Stephanie Hodges: Taking The Fear Out of Special-Event Styling

Before I had the courage to do special-event styling, I was on social media trying to set myself apart from other very talented stylists. I started something called “365 Days of Braids” on Instagram.

At the time I was a colorist, and didn’t know the first thing about doing styling. I had no skills for these special styles, so I just Googled to try and learn.

Once I had a little bit of technical skill underneath me, taking that into a bridal situation was not the same at all.

A lot of weight comes with event styling. You have all these high expectations. The look on the face of the person you’re styling. The mom who hovers so close. It's a different kind of pressure; it really is quite daunting.

Eliminating the nerves comes down to confidence and how much you’ve practiced and prepared. Practice, practice, practice. Break the style down into simple steps and know your products.

Then there’s dealing with anxiety or stress from the client. The consultation and prep work are key to alleviating that, for you and for them.

Photographs are a must. I want examples of what they want the back of the hair to look like, the front, the side. And when I show the client a photo to consider, I will show them one they can relate to. I’m not going to show a brunette a blonde head and vice versa, because they can’t relate to it. If they can see themselves in it, they become much more receptive.

One thing I recently adopted is that I only create one look for them. Before, I was creating two for them to choose from, and that’s not as productive. Do your work on the front end, figure out the strongest look for this particular client, and devote your time to nailing it.

Stephanie Hodges: Taking the Fear out of Special Event Styling
(Stephanie Hodges)

Another thing I learned early on is: Don’t drape the guest. They can’t see themselves in the look if they have a giant cocoon over them. For a bridal trial, ideally the client should be wearing a white top so they can really get a feel for the final look.

It’s little things like that, learned over time, that add up and contribute to event styling sessions that are enjoyable and successful for everyone.

I work in a large salon with 36 hair stylists, and I can name on less than one hand how many do updos. Everybody runs from them. And that’s where my special-event styling class began.

I come at it from a beginner’s perspective. I want to reach the stylists that are new to the industry or are curious to doing bridal and special occasion styling. Who hears a bridal party is coming in and marks themselves out that day? Who blindly says “I don’t do updos”? Those are the people I teach.

I show them how to braid, how to prep the hair, some of the favorite products I use. I’ll show them a look that appears very complicated but it’s really just three moves. And this is a prerequisite to taking more advanced classes.

I’ve met some great bridal artists who charge $2K per bride. They’re killing it. This is a very specific skill set, and if I can get stylists on that path, that’s a very healthy respectable living right there.

You’re not going to leave my class as a $2k-per-bride stylist, but it’s your first step toward that.


Stephanie Hodges is teaching two classes at the International Beauty Show-Las Vegas on June 23-24: "Conquer Your Fears: Updos Made Easy" and "Updo Basics: 5 Things You Need to Know About Updos."