By Ashley Peters

Planning a wedding can be a daunting and crazy task. There’s a million things to do, only so much time and really minimal direction at best. It’s a lot to balance and chances are this is likely your first rodeo. This is one of the huge reasons why many people hire a planner. They’re literally pros at juggling it all so much so; they’d probably give Barnum a run for his money. A planner can handle all the other things for your timeline but as a bridal hairstylist I can chip in when it comes to the component of the beauty timeline. Now I’ve come up with an ideal, creme-de-le-creme, top tier timeline but I’m realistic and I realize that not everyone’s timeline is “ideal” or perhaps you’re starting on this aspect later on. That’s ok too! Read, absorb, adjust and apply to your unique situation.

So where oh where to start. Well an idea of course! Congrats, you’re engaged and hence commences the chaos of wedding planning. All that planning though starts with likes and dislikes. Praises to the person who started that visual “search engine” with that cute, curly-q “P” (ie Pinterest if you didn’t get it), because it tends to epitomize our visual searches for ideas and brainstorming. Start perusing hairstyles as soon as you get engaged via Pinterest, Instagram etc. These can also lead you to find hairstylists you may fall in love with. There are some stylists who don’t use directories or databases as representation but instead are exclusively on social media. Don’t write off the databases or directories though because they often come with reviews and some vetting. Essentially as soon as you get engaged start looking around. It’s never too soon to brainstorm.

Now you have to make contact but the big question: when? Statistically according to some very big wedding industry companies couples book hair and makeup 4-6 months before. In my opinion this works but is not always ideal. It really comes down to how much you are head-over-heels-in-love with a particular stylist and how soon they get booked up. If a stylist is getting booked 9 months ahead of time they may not be available when 4-6 months rolls around and you make contact. They can literally only do so many weddings in a day so you don’t want to miss out. Personally I recommend that as soon as you find a stylist whose work looks like a match made in heaven you should reach out to them. From my experience 6-9 months should be reasonable.

Let’s say though that you’ve found the ideal stylist but it’s way far out and you don’t know how this whole thing is supposed to proceed even though you’ve made contact. There are a few options. I can’t guarantee all stylists offer exactly this method, but I believe most would be open to it. First there is the option to book the stylist and conduct the trial closer to the wedding once you’ve had time to acquire accessories, get your hair color that perfect dimension, buy extensions etc. This could allow you a clearer picture of what exactly you want but it also give you less time on the backend when everything seems to be coming due. The second option is to do the trial and then book the stylist. You may be doing the trial much further out but it will be a check in the box as well as give you ample time to tie up all those details such as extensions, color and accessories. The third option is to have a phone consultation and then proceed with either the first or second option. This will give you a sense of whether you and the stylist jive; giving you the confidence that they can see your big day vision. I require my brides to have a trial at least 1 month before their wedding but recommend it 2+ months before. This way they can relax and enjoy without stressing about everything coming due at the same time.

There are some things to keep in mind throughout this timeline for yourself. Highlights, lowlights, balayage etc all add dimension and can make a hairstyle look more dynamic, complex and interesting. Keep this in mind especially if your hair is dark or one tone because the more dimension the more the details show. Many hairstyles seen online include the use of hair extensions, and unfortunately don’t have this disclaimer. Have an honest conversation with your stylist about what your hair can do and be open to the possibility of extensions. They’re actually an amazing asset. Hair accessories can add complexity and a bit of a focal point to a style to really emphasize your theme, vibe and style. Also if you plan to do something drastic with your hair (like cut it all off) do it before your trial or not at all. It’s damn near impossible to recreate a look from a trial when not all the raw material is there.

Planning doesn’t have to be stressful. Prepare properly and you’ll surely be able to achieve that dream wedding you’ve always envisioned. My advice is to start early and chip away at that to-do list little by little. It’s a happy time and I have faith you’ve got this!


Ashley Peters is an American based hairstylist, author and business owner. While many of her brides are stateside she is available for destination weddings worldwide. She is passionate about animal advocacy, connecting through travel, art and always learning something new. When her hands aren’t in hair  you’ll find her on a hiking trail, with a good book or off on a crazy adventure with her husband, pups and soy vanilla latte in hand.