A few weeks back, after I contacted more than a half dozen hairdressers and makeup artists only to hear that they were booked for our big day, I had a bit of a panic attack. (OK, hyperbole.) But I did worry that I'd waited so long that I'd have to sacrifice quality to book someone at all. 

Luckily, that wasn't necessary. Having met Fringe and Foundation Studio at the Boutique Bridal Bazaar, where they'd applied my first-ever airbrush makeup, I made them one of the first salons I contacted. Upon discovering that they were available (!) and willing to travel to our hotel the morning of, I booked a hair and makeup trial.

First, a bit of advice that I gathered before my visit:

1) Have an idea of what you want. I brought 11 printouts of hairstyles I liked so that Allison Bates, who 
opened Fringe and Foundation roughly three years ago, could glean what I liked. I also brought a printout of my dress so she could advise me knowing full well what I'll be wearing.

2) Just as importantly, be open to ideas you didn't think up, Allison advises. Too often, brides have a preconceived notion about what they must look like, and for one reason or another, it's not what they end up liking the best, she added.

An example: I had been strict about it. I had to wear my hair in its natural curls because that's how I always wear my hair. That's ME. But... as the trial continued and Allison (after asking, I might add) started curling some of my hair with the iron, I realized I liked the softer look of the curling iron curl better.

Here are the first two styles she tried, with my natural curl:
Then, Allison asked if she could curl ... my curly hair. 
And I liked it ... more. I questioned, at first, whether I was straying too far from ME, something Allison said she's found in her 30-plus years of experience that both brides and grooms tend to end up disliking. Many brides come in wanting a look straight out of a magazine, only to realize that they don't like the look on themselves. Sometimes, it's too glamorous. Sometimes, the bride-to-be's hair is thin and the model's is thick and coarse, or vice versa. Sometimes, the lipstick is too red. (And -- this definitely got my attention -- Allison said it's grooms who most often don't like the over-the-top looks.)

"You can have glamour and you can have a beautiful wedding style without looking like you're not you," Allison said. "He's marrying you because he already loves you, because he thinks you're beautiful."

Though, yes, the curls I've found that I like best aren't my own, I reminded myself that it's not every day that I wear airbrush makeup and a white dress either. It's a day for going a little elevated, right?

3) Speaking of that white dress, one important piece of advice I followed is: Wear a shirt whose neckline and color is close to that of your gown. It enables you to see how the hairstyles you try will plug in with the rest of the look you're planning.

4) Also, bring any veil, tiara or headband you plan to wear to the hair and makeup trial. Same reasons as No. 3: You'll want to see how everything ties together as best you can before the big day.

5) Here's a list of 20 questions to ask a makeup artist that I found on a website. I asked the hairdressers I vetted many of the same questions because they apply to hair, too.

Styling hair was supposed to be what put Allison through medical school. She wanted to be a doctor, started hairdressing as what was supposed to be a temporary paycheck, decided to get her license and the rest is history. "I kept thinking, 'Oh, I'll do it (medical school) next year,'" she said. But what she found was the career she hadn't planned on ended up being the one she really enjoyed and did well.

Allison is definitely a force of calm, an intangible quality I liked about her. She has a know-how air about her, and she whipped up looks on me that made it clear that she a) was skilled and quick and b) was listening. Many of the looks we tried incorporated details from my 11 printouts.

Here's my favorite of the day, from three different angles, which leads me to tip No. 6.

6) Have someone take pictures of each hairstyle you try from the front, both sides and behind. You will be photographed more on your wedding day than any other day, so it's important to know (and like) your angles. Special thanks to my fellow curly-haired friend, Emily, for being my photographer on this day.
The seventh tip I have to offer may not be for everyone. In fact, I almost didn't follow it. 

7) Allison actually recommended showing the hairstyles to Steven, something I wasn't sure I wanted to do. He hasn't seen my dress, and we both like the element of surprise that still exists because he hasn't.

But, I asked him and he said he wanted to see them. And, while he liked the updo, he expressed a hint of disappointment that I wasn't planning to wear some of my hair down like we'd discussed; he likes its length and an updo certainly won't put that on display. It was just a hint, but it was enough: In the coming weeks, Allison and I have plans to try a few half up, half down looks, including one like the inspiration I'd seen at a bridal show this past winter.

Finally, I'll say this:

8) Give some consideration to airbrush makeup. Kim, who did my makeup during this trial, says it stays on incredibly well, which is pretty important on a day when you'll be touching faces with family and friends more than you usually do. And, I can only speak for myself, but the airbrush makeup makes me feel like I look flawless. Here's a picture of me with my makeup complete (and updo undone).
You know Michelle feels pretty when she's taking *selfies* in her rearview. If they can make me feel this way on an ordinary Saturday, I knew I could entrust Fringe and Foundation Studio to make me feel radiant on our wedding day, too.

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