It's still dreary outside, but it won't be long until wedding season is in full swing and your salon waiting chairs will be full of anxious brides preparing for their big day. It's a good idea to take advantage of the winter slump to refresh your skills and learn what's new for this year's wedding season.

Up-dos:

It's early yet, but there are already some clear trends developing on the bridal front. Many brides are opting for up-dos as usual, including low buns, knots, chignons, or any number of braid types, so be sure your fingers are nimble and ready to create these intricate styles.

Hair Accessories:

You might want to consider stocking some hairpieces and other accessories either to give brides an idea of what they want to look for or to actually sell along with your other salon supplies. Popular items include headbands and beaded clips and combs. Tiaras are also in this season.

Floral Hair Pieces:

In addition, it's not uncommon to meet a bride who would like to incorporate flowers into her wedding hair look. Artificial flowers can be treated similarly to other accessories, but if your bride desires fresh flowers, you'll need to put forth a bit more effort. Remind her that she'll need to find out ahead of time which flower types will be available from her florist and that she'll also need to educate herself on the length of time her flowers can be expected to look fresh and healthy (and because your bride will have a lot on her mind, remind her to consider any allergens that might affect her or the groom due to her flower choice). Be sure to practice with multiple floral varieties so you're prepared for anything. Roses are hardy and you can stick pins through the stems or flower base, but with others that are more delicate, such as baby's breath, you'll need to be more careful, placing bobby pins around the stem and then into the desired part of the hair. Remember to insert any fresh flowers as your last step and, if at all possible, avoid using hairspray after the flowers are in place.

Makeup:

This season's wedding makeup is all about softness. Trends point toward matte, natural-looking skin and peach/pink contouring. Peachy pink lips are also in. You can experiment with a smoky eye look that has dimension to it as well. Remember to keep nothing but waterproof mascara in your bridal makeup kit: you don't want your client to fall in love with a look only to discover that it can't stand up to any happy tears she may shed on her day.

Keep in mind that you'll have some clients who choose a minimal look and who want most of all to look like themselves on their wedding day, and you'll have others who want to pull out all the stops and go big. Be sure to respect your clients' preferences on this, but also be prepared to provide options and suggestions for those who might be unsure. For example, you might have a bride who wants a natural look but still wants to try something different, and you could offer her the possibility of trying bright red lips for a pop of unexpected and gorgeous color on her special day.

With all this in mind, if you feel rusty on your wedding styling skills, consider inviting trusted clients who you know are planning weddings to come in for a free or heavily discounted trial: help them figure out what they like while developing your skills and having fun at the same time.