While celebrities strutting down the red carpet might be your go-to source for hairstyle inspo, real weddings are actually the perfect place to start finding snapshots of bridal hairdos. Nothing takes our breath away quite like a stunning bride beaming on her own special day. And who better to look to for some bridal style inspiration, especially when it comes to the ultimate finishing touch—your wedding hairstyle.
Meet the Expert
- Claire Balest is the owner, artist, and creative director of Claire Balest Hair + Makeup: a highly curated team of artists best known for their elevated, fresh, and natural beauty looks.
- Kelli Patten is a lead hairstylist for Team Claire Balest.
- Ashley Schaumburg is a lead hairstylist for Team Claire Balest.
From pretty ponytails to the classic half-up, half-down style, these are the prettiest hairstyles real brides rocked for their "I dos." Some brides wore their lush locks down in romantic, soft curls spilling over their shoulders. Others swept their hair up in chic and clean chignons for a totally timeless formal vibe. A few even incorporated unexpected hair accessories to elevate their big-day 'do. And because they're all straight from the pages of our Real Weddings section, you know these gorgeous gals pulled off their wedding-worthy looks IRL. That's without the help of a celebrity's glam squad.
We've combed through (pun intended!) hundreds of real weddings and pulled some of the prettiest wedding hairstyles below.
A Bridal Blowout
Silky smooth, devastatingly bouncy, and super soft, Megan's bridal blowout is nothing but a true masterpiece. With all of her hair effortlessly swept to one side, she had all the more voluminous locks. You may be surprised to hear that she chopped off the length for a sophisticated lob between wedding events!
A Feminine Feat
Chloe's low chignon was kept whimsically feminine and relaxed with gentle twists feeding into it and lots of loose pieces around the face. A crystal headband added a little sparkle and provided a bit of structure for some of the face-framing tendrils. Giving her the best of both worlds, this look allowed her to enjoy the ease of an updo with the romance of undone waves.
Bride Victoria beamed in her sleek and sophisticated chignon. Accessorized with a graduated pearl headband, the look exuded nothing but drama and elegance. Her polished updo allowed her natural beauty to steal the show.
Claire Balest suggests, "Don't ignore the elements. If you battle frizz and it's raining on your wedding day, be willing to make the change to an updo, so you don't have to worry about your hair all night. Keeping a great stylist with you all day will ensure your style is safe regardless of the weather or style."
A Voluptuous Updo
When one of our fave wedding photographers, Jen Huang, walked down the aisle, she rocked a soft and romantic low updo. In this case, bigger is better. She proves that even a voluminous updo can feel still effortless.
When choosing her bridal style, Anita sought a look that emphasized her strong persona and combined traditional and modern elements. She totally nailed it with this strong, blunt lob and brushed-out waves. Talk about a fierce and totally chic look!
Ali accessorized her custom Naeem Khan wedding dress (she did marry the designer's son after all!) with a perfectly undone half-up 'do. This hairstyle featured soft waves beneath an intricate, twisted style. With her soft locks falling behind the shoulders of her lace gown, the unfussy style kept any hair free from her face.
Tara's sumptuous, inky locks contrast magnificently against the delicate ivory and verdant greenery surrounding her. The simple and sleek chignon shows off her lace choker and dazzling earrings without overpowering the airy look. This is proof that even the most delicate looks can appear incredibly striking.
Kea had her blonde locks swept into a near-architectural low bun. This ultra elegant updo proved to be perfect for her Parisian nuptials. Sleek and chic, this hairstyle speaks for itself.
A Perfect Pairing
Both of these beautiful brides rocked stunning styles on their big day. Rachel wore her blonde locks in a chic, messy updo. Brittany went with an intricately braided, faux-hawk-inspired 'do.
Keep It Fresh
Kelsey added a fresh sprig of andromeda to her multilayered updo. We love how it complements the larger greenery throughout her bouquet. Plus, the intricate design of the hairstyle added stunning texture and dimension to the romantic look.
Jazz Things Up
This vintage-obsessed bride completed her look with an era-appropriate hairstyle for her Jazz Age wedding. Featuring twigs of baby's breath, the updo provided just enough volume and structure. The veil proved to be the most charming finishing touch.
