Selecting a site for your wedding-day beauty services

When I got married on May 20, 2017, one of my favorite moments of the day—other than the ceremony itself— was sitting around the table at my parents' house and chatting with my bridesmaids as we casually and comfortably ate breakfast. See, I had the hair and makeup professionals come to us that morning, meaning we didn't have to race to the salon and could instead get ready in the comforts of home.

That was a personal preference for me as the bride; I knew that being at home for my beauty time would put me at ease on my wedding day. Having hair and makeup professionals come to bridal parties, often called on-site services, is becoming more and more popular. But the alternative—visiting the salon—is often more cost-effective.

So which should you choose? The good news is, there's no wrong answer.

“On the day of the wedding, with in-salon services, we have a larger pool of professionals [and can] work with shorter time frames,” says Elizabeth Brauner, head bridal coordinator at the Charles Penzone chain of salons. “It's nice, because we can get everyone done in about two hours. That's helpful if you have a larger bridal party … so it's beneficial to use a salon.”

Another perk of visiting the salon is that it provides ample space for your bridal party to relax between appointments.

“At our Gahanna salon, we have a grand suite,” says Brauner. “It gives you the experience of having a suite at a hotel. It has hair and makeup stations already set up, and the hair and makeup professionals all come to the same room and take care of you.”

Rachel Paxton, bridal and spa coordinator at Square One Salon and Day Spa, echoes a similar sentiment.

“We have a bridal suite in our Downtown salon,” says Paxton. “It can accommodate parties of up to 15 people comfortably. Everyone can hang out for the day, and we allow drinks and food.”

A drawback to the salon, however, is bridal party members may not be grouped all together if a salon doesn't offer a bridal suite or it is unavailable. Reach out to your preferred salon about a suite as early as possible, if that's the route you'd like to go. Remember to take into account your mom, grandma or other family members; if you're all getting your hair done at once across the salon, you might miss out on seeing each other's services.

Marnie Morley, an aesthetician at the Charles Penzone Grand Salon in Gahanna/New Albany, says another benefit to a salon visit is the wider range of available styling tools.

“On-site, we have to bring a travel kit, and sometimes the lighting isn't great,” says Morley. “When you come to the salon, we have all of our tools and all the outlets are available. We're comfortable with our supplies. The entire salon is available if we need to cover something [specific].”

Other than location, one of the biggest differences between in-salon and on-site services is the cost. Expect to pay more for the convenience of having professionals come to you.

At Nurtur the Salon, which has three Columbus locations, in-salon costs are based on the experience level of your stylist. Randi Mackintosh, operations and bridal manager at Nurtur, explains that the salon's on-site costs are not charged by service, but by an hourly rate.

“It's a little more expensive, but we make sure it's worth our professionals' [time] to be out of the salon for a certain amount of hours,” says Mackintosh.

The Charles Penzone salons have seen a rise in on-site services in recent years. Brauner says that from 2015 to 2016, on-site service requests increased by more than 50 percent. There is a $75 on-site fee along with increased pricing compared to the salon, but you'll have peace of mind.

“It helps cover our permitting with the state to do this, and our [hair and makeup] kits,” says Brauner. “It's the convenience of the professionals coming to the venue and making things less stressful for you. It's all taken care of for you.”

Sayje Brown, who married Derek Brown on March 31, 2017, at the Columbus Athenaeum, had Formality Onsite Hair & Makeup by Tiffany come to her bridal party at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel.

“I weighed both going to the salon and having them come to us, and got quotes for both,” says Sayje. “I talked to my now-husband, saying it cost a little more to come on-site. We were on a budget, but my husband put it perfectly. He said, ‘I feel like that day is so chaotic, the extra money is worth your time and ease of mind.' I would have freaked out making sure all was on time and everyone got to their appointments. It took so much stress off the day.”

She also notes that it allowed for some special quality time with family.

“The fun part, compared to other weddings I've been to, is that my nieces could be there with us,” says Sayje. “That helped my sister out. Otherwise they would be bored, running around a salon.”

Stephanie Goare had a similar experience for her April 9, 2016, wedding to Kevin Sprang. She used Charles Penzone's on-site services for a group consisting of herself, four bridesmaids, two flower girls, two mothers and one friend who was doing a ceremony reading.

“It seemed comfortable and a little less stressful for me,” says Goare. “I was willing to spend a little extra money to have that convenience. When we started looking into bridal services, it came down to [the fact that] I wanted a certain hairstylist and certain makeup artist, and it seemed the easiest thing to do was to bring them to me. We had two infants actually—two of my bridesmaids had children under 1—so that was easier for them to come to us. Those were major players in deciding.”

No matter which route you decide, be sure to visit the salon for both a hair and makeup trial.

“Know your hair and know what to look for in photos,” says Paxton. “We want brides comfortable on the day of the wedding.”