One of the biggest decisions you'll make when it comes to your bridal look is your wedding hairstyle, and it is a big one. From classic updos to bridal braids (or even a messy bun if you're Meghan Markle), you've got options. But there are plenty of brides out there who'd rather let their hair down on their big day, too—and for those brides, we've gathered some seriously fab wedding hairstyle inspiration!
"Wearing hair down can feel much more comfortable than wearing it up in an unusual style that a bride isn't confident in," says bridal hair specialist Sheila Raye Stone. "It also gives a nice frame for the face and softens the neck and shoulders."
Meet the Expert
- Sheila Raye Stone is a licensed cosmetologist with a specialty in hair and makeup for weddings and events across the US and internationally. She has over 20 years of experience in the industry.
Whether you're thinking about embracing your hair's natural texture, glamming things up with curls or waves, or topping off your locks with delicate fresh flowers, a hair accessory, or even nothing at all, we've got you covered. Free-flowing strands are effortlessly romantic and can look gorgeous with a veil or without one. And if you think your hair is too short (or too long) to pull it off, think again. Countless brides have nailed the look with bridal lobs and bobs in addition to super-long locks.
Keep reading for some stylish wedding hairstyle inspiration from real weddings.
Pretty Pin Up
We love this look, which is the perfect solution for brides who appreciate the fresh-face appeal of an updo but want to keep their locks down and loose in the back. Thanks to strategically placed pins, several topped with tiny pearls, this bride's hair is swept back from her face entirely—all the better to show off her gorgeous cheekbones and beaming smile. "A few pieces or one side can be pinned back if it's a really windy day for a more relaxed look," adds Stone.
Love the finished look of a half-up, half-down wedding 'do, but also really want to keep your locks loose and voluminous? One ever-so-slightly more undone option (than a formal 'do) is to forgo a part and have your stylist comb back the hair instead. "You want to start the volume in the middle of the top of the head to create a nice round profile that has a subtly enhanced shape that complements the bride's cheekbones," says Stone. Place your veil in the center to give the illusion of a half-up style.
Volume powder is a must when backcombing the hair. Apply about an inch above the scalp in small sections before gently backcombing each one.
If perfectly polished and defined curls just aren't your thing, may we suggest grabbing a paddle brush and going at it? Brushing out the curls diffuses their shape for a softer, more lived-in vibe that looks oh so effortless. We love how this beautiful bride paired the style with a slightly off-center part to continue the laid-back look.
From the floral embroidery on her spectacular lehenga to that serious stack of bangles and delicate henna, this bride's wedding-day ensemble has so many lovely details worth admiring. As a counterpoint, we love that she kept her locks (and her makeup) so fresh and relaxed. Her natural beauty just radiates, and we're swooning, for sure.
We absolutely adore how this bride's floral-embroidered, floor-length veil cascades over her side-parted, shoulder-grazing tresses. Paired with such a classic bridal accessory, her unfussy, wavy 'do infuses the whole look with a chicness and lightness that's no less timeless. The beaming smile just says it all, doesn't it?
Yes, we know, a braid might not technically be a let-your-hair-down wedding hairstyle—but it's definitely worthy of consideration. And what's not to love about a loose side braid that's paired with side-swept long layers or bangs, face-framing tendrils, perhaps even a delicate crown or garland? There are so many ways to make this wedding 'do all your own.
Technically an updo, this low-slung ponytail works beautifully as a hair-down wedding style that's fresh, relaxed, and romantic. Finished with delicate florals (which the bride gathered herself that morning!) plus cascading curls and face-framing tendrils cut to the ideal length, the look is absolute perfection. "Letting pieces hang around the face that are too long won't frame the cheekbones well," notes Stone. "They just end up distracting from the entire look and getting caught in lipstick."
Styled with a deep center part, perfectly coiffed waves show off a masterful balayage, and are finished with a traditional bridal veil—in both style and placement. This classic wedding hairstyle is a stunner paired with all sorts of gown bodices and necklines. "I usually recommend doing hair color 10 days to two weeks prior to the wedding in case it needs to be adjusted with plenty of time," says Stone.
