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March 20, 2014
The Real Issue
A Wedding Day Wig
by Cyndie Swindlehurst

Question:

When I got engaged last year, I decided to let my hair grow long for the wedding. I have a very formal, cathedral length gown and veil, and I thought long hair in an up-do would suit that look.

A couple of months before the wedding, however, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had to have surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. So long, long hair.

I finally finished all of the treatments four months ago, and our wedding is set two months from now. I’m so grateful to finally be on the mend, and to finally realize all of the wedding plans that were on ice for a year.

The only unfinished business is my hair. My actual hair is very short and curly. I want to buy a wig to recreate my long lost locks, but I can’t decide between a gorgeous, very expensive wig or a nice, less expensive wig. It seems silly to scrimp on something this important, but my practical side is leaning to the more economical choice.

What do you think?

Answer:

Cancer is awful. It throws such a wrench into a person’s plans. But let’s put that aside while we discuss your hair.

If you are going to wear a wig to achieve a certain look for your wedding, it seems to me that your first consideration should be whether either of the wigs you are considering will look the way you want.

Will it look natural? Can you use heat to style it? Do you have a stylist who knows how to work with wigs? Are you sure the color is flattering in all kinds of light and in photographs?

The second consideration is whether the wig will perform the way you need it to. Will it stay put when you attach the weight of your veil? Will you be able to wear it without fidgeting or fussing with it? What will happen if your veil gets tugged by a small child or snagged on something?

Third, you need to consider comfort. If you have never worn a wig, your wedding day is probably not the best time to learn to do so. So be sure to wear it for several days before the wedding — enough to be comfortable in it and to discover any pitfalls. Also, you need to know if it is going to make you feel unusually warm.

If you decide that one wig is superior to the other in terms of look, performance and comfort, choose that one. If one wig looks better but the other wig performs better, I’d go with performance unless the look is markedly worse. No wig will look good if it is not firmly fixed in place. And the last thing you want is a sweaty, crooked wig sliding back from your forehead.

If either wig will look good and perform well, I’d go with the less expensive option. If you can’t decide, figure out the price difference — say $400 — and then ask yourself whether the more expensive wig looks $400 better than the less expensive one. Then think of all the other things you could do with $400.

But before you buy either one, I think you should consider another option. Your old hair is gone. Give it three years or so, and you will have long hair again. But for now, your hair is short. And you don’t seem to mind your current look.

So I think you should consider skipping the wig and wear your hair short at your wedding. Here are three reasons.

First, weddings should show a bride and groom at their best, but essentially as they are. In your case, you have short hair because of a significant life event. No wig can change that. And I think you should reflect it at your wedding. Not to make a statement about being a survivor, but as a recognition of who and where you are in your life.

I feel like a wig would be backward-looking, trying to recreate something that was lost. Whereas short hair would be forward-looking, moving on to your next step in life.

Second, short hair is adorable. You will look beautiful, and also unique, with a traditional gown and veil and short hair. Very few brides cut their hair for their wedding, and a short style will be memorable and chic.

Third, wigs — even cheap ones — are expensive. They are a solid way to get through chemotherapy when you don’t want to walk around with a scarf (or nothing at all) on your head for six months. But if you managed chemo without one, it seems a little late now to make the investment, especially just for one day.

Because a wedding, despite what the wedding industry would have you believe, really is just one day. It is a day to celebrate your transition into a new life as husband and wife, and celebrating that transition is important.

But a wedding — wearing a gorgeous dress, looking amazing, hosting a terrific party — does not change your life. You will wake up the next morning exactly the same person you were the day before. The dress and veil (and wig) are gone, the party is over. You and your new husband are just yourselves again. The next months and years of marriage will change your life, not your wedding.

So if I were you, I would take the wig money and upgrade your wedding trip, buy a better mattress or not spend it at all. Those things will have more of an impact on your new marriage than splurging on a wig for the ceremony and festivities.

Best wishes!


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