Wedding day hair: We follow a bride-to-be on her hunt for a marriage-worthy style

Hair: Bride-to-be Carley Fortune on her hunt for a wedding day hairstyle
Hair: Bride-to-be Carley Fortune on her hunt for a wedding day hairstyle

Long before she said yes to the dress (or the oyster bar), bride-to-be Carley Fortune had a much more important decision to make: what to do with her hair.

By Carley Fortune

Last December, my boyfriend of seven years proposed, and we began planning an October wedding. I’d never daydreamed about my wedding day, and I took a pretty laid-back approach to the preparations, except for one minor detail—the hair. You see, my hair is my thing.

I remember flipping to the class survey results when the yearbooks were handed out in Grade 12. Among the winners for Most Popular and Best Athlete, as voted by the graduating class, was my name: Carley Fortune, Best Hair. I loved fashion when I was a teenager, too, but I was overweight, and tending to my hair was one way I felt I could experiment with style and trends. So I hot-rollered and braided, and twisted and crimped.

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I’m still enthralled by hair and spend an unhealthy amount of time looking at runway shots. I adore Charles Worthington’s work, think Paul Hanlon is a genius, and am hereby volunteering as chairperson for the Odile Gilbert fan club. Of the Fall 2012 shows, I’m particularly taken with the Peggy Moffitt–like mod mop top at Marni (that would be Hanlon’s work), the prim, romantic twists at Valentino (Guido Palau’s) and the not-so-precious ones at Mulberry (by Sam McKnight).

When it comes to creating my own coif, I experiment with different kinds of braids—I finally mastered the fishtail at 28—and I’ve nailed exactly how to make my natural curls very curly, sorta curly or totally straight. I like to think that I never have a bad hair day, and if I ever meet you, you can be sure that I’m checking out what’s going on above your eyebrows rather than the handbag you’re carrying. If a co-worker is heading to the salon, I’m her pre-cut consultant. This is not bragging; it’s a strange vice. Naturally, I channel this mania into a blog about hair (it’s called The Hair Blog). Because I talk so much about hair, some women think this means I’d make a good stylist, so this summer, I did a good friend’s hair on her wedding day.

Immediately after my own engagement, I began collecting images from websites of different styles I could do: a low, messy bun that Gwyneth Paltrow almost wore to the Oscars; Rosie Huntington-Whiteley with her hair swept back into a casual chignon with little braids. I wanted it off my face and out of the way for the ceremony and dinner, and then I’d let it down for the dancing. I met with Tim McClean, the updo guru at my salon. Tim doesn’t use bobby pins; he literally sews your hair in place with a needle and thread using a technique called threading. When you want to take it down, you snip the string and pull it out. It’s supposed to leave you with a nice bouncy look. Two hairstyles in one? Deal. Now I just had to figure out what to tell Tim to do with it.

I didn’t spend this much time fussing over any other part of the wedding (perhaps with the exception of the food). I had a friend do the invites, told my two friends who were standing up with me to pick their own dresses, booked the second venue we saw and the first officiant we spoke with. I’ve tried to keep my friends from hating me by limiting wedding talk—I don’t want to be that bride. But I made an exception for hair, and emailed them photos soliciting opinions. I posted options to my blog, hoping readers would weigh in. When I started getting emails to my work account from colleagues in the industry asking how the hairstyle hunt was going, I knew I’d gone too far. Then, one day, my mom sent me an email with the subject line “This one is awesome”—it was a photo of Glee’s Dianna Agron at the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, with a haphazard braid circling her head. That’s when I remembered how when I was little, my mom used to braid my hair into a similar crown around my head—she’d call me “precious princess.” I didn’t want to be a princess on my wedding day, but I knew that this was the one.

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