Posts Tagged ‘bridal’

Tips for Bridal Hair Consultations

by Antonio Gonzales on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles, New York City and now Miami. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in New York, I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the Best Cuts 2009.

I want to start this installment with some sound advice shared by my friend and idol, famed stylist Orlando Pita. It was during a quiet moment while sitting in the kitchen sharing a quick lunch in between clients, when he offered this advice: “A hairstylist is as good as our last job, and we are lucky if we get another,” he cautioned. “So always do your best and know you can always do better!”

That advice, filled with humility and hope, provided me with a moment of clarity. Ever since that day, I’ve striven to approach each job with my best effort. and I’m always grateful for the next opportunity. As hairstylists we need to support each other, and I am grateful for for giving me the opportunity to do so.

Now to the business at hand—brides!

Bridal Consultation Mistakes

When a bride who had never visited your salon sits in your chair for a consultation, there are many things we do to not get the job. Remember, this is not just a one-time wedding deal—she could turn into your client every six weeks. Or, she may be a client of yours already, so you want to keep her coming back after her big day.

Talking Over the Bride

Keep in mind it’s a very sensitive time in her life, so allow a bride to get everything off her chest. She has dreamt of this moment all her life with an idea in her head as what she should look like. Be patient and listen carefully.

Rushing a Consultation

It’s important to set aside enough time. No less than 20 minutes will do for someone who is preparing for the most important day of her life. I highly recommend asking the bride-to-be to bring in all her ideas, including images of the hairstyles she likes, veil, even images of the dress if she has it. You may ask “How can I book so much time in my day for free?”

First, schedule your consultations on a quiet day, rather than a Saturday when the salon is busy. Second, charge for your consultation. It’s your time and talent. I generally have the client pay 15% of the trial cost which is then deducted from the actual trial.

Limited Options

Always be ready to think fast when offering ideas to your bride-to-be. Think out of the box; don’t assume that your client won’t be open to trying something new. After going over her ideas, share your thoughts on what is best for her by combining ideas from the images she brought. Show her how you can make it all work. It’s a wedding, so think fresh, organic and chic.

Not Following Up

When the client has left the building, start brainstorming for ideas from magazines and online to help support your ideas. Email them to your client offering more information on her look and getting her excited to return to work with you.

Now That You’ve Got the Job

Do the best trial ever! Now that she’s in your chair, it’s time to your magic. This is where your skill and quick thinking really comes in. Honestly, one hour is not enough. An hour and a half is best, no kidding. I know it seems like a lot of time, but think long term, think of it as your “bread and butter.”

I also like working in a way that allows me to be flexible enough to offer the client three different looks. Be careful not to use too much hair spray or pins since you want to be able to make quick changes as you offer the bride-to-be each look.

Document the process so the client can see what was done and what changes she would like made. These images will be useful on the big day to put the client at ease and it will also give you, the stylist, a guideline to follow.

If your client is new, it is key for the bride-to-be to know that you can look after her even after her big day. So patience, efficiency and quality is very important. If she has a hairstylist from another salon who could not look after her bridal needs, as a rule I tell my clients “If it is not broken why fix it?” In other words, if she’s happy with her stylist then she should stay there. However, if she ever wants a change, I’m more than happy to accommodate her. Clients dislike when we try to pry them away from their long-term “hair romance” with their hairstylist. It is simply bad form and bad business.

So there you have it. I hope this inspires you as salon owners to think of the client first and the profit after. I hope it helps you the stylist to be as creative as you want without having to stop when you’re just getting started.

Here’s to many happily-ever-afters!

25 Ideas for Creating Fabulous Bridal Hairstyles!

by Victoria Wurdinger on Friday, May 20th, 2011


Most brides have been on their countdown for a while, and it’s getting close to time for the test-run wedding hairstyle, color that will look great a few weeks from now and fresh new ideas. At Patrix Salon in Portsmouth, NH, hair artist Alan Brian says the main thing to remember is that it’s the bride’s day, so you must deliver the look she wants, and her hair must look beautiful, shiny and healthy—without overpowering her grown. For this reason, an extensive consultation is key, along with a trim and color—or a clear gloss—a week or two before her big day.

Brian says keeping it simple is usually best. “I like to work on hair that was shampooed the day before, it tends to hold the style better.”

Our top tips from style pros start off with Brian’s advice on how to create three looks that stem from a single foundation. They’re perfect for demonstrating different trial styles quickly.

1. For a beautiful down style on longer hair

Use a large-barrel iron, start at the top and curl all the hair, clipping each curl in place with a duckbill clip. Let the hair cool, then take the clips out. Comb through with your fingers, create a part, pull the shorter side back behind the ear and pin it with a decorative bobby pin. You can also use a flower like baby’s breath, but avoid anything too big or blingy. Let the opposite side gently fall over the eye and shoulder. Backcomb where needed, add spray, and you have instant glamour and romance.

