A wedding is a once--or twice--in your lifetime experience. You'll want your hair, along with everything else, to be just the way you've always imagined.
Here are some tips on how to choose a wedding hair style:
Your Fantasy Wedding Hair. If she's willing to admit it, a woman will tell you that since childhood, she's had at least some fantasies about her future wedding. Even the tomboy of all tomboys has thought of her wedding at least once or twice. Even if you have only visited the idea occasionally, when you DID fantasize about your wedding, what was your hair like? Was it in a sleek French twist with a few wisps trailing to the nape of your perfumed neck? Did you unleash your hair to tumble to your shoulders as your groom carried you over the threshold? Admit to your fantasies ahead of time so that they won't come back later to haunt you.
Fantasy Meets Reality. Sometimes your fantasy hair is a long way from your reality hair. If you have short, thin hair, you'll have to consider extensions if you want a Rapunzel-like mane trailing behind you. In short, you need to recognize how far you have to go to get from here to there. If you think you might want your hair up in a chignon minus the bangs, you had better start growing those bangs out now.
Peruse the Options. The number of hairstyles online is astounding. You'll find galleries of hair styles for hair ranging from curly to straight to ethnic and styles from sleek to pleated to bouffant. My personal favorite is Ideas From France, probably in part because the web site is in French, c'est vrai. But the idea is to expand your horizons a bit, find out what appeals to you, and print out those styles that sing to you so that you can share them with your stylist.
Consult a Professional. In addition to finding a professional stylist who you feel comfortable with, who feels confident working with your type of hair, who you can afford, and who is available on your wedding day, there are still a few more things you need to consider, and for this, you'll need to revisit your wedding fantasies again. Rewind to the morning of: Do you see yourself striding boldly from a downtown salon, hair freshly coiffed, entourage in tow, or is your fantasy more of the in-my-bathrobe-with-the-stylist-at-my-home variety? You'll need to make sure the stylist will conduct a home visit if that's what you have in mind, and that you have the accessories she'll need to give you the wedding hair of your dreams (think sink, outlets, lighting). Your stylist will have plenty of questions for you, too, ranging from whether or not you'll be wearing a veil to when she can expect to be paid for her wedding day work. You'll want to work all of these details out ahead of time so there won't be any last-minute glitches come the big day.
Your Dress. Unless you're wearing a distinctly period piece, i.e. flapper, you don't need to worry too much about matching your wedding hair style with your wedding dress. You'll definitely want to see how your hair relates to your neckline, but chances are it will look great up or down. However, if you are having a very formal wedding, you will want to take things up a notch by wearing your hair up.
Prepare to Pay. Someone has to break this to you and it might as well be me: You'll have to pay for your hair styling just like you're paying for everything else (read "through your nose"). If it seems like everything costs more than it does normally, you're experiencing what I call "the wedding surcharge." Things do cost more when you're getting married -- people charge up to 25% more for their services because, well, because they can. But when it comes to saving dollars, you definitely do not want to scrimp on your hair.
Practice Run. A practice run is just what it sounds like. The stylist creates the hair style you've agreed upon ahead of time so that you can see how you like it. If you have given your stylist carte blanche (to do whatever moves her on that day), you do run the danger of liking your practice run style better than that of your wedding day. But even if you've given your stylist carte blanche, a practice run gives you the chance to see what she does and if, in general, you like her style. Give her feedback--a little more height on top, some loose wispy curls--this is your chance to hone your wedding hair style vision. The practice run might seem like an unnecessary expense but it will put your mind at ease and peace of mind is priceless.
Accessories. Remember the amazing variety of accessories that are available for your hair, from pearl pins to hair combs to flowers to tiaras. If you're wearing a veil, that needs to be integrated into your choice of accessories as well. If you've always wanted to wear a tiara, this is a great opportunity to do so and I would take it. You can go over the top and back down and up the other side again if that's what you want--it's your wedding, after all.
When you choose your wedding hair style--and everything else wedding-related--pay attention to what you want and go with it. Oh yea, and make sure you have the right guy!