Beauty & Makeup

The Rise of Professional Stylists for Weddings

Get yourself wedding-ready with tips from top hair and makeup artists.

When Leigh-Ann Drew, of Minneapolis, was planning her wedding in her parents' hometown of Houston, she left no detail to chance—especially her hair. On the recommendation of her wedding planner, Leigh-Ann booked an appointment a year in advance for a consultation with hairstylist Jim Robeson of the Norris of Houston Salon and Spa. After some discussion of Leigh-Ann's dress (a strapless, ivory duchesse satin gown by Kenneth Pool embroidered with Austrian crystals and pearls), bride and stylist envisioned a romantic look. Leigh-Ann flew home with an order to put a moratorium on haircuts ("That was hard," she says); six months later, she returned to Houston for her hair trial with Robeson. Following the result, an updo with lots of loose curls, Leigh-Ann consulted her wedding coordinator, who thought a modified, more defined version would best complement her dress. Leigh-Ann returned to Robeson's chair for a second trial. Bride, stylist and wedding coordinator were thrilled with the elegant result. Robeson took photos and notes to ensure a perfect re-creation on the wedding day.

So, was all the preparation worth it? "For me, it was priceless," says Leigh-Ann, who also had her hair and makeup professionally done for her rehearsal luncheon, and hired two more stylists (plus two makeup artists) for her bridal party, mother, mother-in-law and grandmothers.

A "Heightened Awareness" Among Brides

If you think you've been obsessing about your hair and makeup, rest assured: You're not alone. No longer content to simply hire a stylist and makeup artist for the big day and cross the task from their lists, brides are interviewing and consulting with beauty pros months—occasionally, years—before their nuptials. By forming a close bond with their beauty team, brides hope to resolve ahead of time such questions as, Should I grow out my hair for the wedding? How do I want my makeup to appear? And perhaps most important of all: How will I look in my pictures?

For their part, beauty pros report they're pleased with the growing trend of bridal clients starting a dialogue with them that can take place over several phone calls and meetings before the wedding day. Salons and independent artists are responding by providing more customized services, and increasingly, offering their expertise for the other events surrounding the wedding, from the bridesmaids' luncheon to the send-off brunch. "Our wedding business has definitely grown recently," says Patti Schulte, wedding coordinator for Joseph Cozza Salons in San Francisco. "I think with the greater focus today on celebrities, there is a heightened awareness among brides of the detail that goes into hair and makeup. They also see there's no longer such a thing as 'bridal hair,'and that there's such a range of modern styles to choose from."

In the past, brides may have simply booked a stylist for their wedding date; now they're as likely to have as much forethought about their hair as for their dress. "When a bride calls the salon, I get all the information I need: the date, what she's looking for, what the whole wedding is about, what colors she's using, what her dress is like," says Schulte. Brides and pros are then paired by personality, style and budget. "All of our stylists are amazing, but if I know from our conversation that this bride has very naturally curly hair and this particular stylist is just wonderful with curls, I'll match them up," says Schulte. The bride then comes in for a complimentary consultation, and is encouraged to bring as many visual cues as she can, from a sketch of her dress to the headpiece or veil she'll be wearing to the flowers she's chosen. Four to eight weeks prior to the event is a trial ($85), followed by the wedding day itself ($125 for in-salon services; $175 per hour on location, with travel time, plus 20 percent gratuity).

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