They say the nails are a window to the soul. Okay, they don’t say that, but maybe they should. How you paint your nails says a lot about who you are as a person. Are you a classic french manicure? A punky hot pink lacquer? Or are you decked out in decals, glitter, and gemstones?
The same goes for your wedding day. If you’re a true romantic, you’ll want to look like you’ve stepped out of a fairytale. A bohemian bride might opt for a manicure with a touch of whimsy. And a bride looking for all-out glitz and glam will need a manicure suited for a bejeweled queen. The fact is, on the day of your wedding, your fingers are bound to catch a little attention (you’ll have a new ring on, after all)—but don’t panic, there’s a manicure soulmate for everyone.
Below, we found the best manicures for every bridal style. Keep reading to see which nail idea is the perfect choice for you.
Pretty in Pink
The lightest of light pink (think: OPI Bubble Bath or Essie Mademoiselle) is just sweet enough to add a touch of fairytale bride to your big day without stealing the whole show.
This romantic update on a classic french manicure is as if champagne bubbles are fizzing on the tips of your nails. Start with a neutral base and paint the tips in silver, gold, or any shimmery metallic polish. You can also shake it up by playing with the size of the glitter flecks (chunkier glitter will pick up more light, and a finer shimmer looks modern and is a bit subtler)
Otherwise known as the “glazed doughnut” manicure, this iridescent finish is young, cheeky, and a lot of sugar-sweet fun. “It’s an elevated neutral,” says Rita Remark, Essie’s Global Lead Educator and nail artist. For this look, Remark recommends one coat of Essie Sheer Luck followed by one coat of Essie Imported Bubbly. For even more shine, ask your manicurist to buff a chrome powder onto a light pink base coat.
A dusty pink or mauve manicure gives an old-fashioned romantic vibe that reminds us of pressed flowers, Jane Austen books, and vintage tea cups. If this sounds like a perfect afternoon, look for colors like Zoya’s Madeline, JinSoon’s Moxie, or Essie’s Lady Like.
The sweetest, subtlest touch of nail art is a romantic way to fit a few extra flowers into the wedding (with no floral installation fee!). We love these delicate white daisies on a nude base—just enough petals to up the romance, but you’d have to look closely to catch it.
If you’ve started wedding dress shopping (or you’ve ever painted a wall), you know there are about 2,000 shades of white—eggshell, ivory, porcelain, dove—you name it. Great news: all of them make for a wonderful, classic bridal manicure. Even if the white you choose for your nails isn’t exactly the same as your dress, your look will still be clean and timeless.
A fully naked nail is about as timeless as it gets, and you won’t have to stress about auditioning nail polish shades before the big day. Plus, this style comes with a little extra treat. Book a spa manicure with no polish the day before your wedding to get your nails shaped up, cuticles cleaned, and skin pampered and moisturized so your hands look fresh and healthy.
Nude All Over
A nude nail is kind of a little black dress (only, you know, nude). It goes with absolutely anything and it will always look polished—you just can’t go wrong. Neutrals vary from person to person, and it’s up to you on how many shades away from your skin you’d like to go (or if you want an exact match). Generally, we recommend adhering to warm or cool colors based on your skin tone.
French manicures went into hibernation for a few decades, but they weren’t the kind of trend we looked back on and cringed about (and for good reason). It seems the style is here to stay, so it's a good bet for a traditional bride as they look clean, elegant, and timeless.
Change up your French manicure by playing with your nail shape.
A red nail is so timeless that it’s basically neutral. If you’re a classic bride with a love of all things Audrey Hepburn, a deep, sexy red is Holly Golightly-approved. If you look better in warmer reds, try Chanel Le Vernis in Gitane. If you prefer cooler reds, try Chanel Le Vernis in Pirate.
Palm Springs Sunset
A sunset-hued manicure reminds us of the boho, “forever 1960s” vibe of Palm Springs. If your wedding is inspired by mid-century modern design and you have a flower crown ready, these warm, glowy colors will fit right in. Look for a Bellini-hued peach or creamsicle orange.
