Wedding nails complete any bride’s look. Just as hair, makeup and accessories are important elements of a wedding look, wedding nail colors need to be planned, too. Before you decide on what type of manicure you’re after, it’s important to understand the basics of wedding nails and which colors best suit your big day.
In this guide you’ll find:
In short, yes. Wedding nails may seem like an insignificant part of your wedding look, but having your nails and hands wedding-ready should not be overlooked. Not only is your future spouse going to be sliding a ring onto your finger, but your loved ones will be swooning over your new bling, too. You don’t need to go over the top with your wedding nails—unless you want to!—but you should plan how you want them to look. Between scheduling a manicure and deciding on nail color or art, wedding nails are part of the planning process. Let’s get into wedding nails and everything you need to know!
There are plenty of things to consider when it comes to wedding nails, including colors, styles, wedding aesthetic, and theme. Here, we’ll get into wedding nails 101 and everything you need to know.
Wedding nails can be as simple as a fresh manicure and as elaborate as faux nails with fancy art. Some brides have their nails done regularly, while others often wear them au naturel. But, on your wedding day, you’ll want your nails to look fresh and polished. After all, there’s going to be a lot of attention on your hands.
Wedding nails are often a bit fancier than everyday nails. Some brides like colorful polish, whereas others opt for fun patterns and nail art designs. Of course, if you’re not a bride who wants color on their nails, a clear gloss manicure works, too. The point is to clean up any hangnails and cuticles, and then moisturize the skin.
Just like makeup and hair, there are many different styles of manicures and wedding nails. Here, we will break down the most popular types of manicures, plus the pros and cons of each.
The most affordable and no-fuss option is a classic, standard manicure. A regular manicure entails cleaning, trimming, shaping, filing, and buffing of your nails, along with nail polish and a topcoat. Sometimes people don’t add nail polish color when they get a manicure, and opt to just get a clear finish instead. The cost of a manicure varies depending on the salon, the experience of your nail technician, and the city you live in, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $15 to $40.
For a longer-lasting manicure that is less chip-prone, acrylic nails are a great faux nail option. Acrylic nails create thicker and longer nails, which is ideal for nail art or a more noticeable look. These “fake” nails are made from a paste that’s created from a combination of a liquid monomer and a powder polymer that is then applied to the natural nail and shaped into place. Acrylic nails can be damaging to the natural nail over time—especially if they are not removed properly—so if you’re getting a set of acrylics for your wedding, be sure to take care of your natural nails ahead of time. Acrylic nails can cost anywhere between $30 to $100, depending on where you live and the salon you go to.
Gel nails are created through a three-step process, which uses a gel-based polish that hardens and is more durable than “soft” regular nail polish. When you’re getting a gel nail manicure, you’ll first have a base coat applied to the nail, then a nail polish, followed by a topcoat. After each coat of polish is applied, the nail is placed under a UV light to be cured—ie. dried. A gel nail manicure results in thicker, hard nails, and a nicer polish finish that won’t smudge. Just like acrylic nails, gel nail manicures cost more than standard manicures, and they can range anywhere between $25 to $70.
A popular manicure option is dip powder manicures. Dip powder manicures are done by applying adhesive glue and dipping or sprinkling on powder in the same color as the nail polish on the nail. The powder is then sealed with an adhesive. Dip powder manicures create a strong aesthetic that lasts longer than a regular mani—typically two to four weeks—and costs anywhere between $35 to $60.
Press-on nails can be a cost-effective and DIY option for brides. They can be bought at most drugstores and chain retailers, as well as some salons. Press-on nails have come a long way: These days, you can find high-quality press-on nails that will stay on for days—even weeks. One thing to be mindful of is finding a set of fake nails that fit your natural nail size and are an appropriate shape. Press-on nails cost anywhere from $10 to $100 depending on the brand and quality.
Deciding on your wedding nail color doesn’t need to be a daunting process. While there are plenty of colors and style options to choose from, it’s important to ask yourself some basic questions first. Start off with your wedding outfit: What does your dress or suit look like? If you’re going with a glamorous gown with lots of embellishments, you might want to wear jewel tone polish or have nail art on accent nails. Likewise, if your wedding is at a resort, a brighter, bolder nail color can suit the occasion.
