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When there’s a wedding to prepare for, nothing else matters to Cecilia Brouwer or Leah Martin – and that’s only a part of why brides love them. From runway models and princess brides to full casts of stage productions, Cecilia and Leah have earned their titles as style experts. Having been voted one of the Top 6 Salons by The Record’s Reader’s Choice awards and now working together out of Advantage Hairstyling on Queen Street North, these two local women combine their hair and make-up styling services to focus on making over local brides for their wedding day.
Whether it’s diva-style or a natural look that the brides are looking for, this trio offers in-salon and on-site hair and make-up services. This stylist duet told us that they find themselves literally ‘closing up shop’ on any given Saturday to cater to full wedding parties. Let us explain…
As a ‘style entourage’ unto themselves, Cecilia and Leah deliver the type of service that brides in The Ring want; with results that are beautifully evident in their wedding albums. When we say entourage, we are referring to the fact that there is actually a combination of two wedding style experts for your day – hair stylist Cecilia Brouwer and make-up artist, Leah Martin. They’ve been working together for twelve years in the salon, at brides’ homes, and for stage or movie productions in the Toronto area.
It seems as though Cecilia and Leah are most in their element when it’s barely 6 am and the salon is closed to the public because it’s filled with a bride and her bridal party as they are made up for the wedding that day. While designing and styling the hair and make-up of their wedding party clients – many of whom are sipping coffees and sporting pajama pants or jeans, and the odd veil or tiara – these two stylists chat, compare notes, apply make-up, create curls (or straighten, as the case may be), and ultimately put together the ‘look’ that works best on each girl.
Because each of these ladies has their own set of specialties and experience, we interviewed them separately as well, hoping to find out more about who they were and why they love to focus on weddings.
Cecilia Brouwer has been styling for the stage for over thirty years – be it the big screen or the wedding day stage. Cecilia, while equal in skill and technique, is the one who originally brought the two stylists together, first in her own home-based salon and now out of their Queen Street North location (near Centre in the Square).
Cecilia says that she still does hair regularly for music videos, movies, runway models and a variety of commercials in the Toronto area. But for her, it’s working with brides and successfully running her own small, busy salon for twenty five years, that makes her the happiest. “I love doing weddings and working with brides,” she admitted. “It’s their day. I want to make it special for them.”
Cecilia is well known to her clients for her expertise in dealing with long hair and up-dos – both of which are popular in today’s weddings. Cecilia knows how to have fun with any style. In fact, if you bring her a photo, she will re-create the style and is happy to do so. Cecilia is also quick to offer advice for just about any hair ailment (in our case, it was unruly curls which she permanently straightened for us in about an hour), and is happy to begin styling well ahead of the wedding day, if the bride is looking for an overall change instead of just a wedding day style.
Leah Martin is a Registered Cosmetologist. It’s Leah who focuses on your face, eyes, lips, and skin before it has to appear in front of the camera. She has been a cosmetologist for over twenty years, and has used her skills to makeover cast members of stage productions and for photo shoots. “I really enjoy making people look beautiful, showing them how a little make-up can make them feel like a new person altogether.” Leah uses mostly MAC make-up, but also PALLATIO, a natural rice product without hormones that is incredibly hypo-allergenic, and Nicole Miller. “The Nicole Miller is a very nice line that is used a lot in the States. It isn’t something you can get in stores.”
Leah seems to love the salon’s focus on weddings. She insists on make-up trials whenever possible and has no trouble handling a multitude of girls. Between herself and Cecilia, the girls can easily rotate their way through the hair and make-up process to make it an easy, stress-free transition. Leah says that because they’ve all worked together on weddings for so long, they find it easy to make it work with just about any timetable. “It doesn’t take too long at all, especially with a previous make-up trial,” she explains. “The make-up for a bride or bridesmaid usually takes approximately thirty minutes, and then she is camera-ready.”
What makes this trio so great for brides is that not only do they offer wedding makeovers for the entire bridal party, but they also specialize specifically in wedding day updos. Long hair styles, in particular, are one of their major fortes. In fact, they told us, “We don’t know of any other salon that specializes in long styles.”
Even better, these skilled women will style on-site or from their downtown Kitchener location, depending on what the bridal party needs. They’ve been known to start their Saturday off as early as 4 am, just to suit the bride’s timetable for her wedding day. Cecilia stated the well known fact, “When it comes to weddings, it’s all about the bride.”
Your best bet, particularly if you’re looking for on-site styling (in your home) is to book the ladies at Advantage no later than two months in advance. “It’s been done closer to the date and farther away, but two months is often enough.” You will work out your timetable, how many girls will be getting their hair and/or make-up done, and of course, arrange trials for everyone, or at the very least, the bride. “We want to make sure you look incredible on your wedding day,” says Cecilia. Leah agrees, “You don’t want any surprises the morning of your wedding and you often don’t have enough time to redo a hair or make-up style. We try to set any potential worries aside well before the wedding.”
When you book your wedding with this team, it means you have the style entourage to yourself for the day. You get your own ‘all access pass’ to the salon, bring in whatever food and beverages you want, and set up camp with your bridesmaids while you’re getting gorgeous. Cecilia posts a CLOSED sign in the window and you’re ready to get started.
Once the wedding day is over, Cecilia and Leah invite you to come visit them with photos from the wedding day so that they can see how everyone looked in front of the camera and so that they can begin building their own scrapbook filled with the weddings they were a part of.
If you’re booking on-site services because you want the stylists to come to your home instead, Cecilia and Leah are happy to accommodate. They will travel to the location of your choice at the time that you need them, and they will work with you there. Additional travel fees may apply and trials will still take place ahead of time within the salon.
With both in-salon and on-site style services, early mornings and Sunday weddings are welcomed, by appointment.
While weddings were obviously the focus of our interview with Cecilia & Leah, there are many style services offered here for everyone year-round. They offer styling, colouring, perming, straightening, cutting, colour correcting (not all salons will do this), and more. With these two experts, there are a lot of options for any woman who wants a new look. Proudly, they carry high end styling products from France, Denmark, Germany and California – and even a line from England.
• A trial for the bride is a must!
• A deposit of 15% (non-refundable) is required to reserve Cecilia for your wedding hair or Leah for your wedding make-up, with the remainder due the day of.
• They recommends booking a minimum of 3 months in advance, however trying to get in sooner is a very good idea.
“Dear Cecilia, I wanted to send you some photos taken by our photographer of the stunning work you did for myself and my bridesmaids. We were truly lucky to have your talented hands transform us all so swiftly and with such beautiful results! …Thank you so very much.” – Kristina Bronson
“Cecilia, thank you so much for making me and my bridesmaids look our best on my wedding day. My curls stayed in place for the whole evening and I received lots of compliments on the job you did.” – Jen Bichan, married in 2007
Cecilia and Leah @ Advantage Salon (previously reviewed as Cecilia’s Hair Studio) are located at 100 Queen Street North, Unit 301 in Kitchener (right by Centre in the Square). The best way to reach Cecilia or Leah is by phone at 519-578-3520. You are welcome to drop by, however you’re encouraged to book an appointment first. Call for Salon hours. ** Cecilia is almost always on her feet, doing countless make-overs throughout the day. Give Cecilia a call to ask her about your wedding! **
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