As your big day inches closer, wedding hair and makeup trials will provide an early glimpse of how you will look. As with many other wedding details, timing your hair and makeup trials correctly is key. You want to make sure you have time to tweak and adjust, and that you walk out of the salon feeling like a bride. So when should you get it on the calendar?
What Is a Hair and Makeup Trial?
Hair and makeup trials are preliminary run-throughs of the wedding beauty look. Similar to dress rehearsals, they serve to test out and refine the bride's hair and makeup, so there aren't any snags on the big day.
There are a few things you need to do before booking your wedding hair and makeup trials. First things first: Have a date and a venue squared away. Knowing when and where you'll be getting married—whether it's on the beach in the heat of summer or in a ballroom in the dead of winter—can have a big impact on the styles you consider.
By this point, you should also have selected your wedding dress and begun to shop for accessories—from a veil and headpiece to the right necklace and earrings. Knowing the style of your dress can also influence how formal or relaxed your wedding hair and makeup should be. Likewise, your wedding-day accessories can determine whether you rock an updo, opt for curls or a braid, or go soft or dramatic with your makeup.
We consulted with experts Elena Miglino and Franck Izquierdo to weigh in with more advice and valuable insight on your wedding hair and makeup trials.
Meet the Expert
When to Book a Makeup Trial?
Give yourself an ample amount of time to test and consider beauty looks by scheduling makeup trials three to six months before the wedding day. According to Miglino, research is vital when deciding on a makeup artist. "Bridal makeup artists book up months, sometimes a year, in advance," she says. "When choosing your artist, you want to make sure they are a bridal makeup artist, meaning they do weddings and understand the severity of the day. Make sure they have a contract and are 100 percent professional."
The cost of a makeup trial can vary greatly depending on the makeup artist's experience as well as the location they serve. Average costs fluctuate between $50 to $200-plus, but a general rule of thumb is that the trial cost should never be more than half of the wedding-day price. While some professionals include the cost of a trial in their bridal packages, others may charge extra.
How to Prepare
When you finally lock down an artist, it's sometimes helpful to schedule a second trial closer to your wedding day, as you want to be sure of your final look. "I recommend airbrush or a long-wear foundation for the day of," Miglino says. "You want something that will last all day and look flawless in pictures. I would also keep with your normal skin-care routine to avoid trying something new and creating breakouts. A facial is a good idea a few weeks before and maybe a hydrating mask the night before."
For makeup inspiration, Miglino suggests looking back at old photos of yourself. "For your wedding, you want to still look like you. Show your artist a picture of yourself with makeup on—a time that you liked how you photographed and felt comfortable," she says. "And please note, Instagram can lead to false hopes. Most of the looks you see are highly filtered. Lastly, be comfortable with your artist; [they are] there for you and want you to feel your best. If there is something you would like to change, feel free to tell [them]."
When to Book a Hair Trial?
Izquierdo recommends a trial about a month or two ahead of your wedding—but only if you don't plan to cut or dye your hair. "It’s most important that you give yourself and your stylist time to make adjustments if needed," he says. "As you get closer to your wedding, it can get very busy, so it’s sometimes easier to work out your look a couple of months ahead of time."
"If you want to make any major changes, you should discuss them with your stylist about six months ahead of the wedding," Izquierdo continues. "This way, your stylist can plan out the transition and begin to work with the color and cut. Your final coloring should be done about two weeks before the wedding, to let it settle but still be fresh for your big day. And it gives you time to make any small changes before the day."
Thinking of getting a major cut before the ceremony? "A big cut should be discussed six months before the wedding so your stylist can begin to make the cuts and see how your hair responds. Any final cuts or changes should be done about 10 days prior to the wedding, so your hair has time to adjust to the cut and look more natural."
As with makeup trials, the cost of a hair trial varies depending on your location and the stylist's level of expertise. Average costs range from $50 to $150 plus. Some stylists may include the price of a trial in their bridal package, but others may charge extra. Similarly, some stylists may require a trial before the wedding day so that nothing is left up to chance.
How to Prepare
To get the most out of your wedding hair trial, arrive with clean, dry hair that's ready to be prepped. If you're having a makeup trial done at the same time, arrive with a fresh face. Otherwise, try to emulate your preferred wedding beauty—or just put on your everyday makeup—beforehand, so you can get a better feel of the look as a whole.
Arm yourself with inspo photos that make your heart sing, the hair accessories you plan to use, and notes on any previous hair looks you've tried and either loved or would prefer to forget. The stylist should also know specific wedding details, like the venue, location, wedding dress, and if you'll be changing throughout the day.
If you're not totally thrilled with your hair after the trial, don't hesitate to schedule a follow-up appointment to really perfect your coif. "Overall, your wedding hair is a journey, and you should discuss your vision with your stylist as far out as you’re able to, so they can start to work toward your end goal," advises Izquierdo. "It’s also ideal to have your stylist with you on your wedding day because they know your hair and your personal style best."
Remember to keep an open mind and go into any trial with realistic expectations—but speak up if something isn't to your liking. This is going to be your wedding after all. Going solo is the best way to trust your gut reaction to a look, but if you enjoy some company for fodder, keep the group to a maximum of two very trusted people.