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Bridal bliss
Worship your body; nourish your soul

By TRACY FORD

Showing off their nails are (left to right) Pamela Pagel Coats, Ara Berkwits, bride Laura Gazzana Pagel and Mary Kay Gundlach


Add one more thing to your "Wedding To Do" list: Schedule some girl time filled with indulgent beauty services, delicious fare and intense pampering. Hey, being the bride is a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it!

"I love working with the brides-to-be," says Laura Myska, marketing coordinator and group hostess for Neroli Salon and Spa, downtown Milwaukee. "Overall, it’s a bonding, relaxing, peaceful experience."

Many brides are choosing to experience a soothing, stress-relieving session at a day spa prior to their big day, and as an added treat are taking the entire wedding party along. The Neroli experience often finds a bride and her bridal party relaxing in the guest suite, nibbling on assorted goodies, offering a champagne toast or exchanging bridal gifts.

Claims Jennifer Volz, salon director at Actaea Works Ltd. Salon and Day Spa in Shorewood, "I can’t say when the last Saturday was that we didn’t have a bride." Even though the professionals at Actaea take bridal preparation very seriously, they don’t forget the fun. "Large wedding parties pretty much run the salon," Volz admits. "They’re either sitting next to each other or diagonally so they can talk and laugh." Add champagne or food and you have "a definite bonding experience and an integral part of the bride’s day."

According to Angie Morgan, wedding coordinator at Beauty on Milwaukee’s East Side, "It’s nice working Saturdays. The whole salon is so positive. It’s a way for the bridal party to really connect," says Morgan. "The bridesmaids lend the bride support." Add the bridal buffet package offered and there’s one less thing for everyone to worry about. "One Saturday, we had a party of over 15 people," Morgan recalls. "It was a little hectic, but it was also a lot of fun."

Amy Johnson of Stella’s in Milwaukee speaks for herself and co-owners K.C. Miller and Paul Bartz when she says, "We want people to feel comfortable, relaxed and laid-back when they come in." It’s not unusual for wedding parties to bring in champagne (or blenders for making margaritas) while they are primping for the big day ahead. "Basically it’s like a party when they come. It’s always a lot of fun," Johnson says of the bridal parties. "We expect people to let loose. It’s their wedding day!"

Johnson suggests the whole bridal party come in together "because it puts the bride at ease."

Recent bride Kristy Cravillion of Sussex took her bridal party to Stella’s. She was not only totally relaxed; she and the girls had a blast. "They opened the salon for us on a Sunday morning," she recalls. "We had mimosas." The crew at Stella’s went to town doing hair, makeup and nails for Cravillion, her bridesmaids, the moms and the grandmas. Bartz even got one of the grandmas to wear "Carnal Red" lipstick. As
fabulous as she looked, Bartz thought it best to forego sharing the name of the color. He just told her to reapply as needed!

One of Cravillion’s artistic friends took to the floor at Stella’s to create a "Just Married" sign and card box for the reception. It’s impromptu moments like these make Miller suggest having the photographer nearby. With the day being so scripted, it’s great to be able to capture the special, unexpected things that you’ll want to remember.

Miller has a great sense of humor and really likes to keep things light, especially with a nervous bride. "I just crack a few jokes about how cute they look in their rollers and then they’re fine," he confesses. When it comes to the rest of the bridal party, Miller says, "You can pretty much tell who’s going to be the rowdy one. I always hone in on them right away." Johnson’s overall goal is to keep the bride stress-free. "If there’s something special they want, we encourage them to bring it in," she says.

Making the bride’s day as perfect as it can be includes making sure her bridesmaids look and feel beautiful as well. "It’s definitely a time for the bridesmaids," Morgan says. "They get to wear the fabulous hair, the fancy dress and be on stage as well. There is a lot of fun that comes with being a bridesmaid."

Our specialists recommend planning beauty session(s) at least three months, if not closer to a year, in advance. Most salons will provide a detailed timeline/itinerary for the bride complete with suggestions for what services to have done and when.