Wedding Planning

Fourteenth: Bridal Hair Trials

Bridal hair trials are an essential part of planning your wedding day style. As a designer, I am required to delve further into this process individually with each bride to be able to deliver the most beautiful, custom, and carefree designs perfected for wear on their wedding day.

  Photo by Allison Kuhn Creative

Photo by Allison Kuhn Creative

  Photo by Allison Kuhn Creative

Photo by Allison Kuhn Creative

My daughter, Brielle, did two hair trials at Avenue 42 Style Studio in Richmond, Virginia, “voted one of the best salons in the country” by Brides Magazine. Brielle used her first hair trial as a rehearsal for her actual wedding day by scheduling a bridal portrait session with her photographer, Allison Kuhn, just four weeks before her wedding. Bridal portraits enabled her to have a practice run to see how her hair, accessories, makeup, and wedding gown photographed.

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Brielle decided to refashion her wedding day style by changing her hair accessories from the ceremony to her reception. Why not when your mother is the owner of Headpiece.com?! She required a second hair trial to make sure her different headpiece designs would work with one hairstyle.

I have blogged about many topics. I encounter questions about the bridal hair trial on a daily basis and thought this might be an interesting subject to explore. My idea was to talk with experts in the field, ask them to do a hair trial and document the process. My offering would be to contribute new and unique headpiece designs made specifically for their hair trial. I expected this project to be in tutorial form and photographed from behind the salon chair. Instead, it grew into something spectacular!


Angela Cattaneo is leading the social media world with her incredibly successful Instagram page Beyond The Ponytail. It is the “go-to tap” for the best in beautiful braids and upstyles from around the world. In just three years, Beyond The Ponytail has grown to almost 350K followers. I became a fan early on when Angela had a mere 20K followers. Who better to chat with about bridal hair than the founder herself?

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Angela has been a hairdresser in the San Francisco Bay area for the past 19 years and has worked alongside some of the most sought-after educators. Her early years included a four year run with Redken 5th Ave as a Certified Hair Colorist traveling throughout Northern California educating other artists and sharing her love of hair design. Currently, Angela spends her time collaborating with top creatives in the industry and instructing others in braid artistry while still maintaining her clientele at Orabella Hair Studio. She does it all!

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I sent Angela some headpieces from our newest collection so she could share some insight into what to expect during a bridal hair trial.

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As a bridal stylist, it’s important to have quality bridal accessories and veils designed with the ability to be placed in the hairstyle with ease and confidence. I immediately noticed the attention to detail on Marie’s beautiful pieces. Her designs are unique and well thought out, created with gorgeous stones and lace. They are truly stunning works of art.
— Angela Cattaneo
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One of the reasons for creating my page Beyond The Ponytail was to create a collection of inspirational looks that I love to recreate, for the hairstylist and bride-to-be. I am drawn to all wedding hairstyles; updos, braids, down-styles, and chignons with a Boho and natural feel.
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Angela’s favorite style to create is an undone, sexy look that appears effortless. Of course, braids are her love! She suggests a half-up boho style with pulled apart fishtails or a pull-through braid and topsy tails as something airy and romantic for the bride-to-be.

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Angela loves hair trials! She is all about being prepared before the bride arrives. Her hair trial begins on the phone, not in the chair. Hairstyles will look different on different hair colors, so Angela suggests the bride bring in three looks in their same hair color.

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Confidence in your stylist is vital according to Angela. On your wedding day, you don’t want to worry about your hair. If you don’t like the hairstyle during your trial, an experienced stylist should be able to offer alternative ideas that make you feel comfortable and on the same page as your vision.

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Creating a hairstyle is very organic and emotional. When you understand the foundation of how you created that particular look at the hair trial, it is easy to recreate on the actual wedding day.
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As my brides look at their beautiful reflection in the mirror, I tell them this day will go by so quickly. Stop every once in a while and see the love that surrounds you! I wish you a marriage more beautiful than your wedding day!

Angela has taken Beyond the Ponytail to the next level with Beyondtheponytail.com. It is a niche digital magazine for braids, bridal, and editorial inspiration. The website includes “trending now” and “must have blogs” for all things styling.