You also want to consider your floral bouquet and the colors of the flowers within it. While your manicure doesn’t need to match, it should complement it and not contrast the flowers in a distracting way. For example, if your bouquet is white and modern, an orange, blue, or green polish may look out of place. A tip to help make your overlook cohesive is to think about pairing your lipstick color with your nails. A bold red lip and matching nails create an elegant and classic look.
Personal preference and style also affect your wedding nail color choice and manicure style. Some brides love acrylic nail manicures, whereas others don’t feel comfortable having faux nails and would rather go with their natural nail. If you’ve never worn a certain type of manicure before, it’s a good idea to test it out ahead of your wedding. You don’t want to suddenly have long, thick fake nails applied for the first time on your big day.
While you don’t need to choose a wedding nail color solely based on your wedding date, it’s a good idea to try to go with a manicure that suits the season. For example, lighter and brighter colors at summer weddings reflect the mood, whereas darker hues, like deep red, suit cooler-weather events. Of course, there’s no hard rule about which colors work during which season, but certain shades do evoke different aesthetics.
Nails can chip—something you want to avoid ahead of your wedding day. To avoid any nail mishaps, it’s wise to get your wedding manicure done a day or two before your wedding. Some brides decide to get their nails done on the eve of their wedding in order to minimize any chance that the nails get damaged. Others may choose to have their nails done on their wedding day—a decision that can add another to-do task on an already busy day. It never hurts to have a bottle of your nail polish color on hand for any last-minute touch-ups.
Nail trials are not a must, but, if budget permits, they can be helpful. For brides who frequent the nail salon and are used to getting a manicure, whether that be acrylic or gel, a trial may not be necessary since they’re accustomed to the process and how it turns out. The same goes for people who have a nail artist or salon that they trust.
For brides who don’t have a go-to salon or nail technician, a wedding nail trial can be a good idea, especially if you’re experimenting with a new type of manicure for the first time. Rocking gel, acrylic, or powder dip nails for the first time can be an adjustment, and one you may not want to experience for the first time on your wedding day. If you decide to run a wedding nail trial, schedule it at least four to six weeks before your nuptials.
These days, there’s no set-in-stone rule when it comes to who pays for what at weddings. Couples may foot the entire bill, whereas family members can cover costs in other instances. When it comes to grooming—including hair, makeup, and nails—brides commonly pay for these expenses. Even if wedding nails may only cost you $50, you should still account for this expense in your wedding budget.
Plenty of brides and grooms do their own beauty routine for their wedding day, and nails are no exception. If you’re a pro at giving manicures, there’s nothing wrong with doing your wedding nails yourself. For those with a less steady hand, it’s best to leave the polish—and nail art—to the pros. The same goes for applying faux nails; if you’ve never applied any nails yourself, make sure that you have a couple of practice rounds in before attempting to do your nails on your wedding day.
Regardless of whether you’re doing your nails yourself or getting a professional manicure, you want your hands, cuticles, and nail beds moisturized. Nail polish can make the fingernails look fresh, but you can’t forget about the rest of your hands. Professionals doing any manicure will moisturize the nails, cuticles, and hands, as well as trim away any dead skin and file down jagged edges, but it’s good practice to maintain soft hands leading up to your big day yourself. Use a daily hand moisturizer and apply some on the morning of your wedding, too.
Now that we have wedding nail etiquette covered, let’s get into the most popular wedding nail colors. We’ll start with some light options for brides looking to add a hint of color without opting for a super bold or elaborate design.
Soft pink is a romantic and classic nail polish choice for any bride. It looks great with any floral bouquet and is appropriate year-round. There are different shades of soft pink that feature varying undertones, including ones with a white base, an apricot hue, or a beige undertone. Lighter colors may require an extra coat to get a consistent, even look.
For brides who want a subtle look, consider a nude nail polish. It’s a timeless and elegant choice for brides who want a hint of color without making a statement. Nude polishes come in many shades, and some are more pink, while others are more beige. Go with an option that best suits your skin tone.
