How to Debut a Drastically Different Hairstyle on Your Wedding Day

Calling all brave brides!

Updated 04/30/19

Photo by Miss Gen

What bride doesn't want their guests' jaws to drop when they walk down the aisle? While your wedding dress is sure to be a show-stopper and your bridal glow will undoubtedly be shining through, a drastically different hairstyle might just be the ultimate wow factor. Considering cutting your hair before your wedding? Well, debuting a new hairstyle at your wedding is definitely for brave brides only! But if you've been dreaming of an edgy short chop, why wait? A fresh hair change could be a major confidence booster and make your wedding photos all the more special.

Whether you're looking to debut a new short hairstyle, long locks, or a new hair color at your wedding, we have some expert tips that'll smooth the transition and prevent any big-day disasters. First and foremost, regardless of what new hair lengths or hues you are exploring, it’s important to have a trial run prior to your wedding day.

“I always suggest giving the style at least one try,” says Adel Chabbi, stylist and owner of Adel Atelier in New York City. That way, the stylist can both “recommend the appropriate look, and understand the direction the bride wants to go.”

Ready to debut a drastically different hairstyle at your wedding? Whether you're leaning towards a wedding updo, a short wedding hairstyle, a new hair color, or long extensions, see how to pull it all off below!

The Ultimate Updo

bride getting ready getting ready robe

Photo by Danielle DeFiore

Opting for an updo wedding hairstyle? Hairstylist and colorist Kara Lee at Let’s Prep Salon in Maryland suggests a trial six months before. This way, you’ll have “time for a second look before the big day.” And, she adds, your style will still feel relevant. “If you go too early, the look can feel outdated or worse—you can second-guess your decision.”

Lee also notes that consistent care is key for the best bridal bun. “Brides doing updos are trying to keep as much length as possible, in which case frequent trims and treatments [are recommended].”

Atlanta-based stylist Arlene Martin encourages brides to take care of their tresses with conditioning at-home products. “I usually recommend that my brides use protein treatments or deep conditioning masks. [These add] strength and moisture while protecting from preexisting heat or color damage.”

A New Hue

Jessica Castro Weddings

Thinking of changing your hair color for your wedding? When it comes to color, Kathy Galotti, colorist at Adel Atelier, warns against last-minute decisions. “I don’t ever suggest you make those changes and then fly off to Mexico.” As for timing, she says to find and try the right hair color “three or four months before, and repeat it right before the wedding.”

Pictures are key to learning what highlight or hue you’ll love to debut. “Take photos in natural daylight. Wear it, live with it, have it be part of your every day for some time before your wedding.”

With one blushing bride, Lee worked for six months to find the right pastel pink. “It took us a few appointments to get just the right shade, and she came in three days before the big day to get it refreshed for photos.”

Cut It Out

Newlyweds during first dance

Photo by Kelly Anne Berry

If you are thinking about a dramatic chop, make the initial cut a full year ahead of time, says Lee. But if you have less time, or are looking to surprise your guests, have a backup plan in place. “Do it a few weeks before your wedding, but if you don't like it—don't freak! Extensions are your best friend.”

Great Lengths

Getty Images

Thanks to hair extensions, you can surprise your guests by going from a short crop to shoulder-skimming long hair at your wedding—without spending months growing out your hair. Chabbi is a hair extension expert and raves about the benefits of adding to your tresses. Extensions, he says, “give a lot more volume. In videos and photographs, the hair always looks more outstanding with volume.” Plus, with the addition of extensions, your hairstyle can last all night, too. Best hair day ever, much?

According to Chabbi, bonded extensions are the best choice because they are both “very natural looking and very comfortable to wear. It’s your hair, but better.” And they’ll even last through your honeymoon.

Clip-in extensions are easier and more cost-effective for a bride looking for short-term wear. You can also bring them along for honeymoon, Chabbi says. Leave them in the hotel room while you're at the beach and then style them and clip them back in for a romantic dinner with your new spouse.

Still Looking?

Having trouble falling in love with a wedding hairstyle? Look to your surroundings for inspiration, says Martin, and “consider whether the ceremony is outside or inside and the time of year.”

Gallotti suggests taking cues from your existing color. “If you’ve always had blonde highlights, make a variation on those.” She also emphasizes the importance of pictures. “Bring in photos to a colorist and [go from there]—photos of yourself where you loved your hair, or photos of celebrities with whom you share the same eye color and skin color.”

When it comes to pulling off a dramatic hair change, a talented stylist (and a solid trial run) is all you really need for the best wedding hairstyle. “If you can paint us a picture of what you're looking for, we will make that a reality,” Lee says. “We are the tools meant to make you feel amazing on your most special day.”

This story originally appeared in the June/July 2019 issue of Brides, on sale beginning April 30.

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