How to achieve the season's hottest bridal 'do

This story first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Columbus Weddings, published December 2018.

Last season, bridal makeup trended understated. This season, hair is following suit: Welcome to the era of the anti-updo. Brides are letting their hair down—releasing it from tight ponytails and intricate twists—and opting instead for cascades of waves or curls.

For local bride Stephanie Johnson, who married Luke Johnson on April 1, 2017, the style was a natural pairing for her laid-back wedding. “I didn’t want a super stuffy updo, and I usually just feel more comfortable with my hair down,” she explains.

But while the bridal wave looks effortless, it’s not so effortlessly achieved.

The first hurdle is creating the curls. For brides with naturally textured hair, a blow-out is a vital first step to prep and smooth the strands.

When it comes to styling the hair, Sarah Mohre, hair stylist at Square One Salon and Day Spa, approaches the look by making the curls tighter than intended so that, as the hair deflates throughout the day, it will loosen into your ideal look.

Which heating tool—curling iron or flat iron—is needed will depend on the type of curl or wave you want. But what is your ideal look? It might be deceiving, but, as Mohre explains, there’s a lot of variety in the down ’do. After picking a spot on the curl-wave spectrum, you’ll then have to sort through various versions of either style. Plus there’s always the option of add-ins: a headband, a comb or some soft floral inserts.

If you’re struggling to pick a look, consider matching your hair to your dress. If your gown has lots of embellishments, for example, you may want to consider a simpler and looser hairstyle that doesn’t distract from the dress itself. But for minimalist or more classic dresses, you can shoot for a more dramatic texture.

Mohre cautions, though, to be aware of what is even possible for your hair. It’s important to understand, she says, “what the natural texture of the hair does, and how it’s going to hold that.” Having a consultation with a hairstylist is the best way to figure out what is and isn’t feasible.

After achieving your curled or wavy look, the next task is making it stand the test of time. Quick head movements, humidity, wind, any bit of touching—all these and more pose a threat to your style. “Wearing [your hair] down, you have a greater chance of the waves falling out a little bit,” Mohre explains.

The solution is twofold: a handful of bobby pins and an arsenal of hair products. Yes, you read that right—bobby pins will be needed to wear your hair down.

When it comes to preparing the hair to last through the day, Mika Manley, hair stylist at PENZONE Salons + Spas, has a trick up her sleeve—or, rather, under your hair. After setting the curls, when the hair is still hot from the iron, Manley will pin sections of curls to the scalp to counteract the hair losing its shape during the day’s activities. “It’s almost like taking a safety pin and pinning a piece of your dress up,” she says.

As for hair products, Manley uses a plethora of sprays: a spray wax or paste, a shine spray, a definition spray, a dry hair spray and a volumizing spray, as well as an anti-frizz serum. Sprays, she explains, are perfect for the down ’do because they don’t weigh down the hair.

The whole process might sound like more than many would think at this point. But to hear Manley sum it up, it’s not so overwhelming: “Set it and press it, and then pin it and spray it.”