Earthy browns and taupes are great for a bohemian bride who wants something subtle and neutral, but still a touch different. We can imagine this manicure at a wedding filled with dried flowers, pampas grass, and natural flax linens. Try Deborah Lippmann in “She Wolf” for a good mid-toned brown.
A color tip is a fun, cheeky take on the classic French manicure. Because it's just a swipe of color at the top—as opposed to a full nail—you can really experiment with any color you want. Light blue would take care of your "something blue,” but the look is equally as fun in any poppy hue like hot pink or lemon yellow (or both!).
Pretty in Pastel
Pastel colors are having a very trendy year, and they would be a great manicure for any bride looking to add a little innocent fun to their bridal look. We love a soft lilac, a cotton candy pink, or a mint green.
A true flower child will love having a groovy manicure with 70s-inspired daisies as accent nails. These colors remind us of a Brady Bunch bedroom (in an awesome way), but you could easily swap this out for something that matches your wedding colors—or even do it in all white to tone down the impact.
A French Manicure turned on its head. We love this minimalist, swirly take on white tips for a modern bride that wants something neutral but ultra-chic. Start with a neutral base and play with white lines in varying thicknesses—and remember, they don’t all have to match.
A shiny chrome manicure would be at home on a bride who isn’t just modern, but downright futuristic. Match the metal in your rings (or don’t!) and finish with a high-shine, glossy top coat to up the wow factor.
There’s something very chic and sexy about thin, minimalist lines. We like this T-shape design in white but it would look just as modern in black or silver.
A single accent nail with a metallic design (a star, a heart, a diamond, or anything that resonates with you) is a very cool-girl way to have a little fun with a manicure without being too whimsical or campy.
These thin gold-wire decals add a touch of glamour and interest to an otherwise neutral nail. Since the decal is so small and delicate (and almost blends in with the cuticles), it’s an extremely fashion-forward look that feels super modern.
The “Extra” French
If you’ve been called “extra” before, a classic French manicure won’t cut it for you. So why not layer a few of your favorite wedding day nail trends, like pearl embellishments on top of nail art, on top of a french manicure. Is it extra? Yes. But is it show-stopping, over-the-top glam? Absolutely.
Wedding jewelry isn’t just for your ring finger. For a bride that loves to sparkle, we love the idea of putting jewelry on your nails, too. Find pendants, crystals, or whatever bling makes you feel glamorous, and glue them on your nails as sparkly accents.
Adding crystal appliques can be as subtle or as over-the-top as you want. You can add one to each nail, or dust every nail with a smattering of tiny crystals. Whatever your style, Remark recommends adding them with nail glue when your polish is completely dry. “Then apply a topcoat around them—not on top—so you don't gloss over the crystal facets,” she says. You can also try this technique with pearls or other colored gemstones.
When working with crystal accents, don’t apply a top coat on top of the jewels. The layer of gloss will make facets less shiny.
Glitter will never go out of style, and while a few coats of glitter polish is very simple to do, it will always look like a million bucks. Gold and silver are great bridal colors, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try a color like deep red or match the glitter polish to your flowers.
Back to Black
There’s nothing more rock-and-roll than a black manicure. If you’re a bride with an edge, this always-chic color looks dramatic enough to say “I’m not your typical bride,” while still looking clean and polished.
Something (Electric) Blue
Punky, 80s hair-metal cobalt is a great option for bold brides in need of something blue for their wedding day. Metallic is a cool touch, but a deep, saturated navy would look just as edgy and fun.
If you’re having a themed or holiday wedding, your manicure is a great way to celebrate. Christmas brides can play with reds and greens, Independence Day brides might try patriotic nail art, and we love this romantic heart design manicure for Valentine's Day.
You can’t even say the words “Polka dot” without smiling a little. If you want something fun, out-of-the-box, and a little mod, a punchy polka dot manicure will be the talk of the wedding. We can picture this black and white manicure on Twiggy herself, but any colors will work here.
In Living Color
While the French have always preferred simplicity, there’s no end to the many ways you can play around with a French manicure. By opting for one french nail in bright color, you can give this timeless look a breath of fresh, trendsetting air.