Destination Wedding Hair-Do’s and Hair-Don’ts… Nails and Makeup too!

It’s a beautiful day on Vieques Island! The big Martineau Bay hotel on Vieques closed at the end of August for an enormous planned renovation. Supposedly, it will be a W Resort and Spa when it re-opens in a few years. That’ll be posh — but totally un-Vieques. So it will be interesting to see how it impacts the island. Meanwhile, it’s already having an impact on wedding planning because they also closed the spa and salon that we wedding planners had come to rely on!

There used to be more independent hair stylists and nail artists on Vieques, back before the hotel opened five or so years ago. But after the big spa and salon came into play, a lot of the little guys went out of business. Now the hotel is gone and we’re struggling a bit.

In my constant quest to offer all of my brides the best vendor options, I went and got a pedicure yesterday just to check one place out. Glad I did it for business purposes, but I feel sorry for my feet. I have more polish on my toes than on my toe nails. It got me thinking about the numerous reasons not to do some of the things that you might do if you were getting married at home.

No matter what destination wedding spot you choose, have your bridesmaids get their manis/pedis before they get to the island. Tell them to bring their polish with them for touch ups, but don’t try to schedule everybody for nails. Do you really want to spend your time on an island sitting around a nail salon? Even if they come to you, wouldn’t you rather be on the beach? The exception to the rule is the bride. If you’re arriving a few days before your wedding, you should have plenty of time to get those things done. But don’t complicate your life by treating your bridesmaids to that stuff after they arrive unless you have one that shows up with feet that look like hooves. If you want to do something special for them, tell your wedding planner and she’ll have some brilliant ideas!

Okay, wedding hair is another interesting topic in the Caribbean. Forget wispy tendrils framing your face — the Caribbean can be hot and sticky, and you’re going to be a little tense and more likely to sweat on your wedding day. If you’re going to wear your hair up, wear it all up. Unless you’re one of those girls who never, ever wears her hair down, you’re likely to get sick of the hot sticky feeling on your neck if you wear it down. If you have curly hair that gets bigger and curlier in a humid environment, don’t plan to wear your hair blown out straight. It’ll take hours and last for 15 minutes, tops. Either go curly, or wear it up in a tight bun. The hairdresser you use on the island should know how to handle both frizzy and curly appropriately — take her advice! Don’t insist that something CAN be done if the professional you’ve hired to do it tells you it can’t be.

Sometimes I find it helpful, especially with large bridal parties, to have the bride email me pictures of the bridesmaids in advance. I give them to the hairdresser and she gets a better idea of what she’s working with. If you’ve got anyone with exceptional hair issues, let the hairdresser know in advance so she can be prepared to take extreme measures.

If you have African-American hair, or you have a bridesmaid who does, be sure to let the hairdresser know. Coarse hair is nothing new in the Caribbean, as most of the natives are some combination of Latino, African and Indian. But if your wedding planner has hooked you up with a gringa hairdresser, make sure she is prepared to handle both kinds of hair so you don’t end up in an embarrassing situation with any of your bridesmaids. My black bridesmaid chose to bring her hairdo with her in a box. The hairdresser pulled her hair back and attached the hairpiece and she ended up having a better-looking do than any of the rest of us. There’s a lesson in that somewhere. Have hair, will travel…

Getting your makeup done professionally for a destination wedding can also be a challenge if you’re not staying in a big resort with a spa. No matter where you are, bring your makeup with you and insist they use it. Go to someplace high-end at home and have them do your makeup and buy the products that they use. If you REALLY like what they do, get a friend to take notes on it and try to replicate it yourself at home. You might be happier with the way you look in pictures if you do it yourself or have a friend do it. If you really, really must hire a makeup artist, insist they use the products you’ve brought with you. First, the hygiene standards for makeup artists may not be as high wherever you happen to be and you don’t need the pink-eye the last bride left on her mascara wand. Second, anybody with sensitive skin can have a reaction to unusual brands of products on the first try — and God knows that some of the stuff they may use down here hasn’t been approved by the FDA. Third, leave yourself enough time after your makeup appointment to wash your face and start completely over if that’s necessary.

Hopefully you’ve employed the services of a reputable wedding planner who will advise you on all the particulars of the destination you’ve chosen, and who will guide you to the best hairdresser, nail tech, and makeup artist on the island. There are some excellent ones around — you just have to know where to look!

Happy Wedding Planning!
Sandy

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