2. If the bride wants her hair away from her face

Use the same procedure in Tip 1, says Brian, only this time, pull all the hair somewhat loosely to one side (just off center) and tie into a pony tail. Take a small, ½-inch piece from underneath the ponytail, and wrap it around the base to cover the elastic band, pinning the end with a bobby pin. Finger through the curls in the ponytail, then use your fingers to gently backcomb them so they gently cascade over the shoulder. Add a hair accessory above the base of the ponytail.

Placing curls off center allows many options. Hair by Alan Brian.

Placing curls off center allows many options. Hair by Alan Brian.

3. For an easy up-do

Follow the steps in Tip 2, only this time, brush out the ponytail with a natural boar-bristle brush. Then pull our 1-inch pieces, backcomb lightly, brush over the top gently and “place” each curl, pinning it to the base. Repeat with all the remaining pieces, making sure bobby pins are secure (adding hairspray helps).

Building Your Wedding Salon Business

by Antonio Gonzales on Friday, May 13th, 2011

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles, New York City and now Miami. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in New York, I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the Best Cuts 2009.

When I worked in Manhattan I was asked to improve our salon’s wedding service. I was more than happy to take on this challenge.  I knew it was a service lacking in most salons, and thought how wonderful it would be to create a service that I knew would make us more profitable.

To specialize in any service, you must first research every aspect and find ways to make it special.  I discovered when wedding salon services are done right, everyone wins. You can comfortably charge what you are worth, and the bride feels like she is royalty.  How fun and wonderful is that?! On that note, I cannot stress enough that every salon should have in house bridal sessions for sharing your knowledge on dressing hair for weddings. Not all of us love doing bridal hair, and those of that do may need some extra training.

I decided, like hairstylists and their bridal skills, I needed to start from the beginning, but wanted to go beyond the obvious.

The Basics

1. Create a special event board

The first thing your salon needs is a bulletin or magic erase board to post special “events.”  Every upcoming bride is to be posted with her full name, the number of people getting their hair done and any additional details. It is important for every staff member to know the bride’s name and when she’ll be walking in the door. I find it annoying when you have a bride getting her hair done in the salon and other hairdressers walk over and ask “Are you getting married?” No, she’s getting an up do for her divorce. What do you think?  

When the entire staff is aware, they can congratulate the bride by name. Having awareness across the salon also allows other staff members to keep and eye on the hairstylist working on the bride and offering help when needed. This extra detail in service will help the bride relax on her big day.

2. Build a bridal kit

Every hairstylist should have a well stocked bridal kit including hair/bobby pins, elastic bands (of all colors), curling irons and a variety of hair sprays.  Please do not try to put black bobby pins on a blond.  Be prepared.

3. Include the bridal party

Most of the time, a bride will ask to have others in the bridal party have their hair done as well. If not, then suggest it immediately. The more you can handle, the more money the salon can make. Most times the bridal party would love the opportunity to have a snack, so every salon should have a couple of slick serving trays, an organized selection of basic menus if food needs to be ordered, wine glasses, ice bucket and calming teas to help with those pre-wedding jitters.

curly bride

The Wedding Planner

Designate and train a salon employee as a wedding planner. His job is to serve as the go to person for the bride, as well as coordinate and promote all the wedding salon services for the bride and her entourage. This is key to help increase your level of service and ultimately revenue. You must also properly train front desk staff to handle any bridal question. 

Common Questions

Every front desk should have a laminated list of questions and answers to properly inform clients on the phone or in person. 

When is the date and time of the wedding?

Once the receptionist has the dates, I highly recommend finding out which hairstylists are available. It may be well in advance, but the last thing you want is to say yes to the job and then to find out you have no stylist available. 

Would the bride like to have her hair done in the salon or would she like to have the stylist come to her location?

If it’s an in-salon service, sell your salon well and have additional services ready on the tip of your tongue. If it is an on-location service, inform the bride that she will be getting a hairstylist who is not only talented, but will show up on time with everything they need (extension cords, hand mirrors, a full bridal kit to handle any hair type, etc.) 

What are the prices for both situations?

Being very clear on pricing is extra important when dealing with brides and bridal parties.  Even the wealthy ones are dealing with budgets. Be upfront. It is up to you, but if the bride is bringing in a full bridal party, you may choose to offer a discount at your discretion. 

Do I have to pay for the trial?

Yes, you must charge for your trial since it’s a full service.  Time, product and skill goes into a trial as well as other costs.  Offer a trial at a discount if you must, but use your discretion.  Why should a full service be free?

