Wedding day hair you will love

Bride Tierney O’Donnell enjoys a cup of coffee while her hair sets. She saved herself a lot of stress by planning her 1940s hairstyle ahead of time, finding a stylist familiar with the necessary techniques, and going in for a trial hairdo before the big day. Photo by Roni Java

Of all the days in the world when a woman needs a good-hair day, her wedding has to top the list.

Should you wear it swept up, long and flowing, woven with garlands or in some other unique style? There are many decisions to make before the big day.

“It’s your special day and you want to have what you want,” says Tierney O’Donnell, a Sacramento designer who specializes in period looks for hair, makeup and costume events. “You also want to go with a hairstyle that works with everything you’re wearing and fits with your wedding theme.”

She has worked on more than 40 professional musical and theatrical productions and since a wedding is often quite a production itself, she offers some practical advice to make every bride’s decisions easier and keep the stress to a minimum before the big event.


Dream and be realistic

Most importantly, be realistic about what your hair is capable of.

“It matters if you have straight hair or curly hair,” O’Donnell says. “You can achieve a lot with curling or straightening options and products like hairspray. But really straight hair won’t hold a style as long as curly hair would. And humidity can frizz up curly hair pretty quickly.”

She suggests telling your stylist what kind of weather conditions you’re likely to be dealing with during the ceremony and celebration and asking their advice.

Don’t chance any big surprises

If you’ve been dreaming of changing up your hairstyle and/or color, right before the wedding is definitely not the time to try that.

“Every stylist can tell you horror stories of people who decided to color their hair something really different right before an important event and how things went very badly just days beforehand. Don’t chance it,” O’Donnell says.


“No one wants to stay up half the night before their wedding with their hair in foil, trying to fix a botched hair job,” she adds.

Picking a flattering look

Many times, a bride knows exactly what she wants her hairstyle to be. For those ladies who are open to something a bit different, here are a few tips.

Whether you know your stylist super well, or are just working with them for the first time, tell them you would like their suggestions. Ask if your chosen style works best with the shape of your face. Consider how the hairdo coordinates with your makeup, skin tone and the overall style of your dress.

Some hairstyles best complement a simple wedding gown, others work beautifully with an elaborate gown.

Adding headpieces and more

Many brides wear headdress pieces, with or without veils. Make sure the hairstyle you choose is both comfortable and attractive in combination with any hair accessories you choose, including garlands, woven pieces, tiaras and more.


“Brides should consider options for supplementing their styles with matching hairpieces, too,” O’Donnell advises. “They are quite popular and can add romance to your look, whether you try out curls or extensions. Have some fun with it!”

Be sure to bring any headpieces or style accessories to your trial appointment with the stylist so he or she can work with them and incorporate them into your hair design. See how you like it in advance, well before the wedding, so you know you’ll be happy and confident that you look beautiful on the big day.

Follow your heart

“Look around and get a lot of ideas as you plan your wedding, what you’ll wear and how you want to look,” O’Donnell says. “I suggest people make their own vision boards, putting photos and magazine clippings together to see how it all works as an event.”

She adds that planning a big day like this is fun and interesting, especially if you involve friends and family. It builds joy and you can share out some of the work to keep the process manageable.


“Find out, too, if people have any unknown preferences that could take you by surprise,” O’Donnell says. “For instance, my own mom discovered at the last minute that my grandma wanted her to wear her hair down and long and not all dolled up. Mom had planned to wear it piled up, but to give grandma her wish, mom went along and wore her hair down around her shoulders. It actually worked better with the headpiece and veil mom had chosen anyway. So everyone was happy.”

Lastly, the designer urges every bride to have the wedding she wants to have.

“You know, maybe you want a barefoot wedding at the beach, without a lot of fuss!” she laughs. “This is your wedding, so follow your heart.”

Plan your wedding looks early

Start planning now to work with a stylist on ideas for hairdos that will flatter you and be comfortable to wear all day or evening. Here’s a list of considerations to help you plan.


1. Search the Internet for hairstyles and wedding looks you really like. Pinterest is great for this, YouTube and magazines are, too.

2. Decide on a theme, if you’re going to have one. Collect ideas that go with your theme. Be kind to your friends and attendants — choose a theme that gives everyone an opportunity to look their best.

3. Choose a stylist who is comfortable working with your theme and/or ideas. For example, if you go with a 1920s look, that involves setting your hair with a lot of pin curls, not rollers. A 1980s look is all about big hair or spiral curls. Decide what you like and find a stylist who is experienced and happy to work on that look with you.

4. Send the stylist reference photos of your hair as it is now and how you usually wear it, current length, etc. This will let them assess if the style you want for your wedding is going to work.


5. Send the stylist photos of the kind of style you like and are hoping for. They’ll let you know what it will take to achieve that look.

6. Definitely go in for a test run of your hairstyle well before the wedding. You need to know how long it will take to complete the styling (and work that into your plans, plus time for makeup and dressings, etc.) O’Donnell recommends you also do your makeup test run that day, too, so you can see the overall effect and have this advance time to either love it or make adjustments.

“Consider this a dress rehearsal,” she advises.