Nichole Kochakji

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I met Nichole in the spring of 2017 as a client at Headpiece.com. She had a sassy fashion sense with a definitive bridal style. Her vision was precise and spot on beautiful! We connected and shared bridal stories while she planned her wedding day, and I helped to plan my daughter, Brielle’s. Through our discussions, I discovered that Nichole was a hairstylist and had been in the industry for over 15 years. When Nichole came to pick up her veil and headpiece, she shared tips about the bridal hair trial experience. Since then, we have shared clients, and I knew she would be a great contributor to this blog. We featured her wedding on our previous blog, Fourteenth: The Cost of a Veil.

Nichole brought a team to Vermont to do a styled shoot atop of Bromley Mountain. A cold front came through on this late October day with 30-degree temperatures on the mountaintop. Nichole’s hands were so cold she could hardly pin the hair. Her models toughed the winds while Amanda did what she knows best!

  Amanda Bantham  is a New England based lifestyle photographer. Growing up in New Hampshire has helped her see the beauty of portrait work outside of the typical studio setting. Her love of mountaintop shooting has a unique draw for clients who are lovers of the outdoors.

Amanda Bantham is a New England based lifestyle photographer. Growing up in New Hampshire has helped her see the beauty of portrait work outside of the typical studio setting. Her love of mountaintop shooting has a unique draw for clients who are lovers of the outdoors.

 Model,  Sophie Stanley , is a Boston based lifestyle and fashion blogger. Sophie has immersed herself in the world of fashion. She discovers trends though her love of shopping for affordable outfits and shares them on her blog and social media posts.

Model, Sophie Stanley, is a Boston based lifestyle and fashion blogger. Sophie has immersed herself in the world of fashion. She discovers trends though her love of shopping for affordable outfits and shares them on her blog and social media posts.

 Victoria Lokai has been styling hair for eight years. She joined Nichole’s team to help style hair for this shoot and also stepped in as a model. She has studied at the Arrojo Salon in Soho as well as the Vidal Sassoon Academy.

Victoria Lokai has been styling hair for eight years. She joined Nichole’s team to help style hair for this shoot and also stepped in as a model. She has studied at the Arrojo Salon in Soho as well as the Vidal Sassoon Academy.


Photography by Amanda Bantham

Nichole’s idea to hike Bromley Mountain with her wedding photographer and two models in Justin Alexander gowns was the impetus behind this amazing fashion story. She took my hair trial idea and brought this blog post to its final page by inspiring other stylists to look beyond the standard salon chair hair trial.

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Their styled shoot began indoors with a bit of “teasing” and curling. I remember thinking back on this day that there was no way they would shoot on a mountaintop. The temperatures in NJ were frigid too with very windy conditions. I imagined Bromley Mountain had to be unbearable in a wedding gown!

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It was essential to Nichole to get some refined photos of her work before braving the cold and restyling on the mountain.

I wouldn’t say that I have a specialty in one type of style. I have been doing hair for 17 years, and the trends have changed quite a lot through that time. I notice how brides today lean more towards natural looks; hair that really moves and has shine. I love to create glam sets! It’s so polished and sexy.
— Nichole Kochakji
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A bit of wind or a swaying breeze can create some of the most beautiful moments for a bride on her wedding day. Our bridal veils are designed to give you airy moments with a unique and undeniable shape.
— Marie Hunt
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For our shoot we were going for a more natural bridal look. Lots of whimsical pieces of hair that move when the bride moves, we actually did the hair on the mountaintop. So each model began with a curling iron set and minimal hairspray. Too much hairspray makes hair hard to work and rework. Almost every style I do starts with a good set.
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Nichole advises to let the hair do what it wants to do, live where it wants to live. “Don’t try to force the hair too much. It is better if you work with it and not against it.”

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Clients with fine hair can always add extensions. Nichole finds that today’s extensions easy to work with and notes that natural hair extensions can be cut and colored. She warns curly haired clients to consider the weather forecast and wedding venue before deciding to straighten their hair on their wedding day.

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A bride should think through her hair accessories before purchasing, keeping in mind the stylist needs to be able to pin the piece in the hair.