How long will the wedding day service take?

Knowing what time the photographs are taken will give you a great idea on when the bride needs to be ready, and what you need to do to get her to the church on time. I call it “back-timing.” If the client is coming to the salon, I recommend giving her an hour and a half to travel after the service is completed. Do not include make-up in that hour and a half of travel.  That should be above and beyond if her make-up is not part of your salon service that day. If the service is being provided on location, consider travel time for the stylist, the length of time the service will take, and “back-time” it all to when the photos will be taken. Timing is everything.   

Is there a look book so I can see the hairstylist’s work?

Always document your work since it will help give the bride an idea of what your staff can do. It does not have to be a professional photo shoot—a basic camera can do the job. If you have the budget, have your team each do a model, and bring in a photographer to do some head shots. If it’s not in your budget, then barter with a photographer by offering your services in exchange for images.  This is a marketing tool that will help you build your client base, even above and beyond the wedding target demo. 

Can you cater for a bridal party while they are getting their hair done?

The short answer should always be yes. Simply contact a neighborhood restaurant and have hors d’oeuvres delivered. Make certain to go over the choices of food and the budget with the bride.  She can pay separately, or include it in her bill.  If she facilitates it, you can pass it through at cost.  If you facilitate it, you can either do it at cost, or charge a +15% fee for service.  If she’d like to bring her own food and simply serve it, keep an inexpensive but pretty set of dishes and serving utensils in house.  It’s all about offering more that your competitors. 

Can you recommend any florists, photographers etc.?

Having a list of your favorite wedding specialists can make your brides life so much easier. It’s also a great way to cross promote each other. 

The Wedding Folder

Once the bride-to-be shows interest in taking the next step and possibly booking the wedding with you, seal the deal by offering her a wedding folder filled with all the information she wants and needs.  Brides love it!  Include a questionnaire with simple questions, including what type of tea she drinks, what music she likes and if she or anyone in her bridal party has any allergies or special requests. These few questions alone will make your wedding planner the go-to resource and act as a trusted agent for your salon by showing her just how specialized your service is.  It also makes your life easy by offering the bride-to-be answers to her questions in an efficient way.  No confusion and no last minute calamities from panicked bridezillas.  

In my next installment, I’ll go over how to deliver the best wedding trial and the common mistakes many salons make in loosing a bride before she books the service, or after the wedding day has passed.

Antonio’s View: Build a Bridal Kit

by Antonio Gonzales on Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

See Antonio’s blog here.

Helping in fulfilling the dreams of the bride-to-be can be so rewarding!!! Seeing her big smile as you put the veil in her hair, and watching her rushing off (with brides maids in tow) to the altar always gives me satisfaction. As I am preparing my bridal kit to leave town for a wedding I was inspired to write this article in hopes of helping you build your own bridal kit. Should we really have a bridal kit? Let me explain; I have a stocked kit especially for fashion week with every imaginable tool needed to get a super model ready. I have spent weeks with Joey Martino’s guidance (my in salon educator when Orlando is away) on the best tools and products needed to get the job done efficiently.

Well, how about a bridal hair kit? A bridal kit is basically every imaginable tool needed for the hairstylist to be salon ready, or to take his talents on the road. After years of doing brides, I have mastered a bridal kit. With this kit in hand, I am ready for an entire bridal party with every hair type imaginable. Here is everything you need for a complete bridal kit to enable you to leave a lasting impression on the bridal party during that special day.

The Bridal Kit

Use a small-enough suitcase so that it does not look like you’re carrying half the salon and a shampoo bowl. I recommend using a case the size of carry-on luggage. Make sure your case is of good quality as it may get tossed around as you dash off to your appointments, and you do not want to show up looking like you borrowed some duffel bag from a deceased relative.

The Best Styling Products

Curl Cream We can argue about what the best curl cream is till the cow jumps over the moon. All I can say is if you have curl products that you can’t live without, go right ahead and use them. I protect my favorite curl combo with my life as well.

Texture When I work on an updo (curly or straight hair) I generally ask the bride not to wash her hair the day of the event. As you may have experienced, no matter how often we tell brides not to wash their hair the day of the wedding they show up with fluffy, soft slippery hair that’s an enemy of the bobby pin. Elevate by Orlando Pita is a water-free, quick-drying spray designed to use with any heating tool to add shine, volume and texture. It has helped me immensely! I can use this on the cleanest head of hair and get a texture that is easier to work with and it does not leave a tacky feel. It’s also great for extensions that may feel too heavy and slippery.

