Usually the questions I get most about wedding planning are centered around event coordination and décor. Questions about budgeting and DIY projects and negotiating contracts are pretty common. And having interviewed more vendors than I’d care to remember, I deal with many requests for question lists and tidbits to help couples find the perfect fit when it comes to photography and entertainment. But lately I’ve been running into many brides who are struggling with etiquette and “protocol” for their hair and make-up vendors.

Luckily, the questions you need to ask, and the “rules” you need to live by, are pretty much the same when it comes to your hair and make-up. Just like any other vendor, your hair and make-up vendors are experts in their field and have your best interest at heart. Not only do they want you to be happy because they care about your big day, but as an added bonus, happy clients make for great repeat clients and referrals.

Mrs. Donald Eugene Mitchell Jr.


The difference between hair and make-up “must knows” are minimal, but they exist. This week, we’ll talk about some questions to ask your hair stylist and things to remember when going to your hair trial. Next week, we’ll cover make-up artists.

When you are interviewing hairstylists, remember to ask these questions:

Is a hair trial included in my price estimate or do I need to schedule (and pay for) one separately? While most stylists will include a trial run for your hair, there may or may not be an extra expense for it. I know some salons who provide the trial for free, others that will do a trial for half price and a few that charge full price as if it were the wedding day. To play it safe, don’t assume you know the stylist’s trial policy. It never hurts to ask. At the very least, you’ll have a good idea of how much you need to budget.

How much buffer time should I build into my hair appointment? Different salons take clients in different ways. Some salons, especially smaller ones, may “shut down” and only service you and your bridal party the morning of your wedding. Other salons, however, may still take other appointments, especially if you are the only one from the wedding party getting your hair done. In those cases, it’s a good idea to build in some buffer time in case other appointments run long. In fact, buffer time is a good idea in general. You may hit a snag with your hair design or any number of other delays. Chances are this isn’t your stylist’s first wedding, so s/he would be a good one to ask.

Will you be the one doing my hair on the day of the wedding? I have never, in my life, experienced a stylist doing a trial but not your hair the day of the wedding. I have, however, had brides tell me this happened to them. Emergencies happen. People get sick. That’s all acceptable. But on the very rare occasion a salon policy is “first available”, which means the person doing your trial may not be the person doing your hair on the wedding day. I recommend you confirm this.

Yes, most stylists will look at you cross-eyed for asking, and it may seem like a silly question. But knowing that it has happened, I would rather the stylist think I’m out of my mind than be surprised on my wedding day.

Once you’re ready for your hair trial (if you’re having one, which I suggest you do) remember these tips and guidelines.

Your hair won’t look exactly like the picture. Your hair’s texture, color, length, health and everything else is different from any picture you bring in. Instead of having your heart set on looking exactly like Taylor Swift from the Grammys, bring in a few pictures to inspire the look you’re going for. Let your stylist handle the rest.

Trust the expert, and do what s/he tells you. If your stylist tells you to wash your hair before your appointment, do it. If s/he asks you not cut more than two inches off before the wedding, don’t do it. Your stylist is the expert. She went to school for a long time, and most likely is still training every year to stay up on the latest chemistry, techniques and trends.

If you don’t like it, speak up. Don’t be afraid to hurt feelings. Your stylist has a thick skin and wants you to be happy and satisfied. If you don’t like something—maybe you liked it in the picture but now it’s not doing it for you, or maybe its just a few pieces here and there that you don’t like — tell your stylist! I’m not saying be rude or ignorant. Stay professional. But don’t bite your tongue and hope for the best on your wedding day.

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