Wedding hair trial survival guide: tips and hairstyle ideas to bring to your appointment

Hair and make-up artists are big-day beauty wizards, but they need some help from you, too. Use our survival checklist to prepare for your bridal beauty trial, then sit back and watch your stylist transform your brief into a photo-ready reality.

Photograph by Syed Yaqeen backstage at Sareh Nouri

THE TRIAL CHECKLIST: How to prep for your hair and make-up test run 

  • Send your artist a link to your Pinterest board, so that they can get a feel for the whole day, from the venue to your dress, and discover any celeb hair and beauty crushes.
  • Use the trial as an opportunity to try out different looks. Portraits usually gets through around three to five looks for hair and two to three looks for make-up, although some brides may prefer just one or two options to avoid getting confused.
  • Come to your trial with hair freshly washed on the day. There are so many great products now that can solve any hair problems you might have, from frizz to fine, limp hair.
  • Arrive wearing your usual everyday make-up. This helps your artist get a feel for what level of make-up you’re used to wearing.
  • Having trouble deciding which look you like best? Take plenty of photos and ask friends and family for their opinions.

Keep reading for more styling ideas… 

Style 1: The boho braided bun

The brief
A boho bride at heart, Sanne wanted flowers and plaits! 

The technique
After prepping Sanne’s hair with extensions, the stylist used a hair wand to create rough movement. The front was sectioned out, French plaited and secured on either side of Sanne’s head. The same technique was used at the back, with the remaining loose ends shaped and gripped into a messy low bun. The ends of the plaits at the front were then secured over the top of the bun.

Pro tip
Fresh flowers can work wonderfully in hair and should last the day, especially if you go for the drier varieties such as gypsophila.

Style 2: The textured updo

The brief
An effortless, classic look. “I wanted to look like myself – not caked in make-up,” Robyn says. 

The technique
A small tong was used to create spiral curls, which were then broken up and lightly backcombed. A subtle plait detail at the back of the bun added to the relaxed style. Shades of brown created a romantic softness around the eyes, while individual lashes added a hint of drama. Flawless skin and a soft nude lip completed the look. 

Pro tip
Fewer brides are opting for the traditional ways of wearing a veil. If you’re going for a long veil, try pinning it into your updo like Robyn, or even wearing it with a down ’do for an ultra-modern take.

Style 3: Old Hollywood with a twist

The brief 
With the dramatic and romantic setting of Asylum, London, Francesca knew she wanted to go for retro glamour. “The strong lip and eyes were the main focus, with an old Hollywood-inspired look for the hair,” she says.  

The technique
A vintage-inspired wave from Francesca’s Pinterest board was the starting point, but to add a more modern feel to the hairstyle, the stylist twisted Francesca’s locks to one side. For the make-up, Francesca wanted to ramp up the glam factor, so the bride’s usual feline flick was intensified with lots of definition and length and some false strip lashes were added. A strong deep berry lip tied in well with her bouquet and also complemented her bridesmaids’ dresses.

Pro tip
The stylist spritzed Clarins Fix Make-Up all over the face. “It helps to make sure your make-up lasts all day – exactly what you need when you’re about to get teary and emotional!”


These gorgeous bridal looks were created by styling duo Zara and Nadia from Portraits.