If you’re after a wedding manicure that offers a hint of color, white ombre is a great choice. Have your manicurist create the aesthetic on your natural nail, acrylic set, or gel nails for a glossy and subtle aesthetic. White ombre nails look more “natural” than French tips, as the white fades gradually from the tip to the nail bed.
There are plenty of ways to create light marble nails, including with white or color polish. We’re big fans of marble light pinks and white designs, as they offer just enough color without becoming too distracting.
One of the most timeless wedding nail looks is a classic French manicure. This manicure entails a glossy clear nail with a white tip. French manicures work for every level of occasion, from more formal affairs to laid-back beach events—it’s truly a versatile wedding manicure.
Soft, dove grey is a great choice, and one that is often overlooked. It can look a bit edgier than some of the other light options, making it ideal for brides who want a slightly unconventional look. Some grey polishes have silver hues, which can work well for winter weddings. What’s more, if you want a slightly bolder aesthetic, you can opt for a matte grey polish instead of a glossy one.
Why not pair your nail polish with the greens in your bridal bouquet? Soft, sage polish wonderfully complements eucalyptus and other greenery, and offers a gentle contrast against colorful stems in your wedding arrangement.
Looking to make a statement with your wedding nails? A dark nail polish color can help your fingers stand out. From deep red to trendy olive, here are some popular wedding nail colors, if you want a bolder look.
If you’re getting hitched in the winter, dark, deep nail polish colors are go-to options. Burgundy is a red option that suits brides who want a timeless look, while conveying some personality.
If you’re wearing red lipstick on your wedding day, why not match your nails to it? Deep red is a popular wedding nail color for brides, and for good reason, as it never goes out of style. To modernize the look, consider adding some glittery topcoat or rhinestones on an accent nail.
For your “something blue,” explore navy as a wedding nail color. Navy is a great option as it acts as a great base for creative wedding nail art—think pearls, crystals, elaborate polish designs and even gold foil.
Surprise guests with a modern wedding nail color choice: dark olive. For brides who like to wear darker shades of polish and create a bit more of a moodier look, the dark green looks really nice when paired next to wedding floral bouquets.
Gold or silver wedding bands aren’t the only metallics that can adorn your hands. Metallic nail polish, including gold and silver, are great options that convey a glamorous vibe. The options with metallics are endless: you can have a glossy or matte finish, a glittery shade, or use the metallic polish to create nail art.
Don’t be afraid of bright colors on your wedding day. When done right, bright and playful colors can make the right statement when you say “I do.” One thing to keep in mind when opting for a bright nail polish is making sure that you see how the color looks with your wedding outfit and accessories before your big day. More neutral and classic options tend to be safer when it comes to pairing well with wedding dresses, but that doesn’t mean bright options won’t work.
For beach or destination weddings, nothing says summer wedding like a coral-colored nail polish. There are coral shades that have pink hues, as well as ones that have more orange undertones.
A brighter red option, goldfish is more of a summery shade. Just like coral, it’s ideal for summer weddings and is popular with brides who want their nails to make a bit of a statement. It’s a color that stands out without looking over-the-top.
For brides who really love their pinks, hot pink is a choice that is sure to catch eyes. It’s not a wedding nail color for everyone, but it’s a fantastic choice for people who want a playful and bold look.
Bright blue is becoming more popular for weddings, as it can be styled with nail art, done in an ombre style, or used to create a marble design. It’s also perfectly OK to just go with a solid bright blue shade on its own, too.
Wedding nail colors are endless, but there are some popular options that are sure to suit any bride. Between light pinks to deep reds and metallics, make a decision that reflects your wedding theme, season, and personal style.
While wedding nail colors may seem like an insignificant decision to make, it’s important that you take time to consider what shade and manicure style is right for you. Here at Zola we make every aspect of wedding planning easy and seamless, and help you connect all the dots—whether you need fashion and beauty advice, or tips on how to handle opinionated family members. At the end of the day, we help you organize the details—and seemingly small stuff—so that you can focus on enjoying your special moment.