There’s nothing we love more than a good wedding tradition, and the Indian culture knows how to do them right. Among one of the rituals in their three-day (sometimes more) wedding celebration is the mehndi party, a ceremony held before the wedding in which henna designs are applied to the bride’s hands and feet—as well as the hands and feet of her closest female family and friends, while they share their secrets for a happy and fruitful marriage for the duration of the event.
To create henna, an artist applies paste in delicate designs on the hands. After drying, it flakes off, leaving the skin stained with the artwork. The longer the paste stays on, the darker the stain becomes. It’s said the depth of the color in the bride’s henna—and the longer it lasts—indicates just how much the groom will love her. Traditionally, the most intricate henna patterns are applied to the bride to set her apart from everyone else. It can feature anything from lace patterns and nature-inspired elements to the groom’s name (which he has to locate) and depictions of animals and Hindu gods, as well as symbolic designs that signify blessings, luck, joy, and love.
Priyanka Chopra's wedding-day mehndi even featured a tiny guitar on her upper right hand as a tribute to her musical groom. But there’s more to henna than its beauty. Its natural herbal medicinal remedies are supposed to cool the nerve endings of the body, helping relieve the bride of stress before her big day—all the more reason to carry on with the mehndi party. Its herbaceous properties don’t prevent us from gazing at the stunning intricacies of a good henna pattern, though.
We’ve rounded up 17 henna designs that we just can’t take our eyes off of.
A Gilded Touch
We love how Lula paired the deep hues of her henna (especially down on her fingertips) with the striking gold jewelry and nude nails.
A Multicultural Approach
While Sarah is Chinese, her husband is Indian. She hid the Chinese double-happiness character in her palm to marry their two cultures together for their colorful multicultural wedding in New York. She even set up a henna artist in her wedding’s lounge area where guests could get henna as well.
Get Everyone Involved
“Before the wedding, we had a mehndi [henna] party," says bride Sarada. "The wedding party and my close relatives came together, and we had our hands and feet adorned with traditional designs." Her bridesmaids chose minimalistic patterns stemming from just one finger and circling around the wrist for her at-home wedding in Tennessee.
Continuity Is Key
Saba’s hands weren’t the only things to flaunt beautiful henna that looks like lacework—her invitation suite also included henna-inspired details. The results were a delightful blend of themes throughout every aspect of her New Orleans fête.
Sonia received her henna during a traditional mehndi party with 40 female family members and friends before her Hindu and Christian Nashville nuptials. The red design matches her saree with gold detailing, which her mother-in-law had hand-made in India.
This bride’s henna is so intricate, it depicts her and her groom coming together when the palms are adjacent. We love how this design tells a love story befitting the celebrations. Henna illustrations of the to-be-weds are very traditional components of bridal mehndi.
Megha's intricate henna tattoos covered the majority of her arms and legs—the entire process took almost eight hours to complete. She adorned the gorgeous results with her mother's personal jewelry pieces for her mountainside celebration in Colorado.
This henna boasts a mandala and lace fingertips for a more unique look. The fishnet-like pattern on the fingertips gives the bride a sultry, gloved look.
A Perfect Match
Stuti got glammed up for her ceremony, complete with extravagant jewelry and henna that complemented her red and gold Indian garb. The saturated, burnt-orange colored tattoos are a perfect match for the crimson ensemble.
Consider Outfit Changes
The dainty lacework of Maanasa's mehndi art perfectly mirrored the designs on the sunny, buttercup-hued sari she donned for her Hindu ceremony. But it also absolutely stunned alongside the lace detailing of the wedding dress she changed into for her lakeside nuptials in New York.
All in the Details
We love that despite each bride boasting her own custom designs, the two individual patterns come together beautifully. Both brides had each other’s names hidden in their henna. Now, that’s what we call romance! Can you spot the inscriptions?
A Royal Flush
Bride Seema’s henna mirrors the delicate gold design on her opulent brocade. The trim adds a regal touch to the final look.
A Floral Affair
Nayha's delicate mehndi design matches the intricate floral embroidery on the bridal lengha she wore for her garden-inspired wedding in Memphis. Her husband, Zubin, wore a sherwani with metallic accents that matched her floral ensemble. He continued the matching theme by even getting a mehndi of his own—Nayha's name and two little hearts prominently placed on his left hand.
Don't Forget the Feet
Although the henna on Simi's feet (which features a matching set to that covering her hands and arms) was mostly covered by both of her lenghas, they are on full display in this getting ready portrait. We would have loved to see the gorgeous designs making little appearances as she twirled the night away at her NYC wedding.
Against the Grain
Kaabia rocked super-detailed mehndi artwork with a bespoke beaded lengha in ivory—a color that is traditionally considered inauspicious for Indian weddings; but this bride's whimsical beach wedding in Vietnam was uniquely of her own making.
Tahsina's henna designs make for a jaw-dropping complement to the richly-hued blue lengha with gold detailing she wore for her Bengali wedding in Long Island.
Be True to You
It goes without saying that Seema Bansal, the co-founder of Venus et Fleur, would incorporate rose motifs in her bridal henna. The intricate designs featured a large bloom on the palm of each hand and smaller blooms on the front and back of each finger, as well as a rose-adorned mandala on the back of each hand. Her fingertips were completely covered in a pink-hued henna to match every one of her six dresses for her lavish Miami wedding.