Planning & Inspiration
Interview with Bridal Hairstylist Marissa Molnar
How you choose to wear your hair down the aisle is going to stay with you for the rest of your life – in wedding photos. For Marissa Molnar, however, a bride’s hairstyle goes much deeper than achieving that picture-perfect look. From the second they sit in her chair until whisking off in the getaway car, she wants her clients to feel completely present in the moment, connected, and comfortable with how they look. When these elements are all in check, achieving that radiant glow every bride dreams about is inevitable.
Marissa’s holistic approach to bridal hairstyling results from her diverse background. After training at one of the world’s most elite hairdressing academies and working for top salons, she managed events for yoga studios, eventually becoming a yoga and meditation teacher. Going from the fast-paced, high pressure beauty world to health & wellness, Marissa understands that in order to look good you have to feel good. Guided by this Yin and Yang balancing principle, she has carved a singular niche in New York’s wedding industry.
We were first introduced to Marissa’s talents when she worked with Lauren, our BB Featured Bride whose wedding at Natirar Mansion was highlighted last November. Lauren’s effortless look epitomized modern simplicity. While the current health situation has put many aspects of wedding planning on hold, pinning bridal beauty inspiration is the one thing that can be done easily and safely at home. For these reasons and many more, we couldn’t wait to feature Marissa in our Women Paving the Aisle series. Here, she talks about her background, making the decision to start her own business, Marissa Molnar Hairstyling, advice for choosing a wedding day look, and the iconic bride she would have loved to work with.
We always like to start from the beginning. Do you remember when you first became interested in beauty?
Absolutely! Without being consciously aware of my attraction to it, as a young teen I was constantly playing with my hair and makeup. I wouldn’t go to school without a full outfit, hair and makeup. Albeit, my looks were not very good, and I have the photos to prove it!
When did you realize that you had a real skill for doing hair? Did your friends come to you for primping when they had a high school dance or big night out?
To be honest, I was unaware of my talent until well into my career. I always thought of myself as mediocre. I worked in a salon with insane talent, but then one day I took a look around and realized that I actually was talented. I guess it’s the perfectionist in me! I still scrutinize everything I create.
Can you tell us about your start in the beauty industry?
Having received my cosmetology license in high school, I had a bit of a head start. At 18 years old, I began working 50-hour weeks at a high-end, high pressure salon. They had a rigorous training program and I spent months training with Vidal Sassoon, LA in precision haircutting. Once I was on the floor, I began working crazy hours, and in the haze of the intensity, found my flow with styling and finishing work. From there, the offsite wedding work naturally followed.
How long did it take before you considered launching your own business? Was there a decisive moment when you said, “I can really do this.”
Absolutely, I’ll never forget it. As you can imagine, the pace at which I was working wasn’t sustainable and after seven years in the salon, my physical and emotional health was suffering. I decided to venture off into management of yoga studios, all while doing weddings ‘on the side’. I left there and did PR and event planning for a yoga based non-profit. At a certain point after being let down by those business owners, I decided that I was done helping other people build their dreams – it was time to build my own. I then decided to take a chance on myself, even though many advised me that it was too risky.
Looking back on those early years of Marissa Molnar Hairstyling, is there anything that you would have done differently?
The only thing I would’ve done differently was managed my output and boundaries with clients better. I really got put through the ringer by the high demand, travel and inability to say “No.”
What made you want to focus on styling hair for brides?
It was an organic thing that took on a life of its own. But upon reflection, brides combine all of my loves – the high energy of events, creativity, management and luxury.
You actually have a background in event planning and management. How does this inform your work ethic as a bridal hairstylist?
I feel this is what sets me apart as a bridal stylist. I’m looking at things from every angle. While I’m styling hair on the event day, I’m thinking about the other vendors, what they need from me and when. I’m thinking about the run of show, keeping things on schedule and what I can do to ensure that all happens, all while keeping that out of my client’s awareness so that they can be immersed in the experience of their day.
What advice do you have for brides-to-be who are feeling overwhelmed with the hairstyle options popping up on their Pinterest and Instagram feeds? What should they consider when searching for the perfect wedding day hair to complement their look and personality?
Oh, I LOVE this question! Brides shouldn’t worry about fitting themselves into a box that deems them ‘bridal.’ Being Bridal, Is Being You.
The main things to consider are dress style, hair type, and weather. Be honest with yourself about who you are and the type of hair you have. If you never wear hair up, don’t spend a lot of time looking at updos. If you never wear your hair down or have very curly hair and a summer wedding for example, spend less time looking at down styles. This is where I step in and consult with my brides and help guide.
