Next to the wedding dress, wedding hairstyles, whether you're a bride, bridesmaid, or guest, can make or break that big-day look. And who doesn’t love a good wedding glam? We all enjoy a big celebration, and, whether you're a bride or simply helping one plan her big day, there are so many beautiful looks out there to ensure you find the perfect match.
Whether you're looking for short hairstyles, braided hairstyles, or updos, one thing is for sure: The key trend for bridal hair in 2021 are styles that are somewhat undone or lived-in. Regardless of whether or not you have the best hair dryer for the big day on hand, the trick is to actually pare it back this time. “Weddings are becoming more relaxed and bridal parties and guests are opting for more effortless looks,” award-winning hairdresser Charlotte Mensah says. “A lot of the wedding styles [this year] will be all about texture.
“Bridal hair is changing; it’s more and more “cool girl” styles and increasingly moving further away from fixed curls and a heavily sprayed look. Natural and a bit more undone is the new chic.”
How to choose the best wedding hairstyles for you
When it comes to choosing your final hairstyle, experts agree that something that is “you” is very important. “I think the most important thing is that you look like you, every day—the best glossiest version of you,” fellow top hairstylist and ghd ambassador Zoë Irwin confirms. “Don’t go for a hairstyle you’ve never had before.
“It’s something that women often love [the idea of], but if it’s too structured you might not feel as confident,” she continues. “I think feeling good and feeling yourself, feeling sassy, sexy, and playful, and being groomed and polished is really important. Get your hair in condition, get the color right, use treatments beforehand, and be you.”
“Your hairstyle should compliment your dress but not compete with it; always choose a style that represents you and the vibe of the wedding,” Charlotte agrees. “You want to look your best—but who's to say your Afro or textured ponytail can't do that?
“Factors like wind, heat, and humidity should be taken into consideration to ensure flawless hair on the big day,” she adds.
Wedding hairstyles—the woman&home edit
Our experts’ favorite wedding hairstyles? “French twist messy buns, or a face-framing half up half down is ultra-flattering,” says Charlotte. “A short textured crop with some well-placed clips can create the chicest look of all, and braids are unique and totally timeless, too.”
Trends aside, something that makes you feel your best on the day is of utmost importance. So whether you’re looking for bridal hairstyles or hairstyle ideas for bridesmaids to complement your own look, we’ve rounded up some seriously chic ideas to inspire you.
Long wedding hairstyles
Long hairstyles are the most versatile in terms of styling options, but sometimes a big and bouncy blow-dry or vintage wave is the way to go—classics are classic for a reason. If your natural hair isn’t that long but you’re drawn to a lengthy, full look for the big day, you could also discuss hair extension options with your hairstylist if your budget allows.
The vintage waves
The classic blow-dry
The natural curls with a clip
The bejewelled long style
The long veiled style
Short wedding hairstyles
Short hair lends itself brilliantly to bridal looks, and there are tons of accessory options to choose from to add a little something special to a shorter-length 'do.' “There is also a big trend for a really sharp French bob, which makes a wedding look really, really cool,” Zoë says.
The flower crown
The embellished coils
The accessorized pixie cut
The side-parted bob
The natural hair with flowers
Updo wedding hairstyles
Updos are incredibly elegant and sophisticated, which is why they're a great choice for your wedding day, whether or not you choose a feature accessory. You only have to look at the history books to see the proof, as many iconic brides chose to wear their hair up for their big day—Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, the Duchess of Sussex, to name but a few, all opted for an updo.
The messy chignon
The accessorized updo
The waved ponytail
The bun with flowers
The messy bun
The curly updo
The sleek bun
Half up half down wedding hairstyles
Half-up hairstyles give you the best of both worlds, and there's loads of scope for accessories too. One of the most iconic examples is the Duchess of Cambridge's veiled half up hairdo from her wedding day in 2011.
“The half-up, half-down is huge because you get that feeling that the hair is pulled away from the face so you can see the eyes, but the bottom of the hair is down and soft,” says Zoë. “So you get that fullness that women want and that gives them a lot of confidence to have their hair down.”
The half braided style
The loose waves with floral pin
The half fishtail braid
The half bun with flowers
Braided wedding hairstyles
The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to wedding hairstyles with braids. “I am the braid queen!” says Zoë. “I like a braid that is pulled out, so working [texture] through the sides and secured tightly, then it’s all pulled out with lots of detail at the back, which works really well with a low-backed dress.”
The fishtail braid
The Dutch braid bun
The crown braid
The bridal box braids
The waterfall braid
The wedding hairstyles toolkit
You've browsed the inspiration, now you need to know how to achieve the best hair of your life for the most special of occasions.
First things first: You want to ensure your hair is in great condition by the time your wedding day comes around. “Start prepping your hair with deep hydrating conditioning treatments, both in salon and at home, at least four months before the wedding so it’s in tip- top condition for the big day,” Charlotte advises.
ghd Curve Soft Curl Tong, $199/£129 | ghd (opens in new tab)
“I put movement in the hair even when I’m putting it up, because it retains volume really well even if you keep the ends a little bit smoother,” Zoë says. “My top tools for this are the Soft Curl Tong or Classic Curl Tong.”
Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Finishing Mist, $50/£38 | Net-a-Porter (opens in new tab)
Charlotte says: “This is formulated to protect hair from heat damage and humidity, and is enriched with a blend of natural oils perfect for repairing and moisturizing, creating a stunning shiny finish.”
Charlotte Mensah Manketti Oil Pomade, $70/£52 | Net-a-Porter (opens in new tab)
“Bringing definition and shine to curls and coils, this is a conditioning hair treatment designed to nourish and hydrate the locks,” Charlotte says. “Smooth into an updo to add polish and to tame flyaways.”
When you've spent so long choosing the perfect wedding hairstyle, the next must is then having the right tools to ensure it stays in place—especially if you're doing your own hair for your big day. Zoë says that strong French pins are one of her go-to accessories.
“My top tip for brides is to also get a face shield, plastic shields that are used in salons, for when she’s got her makeup done,” she adds. “I carry that with me and then hold it close to the face and spritz hairspray right in around the hairline to seal the style.”
Now all you need to do is actually decide on your final bridal hairstyle!
Lucy is a UK-based beauty journalist who has written for the likes of Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, OK!, Women's Health and more, as well as contributing to woman&home. Her work covers everything from expert skin and haircare tips to the latest product launches and the show-stopping beauty looks spotted backstage at London Fashion Week. During her career she's interviewed some seriously famous faces, from Little Mix to Drag Race royalty The Vivienne, as well as chatting to the industry's leading hairdressers, dermatologists and make-up artists.
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