A Hair Affair

Guys’ tips for smart style on your big day.

Illustration by Bee Murphy

Jacks barbershop in Roanoke was filled with 14 groomsmen in various states of undress—and the wedding was fast approaching. Co-owner Deb Roberts and her staff were administering hot towels and lather for straight razor shaves, trimming necklines and sideburns, but also steaming shirts, replacing buttons, and tying bow ties. 

It’s a popular ritual: Groomsmen gather at an upscale barbershop for drinks, jokes—and, of course, some hairstyling. “The goal is always to help the groom feel confident in his appearance,” says Roberts, “and to get him to the chapel on time.” Here are some tips for making the most of that experience. 

Timing is … Everything

Don’t get a haircut the day of your wedding. Instead, get your hair and beard cut about a week before the event. Then, when you gather on the day of, get a neck cleanup, a beard trim, or a hot lather shave. This way, your cut will have time to settle in, but you’ll still look as fresh as possible. (This also goes for hair products—if you plan to use something new, try it in advance to be sure you’re happy with the results.) 

Don’t Chase Trends

Think hard about your chosen hairstyle for the wedding. You’ll probably want to stick with a style that’s timeless and makes you feel comfortable. About a month before the wedding, consult with your barber. Don’t be afraid to bring in pictures of what you’d like—it may feel silly, but it’s very helpful to a barber, says Roberts.

Consider the Total Package

Your head isn’t the only place you have hair. If you ask, a good barber will trim your eyebrows—and you should ask! Sometimes, it’s about comfort as much as style. Jacks provides a full back shaving service for those men who desire it. Last, consider a hand treatment. “We don’t use the word manicure. We offer an executive hand detail,” says Roberts. “There are a lot of closeup photos during a wedding—holding hands, putting on rings—but men often overlook their hands.” JacksBarbershop.net

Product Primer

A cheat sheet for confused grooms.

Gel

Convenient and quick to apply. Creates a firm, shiny hold to keep your style in place, but can make hair appear crunchy. Our pick: Jack Black Body-Building Hair Gel, $14, GetJackBlack.com

Pomades, Pastes, and Creams

Marketed under a variety of different names, these provide a high to medium shine. Doesn’t hold hair in place as well as gel does, but also won’t leave your hair brittle and hard. Our pick: Bumble and Bumble Sumotech, $29, BumbleAndBumble.com

Wax

Provides a stiff hold, but can leave hair looking greasy. Best for straight, shorter hair. Our pick: Pro Rituals Hair Wax, $17, ProRituals.com

Clay

Thicker than pomade, clay holds hair firmly in place and can help manage curly hair. It leaves hair with a darker, matte look. Our pick: Aveda Pure-formance Grooming Clay, $25, Aveda.com

Sea Salt Spray

This spray creates a natural, windswept look. (It’s particularly popular now among reality television stars.) Provides less hold than other products, but helps hair retain its natural texture. Our pick: Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray, $7, NYMBrands.com

Beard Oil

Reduces itchiness, softens, smooths frizz, and improves the health of facial hair. Our pick: Honest AmishClassic Beard Oil, $13.87, HonestAmish.com

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