A Budding 'Do
Mermaid waves and a flower crown looked whimsical and beautifully bohemian on this smiley bride. This look is all about natural beauty. Effortless and easy, the hairstyle will continue to cycle into style—and for good reason!
A Twist on the Classics
This Miami bride twisted her locks away from her face for a half-up, half-down look that was totally effortless. This is a genius (and equally stunning) way to stave off some of that tropical humidity. Her cathedral length lace veil was perfectly placed at the base of the pinned back pieces.
Stacy went with a classic half-up, half-down 'do for her San Francisco wedding. Her long, dark locks held effortless curls that fell past her shoulders. The swept back pieces added a polished yet unfussy touch.
A Bedecked Braid
We can't help but envy this bride's ample plait. Maanasa decorated her lush braid with traditional jewelry and fragrant jasmine flowers. As a nod to her South Asian heritage, the intricate style was equally symbolic as it was beautiful.
These jaw-dropping, ultra voluminous waves speak for themselves. Plus, the middle part keeps it modern and chic. Effortless and undone, bride Clari's curls contrasted her partner's more polished updo perfectly.
A center part and blunt, mid-length cut practically call for some tousled tendrils to create this ethereal dream. We can't get over how beautifully the flow of Jena's hair mimics that of the floaty dress. A look like this is always on trend.
A Chic Lob
Bride Jennifer rocked this glowing crop with barely there waves at her DC nuptials. A stunning—and slightly edgy, slightly romantic—accompaniment to her minimalist gown, this is ideal for the modern bride. The airy floral arrangement added a soft and romantic touch.
A flirty retro-inspired hairstyle was the ideal choice for this too-cool Brooklyn bride. She accessorized with a statement necklace and pops of red. We're absolutely living for those sultry pops of scarlet against her skin tone and vintagey dress.
A Crystal Halo
Christine's romantic bun was made even more so with the addition of a sparkly hairpiece. Check out how it gloriously frames the interwoven masterpiece. This is ideal for the bride seeking a romantic yet glam look.
That gloss, though! This bride's slightly wavy, super-shiny locks nearly outdid the glimmer coming off her engagement ring. We're obsessed with a sleek and romantic hairstyle like this one.
Seeking for vibrant, organic, and slightly untraditional inspiration? Look no further. This beachy bride rocked her natural curls and a punchy flower crown at her seaside South Carolina wedding.
A Wreath of Greenery
A pair of dainty braids completed the beachy-wave 'do of this Colorado bride. The crown of greenery is the perfect complement to the woodsy locale. This beauty was transformed into an enchanted fairy-tale bride.
Old-Hollywood curls with ample amounts of shine and bounce have Brittany looking every bit the on-screen siren. A deep side part plays up the volume for an added dose of sexiness. This ultra glam look certainly doesn't disappoint.
A Curly Creation
Take note of all the texture and dimension that natural curls add to a traditional style. Her look even created a stable canvas for a sizable barrette. Not to be completely restrained, this vivacious bride later unleashed the full glory of her voluminous coils for the reception.
A Floral Pony
Diana gathered her abundant waves into a full, low ponytail at the nape of her neck. She tucked a bunch of freshly foraged florals into the base. The palette of white, soft green, and blush florals contrasted beautifully against the bride's red locks.
"Have inspiration photos of what you like and don't like. If you're working with a stylist that doesn't know you well, it's important to communicate both likes and dislikes from the beginning," explains Ashley Schaumburg.
Mariangel's textured waves and sun-kissed ends have her looking like a mermaid that just stepped out of the surf. A long, unembellished veil added the perfect delicate touch. We couldn't think of a better 'do for the tropical beach locale.
A Fabulous Fishtail
Fishtail braids can be so refreshingly unexpected in comparison to their traditional French and Dutch counterparts. Bride Jenneh adorned the sweet style with a swag of pastel roses and greenery that hugged the side of her head. A few intentionally placed pieces cascaded down to frame her face.
Kalisha chose retro finger waves for her vintage-inspired lob. The results are simultaneously soft yet unquestionably vampish. Ooh-la-la!