What services do you offer the bride and her bridal party?
For brides, I offer a uniquely tailored and personal experience. One of my specialties is tailoring the hair to both the person and overall aesthetic of the day. This is why trials are so important! I have an ability to sense the shift in someone when we’ve found the right look. This cue can be missed if a stylist is only thinking about copying an inspo pic or just getting through the appointment. I also work with many of my brides a year or more before their day, cutting and coloring to achieve the best results on the wedding day.
For the bridal party, I’ve curated an amazing team of artists who, like me, care about their work and have big hearts – no ‘catty’ beauty industry vibes here.
You actually did the hairstyling for Lauren, a Bride & Blossom Featured Bride who married at Natirar Mansion last year. Lauren’s look was so timeless and simple. Can you tell us about how you two decided on her bridal hairstyle?
Absolutely! Being in the hair industry herself, and having a natural sense of aesthetic perfection, Lauren made it easy for me! Our styles clicked immediately. Clean and simple, less is more. I love editorial looks and so does Lauren. When we met, she was clear that she didn’t want a ‘do’ and we nailed it on the first shot. After the trial, we worked together regarding her extensions and how to have them installed to insure the best possible result for the wedding day!
You are also a yoga and meditation teacher. While the wedding day is filled with excitement and joy, there is a good amount of nerves involved as well. Do you incorporate your health & wellness expertise into the Marissa Molnar Hairstyling experience at all?
Absolutely. Weddings are a wave of emotion, with so many interpersonal dynamics at play. With multiple generations of families together in one room, stuff is bound to come up. Having this background allows me to support my brides in managing the emotions of their day. If they need a break, I can sense it, and allow them to take a minute. If I notice there is a ‘trigger’ person lurking about, I will see to it that an emotional bodyguard, as I like to call it, is put in place. I never lose my center, no matter how intense the environment becomes, and my brides feel secure in knowing that they can trust me. When things get anxious or tense, I will bring them back to their breath and remind them what the day is all about and to ignore crazy Aunt Susie who thinks the day is all about her.
What advice do you have for our readers who are thinking about starting their own business?
Always bet on yourself and don’t listen to the naysayers. They are often the people who are too frightened to ever take the leap themselves. Stay in integrity. Work honestly and work from a place of abundant mindset, not scarcity and fear. When you follow these principles, the Universe will support you in your endeavor. I can assure you it won’t be easy, but you’ll never regret it.
Is there anyone in the beauty industry who you particularly admire?
César Ramirêz aka @cesar4styles. We’re from the same hometown and had the same cosmetology teachers. Our neighborhood was strewn with adversity and one that was not easy to make it out of. He really made it, and he did it all on his own. I have a great respect for what he’s been able to achieve while maintaining a conscious and spiritual life.
If you could style hair for any bride throughout all of history, who would it be?
Audrey Hepburn. To me, she was just so perfectly herself. She wore a flawless pixie, a la my Vidal Sassoon roots, and a gorgeous white rose flower crown. I also have an immense love of her and her humanitarian heart. She was one of the good ones.
How do you stay creatively inspired?
As a hairstylist, Instagram is huge for keeping creativity flowing. I follow iconic stylists and watch their every move. I’m constantly learning from them. As an artist and an Aries, my creativity comes in big, short waves and I’ve learned to both understand and embrace my process. I can have two or three days where I am overflowing with inspiration and then two weeks of nothing. I used to be frustrated by this, but time and faith has allowed me to trust the flow of my process.
All professionals in the wedding industry are being affected by the current global health crisis. What are you doing to stay healthy and remain positive and hopeful about the future?
I have a deep trust of the universe, even when things are difficult to reconcile. I believe we are all being rerouted and the new path will be better fitting for our futures. This can be a challenging concept to get on board with, especially considering the level of suffering. But with trust and faith, I believe that everything is according to plan. Albeit, not *our* plans. To stay healthy, I’m drinking lots of herbal teas, eating clean, organic foods and going for long walks. Nature Rx is the best antidote there is!
Describe your perfect day off?
SLEEP! I’m a sensitive person and I absorb and feel a lot. So, sleep is my best friend for restoration and being able to show up for those in my life both professionally and personally. So a nice big sleep, a great cup of coffee, movement of some kind, a hit of nature, and a big ol’ astrology rabbit hole. It’s my favorite thing to do on my days off!
A big thank you to Marissa for taking the time to talk with us! For more information visit Marissa Molnar Hairstyling and follow along at @marissamolnarhair