to their brides! And that is exactly the stylist you'll want to find for your own wedding day :)


I hope that this series is not only fun for you to watch, see, and read, but that is eases any worries or unknowns about what your hair and makeup trial will be like. Our goal is to guide you through the process of choosing your stylists, offer you tips and tricks along the way, make sure you are best prepared for your trial, and help you through all the way to your wedding day!

Swell BeautyBleudog FotographyAfterDark Media