Looking for proof of the versatility of hair-down wedding styles? How about these beautiful brides, one of whom went for classic bombshell curls and the other an easy, sophisticated elegance? What can we say...we love 'em both!
Everything about this bride's wedding-day style is giving us rock 'n' roll feels. We love how the bride stayed true to her sassy tousled 'do and bangs. "If you know me, you know I have a hairstyle that’s kind of become my signature: long, natural dark hair with a French fringe, with some wave texture,” Bride Maria says. “I knew the photos taken of me that day would be looked back on by future generations of my family. I wanted to make sure to look like myself on my wedding day, so my children and grandchildren could remember me that way.”
Tight, free-flowing curls create quite the shapely 'do all on their own. We absolutely love this hair length for brides with thicker, naturally wavy and curly locks. It's that perfect balance of volume and length, without weighing down your gorgeous tresses either. With ample texture, there's nothing else necessary to liven up such a vivacious coif.
Whether you're planning a warm-weather destination wedding or just love the look of beachy waves, the hairstyle is going to look amazing on hair of almost any length. Style with a few flowers in your hair for added boho vibes, but be mindful of overusing product. "A mistake would be wearing hair down with too tight of a curl and too much product," says Stone. "Adding in a few extensions can do wonders, making the need for product less. This will prevent the hair from looking flat and droopy throughout the wedding."
Dramatic Side Part
One ultra-easy way to change up your everyday hairstyle so that it's wedding-worthy? Play around with how you part your hair! We love how a deep side-part paired with soft curls instantly glams up any 'do.
Floral Half-Up, Half-Down
One step up from a completely unadorned, all-down wedding hairstyle is this fresh and pretty look. Finished with easy waves and a delicate botanical arrangement, the style is a simple one to recreate. Pinned at the back of the head, it does double-duty to also keep those strands in place and out of the way for the day.
No matter what your hair length or texture, side-swept barrel curls are always a good idea. "Hair down and swept over one shoulder looks nice with a dress that has a lot of detail on the back," adds Stone. "Or, I will sweep the carefully styled hair into a loose bun for the ceremony and then drop it down for the cocktail party/reception. If doing this, it is very important to use a few very strong pins in strategic areas so the hair isn't too creased when it's taken out."
A Botanical Crown
Loose waves topped with a botanical crown is a classic boho wedding hairstyle for good reason. We love how the options these days are ever more creative, from full-on floral crowns to greenery-only wreaths to custom combos and even halos of pampas grass. Dream it up and no doubt your florist can make it happen!
Isn't this bride the essence of laid-back chic?! We love all the bounce and shine emanating from this photo. You don't necessarily need to have long tresses to own this look—that's the beauty of a blowout, which allows your stylist to work some serious hair magic for locks of all lengths and a wide range of textures.
Texture mousses help plump the hair and give a fuller looking blowout.
A Stunning Center Part
These gorgeous waves are absolutely timeless. Looking to grow out your tresses to create the same look? "A good haircut is essential about two weeks prior to the date if you really trust your stylist not to cut off too much—if you don't, then cut it six weeks in advance," advises Stone. "If you have really long hair with a bit of damage, I recommend cutting three to four inches about six months in advance, so it has time to grow back healthier."
Loose and Tousled Two Ways
To crown or not to crown? Well, these two beautiful brides show that a loose and tousled wedding hairstyle can look just as gorgeous either which way. (Although, we know, that doesn't necessarily make your decision any easier!)
Bouncy, long hair, and a dramatic veil make the ultimate power couple if you ask us. To achieve the look, ask your stylist for a big voluminous blowout finished with a strong-hold hairspray, so that gorgeous 'do will last all day. When choosing a veil, Stone advises against options with bulky plastic clips that can ruin a good coif. "The metal combs are superior for ease of removal since, most of the time, the veil is removed by a bridesmaid after a few drinks," she adds.
