Elegant Wedding: From Head to Toe

Dress, shoes, veil … check, check, check. With everything else in place, it’s time to get the most important part ready for the Big Day: you. From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, we’ve asked local pros for their get-ready and get-fabulous tips on preparing your hair, brows, skin, teeth and nails to help you look your very best as you step into wedded bliss.


Dress, shoes, veil … check, check, check. With everything else in place, it’s time to get the most important part ready for the Big Day: you. From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, we’ve asked local pros for their get-ready and get-fabulous tips on preparing your hair, brows, skin, teeth and nails to help you look your very best as you step into wedded bliss.

Lovely Locks

For advice on achieving a shampoo commercial-worthy head of hair, we went straight to Laurentius Purnama, who’s been cutting, coloring and styling the strands of clients at Philadelphia’s Pierre & Carlo Salon & Spa at the Shops at the Bellevue for 10 years, and who’s worked with the manes of celebs including Britney Spears. To help get your hair healthy and wedding-ready, Purnama recommends a deep color-shine treatment a week before your wedding.

“It helps to give your hair a little extra luster,” he says. Pierre & Carlo offers a cellophane color-gloss treatment, during which your hair is wrapped in cellophane with an all-natural, heat-activated smoothing and shining product. “It smoothes the cuticle and helps to coat the hair with some protein, giving you a beautiful shine,” Purnama says. Prefer a DIY fix? Purnama’s top pick is Nioxin’s Intense Therapy Hydrating Hair Masque. “It’s a really great deep-conditioning treatment,” he says.

And to keep your hairdo from becoming a hair don’t, Purnama advises against drastically changing your hairstyle two to three months prior to your wedding — and don’t try a new hairstylist less than six months before your wedding. “I hear horror stories,” he says. “I had one bride who was having a trim by a new stylist, but the person ended up cutting off inches of her hair.”

Purnama’s most important tip? “Be yourself,” he says, “A little more glamorous, but be yourself.”

Perfect Arches

The days of pencil-thin, barely-there brows are over. If you were a slave to the tweezers, it’s time to put them down. “The first thing I do is tell brides to leave [their brows] alone,” says Melanie Engle, eyebrow specialist at Adolf Biecker Spa/Salon in Philadelphia and Strafford. “I find a lot of people overtweeze them. If they’re thin, begin to let them grow in — it can take several months.”

Engle advises brides-to-be to set up a consultation and initial shaping as soon as possible, as it can sometimes take up to a year to get a brow into shape. During the consultation, Engle will examine the brows you currently have, along with your face shape, eye shape, bone structure and hair-growth pattern to determine the best brow for you. Her general rule: Keep eyebrows in proportion to the size of your face and eyes. “If you have a fuller face or large eyes, I’d keep your brows fuller. If you’re a really petite, tiny person with tiny eyes, you’d want slightly thinner brows.”

For self-pluckers, proceed with caution. Engle uses a chubby concealer pencil or white eyeliner to go over hairs and “erase” them before plucking, allowing her to make adjustments and guarantee the brows are symmetrical before starting to tweeze; she recommends you do the same. Take care of areas below the brow and above the bridge of your nose, but leave trimming and plucking above your arches to the pros. “It’s an old wives’ tale not to pluck above the brow, but get it done professionally,” says Engle. A bit of clear eyebrow gel the day of, such as Laura Mercier’s nonsticky and nonhardening product, will keep your brows looking impeccable until the last dance.

Winning Skin

“It’s all about exfoliating, hydrating, nourishing and protecting from the sun and the environment,” says Danuta Mieloch, aesthetician and owner of Rescue Rittenhouse Spa in Philadelphia. Sound like a heavy-duty task? Relax, for your skin’s sake. Taking a few deep breaths can help your skin look its best for your walk down the aisle. “Stress is a big factor,” she says. “I recommend facials and exercise to improve circulation, a balanced diet and, obviously, drinking plenty of water. And learn how to relax.”

Mieloch’s first recommendation is a set of facials. Rescue Rittenhouse Spa’s 60-minute Bio-Lift Facial uses a microcurrent machine that helps facial muscles regenerate the skin, giving you a refreshed look. Best done one or two days before the wedding, the facial also includes a total cleansing, mild exfoliation, a massage, and a hydrating and regenerating mask. Another alternative is the quickie Valmont Renewing Pack, available at the spa. “It’s a nongreasy, fine-textured cream mask that is designed to be used as an express beauty boost,” she says. “Use it the day of your wedding. It helps to restore your skin’s natural balance, has an energizing action and it produces a unique sense of freshness and well-being upon application.”