Swept Back Locks
Bride Tracy's swept back locks were perfectly tucked behind her ears. With her hair parted down the middle, she kept it sleek before soft waves fell behind her shoulders. We love this modern take on a classic style.
A Beachy Bun
Gathered as a low-slung braid, this chignon has an undone vibe that befits the sandy Tulum nuptials. With dimensional, caramel highlights accenting the weave and tons of exquisite flyaways, bride Donna nailed the effortless beach-goddess look. It's safe to say that we're obsessed.
A Soft Touch
Who needs a distinguished part when you can fully showcase that bridal glow instead? Lillian's soft style was combed back before cascading into a gentle curls at the bottom. The swept-back style showcased the bride's décolletage and beaming smile.
This is one cool Cali bride who's definitely not afraid of a little color! Her brown curls were dip-dyed a bold blue hue for her walk down the aisle. Plus, the deep red hue of her bridesmaids' dresses perfectly contributed to the moody palette.
A relaxed, late-summer fête calls for an unfussy hairstyle that speaks to the informality of the season. Josiane's natural texture needed no extra additions to shine. Her bold earrings and a laid-back wrap dress made for a swoon-worthy pairing.
Now this is winter-wedding perfection. Wenna's rich, brunette strands were combed back into a deliciously smooth chignon at the nape of the neck and embellished with an icy floral pin. How chic?!
A Face-Framing Style
Jennifer pinned up a few tresses of her effortless loose curls to frame her face. Her long, lush locks romantically fell down past her shoulders. The look is guaranteed to be first-kiss approved.
For her North Carolina wedding, Mallory wore her shoulder-length hair in side-swept curls. The dramatic side part created a swirl of her luscious locks to cascade into a flurry of soft waves. This style is bound to create a super romantic and glam look.
Experiment with your part to completely change the feel of a hairstyle. Where a center part can add softness, a deep side part can bring about a sexy edge.
With a braided bun and a dainty, glitzy headband, this California bride was wedding-ready. Her striking red tresses made the look all the more memorable. This swept-up style is ideal for the bride seeking an unfussy yet elegant updo.
A Beachy Bob
Calling all low-key brides! Pina's beachy, voluminous waves and playful length were the ideal choice for her seaside nuptials. Easy and effortless, this pretty style exudes a care-free vibe.
We're strong believers that a voluminous pony is the epitome of chic. Bride Katrina proved to be just that with her gorgeous updo. The natural texture to her hair made this look all the more stunning.
Have thick, long locks? Take advantage of it! These tousled touch-me waves completed this bride's romantic wedding-day look. We love the sunny highlights that add some dimension to the natural vibe.
Christina went ultra-elegant for her Tuscan wedding with a side-swept chignon that was accessorized with a delicate hairpin. The swept-back style proved to be ideal for a hair-free first kiss. The groom clearly had no complaints!
There's nothing quite like an ultra-glossy, blunt bob to evoke a fashion-forward persona. The full fringe matches the dress's soft drama exquisitely showcasing a composed full look. It doesn't get anymore chic than this.
A Waterfall of Curls
For a romantic look, opt for a waterfall of cascading curls. Go for big-barred waves and brush through your hair for an even more effortless look. Jennifer completed her modern yet soft bridal style with brushed waves in her ultra-long locks.
A Romantic Crop
Lengthy locks aren't always needed for a captivating bridal hairstyle. Jazmyn's delicately finger-waved crop is absolutely alluring in its retro appeal. A look like this is sure to keep the focus on the bride's face.
Barely there curls and a center part were the ideal finishing touch to Ashley's '70s bridal style. The carefree look perfectly complements her organic bundle of wildflowers and bell-sleeved lace gown. Her soft, natural makeup proves to be the finishing touch.
A Silky Chignon
This Manhattan bride's ultra-smooth and voluptuous chignon are unquestionably chic. Not to mention, it looks absolutely exquisite with that Marchesa dress. A 'do like this is ideal to show off your back!
“Tulum has a boho-style to it,” says bride Katy of her wedding locale. She specifically chose the relaxed, wavy hairstyle to complement the destination's trademark combination of a natural aesthetic and chic aura. Mission accomplished!
