Buck the Trend: Alternative Bridal Hair
Hair up? Hair down? Dyed? Highlights? Natural?
Deciding on bridal hairstyles for the nuptials brings a surprising amount of stress for many brides. Therefore, it goes without saying that finding the right stylist can be critical to ensuring you love the final result. Add in the aspect of belonging to the rainbow community, and suddenly the idea of needing a safe space comes into play.
Sica Dawn, stylist and owner of the Fox Den Salon, says that people travel to her Uptown location from as far away as North Dakota in the quest for a safe space. “Although that is really a huge compliment, something has to change,” she exclaims. “There is a need for better visibility for safe spaces for grooming, an increase in mutually accepted language and vocabulary in the industry, and hopefully, by discussing it in an easy-going way that is accessible to all, free of the barriers that keep so many in our community from being able to actualize their true selves!”
Passionate about helping everyone find the style to match their true selves, Dawn is constantly looking for ways to make her salon more inclusive of identities. “One thing that we have realized in our quest for inclusion is that no one is really out there helping to answer many of the questions that those in transition have, firsthand, about how to realize the physical transformation that they are looking to achieve,” she shares. “Whether it be assisting those that are early in their transition to find safe spaces and allies in the beauty and grooming industry, or assisting them with what language to use in achieving their goals for realizing their true identity (even a ton of cis-gendered folks don’t know the difference between a bob and a pixie, in all fairness), we want to help!”
Fox Den Salon has been around since 2007 and has been working with the community ever since. The smaller five-chair shop has a drive to do great, interesting hair, as well as being focused on the community and its needs. According to Dawn, “Being in the area that we are, it is really important for us to be versatile enough to execute fashion-forward trends and alternative styles, as well as please our conservative and middle-of-the-road clients, while being aware of, and sensitive to, the needs of all of our existing and potential clients.”
She cites the mission of the salon as not only a place to go to get one’s hair done, but also a place to gather, feel safe, and to provide resources for “the various communities that we are a part of.” Outwardly, Fox Den Salon participates in numerous causes and events to benefit the GLBT community, and, internally, Dawn and her staff have worked hard to be an inclusive, safe space for all people, regardless of their identity, including regular staff meetings involving inclusive language, appropriate pronoun usage discussions, the ungendering of their service language, and educating themselves about various community resources to connect others to in the event that they are unaware of them.
One way in which Dawn and her team of stylists serve the community is creating wedding styles that every bride will love, from the traditional to more modern, alternative designs. Dawn sees Minnesota as a unique space to live, with so many things to enjoy and experience, and the variety in wedding venues reflects that notion. Whether you’re someone that enjoys the metropolitan nightlife, the scenic countryside, or something you really can’t find anywhere else, like saying your vows amid the world-famous art at the Walker Art Center or overlooking one of the thousands of lakes that we are known for, local couples are at a distinct advantage to find that special niche out there that really shows the world who they are on their special day. We have everything from historic mansions to wineries to large, posh event centers and twinkle-light-filled barns that can host any kind of wedding a couple may want to have.
There are so many wonderful and inspiring local resources to make the day a once-in-a-lifetime event that really represents the individuals. And your hair can reflect that individuality; there is no need to fit neatly inside a cookie-cutter bridal box if you don’t want to.
“One of the top trends that I have seen recently is the inclination for brides to just be themselves,” Dawn says. “Gone are the days of dreading to grow out the hair in order to achieve the idyllic up-do, French-twist, or chignon. Here (hopefully to stay!) are the days of brides showing off their individuality, and actually looking like themselves. They’re sporting shaved sides and designs, short bobs, and pops of the vivid colors that they enjoy wearing in their daily wear. Brides are really utilizing their own personalities in a way we haven’t seen before.”