Volume As you work with your client’s hair (whether you are setting or diffusing), volume is necessary. My all-time favorite product for this is Plump by Orlando Pita. It is hair dryer activated, thickens and expands hair and is weightless. Apart from great volume, it offers a rich revitalizing blend of keratin, Vitamin B5 and botanical like bay leaf laurel. In the past when I need a fast acting product for the brides maids quick do, the previous products were good but dried too fast making the hair hard to brush as I style. Plump is strong enough without drying too fast which gives me endless time to work. The bonus to Plump is that it is great on all hair types.

Sculpt Hamadi Shea Pomade is an easy to use soft paste that helps tame the mane ridding it of those pesky fly-away hairs. A tiny bit on your fingers can help with sculpting curly ends as you go, while hydrating and defining at the same time. The Shape Paste sculpting putty by Shu Uemura is next on my list of favorites. It’s a cross between a light paste and a putty so it’s not as dry. It’s amazing for unruly hairlines and fly-away hairs on less curly (wavy) hair.

LacquerThe Sculpting Gel by Bumble and bumble is definitely worth getting. It can be used on short wavy hair, added to your favorite curl solution for a boost. It also works well as a setting lotion on damp hair. The best part is you can brush the hair without experiencing the flakes left behind by so many other products. So go ahead and sculpt a few finger waves and put your client under some gentle heat, then voila! Beautiful hair and did I mention “no flakes”!

Workable Hair Spray Oh I’m getting excited now (smile). I have one word for you: control. No, not Janet Jackson’s control, it’s Orlando Pita’s Control Spray and the benefits are endless. It will not dry out the hair over time and delivers a workable fast drying soft spray that’s perfect for heat styling. It’s a finish to die for! It’s particularly great for curly hair leaving it feeling soft and manageable.

Shine Spray This is an important part of the finishing of your beautiful hair style. I have used some shine products that smell like moonshine and some that left the hair like an oil slick. My all-time favorite shine spray is Barex Gloss Hair Spray. It gives high shine without the toxic fumes and works well.

Hair Powder Once I had a beautiful Indian bride-to-be that wanted a very classic updo with lots of hair, the problem was her hair was very fine. After adding the extensions and styling, the front of her hair was still a little fine. Luckily I had a can of black hair powder, I lightly sprayed the base of her hair and it added just a hint more color which made the world of difference. She was so happy and felt confident as she made her way down the aisle.

Standby Hair Extensions I always recommend having extra human hair clip-in extensions in black, blond and brown in your kit. If you are working on primarily curly hair clients you can perm your extensions with pink and peach color perm rods. This way they are close to the client’s natural curl (or close enough). I do not recommend styling a head of natural curls and adding straight hair extensions that were curled by a curling iron. The last thing you want is for the natural curl to hold and the curl created with a hot iron to not hold and like a dead animal hanging on the back of the bride’s head.

Hair Brushes No bridal kit would be complete without the following hair brushes, a large Mason Pierson brush and a small Mason Pierson brush (for bangs), three sizes round wooden boar bristles, three sizes in round ceramic/metal brushes, a paddle brush, teasing brush, teasing comb and several large hair clips.

Irons and Stuff You need a great blow dryer of your choice along with 3 size curling irons, a flat iron, crimping iron, a diffuser and an extension cord. I will avoid hot rollers, they’re too bulky to carry and a stronger hold without the fluff (literally) can be created with the curling iron.

Important Odds and Ends A camera, a watch, hand mirror, paper towels, cloth towel (to dampen for hot irons), paper scissors (so no one asks to use your hair scissors to cut cloth), safety pins, hair glue (for wefts), hair glue remover, crazy glue (in case the hair accessory falls apart)

Pins, etc. Finally, you will need a combination of the following accessories: fine hair nets, bobby pins, hair pins, elastic bands with hooks (in black, brown and blond), elastic bands without hooks (in black, brown or blond), Velcro rollers and hair clips (used for roller sets)

With this kit you are ready for any job that may challenge you with different hair types or lengths. Being safe not sorry is my motto and has helped me book more weddings. Remember the better equipped you are, the better chance you have of increasing your income. Now all you need is your talent.

Antonio Gonzales: Improve Your Bridal Service

by Antonio Gonzales on Monday, May 3rd, 2010

antonio gonzales

I was born in Trinidad in the height of a hurricane. I spent my childhood surrounded by the sights and sounds and smells of Carnival and the other Indian, African and Spanish festivals of the Islands. Loving the amazing costumes, I got my start dressing my sisters and doing their hair and makeup. An opportunity came up to work with Trinidad’s leading costume designers, makeup artists and hair stylists. After I left the Island, my career evolved with work in Munich, Los Angeles and now New York City. Here in New York, I am a stylist at the Orlo Salon in the Meat Packing district. Vogue magazine recently named me as one of the rising hairstylist stars in N.Y., I was awarded the best haircut of 2008 by shecky’, Gotham Magazine called me a Shear Genius and Allure Magazine featured me as one of the best cuts 2009.