Look every bit the effortlessly cool, Cali bride with these funky and bohemian milkmaid braids. The braided style allows for an ultra textured look. Plus, the escaped wisps and curls complete the slightly undone look.
Embrace Your Natural Texture
The beautiful Rochelle styled her tresses into a texturized bun. Accessorized with a couple of pretty pins, the bride benefitted from a glimpse of extra shimmer. This ultra elegant and subtly glam look was ideal for her Martha's Vineyard wedding day.
How angelic is this beauty?! The bride's low-slung, voluminous ponytail is not only unique but totally glam, too. We're loving how the veil flows over the completed look rather than being pinned into place.
This is what a glam bride's dreams are made of! Amanda's luscious curls are all about that generous gloss. We'd go so far as to say this side-swept look is absolutely glassy.
Ashley's perfectly disheveled, voluminous locks made for a sexy addition to her bridal ensemble at her Aspen wedding. Her natural makeup made for this hairstyle's perfect pair. Effortless and timeless, we'll never tire of a look like this.
A Bombshell Blowout
This just might be the bridal blowout of dreams. Sydney's bright blonde locks dazzled with this sexy blowout that was equal parts smooth, bouncy, and voluminous. With just enough of a wave, this flurry of cascading curls prove to be irresistible.
Kelli Patten suggests, "Make sure you and your stylist share the same aesthetic. Everyone has different preferences and matching the right beauty team with your personal style is a big part of getting it right."
With her naturally stunning curls swept up into an elegant updo, Bride Morgan kept her look romantic and subtle. The delicately embellished hair pieces were imperfectly scattered throughout her waves to create just a glimpse of shimmer. The few falling face-framing curls proved to be the perfect touch.
Both of these brides rocked laid-back braided chignons for their rustic Colorado wedding. Textured and intricate, the swept-up style still allowed for an effortless and easy look. We love how these two brides coordinated their styles to complement each others!
An Embellished Plait
How effortlessly romantic is this?! Alexandra nestled these floral pins into her loosely plaited hair to inject a touch of whimsy into her vineyard wedding. We love the stunning texture and dimension of this look.
A Voluminous Crown
A classic chignon just isn't the same without tons of volume running through the crown. The stunning shape is adorned with a single pin before transitioning into the woven bun. A few face-framing pieces delicately fall down to create a soft look.
A Relaxed Look
Bride Sarah's unfussy style transformed her into the autumnal fairy she envisioned for her wine country wedding in Napa. The dusty-hued blooms stole the show. Sweet and delicate, this style creates dimension, texture, and adds a splash of color.
Featuring a dramatic side part, Bride Alix was a stunner in her simple gown, cape, and soft waves. With one side of her hair drastically pulled back with an embellished comb, it allowed the other side to embrace all the volume and cascading curls. Talk about romance and glam all rolled into one!
What are the best bridal hairstyles for short hair v.s. long hair?
"It's really easy to over-style short hair, because it doesn't have a lot of weight to pull curl down causing it to look over-curled and outdated. Keep the style soft by combining a soft bend with some smoother, straight pieces. Incorporating multi-textures can make it look very chic. On the flip side, longer hair has more weight and tends to lose curl faster. If you opt to wear your hair down, hire your stylist to stay on site with you, so they can refresh your waves if the hair falls," recommends Patten.
Should I wear an updo or wear my hair down for my wedding day?
"What's most important is how you feel, not the idea of what you think you should or shouldn't do," says Schaumburg. "If you feel most like yourself with your hair up, that's the look you should go for. If you wear your hair down all the time, that's going to feel the most natural on your wedding day and that's paramount." Patten also advises to consider the elements such as the season, level of humidity, and the location of your nuptials.
How do I style my hair to complement my wedding dress?
"Typically, you'll feel a pull one way or the other based on the neckline and the style of the dress," says Balest. "I like to have some contrast between the dress and the hair. For example, if your dress is full, a voluminous hairstyle can be overwhelming, whereas, if the dress is more simple with cleaner lines, you could opt for more texture and volume. You want the style to complete, not compete," suggests Patten. Schaumburg adds, "Consider your bridal style and allow that to inform the hair style: ie. classic, bohemian, glamorous, beachy, sophisticated."