Hair extensions are the not-so-secret ingredient to just about any good bridal hair look. If you are blessed with lots of volume but your hair is shorter than you dreamed it would be for your big day, you might want to add hair extensions for the length. On the flip side, if you’ve got the length you want but not the volume, extensions are a total game-changer. Whether you’re wearing your hair up or down, extensions are great at holding shape, meaning your hair will still look good when you hit the dancefloor at the after-party.
No matter what your hair situation is, there is some key information you should know about the world of extensions before you walk down the aisle. Here, we break down everything you need to know about wedding hair extensions with the help of trusted hair experts Amanda Scott, Sky Kim, and Giancarlo Carollo.
Meet the Expert
- Amanda Scott is a New York-based hair extension specialist and owner of wedding hair business AV Hair. Prior to launching her own business, Scott worked at the famed Serge Normant salon in New York City.
- Sky Kim is a New York-based hairstylist and extension expert at Jenna Perry Hair Studio.
- Giancarlo Carollo is a New York-based colorist at Marie Robinson Salon and has perfected extensions for countless A-listers and brides alike.
Who Should (And Shouldn’t) Get Wedding Hair Extensions?
If you’re interested in potentially wearing extensions for your wedding, booking a consultation with a hair extension specialist is the best way to find out if extensions are a good option for you. They will want to check the health and condition of your hair and scalp. Most people with healthy-ish hair are good candidates for hair extensions, but if you have any of the following, it might not be the best route:
- Very short hair (think: pixie): It will be challenging to blend the extensions in without making it look choppy
- Very thick, long hair: You probably don’t need extensions!
- Fine and very brittle hair: Putting extensions in could cause more hair damage.
- Very frizzy and textured hair: It could be challenging to find hair that matches perfectly. This doesn’t mean it’s not possible, it might just take more tries until you find the right hair.
- Poor scalp condition (excessive shedding or hair loss)
When to Get Hair Extensions
Book a hair extension consultation as soon as you get engaged so you can create a plan with your stylist and figure out what might work best for your hair, the look you want to achieve, and your budget. "A lot of girls start working out, or start a pre-wedding skincare routine when they know they are getting married, and starting a hair regimen should also be a top priority," says Scott.
"If you want a more permanent type of extension, such as the Klix or tape, I recommend getting them in at least two months prior to the wedding," says Scott. "Then, about a week before the wedding, come in to either get a new install or a move up to make sure everything is 100-percent ready to go. This timing is ideal to make sure placement and feel [are] OK, and it allows time to take care of any last-minute adjustments."
Types of Hair Extensions
"I usually recommend clip-in extensions for my brides if you have never had extensions before because it’s not a big commitment and you get to have beautiful hair for your special day," offers Kim. There is a wide array of clip-in options out there, but they can all be put in and removed quickly and fairly easily. They offer instant satisfaction and, thanks to the seamless removal, require almost no maintenance or upkeep. Plus, they are generally much more affordable than committing to more permanent extensions options.
Tape-ins are another good alternative for brides. They are attached to the scalp with a strong adhesive, with your natural hair sandwiched in between the extension pieces. They are generally fairly easy to put in and don’t typically damage the hair when done correctly. "They are usually single-use—one application lasts about two to three months—but you don’t have to commit to long-term extension wear if you don’t want to, but also don’t have to worry about adding extensions the day-of, or having a bulky/heavy feeling that sometimes can occur wearing clip-in extensions," explains Scott, who loves to work with Easihair Pro tape-in extensions, as well as brands like Perfect Locks, Short2Long, and The Hair Shop for curly and wavy hair extension options.
We recommend hiring a professional to apply tape-in extensions for your wedding day.
There are few types of micro-link extensions, but essentially, "they are small, individual strands attached with a bead," explains Kim. "I use the I-tip method, which [are] extensions with keratin bonds shaped thin and long, hence the name I-tip. They last about a month and a half, but that will vary depending on your hair texture and scalp condition. It’s a bit gentler on the hair because there is no heat used to hold the hair together. It’s also pretty easy to take in and out because all you need to do is clamp and unclamp the bead," continues Kim.
