Chicago Wedding Photographer

Vendor Spotlight: SJ Nelson, Boutique Hair Stylist and Colorist | Wedding Hair Tips

I met SJ Nelson when I was shooting Sean and Ann’s wedding at Starved Rock State Park this past July, and I was immediately impressed by SJ’s artistry. After I delivered the wedding gallery, I told SJ Ann’s braided hairdo was my favorite bridal look of 2020! (More on that later…)

Because I believe in supporting and lifting up other small businesses, I sat down with SJ via Zoom to learn more about her journey as a boutique hairstylist and colorist and to hear her top wedding hair tips.

Please introduce yourself and your business.

Hi! I’m SJ Nelson from SJ Hair and Bridal Boutique! I style hair for weddings and special events and also work as a color specialist. I have two beautiful daughters and a wonderful husband. I love everything I do, and I think my wonderful family helps me have a great foundation.

wedding hair tips

How did you start SJ Nelson Hair, and what makes your business unique?

I’ve been infatuated with hair since a very young age…and that all started out by fixing my classmates’ hair as a little girl in school. You could say that I’ve been hair-crazy! Once I got to the age where you’re supposed to figure out what you’re going to do in life, I figured, hey — why not turn my passion into a business?! And that’s how SJ Hair and Bridal Boutique got started.

What sorts of clients and events do you serve?

I work in a salon as well as providing travel services. In the salon, I provide specialty coloring services, like organic blondes and brunettes. I believe in doing very natural color services — that means no chunky highlights!

But bridal services are my heart, whether in a salon or on a travel basis. I serve bridal clients in my salon in Rockford, IL, and I travel all over for location-based wedding day services. I love traveling to serve you at your wedding venue. Make me travel, baby! I’m all about it! wedding hair tips

Tell us a little more about your process. How do you work with customers? What are your top 2-3 wedding hair tips?

I believe the easiest way to do business is to be absolutely upfront with my clients. That’s why when you visit my website,, you can easily access all of the info on my salon, bridal, and travel services. My website is designed to walk you through the basics of what you can expect from me. From there, you can submit my info form to inquire. I do my very best to respond to all inquiries within 48 hours; after that, we can talk about prices and expectations.

After you’ve booked me, we’ll go through a consultation process to figure out how you’d like me to style your hair, conduct a bridal trial so you can see your hairstyle on your head, and then we’ll adjust from there before I style your hair on your wedding day.

It’s so important to do a bridal trial, especially if you have this grand picture of what your hair should look like. If you get it on your head and it doesn’t look 100% like you imagined because your hair density might be different, a bridal trial is a great opportunity to figure out what you do and don’t like.

As far as wedding hair tips go, my biggest tip is…

Do your bridal trial! This is a huge piece of the consultation process. You shop and trial wedding dresses. You should do the same with your bridal hair! You want to be relaxed the morning of your wedding and know exactly what’s going to be on your head. I use a ring light as part of my unique method of doing a bridal hair trial because a ring light gives us a better photographic perspective. That way, you can see if there are any odd shadows or a braid that needs to be pulled out, etc. There so much you see through a camera lens that we don’t always notice with the naked eye.

I think the bridal trial is huge. Just do it. You won’t regret it, I promise!

I hate the old wives tale that you should have dirty hair on your wedding day…that it will hold curls or style better. (But that’s my personal opinion!) My other top wedding hair tips are that you should come with your hair clean and 100% dry. Do not come with a wet head, as weddings are very carefully timed out. And you want your hair (and day) to be perfect, so we really shouldn’t waste 15 or 20 minutes blow drying it out.

Start your wedding hair experience with clean hair, and it will make the process easier for all of us!

What do you love most about SJ Nelson Hair? Favorite event, styling process, or activity?

Brides! There’s something so intimate about being part of someone’s big day. Being able to participate in a bride’s wedding celebration is so beautiful — I’m let into their close realm of friendships and I can experience everyone hanging out in the hotel room in the morning as they get ready and have fun.

Also, I love doing any kind of up-do, especially if you want something out of the norm. (I just love wedding hair!) wedding hair tips

Tell me a little bit about how you styled Ann’s hair.

Ann started by showing me a few photos. In my consultations, I ask a thousand questions to see what you’re really loving in photos, and she was showing me some really loose, organic braids. That’s when we decided to do the double braid and organic curls off to the side. Of course, that’s something more unique, so I was thriving and pumped to do it! And that’s why I’m so thankful that she chose that style because I was able to be creative. I think up-dos work best when you have some free range to make them beautiful and creative. The same goes for photography, too!

wedding hair tips

What’s the best way for someone to contact you?

You can get in touch with me through my Website, Instagram, or Facebook. Plus, if you visit my social media channels, you can see examples of past brides and color treatments, and check out other brides’ comments on their bridal trial as well! wedding hair tips

Anything we missed?

I would love to share a complimentary bridal trial with all brides of Joshua Harrison Photography! You already have the best photographer, so why not have the best hair to go along with! When you fill out the inquiry form on my website, add a note that you’re a JHP bride and I’ll cover the cost of your bridal trial. It’s that simple!

Want to meet some more awesome vendors? Then check out the previous installments of the vendor spotlight series: wedding hair tips

Bloom Magic Weddings

Lashes by Viki

RMP Chicago Events

KNF Kreations

Are you engaged and looking for a Chicago wedding photographer? I can only serve three more couples in 2021, so reach out today for my very best availability!

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