Tons of wedding trends come and go, but in our book, the bridal updo is one wedding hairstyle that always looks flawless. There have been so many bridal buns, chignons, and braided, twisted, and knotted updos that we've loved over the years, and the great thing about an updo is its versatility—there's a version that's bound to work for your hair's natural texture and bridal style, whether you're thinking modern and elegant or relaxed and romantic.
Take, for instance, the bridal bun. "You can play around with your hair's part, the looseness or tightness of the bun, or your hair's texture, and it totally changes its vibe," says Brian Zinno, senior education director of Antonio Prieto Salon. While a bridal bun has an inherent elegance and classicism to it—think, visions of a ballerina en pointe—don't be afraid to play it more loose or textured for a fresh and modern wedding day 'do. "A bridal chignon or bun can nod to the current trends—for instance, with lots of added texture—yet still have that timeless appeal," Zinno says.
Meet the Expert
Brian Zinno, senior education director of Antonio Prieto Salon, has worked with the world's top fashion designers, celebrities, and photographers.
Other reasons we love wedding updos? Let us count the ways: They show off a backless wedding dress or a high-neck gown like a dream. They stay put for hours on end (key for getting down on the dance floor). And they look amazing in photos—from every angle, literally.
Below, we've gathered 24 seriously stunning images from real weddings that offer all sorts of interpretations of this classic wedding hairstyle.
Consider a Classic Chignon
So, what's the difference between a bun and a chignon? The later describes any sort of low updo where your hair is tucked underneath and in—whereas, a bun is more of a wraparound look. We love how this full and flawless chignon allows this bride to show off her bare shoulders in the chicest way.
Twist Things Up
This bride's wedding updo is totally polished and finished—there's not a strand out of place. But, it's still so sweet and romantic, thanks to the addition of some side twists and how her stylist worked a braided effect into her low, knotted 'do.
Consider Your Part
The sleek low chignon get some volume thanks to the bride's deep side part and lightly teased hair.
Finish With Some Sparkle
We love this bride's effortlessly romantic hairstyle, which pairs a relaxed updo with soft strands framing her face. But it's only when you add into the mix that sparkling hair accessory—and those earrings and beaded gown—that the whole gorgeous picture falls into place.
Add a Headband
A birdcage veil is always a glamorous style choice. The look pairs perfectly with an updo that can show off your stunning profile.
Whether an ever-so-carefully-pinned offset chignon, a low side bun, or a braided, twisted, side-swept wedding hairstyle that you dreamt up on your own—there's something visually stunning about an asymmetrical updo, in any variation.
Make a Statement
Stunning hairpieces, florals and crowns, wow-factor earrings—wedding accessories and updos are a match made in heaven. These finishing touches celebrate personal style. This bride's striking floral barrettes—which do double-duty to hold those luscious natural curls in place during her wedding in Provence—were designed by her friend.
Think Relaxed and Effortless
A few untucked wisps of hair make a classic updo—in this case, a loose chignon—that's much more relaxed and effortless in appearance. While this sounds simple, it takes the precision of a pro to achieve the effect (without disrupting the rest of those perfectly placed strands). This is one time you don't want to try to DIY.
Rock a Topknot
Need any further proof that brides with updos can have just as much fun, too? While not the most obvious choice for a wedding day 'do, we love a topknot because it adds stature and height to your silhouette (much like heels do) and shows off those gorgeous cheekbones.
A sock bun at the nape of your neck with keep your hair looking sleek but also add volume to your look. We love how this bride also kept out her side bangs to beautifully frame her face at her Miami nuptials.
Go for Retro Glam
Thick, blunt-cut bangs plus a teased updo—coupled with this bride's floral Giambattista Valli gown is giving us some serious '60s vibes.
Choose a Flexible Style
Want to wear your hair up for only the ceremony? Ask your stylist to create a style that can easily be removed like this chic updo. "The amazing Emily Valerio from Brushed With Honey Beauty arranged the bun in such a way that it was easy to take the bobby pins out to let the bottom half out as long wavy curls for the reception dress," shares the bride.
“My hair is big and curly,” bride Vanessa says. “It’s kind of signature, and I couldn’t see myself any other way than natural on the day of my wedding.” So, the bride pulled up her tresses into a stylish textured updo with a jeweled pin.
Add Ribbon for a Sweet Touch
A silk ribbon-gathered updo finished with wispy, loose locks of hair is so Parisian chic—and indeed, this destination wedding at a chateau in the Loire Valley was quintessentially French in all the right ways.
Reinvent a Classic
We adore the bespoke details of this custom gown the bride helped to design herself. To show off that statement bow, a wedding updo was in order, of course. This bride gave us a twist, pairing a wrapped, braided bridal bun with her gorgeous gown.
Put Up a Ponytail
Want to elevate your go-to ponytail for your wedding day? Add some waves into your locks and wrap a piece of hair around the rubber band for a sleek look to take you through the night.
Bride (and wedding photographer) Paige Vaughn had her hair styled into a braided crown, which kept strands of her face and looked perfect with her veil. To bejewel her tresses, the woven style was adorned with pearl pins.
Make a Bow
To mimic the back of her dress, this bride had her stylist weave her hair into a bow-like style for a sleek and elegant look.
Trade Tendrils for Face-Framing Waves
At the wedding of model Shanina Shaik to Gregory “DJ Ruckus” Andrews, relaxed femininity was the name of the game. We love how the bride's low bun is boosted with subtle volume, plus those face-framing waves are everything. Much thicker sections of hair than what's typically used for tendrils, they're a perfect solution for a breezy outdoor ceremony.
Have Fun With Florals
Brides rocking down 'dos aren't the only ones who can wear flowers in their hair. We love the idea of working florals from your bouquet into your wedding updo—whether delicate flowers and greenery or larger statement blooms.
Create a Halo Effect
What better way to frame such a picture-perfect wedding updo than with a halo hair accessory? There's such a soft romanticism to this look that we love, between the gently wavy look of the bride's hair outside the halo, the delicate leaf pattern of the hairpiece itself, and, of course, all of the beautiful textures of those interwoven strands.
Embrace Messy Braids and Waves
As far as wedding hairstyles go, updos tend to be more formal—but that doesn't mean they have to be. Loosen the styling, add some waves and braids, tuck a bit of greenery or florals here and there, and instantly you've got a more bohemian beauty look.
Let Your Dress Shine
One of the great features of buns, chignons, and knotted updos is that they can help highlight standout parts of your gown. This bride chose a low braided bun with face-framing tendrils to show off the bold bow on the back of her dress.
A classic wrapped bun will never go out of style and looks amazing paired with wedding-day ensembles, ranging from strapless gowns to chic jumpsuits (and so much more). This durable 'do is meant to go the distance, from walking down the aisle to celebrations all night long.
Should I hire a hairstylist?
Unless you're very comfortable doing an updo yourself, it's a good idea to have a pro do your hair before your wedding. If that's not an option, practice as much as possible before the big day, and if you have a friend who's good with hair, enlist their services!
How long does an updo take?
Budget an hour to an hour and a half for just your hair—double the time if makeup is in the same sesh. However, if your practice runs take longer, go with that time.
Should my bridesmaids also have updos?
Totally up to you. If their dress style works works well with an updo, it's worth considering. Just keep in mind that hair type and face shape can affect how different styles look on different people, so it's a good idea to have options.