Keratin bonds are a great option for brides who want extra hair beyond walking down the aisle (think: wedding night, honeymoon, etc.), but you have to be willing to commit both the time and the money.
Similar to micro-links, these extensions "are just small, individual strands infused together with the Keratin bonds with heat applied by a machine," says Kim, who specializes in both micro-links and Keratin bond hair extensions. "They last a bit longer than the micro-links—up to three to five months (if properly cared for)." But, she warns: You have to be very gentle with your hair and pay extra TLC for it to last and not cause damage to your hair!
A beaded weft extension, made by brands like Klix, is attached to your hair with silicone-lined, micro-links that are meant to protect both your hair and scalp. "Klix or other beaded weft methods are great because of the salon install and maintenance appointment time. They are fast to install and even faster to move up and adjust because they do not need to be fully removed at every appointment, which saves a lot of time," says Scott, who has used Klix on her clients for years. Klix requires no glue or heat to apply and can last up to six months when cared for properly.
It’s important to note that if you love to wear your hair up in a high ponytail a lot, or you’re planning on styling it in a pony for your wedding day, a beaded weft might not be the best option for you. Depending on the placement of the wefts, it can be hard to hide them in any sort of updo.
Cost of Hair Extensions
Hair extension pricing can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including your location (if you're in Los Angeles or New York City, they're likely going to cost more than if you’re in Wichita, Kansas), the type and quality of hair extensions you’re using, and the stylist you’re working with. At your consultation appointment, you should ask about the costs of the hair extensions (clip-ins are going to be cheaper than a more permanent option like Klix or Keratin bond methods), installations, maintenance, upkeep (many salons will charge extra for a standard blowout if you have extensions in) and any other fees, so there are no surprises when it’s time to hand over your credit card. The salon might not be able to tell you exact prices until you have had the actual hair extensions put in, but they should at least be able to give you a range of what to expect.
For the hair itself, the cost for clip-in extensions ranges anywhere between $50 to $1,000, and tape or beaded wefts range from $100 to $1,5000, depending on the length and amount of hair needed, according to Scott. For the installation of the hair, pricing can start around $400 and go up to the $2,500-plus range for a full head of hair.
The cost of maintenance will depend on how much you want to spend on a good brush, hair care products, and upkeep. There could also be a fee involved for removal so do not assume it is complementary and ask about this in advance.
When it comes to extensions, one of the biggest challenges can be making sure they match your natural hair. Consult both your colorist and stylist together and give everyone plenty of time to perfect the look.
"Depending on what type of extensions you want for your wedding day (tape-in, bonds, beads, wefts, etc.) the colorist and stylist will decide to either color the hair before the extensions are installed or after," says Carollo. "We then will pick the right color(s) to perfectly blend in with your hair color. It’s really important that the root color of your extensions match the root of your hair. For instance, if you’re a brunette with balayage highlights, the extensions will need that same gradient of dark at the roots to lighter on the ends.”
The right brush is absolutely essential when it comes to extensions. Scott suggests a classic Wet brush for brushing them when wet, or the Denman for brushing and detangling when the hair is dry. If you’re willing to shell out a bit more, Kim suggests a Mason Pearson brush to untangle and keep the hair silky.
To get rid of tangles (which inevitably happen when you’re living the #extensionlife) and help soften hair, Scott suggests the Milbon Knoteur 2-in-1 Treatment.
"Hair masks are very important if you have heavily highlighted hair and extensions," adds Carollo. "Olaplex is a fan favorite. Putting some leave-in conditioner on the ends of your hair will keep the extensions from looking brittle. Avoid putting it at the root, as you don’t want to invite oily products to loosen the wefts/bonds."
For styling oils, Kim likes Kerastase’s Resistance Serum, Dae’s Prickly Pear Oil, and Virtue’s leave-in conditioner.