We love the casual elegance of this bride's sleek hairstyle, which starts with a middle part and finishes with just a bit of texture worked into her loose strands. It's the perfect blank canvas, so to speak, to showcase the intricate gown, which is simply stunning in its own right. "With the chin-length bob in style this season, I'm seeing more sleek styles that are flat-ironed for extra shine and very blunt ends, tucked behind the ears," notes Stone. "Even with longer hair, straight sleek styles with tucked fronts, volume on the crown, and loose waves that start below the ears is popular."
Talk about an angelic vision! If you've got gorgeous long locks, set them in wide, soft waves to channel an ethereal bridal style. Wedding photographers love to snap this shot of their brides backlit in natural light. Looking at this dreamy portrait, it's easy to see why.
We love when brides go for a statement hair accessory, like this sparkly hairpiece adorned with tiny flowers and crystals. "If accessories are used, I recommend purchasing ones with a metal comb—not plastic—and one that isn't too heavy for your hair type," advises Stone. "Accessories on alligator clips that aren't too heavy are also nice and don't slip out."
We love the easy elegance of this bride's wedding style—from her soft waves to her barely there makeup. The whole look exudes such relaxed, understated natural beauty that you almost wonder, did she just wake up this way? Stone advises reining in your use of product to hold such coifs, as it can result in looking too stiff or not resembling your hair at all.
More shaped and bouncy than waves but still loose and relaxed in appearance, soft curls are a perpetually popular choice among brides for their endurance and versatility. While wavy 'dos are intended to have a natural look and feel (and may soften as the hours pass), curls are more likely to retain their shape and volume. "Pinning each section up while still warm lightly sets the hair with stronger wave patterns," adds Stone.
With hair this long and lustrous, it would almost be wrong to wear it up! These brides allowed their natural hair patterns to flow in the seaside breeze of their beachy nuptials. "I think it's important for brides to use a few clip-in human hair extensions if their hair is fine for coastal weddings where there may be humidity and the nights become a bit dewy," says Stone. "The extra hair supports the style and helps keep the hair looking fresh and voluminous."
A Shapely Coif
Gorgeous gown aside, we can envision this bride exuding the same sort of easy sophistication in her daily life, which is why we love that she stayed true to her own personal style for her wedding day. Plus, her relaxed hairstyle is a refreshing choice when paired with such a dreamy gown. Doesn't it feel like it's straight out of a fairy tale?
Such luscious ringlets (and natural curls of all sorts of lengths and styles) needn't be tucked away on your wedding day. When it comes to wedding hairstyles, it doesn't get more sweet and romantic than a headful of curls cascading down your back! We love how this look is finished with a delicate spray of tiny florals nestled into soft strands that have been woven together for an almost crown-like effect.
We love this bride's rationale behind deciding on a low-key, wavy wedding hairstyle—which is the epitome of understated elegance paired with the slim silhouette of her stunning strapless gown. “I decided to wear my hair down, like I do every day, to feel more like myself,” she explains. Cheers to that!
"I think it is important to choose a hairstyle that promotes confidence and ease, especially if the bride isn't used to being in front of crowds or the camera," notes Stone. "If a bride really wants to experiment with her look, then do it on the rehearsal night and be a bit more edgy that night instead of the wedding day. I think ease in a style will promote the most confidence, which leads to better photos." We'd say these gorgeous brides and their windblown curls prove those sentiments to be true.
What type of wedding dresses work best for wearing your hair down?
How you wear your hair on the big day is largely a matter of preference, with no right or wrong answer. If you typically wear your hair down, it may feel more like "you" to do the same on your wedding day. Hair-down looks work great with strapless gowns or spaghetti straps. If your dress has a detailed back or a high neck, you may want to consider an updo or a half-up, half-down style. Be sure your stylist knows what your dress looks like, and they can help you find a hairstyle that works from all angles.
How do I secure a veil if I wear my hair down?
Choosing to wear your hair down doesn't mean you have to forgo a veil. While updos provide the most grip, many veils have combs attached that can easily hook into the hair. Bobby pins and a bit of backcombing can provide some assistance. You can also wear a veil draped over the head, allowing it to freely cascade over the hair for an ethereal effect.