See Antonio’s blog here.

Hairstylists, is there anyone in your salon who chooses not to do bridal hair? There are generally a few stylists that would prefer to not take on the bride-to-be. For some of us, styling bridal hair comes naturally and for others it’s a challenge. The first time I did a bride, I was so nervous that I wanted to die! Well, let’s be honest, the expectations alone from a bride are enough to make you faint. I made a promise to myself, however, that I would do my best to make any bride happy. Luckily, I made the decision early in my career so I had enough time to practice styling hair and be educated by some of the top “updo specialists” like Martin Parsons and Patrick Cameron (just to name a few). Guys and gals, with the right techniques, tools and products, we can all make a bride smile.

I want to share my bridal business experience with you and offer some tips to improve your service.

The Price of the Consultation

I recommend to always doing a consultation before the trial hairstyle and I recommend charging for the consultation, too. Time is money. I have never done a bridal consultation that lasts less than 20 minutes and the client is still holding on to the arms of the chair asking questions while your next client is staring at you. Depending on your pricing, I would charge a quarter to half of the appointment price. I consider the consultation fee a deposit and I credit it towards the actual appointment if the client uses me. If she (or he) chooses not to use me, I do not refund the consultation fee.

For the consultation, have the bride-to-be bring with her photos of hairstyles she likes and dislikes. At this point, you get to assess her hair texture compared with the hair of the models in the pictures and discuss the reality of her hair being able to match the images she brought with her. Also, ask if there will be a headdress. Most brides may not have the ultimate veil they plan to use by the time of the consultation but if they could bring it or a picture of what they are thinking, it’s highly recommended. I have tried to create hairstyles with some veils that worked against the hairstyle because of the way they were made. Knowing this at the time of the consultation could have saved me time and headaches.


1. Give the client your full attention. That’s why they are paying for the consultation.

2. Have her also bring in images of the dress and the veil and discuss options that will be flattering to her built and the dress while fitting wit the veil.

3. Find out if she will be getting her color done and make a few suggestions to accent the style (if needed). If it’s a brunette, a few highlights can add contrast making the style more alive. If she blond, lowlights can make any hairstyle come alive with contrast.

4. Suggest that she come in to the salon a few days before the wedding day for a deep treatment to add shine to her hair.

The Cost

Sometimes a bride may feel the cost of doing her hair for the wedding is a lot for a hairstyle. Don’t forget to remind the bride that her wedding pictures will include more images of her and her hair than anything else that day. These pictures will be around for her grandchildren to see. In other words, she wants people looking at her wedding album and saying “your hair was amazing” and the flowers are pretty, too.


Be prepared to stand by your price. It’s different for the florist. They can use a few less orchids. You, however, can’t do a few less curls.

The Trial

If the wedding day is an in-salon service, I charge the same price for the trial as the actual wedding. There are very few services where you can go and get the actual service but pay half the price. I wish I could go to the dentist and say; ‘Can you give me a cleaning but charge me half price? This way if I like you I’ll come back and I will pay full price for my check-up.’ (get my drift) The trial also takes longer than the actual day and you may be meeting the client for the first time, so it can be a little stressful.

I prefer to have the bride hold a hand mirror and take the occasional peek as I work rather than having her give her opinion when it’s all done. After I am finished, it may be to late to make changes as the veil has already been fitted to the style. At the end of the trial, take pictures of the finished look and go over all the details of the style with the bride. This way, she will know exactly what she is getting the day of the wedding and you can ensure that her expectations have been met. Email the pictures to the bride and remind her that if she would like to deviate from the hairstyle agreed upon during the trial, she should come in for another trial.


1. Since Saturdays are busy in the salon I do not do trials on that day. I tell my brides that I will have more time to devote to the bride’s trial during the week and they usually agree.

2. Be sure to take notes of her favorite products used and make recommendations as to which products will work best with her hair and the ultimate hairstyle.

3. Have the bride wear a V-neck T-shirt during the trial so her hairstyle is not ruined when changing.

The Wedding Day

Try your best to execute the hairstyle as close to the trial or better. If there is a “girlfriend” watching you work who was not there for the hair trial, keep her in check. The trial has already been done and agreed upon. If “missy best friend” has a strong opinion as to what you are doing, then she should have been at the trial to voice her opinions (smile).


Some of us are very visual so having the pictures of the hairstyle at hand can keep us from straying from the discussed ‘do. Also if we are feeling super creative the day of the wedding we can still stay close to the trial, just better.

