Rock your big-day 'do with advice from the pros.
Credit: Erich McVey

Prepping for your wedding 'do should be a piece of cake, but with so much else on your plate, it's easy to get overwhelmed. You can put those worries aside, though, because you've got us on your side! If you plan to cut your strands before the big day, you might be wondering where to start. And if you're thinking about coloring your hair before the big day, there's even more to consider. That's why we spoke with two industry experts to get the lowdown on what to do. We'll steer you in the right direction for all of your wedding-hair needs.

Here, Frank Rizzieri, an award-winning stylist with expert intel on haircuts and co-owner of New York City's Aveda-affiliated Fourteenjay salon, and George Papanikolas, a Matrix Celebrity Stylist with a hand in Hollywood's greatest coloring (he's considered the king of bayalage and highlights and has worked on Sofia Vergara!), walk you through the dos and don'ts of pre-wedding cuts and dyes.

Do: Plan ahead.

When it comes to your cut, Rizzieri recommends making your first appointment at least three months out. "The whole process starts with a really thorough consultation. It's really the cornerstone of the whole process," he shares. "It's important to be on the same page in terms of both the current service and what the bride might be working toward for her wedding day. If she wants a certain easy up-style, for example, care must be taken not to cut in too many layers." Try and have your wedding outfit planned first, which Rizzieri considers key. Knowing what you'll be wearing may help you narrow down your style options.

Coloring "depends on the desired end result," says Papanikolas. Going from brunette to blonde or making another big-deal change? You'll want to plan months in advance to "achieve your desired tone." "If you only want to add accents of highlights, then it's best to start three months before to make sure you like the direction your colorist is taking," he advises.

Do: Come prepared.

Your initial consultation will be an open conversation, but don't start with a blank slate. "Information and questions around the dress, the day, the wedding party, where the wedding is being held, and if the bride is changing from the wedding to the reception are all an essential part of the conversation with the stylist," Rizzieri shares. Obviously, the intended hairstyle is also relevant, as different cuts work with different looks.

"Photos are the best way to communicate color," adds Papanikolas. "You will also want to have an idea of the hairstyle; will it be up and need highlights underneath? Will you be wearing extensions, and how can you have them be a perfect match?" Know before you go, and you'll be better prepped to plan.

Do: Make multiple appointments.

Though your consultation will be far in advance, Rizzieri recommends getting the first real-deal cut two weeks out. At this point you shouldn't be making "drastic changes," so remember: Plan ahead!

Color touch-ups should come one to two weeks before the wedding, says Papanikolas, give or take your personal plan. "If you have gray coverage, then you will want to make the appointment closer to the wedding date," for example.

Do: Research your glam squad.

What if you don't have a go-to stylist or salon? We know just how to get the ball rolling. "Personal recommendation remains the primary way to find a great stylist or colorist," says Rizzieri. "Ask a happy bride who she used for wedding-day hair." Also on the table? Social media, which is "an exceptional 'vetting' tool." "Have a look at the recommended stylist or salon's Instagram and see if it inspires you or matches your vision for your personal style."

"Referrals from people whose hair you like are always a great start," echoes Papanikolas. "Then check out their Instagram account. Most hairstylists today post their work, so you get a look at their resume and portfolio to see if it's a look you vibe with." Bonus: "Most hairstylists will also offer complimentary consultations," so don't be embarassed to make multiple meetings and pick who you like best.

Don't: Do something drastic.

"We encourage the bride to remember that the images from this day are going to last a lifetime (hopefully)," says Rizzieri, "so staying within her personal style comfort zone is important."

"I wouldn't recommend a drastic change right before the wedding, as the results can be unpredictable," Papanikolas adds. "If you have never colored your hair, don't do it one week before your wedding." Why? "You will have enough stress on your plate." We concur.

Don't: Default to permanent.

With the previous "don't" in mind, if you're intent on trying something new, there are less-risky ways to do so. "Hair pieces and wigs are easy ways to change up a look without locking into anything permanent," says Rizzieri. Ask your stylist about alternative options like these, but be sure to do so from the get-go.

Don't: Forget the products.

Hair will look it's best when it's prepped with the right products, and this goes for before, during, and after your appointments. Rizzieri recommends Aveda's Pramāsana Exfoliating Scalp Brush, Purifying Scalp Cleanser, and Protective Scalp Concentrate, "at least once a week to rid your scalp of buildup and debris." "It's also important to commit to a regular schedule of either moisture or protein treatments for optimum hair health," Rizzieri adds. "Aveda Botanical Therapy Treatments are exceptional. At our New York salon, Fourteenjay, we provide a botanical treatment with every color and styling service."

To nab some post-treatment shine, consider after-color products too. "Ask for a clear gloss like Matrix Biolage Sugar Shine Mega Gloss Treatment to give the hair a mirror finish right before the wedding," says Papanikolas.

Do: Take advice.

While Rizzieri and Papanikolas are experts, they don't know you or your hair. Jumpstart with these tips but consult your team for a personalized plan. That being said, there are some guidelines that work for nearly everybody.

"When getting highlights you want to focus on three key areas: face frame, crown, and ends," advises Papanikolas. "Those are the areas that are most noticeable, and will show up in your photos." For color, keep the following tips in mind: "Staying within a few shades lighter or darker is always the most flattering, and you should ask your colorist for their advice as well. Personally, I usually recommend adding a few sun-kissed highlights to give the hair movement and dimension. It's universally flattering, and looks great in pictures."


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