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Headpiece.com designs are very moldable, which I love. Every piece they design is unique.
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Kelly brown

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Kelly Brown is a master at being creative—-period! He has been styling hair since 1998 and is well known and in constant demand by his many clients at Public Image Salon. When Kelly isn’t talking hair, he is talking some other creative language. When it comes to bridal hair, he has a spirited passion for creating romance and femininity. His focus is to fulfill the picture his bride has envisioned by using his vast formal hair training.

Kelly invited his squad to his eclectic European style home to create his hairstyle pictorial. Every nook and cranny offered a different take for the photographer. Antiques amidst contemporary touches made cool settings for both the modern and Hollywood style bride.

  Erin Usawicz  studied fine-art photography at Mason Gross School of the Arts. Her training and life as a professional dancer give her a unique perspective of human expression, the lines of the body, and garment flow and direction while shooting. Erin is a member of Professional Photographers of America as well as Wedding and Portrait Photographers International.

Erin Usawicz studied fine-art photography at Mason Gross School of the Arts. Her training and life as a professional dancer give her a unique perspective of human expression, the lines of the body, and garment flow and direction while shooting. Erin is a member of Professional Photographers of America as well as Wedding and Portrait Photographers International.

  Aubrey Hunt  has a lot of experience with brides. She is the owner of  The Bride Trainer, LLC.  Aubrey is a professional motivator and personal trainer for brides looking to improve their wedding day figure. She has modeled since her teen years for Bridal Market week in NYC. Her fitness and modeling experience combined made Aubrey a perfect team member for Kelly’s photo shoot.

Aubrey Hunt has a lot of experience with brides. She is the owner of The Bride Trainer, LLC. Aubrey is a professional motivator and personal trainer for brides looking to improve their wedding day figure. She has modeled since her teen years for Bridal Market week in NYC. Her fitness and modeling experience combined made Aubrey a perfect team member for Kelly’s photo shoot.

  Nesreen Hamdan  has been a freelance makeup artist for over ten years. She began her beauty career working with Kelly Maxim when her passion for “makeup only” took her in her in a new direction. Nesreen has experience as a creative director for Fashion Week in NYC working with runway models behind the scenes. She remains current with education and technique, so her clientele looks and feels their best.

Nesreen Hamdan has been a freelance makeup artist for over ten years. She began her beauty career working with Kelly Maxim when her passion for “makeup only” took her in her in a new direction. Nesreen has experience as a creative director for Fashion Week in NYC working with runway models behind the scenes. She remains current with education and technique, so her clientele looks and feels their best.


Photography by Erin Usawicz

I have known Kelly for over twelve years. He has been my hairstylist and creative therapist for the last six. When I decided to write a blog on hair trials, he was the first person I asked. When I sit in his stylist chair, we discuss bridal styles, photo shoots, and new designs. Rarely do we talk about what he is doing to my hair, but rather what we could create together for our clients.

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I do what I do for the passion and love of creating unique looks. My favorite look for a bride is the one that makes her truly feel beautiful, and I know I have done that when I turn the chair and see that moment. The most rewarding part of my job is when I know she sees her unique bridal beauty!
— Kelly Brown
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Kelly fell in love with a back-piece I designed for another bride made with French lace and stone. His wish for this photo shoot was for me to create a side-piece in a similar fashion to set into a “flippy curled vintage do” he had in mind. I designed the piece and was ready to journey with him as we talked about bridal hair trials.

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Kelly’s advice for the bride-to-be who is searching for a bridal hair stylist is…”Stay close to home if at all possible. First, find out if your regular stylist is a master at formal and bridal hair. If so, look no further!”

There is something great and soothing to a bride on the day of her wedding when nerves intensify, and emotions are heightened to know that a familiar face and friend is there beside her. Crafting her special coiffure while having the insight into who she is, is priceless!
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I asked Kelly if there are any red flags when it comes to bridal hair trials.

The biggest red flag during a hair trial is tears! LOL...but in all seriousness feel out the person that you are working with. After all, they are the artist whose hands are set to carry out your vision. If you aren’t feeling the connection with them, then move on.
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I always wondered if it is difficult for a stylist to replicate the style from the hair trial on her wedding day. Kelly looks at the trial as a rough draft of the bridal look leaving room for revisions and tweaks before the big day.

