When Meghan Markle walked down the aisle of St. George's Chapel with her hair loosely done up in her signature messy bun, the world—and brides—took notice. According to Pinterest's Wedding Report, search for messy updos was up a whopping 1,274 percent that year, proving that the best updos are carefree, sexy, and just a little bit messy. Not to mention here to stay.
Sure, sleek and classic chignons will never truly go out of style, but we're smitten with these relaxed updos and clearly we're not the only ones. “I like to describe it as 'disheveled elegance,'" says New York hairstylist Nunzio Saviano. “A more polished look would be reminiscent of your mom’s wedding hair.”
So how do you achieve this easy-going, effortlessly elegant look? We consulted with hair pro Kelly De Serio for some expert tips on how to pull off the perfectly imperfect. While you may have a pro doing your wedding day hair, we think you'll want to be able to recreate a version of the style yourself because this look is fitting for just about any occasion from festivals to date nights.
Meet the Expert
- Kelly De Serio is a style specialist and bridal beauty entrepreneur. She is the founder and lead designer of the ReelStyle Bridal brand.
Below, we have all the messy updo inspiration you need along with a few tricks to nailing the 'do yourself. Scroll down to see 33 perfectly imperfect wedding hairstyles.
A Crown of Curls
This lush 'do is spilling with decadent dimension courtesy of the bride's natural curls. Instead of taming the playful tendrils into a strict style, they were delicately pinned in place and let to do their thing. The relaxed coif looks positively regal paired with a pearl-embellished cape and matching barrettes.
With a sleek side part and ornate details, this bridal style looks quite polished. Closer inspection, however, illuminates a bevy of intentionally unfinished businesses. The asymmetric side bun has an almost unraveled look with long, curly ends seductively draping down to highlight an intricate spine tattoo and flyway spirals balancing out the alternate side.
This bride's hairstyle lets the gorgeous texture of her locks take center stage. The dimension and shape of the flowers even mimic the feel of the tight curls creating an enchanted look. We especially love how the vibrant buds inject a verve of color into the overall look.
An easy-going style looks just right in a breezy, bohemian setting. This low gathered 'do allows the sultry back of the wedding dress to fully shine without competition—except for maybe from that flower crown. Sweet daisy and pastel florals are braided together to create the nostalgia-inducing topper.
The addition of a crystal hair accessory elevates a relaxed loose bun to the highest of bridal ranks. We love the majestic, old-world elegance of this show-stopping headpiece, and the way it elevates the humble tuck for Dulce's magical desert wedding. The vintage touch brings in a sense of robust whimsy that's often lost in more delicate hairpieces.
A Ribboned Coif
There's something poetic about a bride with a ribbon in her hair. Loosely tie up locks with a silk ribbon for a feminine touch. You can choose to have the strip of fabric match the rest of your bridal look, or add a contrasting pop of color instead.
Play with various textures—from quintessential bridal tulle to rustic burlap or posh velvet—to personalize the vibe to your wedding theme.
A tucked-away braid and runaway tendrils make for the ultimate romantic aesthetic. Even the little buds are nestled into the hair without much plan or precision, further heightening the effortless vibe. The pumped-up volume at the crown offers enough structure to keep the look from falling flat.
A Whimsical Approach
Blogger Chloe Wen showed off a soft, whimsical updo with a few rogue pieces framing her face. We adore the dainty glimmer of a tiara peaking out from her dark locks. Didn't she look every bit the bohemian bride for her rustic Tennessee wedding?
Mary Lawless of Happily Grey twisted her tendrils into a lush, relaxed style for her verdant Nashville nuptials. The seemingly unstructured design is created with many interwoven braids loosely held in place. A fitting choice for the sky-high neckline of the incredible lace dress.
All That Glitters
This bride embellished her perfectly undone coif with a sparkly halo for the rustic-chic wedding. You can take your casual bun to the next level with a sparkly hairpin, suggests De Serio. “You have that balance of a soft romantic look, and the accessory elevates it,” she says.
We've said it once and we'll say it again: Adding a braid to any hairstyle gives instant boho vibes. While there are so many braided styles to choose from, crown braids are the ultimate in laid-back fashions. Plus, they look absolutely divine with a veil.
Blogger Tracy Nour Scheer of She Just Knows sported a slightly tousled take on an elegant updo for her Palm Springs wedding. The seemingly simple, swept-up 'do has the loveliest softness to it. The floaty style and bride's rich hair color photograph exquisitely together.
Keep things soft and romantic with an easygoing bun. Real Housewives star, and former Miss United States, Candiace Dillard allowed her shorter lengths to whimsically fall around her face and frame her stunning features. The density of the pieces creates the sweetest lob look without overpowering those oh so glamorous bow straps.
A Curly Creation
Don't fight your curls—embrace them! This bride's natural spirals add so much dimension and personality to this otherwise traditional updo. Combined with well-placed sunny highlights the coif is positively dynamic.