In-Salon Wedding Planner

This was an idea I came up with after seeing countless wedding parties getting their hair done in the salon. If your salon is large you may consider designating someone at the desk to handle all potential brides and their bridesmaids. From the first time the bride calls the salon to when she leaves after getting her hair done, this person can be the go-to person to keep your bridal business booming. For example:

Questionnaire for Bride

1. How did she hear about the salon?

2. Is the service for only hair or would be she need make up as well?

3. Will this be an in-salon service or a destination wedding?

4. How many people are in the wedding party who will need their hair done?

5. What time does the bride need to leave the salon for the photographer?

6. Is the bride or anyone else in the wedding party allergic to anything (teas, products, etc.)?

7. Would the party like to bring in any special drinks or food for the occasion?

I also recommend having an “event board” in the salon for any wedding parties that may be coming. Staff should always be aware of special events and can offer best wishes to the bride rather than guessing (with their clients) if it’s a wedding or not. Look forward to my upcoming bridal article where I discuss my styling tips, tools and tricks.

Make your Curly Clients Happy to Build your Bridal Business

by Karen Mcintosh on Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Photo courtesy of Khamit Kinks

When it comes to curly brides, curl-knowledgeable stylists have the business and styling edge. Today’s stylists with special training in globally recognized curl-specific and natural styling techniques can give a curly or naturally textured bride a lot more options. Ultimately a curly bride should be able to walk down the aisle on her wedding day feeling truly confident about how her hair will look.

Katheryn Sirico and September Sirico, owners of Greg and Tony, a Ouidad-certified salon in Westport, Conn., agree. “So many people come in with straight hair for special occasion styling, and what do they want? They want you to curl it for them, right?” Curly girls “actually have more of the advantage than somebody who has straight, slippery, finer hair,” says Katheryn. Using Ouidad’s technique of the Rake and Shake and the Ouidad products, clients “have perfectly designed curls that lay like puzzle pieces, and are shiny, healthy, bouncy and defined.”

“Fewer and fewer brides come in wanting to alter their natural hair texture,” says Anu Prestonia, owner of Khamit Kinks in Brooklyn, New York, and stylist and innovator of styles for twists, locs, natural weaves and more.

So what strategies can you, curly stylist, take to enhance, sustain and increase your wedding business?

Be Inspired

For more bridal tips, check out NaturallyCurly’s article on the Wedding Dress and the ‘Do

“We specialize in making our clients happy,” says Prestonia. “This is the princess day . . . the day every woman starts planning for from age five. People are usually in a great mood. Our inspiration comes from wanting to really follow through with the energy, beauty and happiness.”

“You have to really know what you‘re doing and be passionate about it,” says Sirico, “or . . . it won’t come out right. Not only that it’s a whole attitude, it’s a passion.”

Encourage the Hair’s Natural Curl Personality

That’s part of Greg and Tony Salon’s culture and philosophy, according to the Siricos. “We encourage the bride to look like themselves. You wear your hair curly all the time and it’s part of your personality and how people know you. Then if for your wedding day you go straight, it doesn’t look like you. So looking like you and being yourself on your wedding day, even in the bridal party, is very important because the confidence is what falls behind this.”

“I am so happy that we are now in a day and time where [fewer] clients come in complaining that the bride . . . is requesting that they alter their hair texture to be in their wedding party,” says Prestonia. I‘ve known people to cut off their locs to be in a bridal party. Is it that serious for you to be in this bridal party?”

“Brides approach us that have curly hair….[they] don’t want regular stylists doing their hair for that day because they want to leave it as natural as possible,” says Cala Renee, stylist and owner of Cala Renee Salon, a DevaConcepts salon in Beverly, Mass. “And most salons tend to want to blow out and re-curl and they don’t tend to work with people’s natural curl like we do.”

Get the Bride to Think Ahead

September Sirico says, “You should go at least 3 months before to speak or think about your hair. The process is first you get your gown and then you start calling your salon to start doing trials or discussing how you would like to wear your hair—and then coming in for a trial.”

Be sure the bride-to-be brings her headpiece to the trial appointment and, if possible, a photo of her gown. “Bring me a picture of your gown; bring me your headpiece the day of the trial” says Cala Renee. “I want to see everything because if you don’t see it all together or if we design something and then the day of the wedding you put your dress on and realize . . . then I’m in trouble. So I say to them, “please go home and try your dress on now that your hair is done the way you think you like it. Make sure you like it all put together.”

Trial, and Trial Again

Photo courtesy of Greg and Tony

Trials can mean the difference between a stressful wedding day and a stress-free one because for better or worse, curls can have a mind of their own. Most brides who come in for a trial are willing to let the stylist do different designs on the hair, and that is why the trials are so important. It also allows the stylist time to better understand the bride’s hair and play with it.

