Beauty & Makeup

Where To Go For Beauty Help: Salon, Spa, or Store?

What to know before you book your pre-wedding primping appointments


What to expect: Most salons employ a staff of beauty pros (manicurists, waxers, makeup artists) eager to prettify your person, both before the wedding and on the day itself. Hair care, though, is usually the house specialty. You should have a practice run a month before the wedding—bring photos of favorite styles and a picture of your dress, plus the headpiece or hair ornaments you plan to wear. Give the stylist some general direction (you want an updo, for example); she'll try out several looks so you can determine what's prettiest.

Keep in mind: The busiest salon day, Saturday, is also the most popular for weddings, so it's unlikely that your stylist will be able to pay a house call.

Cost considerations: Your regular hairstylist may do a complimentary consultation. Otherwise, expect to pay $75 and up for a trial run.

Department Store

What to expect: With row after row of cosmetics counters, department stores offer the best opportunity to shop around for an artist whose own makeup style matches yours—so study how each woman has done her own face. Once you spot an artist with the right look, make an appointment for a demonstration. Unless the store has an on-site salon, you'll have to go elsewhere for hairstyling—ask your makeup artist for a referral.

Keep in mind: Many counter makeup artists do freelance work and can be booked for your wedding day. They'll come to you for a rate of about $150 to $250, depending upon your location.

Cost considerations: You're not expected or obligated to buy any products—most cosmetics counters provide makeovers for free. But if you're happy with the results, common courtesy suggests you purchase at least one or two items.

Day Spa

What to expect: Spas offer all sorts of beauty services, and some even have on-site hair salons, but skin care is their claim to fame. So if your goal is a flawless complexion, take advantage of all the specialized treatments (facials, peels, laser resurfacing) a day spa has to offer. Depending on your issues, you'll want to get a treatment program started at least four to six months before the big day. Most salons offer packages that combine some type of skin or massage treatment with a manicure or other grooming service.

Keep in mind: Book any skin treatment for at least a week before the wedding—your face will need time to cool down from even the gentlest facial.

Cost considerations: A special bridal package—a couple of hours of beauty coddling that often include a mini-facial, a manicure or pedicure and a massage—usually starts at about $125.

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