The Dos & Don'ts to Bridal Hair Styling

We’re breaking down the dos and don’t of bridal hairstyling so that you can walk down the aisle with a do that feels delightfully “you.”

By Rachel Varina

The Dos & Don'ts to Bridal Hair Styling
Photo by Jade Nikkole Photography

Whether you’re having a spring celebration surrounded by florals or a winter wedding with whimsical snow details, pulling together your day-of wedding look is vital, since it’s one of the major focal points of the celebration. And, while you might not have considered your hairstyle to be a key factor, how to style your locks actually plays a major role in not only your wedding day look, but also the aesthetic of your overall event.

For many women, their hair is a source of pride, expression, and years of work. For others, it’s just another checklist item to eliminate when getting ready in the morning. Whether your hair is essential to your persona or just something you put up with, there’s a good chance that your bridal hairstyle has made you pause. Deciding between a variety of styles, stylists, and solutions can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’re breaking down the dos and don’t of bridal hairstyling so that you can walk down the aisle with a ‘do that feels delightfully “you.”

Table of contents:

Part 1: What to Consider When Selecting a Bridal Hair Style

Before you head to the salon or send your hairstylist your day-of hair inspo, there are quite a few components that you’ll want to consider. “The bride needs to make sure [that the hairstyle] matches her personality and the wedding day aesthetic,” says Los Angeles-based Wedding Hairstylist Tee Hsu. “The key is that the bride feels like herself, but elevated.” So, how do you find the perfect look that stays true to your style, but feels elegant and beautifully bridal? Here’s what you need to keep in mind when selecting your bridal hairstyle.

Do Consider the Season

While you don’t need to entirely base your bridal hairstyle look on the season, considering the weather will definitely help with selecting a hairstyle. Spring and summer months will typically be warmer and more humid, so a hairstyle that can withstand the heat and heavy moisture will keep you looking fresh for the duration of the celebration. On the flip side, colder weather typically means that you can more easily rock styles with your hair down or with free-flowing curls. Just be mindful of elements such as snow and rain, since exposure to those—even for a short period of time—can completely alter your wedding day hairstyle.

Do Consider the Wedding Venue

Chances are that you put a lot of thought into your wedding venue, and the setting of your celebration plays a major role in the overall feel of the day. From castle celebrations and barn weddings to beachside events and fancy ballrooms, leaning into your venue type can not only help influence your hairstyle, but it can tie the aesthetic of your day together. Think an elegant updo for a more formal occasion, and casual, cascading waves for a more laidback celebration.

Additionally, if your ceremony and/or reception takes place outdoors, or you plan to get some photos taken outside, you’ll want to be extra mindful of your hairstyle, as the weather can quickly deflate your look.

Do Consider the Wedding Formality

Formality plays a role not only in your wedding day attire, but also your wedding day hairstyle, too. Generally, the more formal the occasion, the more intricate the hairstyle. For example, a bride having a black-tie wedding might learn more toward an elegant updo, whereas a bride having a casual garden wedding might simply opt for some light waves or a half-up half-down style. That being said, it is your big day, and whatever your formality, you’ll want to ensure that your wedding day hairstyle feels true to you, your celebration, and the overall feeling of your event.

Do Consider the Wedding Theme

Themes are becoming more and more popular for couples since it’s a great way to highlight your celebration, plus show off your interests and personalities. If you’re having a themed event, consider finding a subtle way to incorporate your hairstyle into your day-of aesthetic—think a headband for a ‘20s wedding, braids for a boho celebration, a sleek style with a center part for a modern celebration, or some bold curls for a country chic event.

Don’t Forget to Coordinate With Your Day-of Look

What you wear to your wedding will greatly determine how you want to style your hair, so make sure that you say “yes” to your wedding outfit before your wedding hairstyle. Once you know what you’re wearing, it’s a good idea to consider any accessories you’ll be rocking too. If you know you’ll be wearing bold earrings or a statement necklace, consider that before pinning down your wedding hairstyle, explains Hsu.

Do Consider Your Personal Aesthetic

While you want to look and feel special on your wedding day, wedding experts agree that it’s important to still feel like “you” on the occasion. Your partner is marrying you, after all, so don’t feel like you have to toss your personal style out the window to fit the bridal mold. Instead, look for ways to elevate the style(s) you gravitate toward and feel most comfortable with. If you’re not the type of person who wears their hair up—and you can’t picture doing that for your wedding day, then don’t! If you don’t feel like yourself without a signature ponytail, rock a pony. Blending the formal with the everyday is how you’ll feel your most beautiful as a bride.

