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 nary 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. Plus, it's perfectly placed to show off the top closure of this stunning, open-backed gown—and all of that beautiful lacework, too.
Always consider the back of your gown! If yours features any neckline details or embellishments that deserve to be seen, focus on wedding updos that will keep your tresses pinned closer and tighter to your head.
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, the beaded gown, the red lip—that the whole gorgeous picture falls into place.
Add a Headband
Thanks to a certain duchess, ultra-loose, low buns—with plenty of face-framing strands—are trending among brides everywhere. The addition of a headband gives some structure to this relaxed, wedding-day hairstyle, which is just a bit undone and carefree but still so chic.
Whether an ever-so-carefully-pinned offset chignon, a low side bun or knot—or some 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.
With such a delicate 'do, you'll want to be careful about how you might affix a veil or any sort of crown that might tug at those perfectly smooth and structured top waves.
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 an accessories designer ... who just so happens to be a friend.
Throw the Rules Out
Who says updos can't be wild and free? We love how this bride's bangs and side fringe flow into this beautifully woven, curled, pinned, high-volume wedding hairstyle that we love even more for how unfussy it finishes, with not a care in the world for any of those baby fine flyaways. So, so pretty!
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 (Why Not?)
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 (quite literally, much like heels do) and shows off those gorgeous cheekbones like nobody's business.
Weave and Layer
Layers upon layers of interwoven (and carefully pinned) strands give this wedding updo the prettiest twist. While this sort of styling may take some time to complete, the overall effect has such an easy elegance to it that we just love.
Go for Retro Glam
Thick, blunt-cut bangs plus a teased updo—coupled with this bride's floral Giambattista Valli gown (which she bought online!)—is giving us some serious '60s and '70s feels. And we're all about it.
Whether you have bangs or some other signature look or style, definitely own it! The most important thing about your wedding day 'do is that you do you.
Be Bold with Braids
We love the versatility of braided wedding hairstyles, and this fully braided updo is no exception. For brides who love braids, why settle for one or two braids when you can go all in? The result is wholly unexpected and impossibly pretty.
So Simple and Sleek
Elegant yet understated, you can't go wrong with a classic bridal bun, which paired beautifully with all three looks this bride wore on her wedding day. Less is more—especially when one of your gowns is a Marchesa show-stopper covered in 3D printed florals!
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.
Finding a stylist you trust, and the time for an advance hair trial, can be challenging when you're planning a destination wedding from afar—which is more reason to consider a low-maintenance updo. (Trust us, your gorgeous locale will wow your guests plenty.)
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. But again, this bride gave us a twist, pairing a wrapped, braided bridal bun with her gorgeous gown.
Elevate a softly structured low bun or chignon to princess-worthy status in a nanosecond by adding a decorative crown or tiara that suits your wedding style. While not exactly a flower crown or greenery wreath—which is always a lovely boho option—we are swooning for this bride's more ornate botanical-inspired crown and how her veil is attached just so.
Channel Your Inner Ballerina
Poised, elegant, and just so chic, this bride looked like a bonafide ballerina as she was getting ready for her destination wedding in Anguilla. Just wait until you see what a vision she is with her sleek, ballet-inspired chignon in her beaded tulle Marchesa ball gown!
Go for Volume Up Top
A voluminous chignon placed high on the head is a surefire style. Have your stylist tease the hair at the crown of your head for added volume and, when in doubt about volume for the chignon itself, know that you can always add a few extensions.
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.
Take Notes from Your Bouquet
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. Between this bride's florals and the stunning botanical-inspired bodice of her gown, plus the one-shoulder illusion sleeve, talk about a wow moment!
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 vision more suited for a woodland frolic than a debutante's ball.
Think High and Sleek
One of the great features of buns, chignons, and knotted (and sometimes braided) updos is that when it comes to placement, you've got options. A variation on the ballet-inspired low chignon featured earlier, this bride's high, sleek knot is undeniably timeless and refined.
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.