How to Prepare for Your Wedding Hair Trial

Wedding hair trials aren’t as simple as researching a stylist and booking an appointment. Read on for what to expect and how to prepare for a successful test run.

By McCall Minnor

bride in hair salon
Photo by Yelena Tsioma Photography

The key to beautiful wedding day hair isn’t a specific product or perfect weather—it’s a successful wedding hair trial. This appointment allows you and your stylist to test out your dream hairstyles and decide on one that’s exactly to your liking before the day of. There’s more to it than researching a hairstylist and putting an appointment in the books, though. To get the most out of your trial, there’s some work you need to put in beforehand. Read on if you want to know what to expect and how to prepare for a successful trial and great wedding hair.

Start a Healthy Hair Routine

The wedding hair of your dreams starts long before you step foot into your first trial. If you don’t have one already, do your best to start one ASAP. In short, this includes purchasing good quality hair products, being gentle and careful with your locks, lowering your use of heat tools, and considering a healthy hair diet (especially if you want your hair to grow). Putting these tips into action before your wedding hair trial ensures that your strands will be at top-notch health, and are ready to go.

Schedule Smart

Just like your gown (or suit, or jumpsuit, or other garment) appointments, you want to give yourself plenty of time for your bridal hair trial. We mean this is in more ways than one. On one hand, you want to schedule it out a few months before your actual wedding date.That way, if it doesn’t end up working out, you have enough time to schedule another (if you haven’t already). Three months is fairly standard here, but consider booking as far as six months out if you’re getting married during peak wedding season.

On the other hand, make sure that you schedule a long enough appointment. Since you’ll likely be trying out a few different hairstyles, you’ll need enough time to do so. This is a question you want to make sure you ask when booking your appointment—your stylist should be able to give you a timeframe. If you think you’ll need more time, discuss extending your appointment a bit, though this will likely end up costing you more money.

Lastly, be prepared to talk logistics with the stylist. Take note of how long it takes them to do your favorite style, so that you can begin to mentally plan out the getting ready portion of your wedding day. Planning the logistics with both your hair and makeup artists beforehand will save you time and stress on the days leading up to your wedding. It’ll also help tremendously with organizing times, locations, and your wedding party, as well as your photographers and videographers.

Ask the Right Questions

Think of your bridal hair trial as a sort of job interview. While your stylist will have questions for you—what kind of hairstyles do you like? Will you be wearing any headpieces? Are you considering a veil or no veil?—you should also be prepared with questions to ask a hairstylist. You’ll want to know which style works best with your overall look or just something as simple as the bridal hair pricing. It’s best that both of you know what to expect, not only for your trial, but also for your wedding day.

Make sure to ask your stylist the following:

  • If there’s a limited number of looks you can try at your appointment. When booking your appointment, ask if there’s a cap on hairstyles you’ll be able to try out. This will help you both organize your time and be as productive as possible. What you don’t want to happen is you sitting down in the salon chair with too many ideas that you want to test, and then needing to narrow them down on the spot.

  • Cover all of your W’s. During your trial, discuss all of the whos, whens, and wheres. This involves questions like, on the day of, will I come to the salon or will you come to me? Will you be bringing a team, and can I see some of their work? How long do you think it’ll take on the day to complete my look? What about my wedding party or VIPS (mother, mother-in-law, etc.)? What time are you available? Make sure to cover all of these bases before making a final decision. You may adore someone’s work, but you need to ensure that everything will go off without a hitch. The more you know now, the less stressed you’ll be later.

How to Prep For Your Wedding Hair Trial: What to Ask & What to Expect Photo Credit // Emily Wren Photography

Arrive Clean and Product-Free

In order to make the most of your trial time, wash and dry your hair in advance. Usually this means the night before, but you can also get away with that morning, if you give yourself enough time. This guarantees that you won’t spend a majority of your time getting a blowout when you want to be testing hairstyles. When washing and drying (and thereafter), avoid unnecessary products. Arriving with your hair as natural as possible allows the stylist to familiarize him- or herself with your hair texture, length, thickness, and behavior. With that in mind, your stylist can better plan for which tools and products he or she will need.

Similarly, after your trials, and once you’ve selected a hairstylist, avoid any major hair changes. Big chops and coloring jobs can majorly change the nature of your hair, making it different from what your stylist has prepared for. However, minor highlights, root touch-ups, and trims are all okay.

Know What You Do (and Don’t) Want

You’ve probably already begun doing this, but start looking for inspiration photos. It’s extremely helpful to have an idea of what you want, even before you start seeking out stylists and booking appointments. Knowing this will help you to already narrow down who’s work best fits your dream styles.

When gathering photos on Pinterest, Instagram, or otherwise, make sure to get them from all angles. Providing different views (front, sides, and back) will give your stylist a full idea of what you like and/or are looking to accomplish. Likewise, if you love the front of one style and the back of another, bring both photos. It’s likely that your stylist can work with you to incorporate your favorite elements and ideas.

It’s just as helpful to know what you don’t want—especially if you’re going in with a not-so-clear vision. Know some basic preferences before you step into the hair salon, like where you land on sleek vs. volume, soft waves vs. tight curls, and updos vs. half updos vs. having your hair down. All of this information can help guide you and your stylist in the right direction.

Come Prepared

As with all questions, it’s key that you know what to bring to your hair trial. Some things you’ll want to have with you are:

  • Photos. Yes, this includes hair inspiration, but also photos of your garment, makeup look (if already decided), jewelry, and any other details that can act as an aesthetic guide. These will aid your stylist in getting an idea of your personal style and what will work with the other details of your wedding look.

  • Hair accessories. This is incredibly important! If you plan on wearing a veil, crown, headband, clip, or other hair accessories, bring it with you to your appointment. This gives your stylist the opportunity to work with them and incorporate them into your style.

  • Extensions. Bring your clip-in hair extensions, if you plan on wearing them at your wedding.

  • A camera (or camera phone). There’s no question that you’ll want to take photos. Ask the stylist or someone you’ve brought along to take photos or a video from all angles. Don’t limit yourself to the hair salon, though. Take a few outside and in a couple of other settings to see what it’ll look like in different lighting.

  • A friend or family member. If you don’t think it’ll add any stress, invite one or two loved ones to join you, because having their opinion (and compliments) can be extremely helpful. Of course, ask your stylist beforehand if he or she prefers that you come alone or if a few extra opinions are welcome. Just don’t bring your entire wedding party.

How to Prep For Your Wedding Hair Trial: What to Ask & What to Expect Photo Credit // Rachel Lecrone Photography

Make Plans to Go Out Afterwards

This might seem arbitrary, but it’s actually pretty important. Going out—whether to dinner, to dance, or to shop—gives you the opportunity to see how your hairstyle will hold up throughout your wedding. It’d be a bit disappointing if you were given your perfect wedding hairstyle, only for it to not hold up throughout your big day. This is essential if your hair is naturally frizzy, doesn’t hold curls very well, or is known to fall out of certain styles. Giving your hair a full test run will inform your stylist on what can be done to make sure that it lasts from vows through your final dance of the night.

Wedding planning isn’t guaranteed to run smoothly; however, you can do your best to be informed and prepared as much as possible. Don’t hesitate to ask your stylist questions or book a second (or third, or fourth) trial if you think you need it. If stunning wedding locks are your goal, all of the effort will be worth it.