Do Consider Your Hair Length and Type

Naturally, hair type and length are maybe the biggest factors that come into play when selecting a fall wedding hairstyle. That being said, don’t feel like you can’t achieve a style if your natural length or type doesn’t allow it. There are plenty of options such as weaves, wigs, and extensions that can give you extra length and different texture options.

“Extensions are almost a must in the bridal hair world these days. Thanks to Pinterest and Instagram, there are a lot of unrealistic expectations to be had,” says California-based Bridal Hairstylist and Educator Alisha Jared. “It’s best to consider the number of extensions you may need to invest in before deciding on a wedding style. Whether this means a semi-permanent method of extensions or clip-ins, you’ll need to factor this into your hair budget.”

Chat with your stylists before buying extensions, because not only are different types better for different styling techniques (like Remy hair, which holds curl), but you’ll want to ensure that you have a plan to color match too. That being said, there is no rule that brides need to have long or elaborate hairstyles. There are tons of short bridal hairstyle options out there that are just as stunning, so if extensions don’t feel right for you, don’t use them!

Don’t Forget Comfort

Before opting for a wig, extensions, or an elaborate pinned hairstyle, it’s a good idea to test out how the look will feel. Some people find that accessories such as combs or headbands give them headaches, whereas other people would prefer not to feel the potential pull of extensions. It’s better to find this out before your wedding hair trial, so do a small test by wearing your accessory or pulling your hair back for a while to see how your scalp reacts to the pressure. The last thing you want is a headache or an accessory that feels uncomfortable on the big day, so test it out before committing to the look.

Part 2: Pre/Post Wedding Haircare for Brides

While you might have thought that your wedding day is when you need to have your best hair day, in order to do so, there’s some prep work that you’ll want to complete so that your locks can shine on your special day. Here’s how to get your hair in tiptop shape for your wedding, plus tips on how to mitigate any wedding day damage that all of the heat and products might cause so that your hair can look as healthy as ever for your honeymoon and beyond.

When to Get Your Hair Cut Before Your Wedding

Chances are that you’ll want to have a fresh cut for your wedding, but trying to figure out when to head to the salon before your wedding can be a little stressful. Not only will your schedule be busy, but switching up your cut in the days before your celebration can be a major mistake. “I don’t recommend haircuts before the wedding, only a trim if necessary one month before the big day,” says Hsu. Jared agrees by saying, “Don’t do anything drastic with a cut. Once you’ve had your trial run with your hairstylist, try not to get anything more than a dusting of your ends prior to your big day.”

One month before your wedding, get your final trim, and, if you find your ends seem a little split leading up to your wedding, the lightest of dustings two weeks before will suffice. Think hands-off the two weeks before your wedding to ensure that your hair looks exactly how you envision for your celebration.

When to Get Your Hair Colored Before Your Wedding

Just like getting your hair cut, getting your hair colored before your wedding can be a tricky service to schedule. Luckily, the pros have it down to a science! “I don’t recommend straying from your normal color appointments in the six months leading up to your big day,” says Jared. Hsu agrees by saying the six months leading to your wedding is the time to stick to your usual routine. Both professionals say that you’ll want to get a touchup or head to the salon for your routine coloring two to four weeks before your wedding.

In the months leading up to your wedding, it’s a good idea to pay attention to your rate of hair growth so that you’ll know when your roots will start to show and when your ends start to break to best schedule your final pre-wedding cut and coloring.

How to Prepare for a Drastic Wedding Hair Change

Perhaps you always envisioned walking down the aisle with a different hair color than the one you currently have, or you would like to rock a shorter cut or completely new style. If you want to drastically change up your look, both experts agree to test out your new look no later than six months before your celebration, but ideally much sooner. It often takes a while to train your hair, so chat with your hairdresser as far in advance as possible to ensure that you have plenty of time to get used to your new ‘do.

How to Care for Your Hair Before the Wedding

Leading up to your wedding, ensuring that your hair is as healthy as possible and capable of being styled is essential. Here’s what to keep in mind to ensure that your locks are in tiptop shape for the big day.

