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  • Writer's pictureCarleana

Bridal Trends Be Damned

As I’m sitting here, eye balls deep, into this year’s bridal season, I keep catching myself reflecting on the trends of the past.

I’m always fascinated with the notion that everything surrounding the beauty industry is so cyclical. Everything comes and goes and then reinvents itself and comes back again! I’s an ever evolving merry go round and we all get to take a ride.

Case in point: Eyebrows! We have gone from pencil thin in the 1920s to thick and bold a la Brooke Shields in the 1980s and back and forth a hundred times over, to bring us to our current brow climate!

Thinking back over my career alone (since 2002) I have seen bridal norms change drastically. Some things have changed specifically due to technology and others because of fashion shifts.

When a bride came into the salon for a trial updo 15 years ago, she brought tangible, printed pictures of what she wanted. These pictures were either tore from the pages of a bridal magazine or printed from a home computer. (Generally with a low ink cartridge Which resulted in funky coloring and awkward horizontal lines throughout the picture. But if you quieted you could see the detail...kinda... sorta...a little.)

Now, brides come into the salon with an arsenal of inspiration photos that they’ve pinned and archived on Instagram and The Knot ! It’s not any better or worse, just different and updated. I thought nothing of the shabbily home printed pictures of the past, that’s what we had to work with. As a matter of fact, if they came in with any photo at all, in the early 2000s, they were over achievers!

This idea also applied to directions for on location bookings. My amazingly organized brides of this era had printed out Map Quest directions for me. I didn’t have a phone/pocket computer/map in my back pocket. No one did. We had real paper maps, baby! Now you can figure out the way home via the Map Quest directions backwards, which was always a treat. (If you took a right turn onto Highway 92 then to go home you have to take a left, etc...)

Another shift in bridal trends in the coveted season to say ‘I do”.

I believe there is a strong connection to the trending color pallets people want to use and the season they choose to wed.

If a couple gets married in the Autumn, there is a solid possibility that they are drawn to warm earthy tones and deep plums and reds. Lots of burnt orange and chocolate browns tend to be used in this season as well.

As a hair stylist, I saw a huge swing toward late Summer and early Fall weddings about five or six years ago. My weekends were packed from August through November with bridal parties galore. At this time I had very few Spring or early Summer weddings. Again, I believe that the color pallet reflects that prevalent choice. Pastels, which are traditionally a Spring thing, were not the ‘in’ choice at the time.

When I was new to the bridal business, I booked mostlySpring and Summer weddings. Brides didn’t start requesting late Summer and Autumn dates, with any regularity, until around 2010.

I know that the market will differ from one region or country to the next. These are the norms that I noticed in the MidWest.

Actual hair styling has changed immensely.

I’ve watched the ‘hair mass’ or ‘bulk’ migrate from the high point of the head, down to the nape, over to the side for an asymmetrical look and back again. We’ve incorporated braids in recent years, when in the past they were considered somewhat juvenile. We’ve seen pretty and delicate be replaced with texture and grit. Feminine and soft passed over for smooth and sleek.

Every fad or vogue trend will come into the spot light for a time, fade into the back ground and then reappear years later, reinvented.

When planning a wedding, I think every bride, at some point or another thins, “Is this too trendy? Am I going to look back at this in twenty years and wonder why i chose such a hideous...?”

The answer is certainly, yes! But, that’s okay! Everyone made fun of the ‘sea foam green’ and ‘peach‘ of the 80s for years. Recently designers have renamed similar colors ‘sage’ and ‘blush’. Most of us embraced this and thought of the renamed pastels as new and fresh!

Every bride should do what makes them feel gorgeous, trends be damned!!

To touch back of the brow trends again quickly...

Back in my earliest days of working with brides, if I came anywhere near their brows with a pencil or filler they would recoil and gasp, “What are you doing?!” With wild eyes and distrust. As though I was coming at them with a black Sharpie marker! i would then have to calmly explain to them (like calling a reluctant kitten out from under the bed) that it was a light, matte, shadow that just fills the natural brow in slightly And everyone photographs better with a little brow definition.

This is a stark contrast to the current, full, thick brow fashion trend where brides sit in my chair for makeup and say ‘I like a dark, bold brow.’ Before we even get started. By the way, I think some of my current brides would be just fine with the Sharpie idea!

Let’s chat about all some hair bling options!


I’ve noticed a huge shift in how brides have approached veil choice and placement.

For a long time my bride‘s hair was piled high and structured up top. Almost out of necessity, the veil was spilling out from underneath the bulk of the hair. It was made of a delicate tulle and reached to approximately elbow length.

About ten years ago a lot of brides decided to forego the veil altogether. We also went through a short retro, bird cage veil era since then ( which I still love by the way!)

Currently, brides are opting for more fullness and length for their veils. Wearing them higher on the head above the hair mass, instead of below.Many modern brides are opting to remove their veils after the ceremony to show off the intricacies in their updo for the reception. Also, thanks to the recent royal weddings, no doubt, I’ve seen a lot of cathedral length veils, cascading down to the floor and many additional feet behind the bride.


You were probably a mid 2000s bride! It seemed that every bride wanted a structured, polished mass of curls at the crown of their head with a tiara perched just in front. We are also seeing a tiara resurgence currently.

Some of my sentimental brides have chosen to adorn their hair with family heirloom pieces, instead of something new from the bridal store that matches all the other bling she’ll wear on her big day. Nestling an important piece of jewelry or Grandma’s favorite brooch into the hair is a lovely nod to tradition. Being a sentimental fool myself, I love this idea!


Baby’s breath? Many people associate the delicate, little white puffs as an out of date 1980s/1990s fad or a cheap filler. More recently, if you got hitched between 2015 and 2017 you were likely in the mason jar and baby’s breath era. It was simple and sweet and went well with the beginning of the fashionable barn wedding phase.

Succulents, greenery and small cactuses have been on the scene recently too. I’ve seen brides use tiny succulents in their hair, bouquets, boutonnieres and additions to center pieces.

I’ve placed fresh flowers from a local farmer’s market, handmade paper posies, silk flowers, flower crowns and any other variety imaginable in my brides‘ hair over the years.

Fresh flowers are always a lovely addition to your lockes when you just can’t seem to find the right thing. They can add a bit of color or whimsy to the brides’ hair, or the entire bridal party’s look. The perfect touch for an outdoor ceremony or garden wedding.

Currently, things seem to be a bit softer and undone, lower to the nape or partially down. My brides this season are loving romantic tendrils that cascade down seemingly, effortlessly. They like the whimsy that surrounds the entire bohemian look. Lots of texture and braiding Are bing incorporated into today’s looks. One bride described her perfect wedding hair as ‘classically boho’, which I think fits well!

In the end, as a professional hair stylist, it’s my job to help the bride feel gorgeous on her wedding day. Help her find her perfect hair style to compliment her overall look, including her dress, jewelry, face shape, hair texture and vibe.

I love being a part of the wedding day! The glimpse into the relationships amongst sisters and friends behind the scenes and getting to see the joy on everyone’s face. Especially the bride, when she gets to see her vision of herself, on her wedding day, come together.

It’s pure and incomparable.

Thank you for visiting Hairpins and Happiness!!

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