To remove dull layers of dead skin for an instant refresher, Mieloch’s go-to exfoliator is Biologique Recherche’s P50, a vitamin-enriched lotion. “We call it a facial in a bottle,” she says. And to relieve eye puffiness, stock up on tea bags. Soak a few (either chamomile or regular English breakfast) and refrigerate for 15 minutes, then press them lightly to your eyes. “Chamomile and regular teas have a draining effect, and the coolness calms down the skin.”

For whole-body rejuvenation leading up to the wedding, sign up for the spa’s Cleopatra Treatment, during which you’ll be smothered in milk, honey and rose petals to hydrate and calm the skin. And to combat a dreaded last-minute breakout, Mieloch has a chilly solution: “An ice cube is a quick way to decrease the swelling and redness,” she says. “Apply it right on top [of the breakout area] and hold for a few minutes. And try not to touch!” Also look for products with benzoyl peroxide help to dry up any spots and banish breakouts.

And, of course: “The magical cover-up!” says Mieloch. “Thank God for makeup.”

Pearly Whites

For a picture-perfect smile, book a visit with your dentist early on. “Brides seem to wait until the last minute,” says Lisa McHugh, office manager at Bucks County Smiles in Yardley. “The sooner, the better.”

To brighten less-than-white teeth, McHugh says that Nite White, a take-home whitening kit available through your dentist, is the most effective solution. At $400, it’s a pricey product, but McHugh says that most dental offices offer deals for new patients or existing patients who refer others. The trays last forever, and the $31 bleaching gel refills last for about two years. Patients apply the gel to custom-made trays and wear them to bed for two weeks. Results last for several months, or until natural staining occurs; to boost your brightness for Big Day photos, use the gel two days before your wedding.

On the other end of the spending spectrum, Crest Whitestrips, available at most drug stores for $25, are another way to whiten. “They will work for some people to a point,” says McHugh. “If you apply them really well and have straight teeth, you can get great results.”

To straighten your incisors without a mouthful of metal, McHugh recommends Invisalign — retainerlike, removable aligners. “Depending on what you have to move, give yourself six months to a year and a half, wear these invisible trays and it gives you the effect of wearing braces,” she says. “It moves and straightens your teeth.”

When it comes to the best tools for your teeth, opt for antimicrobial mouthwashes like Listerine, invest in some floss and leave the flashy whitening pastes on the shelves. “Use the good old-fashioned toothpaste with fluoride, peroxide and baking soda,” says McHugh. And though leaving yourself plenty of time to prep those pearly whites is ideal, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist, even if you’ve waited until the last minute.

Polished Nails

Bid adieu to long, daggerlike nails and toss your Lee Press Ons. For knockout nails, a little pampering goes a long way. “We try to make everybody’s natural nails look as good as they can,” says Melissa Shertz, a manager at Ame Salon and Spa in Wayne. “People are keeping away from the really long look. The natural look is best, especially for your wedding day.”

For brides, the classic, ever-fresh French manicure is the most popular, according to Shertz. Good news for those nail-biting brides-to-be: “The French manicure actually gives the illusion that the nails are longer,” she says. But don’t start nail-gnawing yet: The biggest problem Shertz sees is people with chewed, stubby nails wanting them long. But Ame steers away from acrylic nails. “It’s a lot of upkeep, and the nails [underneath] become brittle and flaky,” she says.

To help stop nail-biters, Shertz advises getting regular manicures. “When you have polish on your nails and they look nice, you’re less prone to bite them.” And she should know. “That’s how I stopped biting my nails,” she says.

For more purposeful pampering, Ame offers a Triple Dip manicure, a hot paraffin-wax treatment that helps to break down dead skin. Ame’s signature treatment, the Sake Manicure, uses — you guessed it — sake as its main ingredient to help soften cuticles and the skin around your nails. “It’s a hidden secret that sake is a natural softener,” Shertz says.

Shertz swears by Lippmann Collection Hard Rock nail polish by Deborah Lippmann to help make nails strong as, well, nails. Containing nutrients that help strengthen your nails, the clear polish prevents chipping, breaking and flaking. On the softer side, the superthick and moisturizing Rich Girl hand lotion from Lippmann Collection — a favorite at Ame — will keep the skin around your nails silky and smooth.