The Months Before Your Wedding

In the months leading to your wedding, Hsu recommends that you really step up your hair care game. “Start using the right products [such as] shampoo, conditioner, serums, and masques based on your hair type,” she advises. Chat with your stylists or wedding professional to get a customized hair care plan; this is especially essential for blondes who are prone to brassiness. “BLONDA Fix is a must for my blonde brides to keep their blonde hair healthy and hydrated, but also kicking brass that might be noticeable in their up style,” says Jared.

The Days Before Your Wedding

Do you wash your hair the day before your wedding? The morning of? Do you show up to your appointment with wet or dry hair? Here’s how to get ready in the days and weeks before your celebration:

“Shampooing once a week prior with a clarifying shampoo, like UNITE’s WEEKENDER Shampoo, will remove all product buildup and ensure [that] your stylist has a nice, clean canvas,” says Jared. “7SECONDS Detangler is my go-to for brides as it provides the perfect amount of hydration, but doesn’t weigh hair down in the days leading up to the event.”

When it comes to the days just before your wedding, it’s important to arrive at your day-of appointment with dry, clean hair (unless your stylist tells you otherwise). “I recommend the bride to wash her hair the night before and to apply conditioner only from the mid to the ends of the hair. Applying conditioner on the scalp will make the roots oilier, leaving the hair flat,” says Hsu. “For brides who desire more volume, I love UNITE Hair’s BOOSTA Shampoo and BOOSTA Conditioner.”

The Importance of Your Bridal Hair Stylist

If you’ve been paying attention, it’s pretty clear that your wedding day hairstylist plays a major role in your wedding day look. This professional can help you strategize what products to use, when you get your final cuts and colors, how to change up your look (if that’s what you want to do), and how you should prep your hair for the big day. If your everyday stylist doesn’t do weddings, ask him or her for references, ask other brides about whom they used, and check social media for hairstyles you like, so that you can track down the stylist who created it. Reading reviews and having consultations is a great way to narrow down your options and find the perfect day-of stylist.

How to Care for Your Hair After the Wedding

After all the teasing, product, and potential coloring, restoring your hair post-wedding is just as important as prepping it for the big day. After your celebration, Jared suggests reaching for a clarifying shampoo to remove product and buildup. Both professionals advise using “UNITE’s WEEKENDER Shampoo before doing an additional wash with a hydrating shampoo like the 7SECONDS Shampoo. Afterward, a deep conditioning treatment like BLONDA Fix or 7SECONDS Masque will resort any luster, shine, and hydration you might have lost while celebrating.”

Part 3: The Most Popular Bridal Hairstyles of 2022

“There are many factors in choosing the best bridal hairstyle. For example: What is the wedding vibe? Does your overall wedding aesthetic match your hair? Does your hair highlight your dress or do they compete?” says Jared. “Brides should think about all of these to determine which hairstyle they want for their wedding.” Here’s how to find a style that is not only on-trend, but also showcases your personal aesthetic.

Where to Find Bridal Hairstyle Inspiration

In order to select your wedding day hairstyle, you need to look at a variety of options and inspirations. Some of our favorite inspo comes from Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok. Try searching for “bridal hairstyles” plus your wedding season, formality, or theme; or, search for real wedding photos from wedding photographers. It’s a good idea to pull together a few different options to send to your stylist so that together you can come up with a look that not only complements your day-of look, but is manageable with your hair type. Some styles require more long-term prep work or practice (such as if you’re wearing extensions or changing up your color), so you’ll want to have a plan in place so that you can achieve the look you’re dreaming of.

The Importance of a Hair Trial for Brides

A hair and makeup trial is one of the most essential moves you can make when getting ready for your wedding. Typically, this appointment happens anywhere from a few months to a few weeks before your wedding, and it’ll give you the chance to see how your hairstyle will look completed, as well as if it will hold up against the elements (that’s why it’s a good idea to check off this to-do list item during the same season as your big day). When going for your hair trial, bring all of your accessories and any items you’re considering incorporating into your look. This is the time to ask questions about haircare the days before your celebration and make any changes to your ‘do if the final look isn’t exactly how you envisioned it.

Once the trial is complete and you’re satisfied with your style, make sure to take lots of pictures. Spend some time outdoors, do a few dance moves, and see how the style holds up in the weather. