Being a bridesmaid is a true test of friendship. You’ve booked flights, planned parties, given thoughtful gifts and speeches, bought too many rounds of drinks, and—not pointing any fingers here—you may have bought a dress that you won’t ever wear again (but maybe don’t mention that to the bride). If that’s not love, we don’t know what is.
If you’re looking for ways to pinch pennies by the time the wedding rolls around, getting your hair done is an easy line item to cut from the budget. Yes, it’s nice to get pampered, but it’s a cost you can dodge by going the DIY route (along with nails and makeup). Even if you’re not handy with a braid or a curling iron, there are plenty of easy but done-up options you can pull together the day of.
Ahead, we rounded up the best DIY bridesmaid hairstyles that make easy ponytails and chignons look like a thousand bucks.
Ponytails can go one of two ways: gym class or red carpet. To keep a sleek, casual ponytail elevated enough for bridesmaid duty, leave a one-inch section of hair out while you gather the rest at the crown of your head. Once you’ve secured the pony with a hair tie, wrap that leftover section around the tie to conceal it, and then fasten with a bobby pin. Hit your masterpiece with a flexible hairspray like Living Proof Style Lab Flex Hairspray, so your pony can swing freely without unraveling.
If you’re not confident in recreating any Olympic-level hair twists or fishtail braids, think of other ways to elevate your style. Pin a few small flowers or blooms into your everyday style (something you know you can do with your eyes closed—whether that’s a wash-and-go or top knot) to make an easy look feel special.
Think about what your bride has planned for her big day. Is it a bohemian garden party or an ultra-modern wedding in the city? If flowers in your hair don’t vibe with the event, you can also jazz up a casual style with an embellished barrette or pin—so long as you’re not pulling focus with too much glitz and sparkle. We love just a few pearls—like these Kristen Ess Pearl Bobby Pins—perched on top of a low bun.
Not everyone has the innate talent to wield a curling iron, but if you’ve had practice, loose curls are a simple but beautiful look for any wedding. “It’s a look that works for all lengths and textures, although it may take a little more effort for straight hair that doesn’t hold curl well,” says Jenna Spino, a hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. Prep with a heat protectant (always), curl the hair in sections, and then loosen the curls with your fingers.
Spino recommends a 1.25-inch curling iron for longer hair and a 1-inch barrel for shorter lengths.
If you want to wear your hair down but know that you’ll be constantly tucking it back, go ahead and pin one side (or both) behind your ears. It’s practical, yes, but also very soft and romantic. Spino recommends teasing the crown a bit for extra volume before fastening the sides behind the ear with a sleek pin (Kitsch makes great rhinestone bobby pins for a little touch of sparkle).
Half and Half
Devin Toth, a hairstylist at Salon SCK in New York City, recommends a half-up, half-down look for an easy but polished style. Pin two front sections back at the crown of your head with your pin of choice (Toth likes gold Kristin Ess French Pins for a chic touch, but simple bobby pins work just as well). We also love this look with fringe or curtain bangs free in the front.
If a low bun or chignon is romantic, then loosely curled tendrils are a Jane Austen novel. When gathering your hair, leave out two small sections in the front (if you want them to be wispy, stick with one-inch sections or less). Once you’ve fastened your hair back, curl the tendrils with a large-barreled curling iron and shake them out so they look effortless and natural.
“This is a simple, elegant style that can help give fine hair the appearance of extra volume and texture,” says Spino. To get this look, you’ll need to curl all of your hair first to give it that playful texture. Tease the top if you want a little volume at the crown, then fasten, spray, and go.
A low, romantic bun is a great way to get your hair back while still looking polished. You can either gather the hair just above the nape of your neck and twist it into a bun, or try a more modern version. “Using your brush, pull the hair back and secure it in a ponytail using an elastic band,” says hairstylist and co-founder of IGK Hair Care, Leo Izquierdo. “Using another elastic, tie the ponytail again, only pulling the ponytail halfway through on the last tie. This should create a loop with a tail of hair sticking out.” Wrap the tail around the base of the bun, and then pin it in place.
When you’ve finished your up-do, gently tug the front sections of your hair to give it a softer, more romantic look.
Headbands are kind of like icing on a cake—it’s not totally necessary, but it’s a nice way to level up something simple. If all you can manage is a blow-out—or even just an air-dried style—top it all off with a pretty headband to make the look more special. Just be sure to run it by the bride first, and air on the side of thinner, simpler designs (We like this delicate floral headband from ASOS, or this simple gold Chaplet headband).