Take lots of pictures and analyze them with some healthy scrutiny. Remember not all hair is created equal and some people are just blessed by the hair gods, but your hair should be the best version possible. So on the day, you should not only meet the rough draft of the hair trial, you should exceed it with a perfected final copy ready for publication!
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Aubrey and I took the scenic 2 1/2 hour drive to visit my favorite bridal salon, Something Bleu Bridal, in Saratoga Springs, NY. I knew they would provide the final fashion statement to finish our vision for this photo shoot. Kathryn and Emily pointed to an Olvi’s gown from the Netherlands and asked Aubrey to try it on. This gown fit as though it was made especially for Aubrey. I have suggested to my brides who follow this blog to take a ride to Something Bleu Bridal. This salon is a gem! It isn’t just a bridal salon. It is an experience like that of Headpiece.com. I promise you will cherish it and the ladies at Something Bleu Bridal long after your wedding day.

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This headpiece creation “wowed” everyone on the set! I envisioned this incredible piece in my sleep, created it, and knew it was a must to shoot on this day. Kelly accommodated me by restyling Aubrey’s hair into a classic chignon.

Headpiece.com designs are always head and shoulders above the rest. As a stylist and an artist myself, not only do I appreciate that they are handcrafted using the most exquisite details but also the attention given to even the custom fastening points on each piece.
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Truly each is a work of jeweled artistic adornment! It is always a pleasure to be able to crown my work with Marie’s gorgeous hair creations!
— Kelly
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Finally, I asked Kelly as a stylist what he looks for in accessory design to make the bride’s day and his day worry free.

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COMFORTABILITY! Not only should the piece be extremely beautiful and enhance the hair but it also must be wearable. If a bride is not comfortable with her headpiece or veil, she will be nothing but concuss of it all day and unable to be present and enjoy the most significant and most amazing moment of her life.

LiA Zangari

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Lia Zangari is the owner of Bliss Hair Salon in Towaco, NJ and has been in the hair industry for over 20 years. Her passion for hair began under the guidance of Anthony Placido from East Rutherford, NJ. She has spent two decades perfecting the art of bridal hair and makeup. Alongside her talented team at Bliss, she has had the opportunity to travel the world and share her passion with her brides.

Bliss Hair Salon is a preferred vendor at several top wedding venues in NJ; Park Chateau, Park Savoy, Nanina’s in the Park, and The Legacy Castle. Lia arranged for us to do a styled shoot at the beautiful Park Savoy in Florham Park. We worked together to create several unique looks on a very stunning model. With Jaymo behind the lens, we knew the results would be spectacular!

 Dzemo (it’s pronounced Jay-mo) is a  New York City photographer  and owner of  Photo DH . His calm nature makes it easy for his subjects to live in the moment while he comfortably snaps away. His eye for the perfect setting, moment, and spot of light make his works remarkable. I was privileged to witness Jaymo shoot, and it was breathtaking!

Dzemo (it’s pronounced Jay-mo) is a New York City photographer and owner of Photo DH. His calm nature makes it easy for his subjects to live in the moment while he comfortably snaps away. His eye for the perfect setting, moment, and spot of light make his works remarkable. I was privileged to witness Jaymo shoot, and it was breathtaking!

 Nicole Hunt was my model preference for Lia’s photo shoot. Jaymo had worked with her before on her wedding day. Nicole is a natural at modeling. She is not shy in front of the camera and gives what it takes to set the scene and capture the feeling of the artists. Her stunning gallery from this shoot makes me want to work with her again and again.

Nicole Hunt was my model preference for Lia’s photo shoot. Jaymo had worked with her before on her wedding day. Nicole is a natural at modeling. She is not shy in front of the camera and gives what it takes to set the scene and capture the feeling of the artists. Her stunning gallery from this shoot makes me want to work with her again and again.

 Justine Caruso caught the makeup bug as a little girl while watching her mother get “made up” to go out. She has been in the makeup trade for over 20 years and is a long time member of the Bliss Hair Salon team specializing in bridal. Much of her technique is self-taught. She feels best when working alongside other artists and feeding off each other’s creativity.