Wedding hair has always had its own personality, but with the help of social media and all of the resources out there, Dawn says her brides are able to better match the hair that they want to their own personal style. Just taking a glance at bridal magazines or Pinterest, brides can see that big trends in modern bridal hair cross the genres, from vintage, classic style inspiration, big volume, and soft and sweet romantic hair, to embracing natural textures and curls and featuring textures in the style by using braiding and twisting.
“So many styles right now involve the illusive ‘up but down… down but up’ description,” Dawn shares. “It’s where our brides want to have the look of soft down hair, but count on their coif staying controlled through all of the vows, hugs, and dancing that they’re going to be doing on the big day.”
According to Dawn, the one constant across all of the styles right now are the accessories. Jazzing up even the simplest “undone up-do” are ribbons, hair necklaces, tiaras, hair tattoos, vintage hair combs, head bands, flower crowns and, yes, coming down the wedding runways this season, even butterfly clips. These accessories aren’t always taking the place of the traditional veil, either. Often they are in addition to the veil, or attached post-veil for the reception to add a little extra something to their style.
Some brides picture their wedding day all their lives, while others thought the day would never happen for them. Whatever the case may be, Dawn and her team love talking with brides about what their vision for themselves entails. She says determining what a bride is going to look like on their wedding day involves having open and direct communication with the bride-to-be about who they are, what they want, and what is possible.
“Talking to a professional that will be honest, but impartial, about how something more alternative or trendy, versus a look that is more classic, will work in conjunction with the bride’s personal style and the styling of the wedding itself, is a really important step for a bride,” she says. “Many of us have worked for years as stylists, talking not just to brides on their big day, but maintaining relationships with them afterwards. That gives us insight and the hindsight to know what styles have worked well, and what trends didn’t age as well with time, as the brides might have hoped. That experience helps identify the styles and trends that are going to be the best moving forward for our new brides.”
While there are very few things Dawn would try to talk a bride out of, she says there are always things about each style that she would want them to consider before committing to a look. “The secret about wedding stylists is that we want your day to go as seamlessly as possible and be something you can look back on happily for a long time to come,” she shares. “We want to give you the curls that will last in your hair type the longest, the volume that fits your face shape, the bangs that won’t go crazy when you dance, and the color that will be an iconic representation of who you are in that moment. Sometimes some things don’t fit every criteria for longevity, but a good stylist isn’t going to talk you ‘out’ of a certain style, as much as we will talk you ‘in’ to the other more viable option for your situation.”
Dawn’s first advice is that in bridal hair, as in life, surround yourself with people that make you feel good, but aren’t afraid to be honest. The best way to do that is to use your community: if you have a go-to stylist, salon, or hair-savvy friend, ask them if they do hair, or know of a stylist that they think would be a good fit for you.
“Not all bridal stylists are created equal, and there is someone out there for every bride,” she says. “It is about finding a stylist that understands who you are and your vision for the day, not about you fitting into their vision of what a bride should be. Find someone you connect with, then move forward from there, not just someone whose schedule matches yours.”
There are countless stylists out there that are well-versed in traditional and non-traditional styling, and many of them are happy to open up early or travel to accommodate for bridal schedules and wedding parties. Dawn is adamant: there is no reason that anyone has to settle for a stylist that they don’t absolutely love on their big day. According to Dawn, it’s all about doing the research while also following your instincts.
“Does this stylist have a portfolio to look at, or seem comfortable with doing what you ask?” she says. “Do they have insights to add to the conversation, or are they overly agreeable and promise the moon without knowing how to build a rocket ship? Many stylists want to make their clients happy, bolstering the motto ‘Fake it till you make it” with a smile on our faces, but sometimes that zealousness to satisfy our customers doesn’t always translate to the ability to execute the long-lasting style that the bride needs.”
Above all, Dawn says to make sure that you feel good about the person that you are working with, and verify that they are prepared and capable of meeting all of your needs before you rule out your other options. “Even for a non-traditional bride, the day of the wedding is a crummy time to have to concede your vision to meet the reality of a stylist that can’t help you achieve it.”