A Halo of Greenery
A simple twisted 'do meets sprigs of greenery. This bun was exalted to goddess level with its halo of green leaves, mirroring the lush décor. The results are the epitome of springtime freshness.
Both of these brides wore plaited styles that gathered into relaxed knots at the base. Any wisps that escaped were left free, completely embodying their laid-back Colorado wedding. We love that these lovebirds chose complementary styles that still stayed true to their individual personas.
A major plus of messy updos? They're a great way to show off the gorgeous back of your wedding dress (or lack thereof). This twisting coif speaks volumes: Skin is in.
An Ample Bun
Go big or go home, right? This bride's significant messy bun has tons of playful volume and personality. It’s totally okay if you have to cheat a little when it comes to volume: For extra-lush messy updos, De Serio likes building volume over meshy nylon strips.
A Matching Moment
We love a cohesive moment. This entire bridal party opted for slightly undone styles. The low-slung gathers are picture-perfect for the wild, untamed terrain stretching out before them.
Who said a messy updo couldn't be glam? Just pop in a sparkly hairpiece for a bit of flash. Be sure to match the size of the accessory to the hairstyle. The bigger the hair, the bigger the bling.
This effortlessly edgy 'do complements any cool-girl style. We love how the wild ear cuff mimics the throw-caution-to-the-wind tresses. With a bridal leather jacket like that, you need to back it up with hair to match.
Supermodel Shanina Shaik kept her locks elegantly coifed for her island wedding. The bulk of her length was wrapped back in a bun that graced the nape of her neck. The long pieces flowing freely around the face, however, softened the look for more of a beachy vibe.
Height of Fashion
Low and loose isn't the only way to go for an effortless aesthetic. This bride piled her curls high atop her head for a very retro-glam style. Just a few coils frame her face to blend the whole look together.
Flirty French Twist
The traditional french twist is by no means a deliciously disheveled style. This bride, however, lets her bangs flow freely to keep the otherwise polished updo more relaxed. De Serio explains that wearing some of your bangs down can add an effortless vibe.
Face-framing tendrils and a dainty tiara have this lovely lady looking every bit the princess bride. We love how the Art Deco-inspired topper beautifully emphasizes the sweep of the hair. And that gorgeous neckline? Swoon.
A Dreamy 'Do
As if this bride's wedding at a French château wasn't dreamy enough, she also stunned with an effortless bun. A thick braid creates the structure here while tactful pulls and tugs give it that undone appearance. There's even a little glimmer of gold peeking out from behind the twist.
Low and Loose
This bride opted for an ultra-low and carefree twisted chignon for her beachy wedding in Mexico. The style was gathered just behind her ear, almost covering it entirely, giving it visibility from more angles. The asymmetric coif seems so precariously held in place that we're in awe of the hair artistry behind it.
His and Hers
No Kira-Kira app needed here. This bride's style is all aglow with a jaw-dropping floral hairpiece nestled amongst her sumptuous natural curls. We love that the groom complemented his beaming bride with a matching relaxed bun.
These wavy tendrils were allowed to keep their shape as they flow unencumbered into a simple tuck at the base of the hair. The style radiates an honest simplicity, as if it just came about organically. The relaxed yet refined vibe translated beautifully at the French château wedding.
This bride's classic updo comes with an unexpected touch of playfulness. A few rebellious ends stuck out of the constructed coif, refusing to play by antiquated bridal hair rules. The coy style adds a vibrant touch to the polished 'do and elegant ensemble.
Big and Bouncy
Confession: We love a big bun (and we cannot lie). And this bride served some ample-sized inspo. If you find yourself needing some extra help in the volume department, there's no shame. Using extensions to pump up a bridal updo is a long-held industry secret.
Sprinkle in a bit of texturizing spray or volumizing powder for a double dose of gritty hold and added thickness.
This asymmetric updo injects some serious rocker attitude to the otherwise romantic vibe. We love the elegant hint of sparkle tucked directly into the mass of coolness. Can you spot all the braiding detail in the mix?
A Beachy Bun
This bride nailed the elegant beachy look with a carefree bun. A fitting choice for her oceanside nuptials in Tulum, Mexico. Caramel highlights illuminate the woven layers that create the coif.
Can I wear a messy bun to my wedding?
Absolutely! The relaxed take on traditional bridal coifs offers a more effortless approach that's as polished and elevated as ever.
Do I need a professional hairstylist for a messy bridal updo?
Choosing between professional hair artistry or doing your own wedding hair is entirely up to your personal preference, budgetary constraints, and skill level. While more relaxed bridal updos have an effortless appearance, it does take a bit of expertise to create the look and secure it for a day of activity. If you choose to do your own, we suggest taking the time to practice and perfect the technique well before the big day.