Skipping the salon can be a big money saver for budget-conscious brides, but how do you make a DIY 'do stand out from the every day?
Sarah Potempa, a New York hairstylist who coiffs models and celebrities for runway shows and fashion magazine shoots, describes how to glam up a tousled down-do and bring elegance to a classic bun — all by yourself (or with the help of trusty bridesmaids).
A word of caution: Always do a practice run before your big day, and take pictures, to make sure it's the look you want and that you can pull it off.
After washing your hair, figure out where you'll want your part. A middle part is more relaxed. A side part is more old-Hollywood glamour.
Loosely blow-dry (don't straighten) your hair, flipping your head down to get some volume at the roots. When it's 80 percent dry, use a brush to smooth down the ends. Optional: Apply a soft mousse while your hair is still damp (Potempa likes Aussie's "Catch the Wave Mousse and Leave-in Conditioner").
Once it's completely dry, separate the left and right halves of your hair and bring them forward, as though you're making pigtails. Starting on one side, separate the top 3/4 of your hair and clip it out of the way, leaving you with a row of hair at the bottom of your head. You will be curling by section, starting at the back and working your way forward.
Holding the curling iron upside down, so that the handle is pointing to the ceiling, clamp the first 1-inch section of hair at the base of the iron. Rotate the iron away from your head so that your hair forms a spiral up the shaft of the iron, stopping when you get close to the roots. Hold it for 10 seconds (up to 15 seconds if you have very fine hair), then pull the iron out. Do not run your fingers through the curl yet.
Repeat for each one-inch section of hair, working from back to front. When the bottom row is done (usually two or three curls), release the clip to separate the next row up (about 1.5-inch wide) and do the same thing. Then do the next row up, etc. Once that side of your head is finished, do the other side, always going from back to front, bottom to top, rotating the iron away from your face.
With the curls still intact, spritz your hair with a hair spray that is both flexible and strong hold. Then run your fingers through your hair. If you have hair that easily holds curl, you could run your fingers through before applying hair spray. If you have very fine hair, consider spraying before you start curling.
If you have kinks or frizz around your hairline, use a small touch-up straightening iron to smooth them out (and bring it with you for emergency touch-ups).
Save time: Save half an hour by using the Beachwaver, a new motorized rotating curling iron from Potempa. The Beachwaver does the rotating for you and has a switch that specifies whether you're working on your right side or left side, so that all the waves go in the right direction. $179 at qvc.com
(For hair that's mid-neck and longer)
Once you achieve beachy waves, pull your hair into a low ponytail, either at the back of your head or to the side, and secure with a rubber band.
Twist your ponytail and wrap it around itself, pinning as you go. Let wisps fall out. To create more wisps and texture, trying separating your ponytail in two and tying it in a knot before wrapping and pinning.
Save pins: A handy tool is Potempa's Wrap-up, which is like a stiff scrunchy. You slide it down to the bottom of your ponytail, roll it up toward your head, bend the edges to snap it into place, then pull your hair over the edges to make it disappear. $12 at sarahpotempa.com
(For hair that's shoulder length or longer)
After washing and loosely blow-drying your hair, straighten your hair in sections using a straightening iron.
Spray flexible/strong hold hair spray onto a flat brush and brush your hair into a low ponytail, no more than an inch above the base of your hair. A trick: Spray the top of your head and roll the metal spray can over your roots to smooth flyaways.
Work an anti-frizz cream through the ponytail and twist it to the ends, then wrap it around itself. Insert two large 2-inch hairpins to find the shape. Insert 2-inch bobby pins wherever necessary to secure the shape.
Spray with a flexible/strong hold spray. Wrap a hairnet over the bun to keep it in place until it's time to walk down aisle.
Wedding 'do how-to for budget brides
Get Charlize Theron's beachy, tousled 'do. (Jason Merritt, Getty Images / January 15, 2012)