Step 1. Take a long-term approach
See your hairdresser as soon as you decide to marry. Do you need to grow your hair? Maybe you want to grow out a colour or perm. Is your hair in poor condition and in need of lots of TLC, regular trims and nourishing conditioning treatments to get it back on track? The more time you have to prepare your hair before the wedding, the more likely you are to look exactly as you've dreamed.
Step 2. Book your appointments
You also want to book your appointments for the day itself – hairdressers can be as popular with brides as scenic churches on summer Saturdays in particular (don't forget to book for a dry run beforehand, too, to make sure you're totally happy with the style you'll be wearing). And find out your stylist's prices so you can start building your beauty budget into the financial plan. They generally charge what they would earn in the salon for the time they'll be out of it, which includes travel time, too – in which case it's cheaper to visit them at the salon before the ceremony. Don't forget to factor in your bridesmaids and close relatives whom you'll want looking their best.
Step 3. Choose the dress
Choose your bridal outfit before choosing your style. Fussy collars or high necks look best with hair out of the way, piled on top of the head to create balance. Bare shoulders, however, work with hair down or up – although dressing hair on top of the head draws the eye upwards, creating a long line from below the neck that's elegant and supremely flattering. If your dress is elaborate, keep your hairstyle simple so you don't distract from the big story. Basically, look at what's happening with your hair and your outfit between your décolleté and your jawline and make sure the two don't fight.
And don't forget your headdress. Whether it's a veil or a circlet of flowers, it needs to be incorporated into the style.
Step 4. Coordinate your colour
If you're going for a new colour, try it out six months before the wedding so you have chance to repair or correct if it's not to your liking (and also for you and your partner to get used to it – you don't want to look like a stranger at your wedding). Then have it done again within two weeks of the wedding to eliminate roots on the big day and through your honeymoon, with maybe a vegetable rinse – sometimes called a colour gloss – on top for extra shine as near to the day as possible.
Step 5. Go for a dry run
Have a dress rehearsal within two weeks of the wedding to ensure your style works with your outfit – and make-up, if possible. Consider what you're going to do with your hair if you're changing from your bridal outfit during the reception – will your style comb out well or can your stylist advise you on an in-between style you can create yourself? On the day, make sure a bridesmaid is carrying grips, a tail comb (you need the pointed end to tease out any dressed sections that may collapse during the day) and a handbag-sized can of hairspray for last-minute support or repair work.