For the Siricos, trials are also important for pricing and planning further services. “The trial determines not just what the hair is going to look like—timing, cost, etc., but also what you need to do down the road—if you need to do any highlights, if you need color or if you need to do another a haircut. And it can determine what the timing should be for those things leading up to the big day.”

Cala Renee cautions “Make sure you understand the curls you are working with prior to the day of the wedding. Because if they want to be a little bit frizzy, you’re going to have to know how to calm them down and not just jump to the curling iron. People want their natural look in today’s day and age.”

Trials are different. Because they are a work in progress and the client may be working with a new bridal stylist, trying different styles, getting to know one another can take time. “Someone may not be from this area and they’re coming in cold,” says Katheryn Sirico. “It takes a little more time.

“We never combine the trials with the actual day, never,” says Katheryn Sirico. “Those are two separate days entirely and separate services.

“Our styles [natural weaves, braids, twists, locs and updos] are usually done ahead of time,” Prestonia says, “sometimes as far as 3 days beforehand.”

How many trials is the right number? It depends on the bride. “Normally I would say one,” say the Siricos. “We have done two and for some people we have done several. But I would say the norm is one.”

And since trials are not free “people sometimes try to limit them to one, sometimes two,“ September Sirico says. “ But I have had brides come in over the years, they come and they’ll do a couple of things. They want to actually go and live with this for the night. And then they come in a few weeks later and want something entirely different.”

Whether it’s one or more than one, the right number of trials allows the bride to see various styles and be confident that the final one she chooses is the best one for her.

Staff Accordingly

To have a good bridal business you have to have good bridal stylists.

“We are very fortunate; we have four people here who are fabulous bridal stylists and their work is great,” says Katheryn Sirico. “They have a very good reputation. The people who don’t do it don’t touch it—they can’t.”

Make sure that you have the staff to back the business up: stylists who are creative, patient and caring for brides and who know how to do bridal design. Other salons may not want to turn away the business, but if the stylist is not a bridal expert, customer satisfaction problems can pop up.

Be prompt, professional and flexible

As a wedding client, Prestonia learned first-hand how it felt to be disappointed—on her wedding day. “I had someone arranged to do my hair for my wedding and she didn’t show up. And that was the most horrific thing I’ve ever experienced,” she said. “I had looked for her to do my hair the day before my wedding. She assured me that she would come into town from Philadelphia to do my hair and I waited all day for her. The day of my wedding I had to call somebody who wasn’t even a hair stylist to do something quick for me.“

With an experience like that, Prestonia is meticulous about providing a high quality of service and enhancing the beauty of her bridal clients. “I’ve never seen an ugly bride. Every bride is beautiful and it flows from the inside out. She’s aglow, she is happy, she has her support with her, her friends and her family and you just want to follow through with that in the best way you can.”

Use off-hours to boost income

Many salons step up their service for an existing client or a bridal party. “If it’s a client of our own, we will come in on a Sunday and put the time aside for them. It really depends on what day the wedding is,” says Renee.

Book a trial at the end of the day so if you run over, you don’t have to worry about the next client.

Have a Digital Camera on Hand

Photo courtesy of Cala Renee

“And encourage your clients to take their own photos as well. We actually encourage them to bring cameras, take pictures from all sides, take it home and think about it, and if they need any changes give us a call,” advises Cala Renee. “We can either have you come back again or we can just make changes the day of the wedding—if they’re not major.”

Use the Atmosphere of your Salon to Pamper and Relax the Bridal Party

When the bride comes in with a wedding party, that should be the salon’s priority for the entire time booked that day. “My favorites are the ones where the bridal party comes and it’s a really upbeat, festive occasion, says September Sirico. “Sometimes we set up a table with things for them to nibble on and mimosas. Sometimes a photographer follows them because they want it recorded right from leaving the house to coming here.”

At Cala Renee Salon, “if you have a full wedding party come in, we have everybody just dedicated to them,” says Renee. Sometimes if it’s just morning, we’ll pick up some munchies and try to make it a really relaxed atmosphere for them. We have coffee and tea made… And we try to make sure that the wedding party is the only client here so you’re not having pieces of hair flying around. The whole atmosphere is a little bit different. Tthey come in and they’re ready to relax and let you do your thing. They’re trying to zone out, actually. Most brides are.”

Whether at the salon or at the wedding location, the best bridal bookings are when the bride and her party are calm and relaxed. One of Prestonia’s favorite bookings was on location at a hotel in Brooklyn. “Everybody was just so friendly and calm and respectful. That was the day of [the wedding]. We did her hair before but we were onsite to style and do touchups and help with the placing of the headpiece.” She has also provided sparkling wine and chocolates for bridal parties at Khamit Kinks.