Justine Caruso caught the makeup bug as a little girl while watching her mother get “made up” to go out. She has been in the makeup trade for over 20 years and is a long time member of the Bliss Hair Salon team specializing in bridal. Much of her technique is self-taught. She feels best when working alongside other artists and feeding off each other’s creativity.


Photography by Photo DH

This wedding photo began my relationship with Lia. She discovered my work…and I hers, the day Nicole Hunt got married. While Nicole is a gorgeous woman with striking features, I couldn’t stop looking at her hair. The curls were soft, full, and glamorous. This down-style created not only a working relationship between Lia and me but also a friendship. We have since shared many brides. When we talk creative, we finish each other’s sentences, and that can only be a benefit to any bride of ours.

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Bliss Hair Salon is a preferred vendor at several top wedding venue in NJ; Park Chateau, Park Savoy, Nanina’s in the Park, and The Legacy Castle. Lia arranged for us to do a styled shoot at the beautiful Park Savoy in Florham Park. We worked together to create several unique looks for Nicole. With Jaymo behind the lens, we all knew the results would be spectacular!

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It was a rainy, gloomy kind of day so we weren’t able to shoot on the grounds of The Park Savoy. Jaymo wished he had a bit more light but skillfully used every bit he had.

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Lia specializes in soft natural upstyles as well as down-styles. I hoped to revisit the softly curled down-style Nicole wore on her wedding day to showcase our newest hairpins. Lia nailed the look I had envisioned.

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This look is worth a million bucks.
— Marie Hunt
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When consulting with brides, Lia knows that her job is to create the hairstyle the bride has in her mind. Lia encourages the bride to choose a hairstyle that will show off her best features. She admits sometimes this can be a fragile moment. One thing she is sure of is that she will always give her best work to her brides. Having an open and honest connection brings comfort to her clients.

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An experienced stylist has no problem working with fine hair or curly hair. She loves it when a bride embraces her curls. Lia’s best technique is an excellent backcomb. It helps her exude confidence in her styling by keeping control of the style and not vice versa.

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You may be surprised. Unfortunately, many brides are scared of upstyles because they have had bad ones. My favorite look is a low soft piecey upstyle. I love it when it looks like it was effortless!
— Lia Zangari
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I watched as Lia took Nicole from a down-style to this stunning upstyle. I was in awe as she created this chignon fluidly as though she was dancing with the hair. As soon as she finished styling, I knew exactly how to accentuate her work with my accessory designs. I wanted that left side curl to pop!

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My Advice for the bride

Your bridal accessories and hairstyle have to work together “all day” on your wedding day. With a little thought, you should be able to enjoy beauty and comfort until the night’s end. I always offer my clients a few tips for their hair trial and actual wedding day.

  Photo by Erin Usawicz

Photo by Erin Usawicz

  • NO HAIRSPRAY on your headpiece! Even the most seasoned hairstylist can pick up the spray can out of habit to give it one last spritz. It will ruin your headpiece by taking the finish off of freshwater pearl and fog your crystal with an irremovable sticky coating. Over time this will discolor your stones.

  • There are many different options for fixing a veil to your hair. When you have a custom veil made there are tricks of the trade to make it fall more beautifully at the crown of your head or under a chignon. A regular metal comb isn’t always the best way to attach your veil.

  • Our headpieces and accessories are designed to be versatile and flexible allowing you and your stylist to be the ones to decide the final layout. A hair accessory doesn’t have to be big and chunky to produce incredible shine and be a statement. Hand-designed pieces are created specifically for “you and your hairstyle.”

  • A fun piece of advice is to consider changing your accessories and/or hairstyle for your reception. Ask your stylist about styles that are easy up/easy down and vice versa and practice. It is a great way to wow your guests and incorporate an extra look for your photographer to capture!

Next month on the Fourteenth:

A Return to Romance

Fourteenth: NOT Your Average Wedding Reception

Fourteenth: NOT Your Average Wedding Reception

Our fifteen months of wedding planning had come to an end. The Maffett wedding reception would be one for the history books.

Fourteenth: The Unpainted Wedding Canvas

Fourteenth: The Unpainted Wedding Canvas

Brielle and Alex's wedding day is eight months from today! Let's see where they will exchange their vows...and then taste some food.