Sleek and Snatched
A super-sleek, extra-tight, femme fatale up-do is a modern but easy style for bridesmaids. To get the hair to lay perfectly, “apply a light styling wax to the entire hairline and then use a flat boar bristle brush to gather all of your hair in the back,” says Toth. You can leave the ends down and loose for a sexy wet hair look, or fasten it into a tight ponytail or bun. Once it’s in place, use a high-gloss gel all over the style to give it extra shine and hold.
A low ponytail gathered at the nape of the neck works for any hair texture, but it looks especially mermaid-y with longer hair. If your hair is thin, you can add a little volume with a ponytail extension from Luxy Hair (it’s all one piece, clips in easily, and has a section of hair you can wrap around the base for that seamless look).
Sleek and Straight
Curls get a lot of glory at weddings, but super-straight hair is a sexy and fashion-forward option if you want something different. Start with a leave-in conditioner after your shower—we like the Kevin Murphy Smooth Again anti-frizz treatment—blow dry, and then hit your hair with a flat iron for an extra-sleek, glossy look. Top it off with a finishing oil like Verb Ghost Oil for protection from flyaways.
Add a Twist
If you like the sound of half-up hair but you’re ready to move from beginner to intermediate, try braiding or twisting the sections you’re pulling back before pinning them in the back.
As TikTok will tell you, there’s nothing more modern than a clean center part. You can pair it with any style—up or down—to make it look a bit more stylish and on-trend. A comb with a pointed end, like the ghd Tail Comb, will help you get the cleanest possible line.
Easy Braid Crown
The braid crown may look complicated but it should be a cinch if you speak French…braid. Starting with slightly dirty hair (that will help the braid stay in place), part your hair in the center and French braid each side all the way to the back. Once you have two ends in the back, tuck the tails in and pin them in place.
If you’re braiding your hair into an up-do, day-old hair is best for hold and texture.
Box Braid Ponytail
Long braids look extra chic gathered in a sky-high ponytail at the crown of the head. “Bend all the way forward until all of the braids are hanging in front of you,” says Leigh Hardges, a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “Grab two or three braids and wrap them around the rest of the hair to create a ponytail.” Hit the whole style with a shimmery mist like Kevin Murphy Shimmer.Shine Spray for a little something extra.
Deep Side Part
Center parts may be all the rage, but a deep side part is an easy and timeless way to add volume and va-va-voom old Hollywood style.
A sprinkling of pearls or rhinestones is a really fun and funky style for bridesmaid duty. Use eyelash glue to adhere loose stones around your hair (this works on any style, up or down), or pick up that bedazzler that you’ve seen all over TikTok, which gently applies them with an easy stapler-like motion.
Top knots are the ultimate set-it-and-forget-it style with way more versatility than you’d think. Gather your hair loosely on top of your head and pin in place for a more romantic look or, if you want something modern, pull your hair into a high pony before tightly twisting it into a sleek knot.
There’s something very Brigitte Bardot about a tucked fringe. To get this 60s-inspired look, take the front two sections of your hair and pull them tightly back and under the back portion of your hair. Pin in place close to the nape of your neck and let the rest of your hair fall over it. For an extra flirty touch, use a flat iron to give the ends of your hair an outward flip.
Tousled, Blake Lively waves (her hair always looks like that, right?) will always be effortlessly cool. This look is easiest if you already have some texture to your hair. Otherwise, you can curl your hair, shake it out, and hit it with a texturizer or sea salt spray (we like Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray for matte waves that don’t feel too crunchy) for that just-off-the-beach look—even if the wedding is landlocked.
“I find that when having to wear a formal style, using the natural texture as the deciding factor of the style makes life so much easier,” says Hardges. For a natural, expanded shape, Hardges recommends misting the hair with water, generously applying a leave-in curl moisturizer like Kérastase Curl Manifesto Hydrating Leave-In Cream, and fluffing it out with a hair pick.
There are two ways to get these playful, 90s-inspired waves. First, you can braid wet hair the night before, sleep on it, and then shake the braids out in the morning. Or—if planning ahead isn’t your forte—try a three-barrel crimper for even, bouncy waves.
A low side ponytail, draped over your shoulder, is romantic while still being very casual and low-key (it’s also an easy style to redo in the bathroom if you need a touch-up after hitting the dance floor). Gather your hair on one side, pin it just below your ear so it all stays in place, and then fasten it all in a hair tie.
A clean, simple, Swan Lake-esque bun at the crown of your head is classic, refined, and easy to pull off on your own. Gather a ponytail where you’d like your bun to sit, twist it into a doughnut shape, and pin everything tightly so there are no loose ends or bits of hair that poke out. Then hit the bun with a reliable hair spray to keep everything in tip-top Prima Ballerina shape.