Take Advantage of Continuing Education

Stay abreast of opportunities to enhance your knowledge. Hair products manufacturers and top hair salons often offer hands on work classes and showcase the latest techniques during certain times of the year or at hair shows like IBS. Khamit Kinks Salon, for example, offers Monday seminars and classes in hairstyling techniques like textured weaves, locs and two-strand twists. And throughout the year, Greg and Tony Salon offers Ouidad workshops.

Bridezilla – A Myth?

There are surprisingly few, the stylists interviewed for this article agreed. “If anything, I would say from my experience we’ve never had a Bridezilla,” Katheryn Sirico says. “All of our brides have been really great, whether they have been our regular clients or someone who has just come to us for the day.”

On the flip side, bridal stylists should be prepared to diffuse tension and occasionally be a diplomat and peacemaker. Difficulties may not come from the bride. But sometimes they come from members of the bridal party, a mother or mother-in-law who forgets that is not her day, it’s her daughter’s or daughter-in-law’s.

Prestonia advises, “Be open and flexible because brides can be fickle or bridal parties and the people connected to the wedding can switch up on you.” Her challenging situation was when the bride (a regular client) brought her sister in after several trials. “And her sister just changed up the whole vibe of the relationship that we had been having with her. She was very demanding and . . . that was a bit stressful. Well, we just decided—you know when it’s a wedding and it’s a bride, the last thing we want to do is add stress. So we just dealt with it. But it changed the molecules in the room.”

Renee hasn’t had a Bridezilla either. However, a long-time client and bridal client was once a Promzilla. “I actually started doing her hair when she was 8 years old,” Cala Renee said. “And the day she got married she had her whole bridal party here [at the salon], and I knew her mom. And it just made everything just very, very special. I actually was invited to the wedding.

“But, the day of her senior prom, the newspapers came and everybody was here, they were writing, and she broke down in tears. She was so upset about it; her hair didn’t come out exactly how she envisioned it. So I was mortified. Right before her wedding I said ‘you are coming in multiple times because we are not having another episode like we did for your prom.’ So I made her come in 3 different times and we took pictures. And thank God, because she did change her mind after the first trial visit.”

More Great Tips from the Bridal Experts:

Katheryn Sirico and September Sirico of Greg And Tony Salon:

1. Have just one person handle/organize the client; that way you know exactly what’s going on. “The bride shouldn’t call the front desk and talk to 8 different people to make the appointments or change the appointment or ask questions,” September Sirico says. In our salon they’re directed to Katheryn. If for some reason she’s not here then they’re directed to me. And no one else handles them at all.”

2. Keep a binder and never throw away your notes. Whether you keep a manual binder or on computer, a binder helps keep everything straight and organized, and lets you have everything at hand. Says Katheryn, “We have a section for each bride or bridal party. That way we can refer to everything we discussed right there. And never throw your notes away from the first time you talk with them. You think you’re going to remember, but you don’t.”

3. If possible, work with another local business in town for referrals. An event planner, florist or photographer can refer the brides to you and in return you can refer clients to them.

4. Follow up a couple of weeks after the wedding. Don’t do it the day of the wedding. Wait until the bride has calmed down and returned from her honeymoon. Following up lets you see any photos. And it lets you know if you have any weak points and what the highlights were.

Anu Prestonia of Khamit Kinks:

1. Collaborate on a photo shoot with other consultants. ”We’re doing a bridal photo shoot next month. It’s for the artists who are involved. I will be managing the selection of the hair styles and my stylists to do the hair. There is a person who is the headpiece designer. There is a gown designer, makeup artists and photographer. So we’re all working together to make this happen.”

2. Make sure to the final style will work on location without the stylist, and fits the bride’s comfort zone. “A bride I once worked with just wanted her hair in a really loose, natural ‘fro for her wedding that was going to be on a beach. But her mother insisted that she had to get something done. So we just did a two-strand twist with her hair wet and told her that she could either wear it that way or she could untwist the strands and have it more like a loose curl or a twistout.” The bride was happy because she had not even considered her hair. Yet she didn’t have to go far out of her comfort zone, and her mother was happy.

Cala Renee of Cala Rene Salon

1. Make the most of referrals, both from your existing client base and from websites and showcase your work on your own website. “Most of our referrals come from From there they tend to Google me and look at my web site. And once they look at the web site they definitely realize that okay, she specializes in curly hair. We have a few bridal parties that are up on the web site as well that have had their hair done.

2. Be open minded and listen to the bride. Make sure those brides are coming in more than once and really understanding what they are looking for, advises Cala Renee. “Because if you don’t spend the time with them during trials, then unfortunately the day of [the wedding] could be a disaster.”

Enjoy this video showcasing some looks from Khamit Kinks.

Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)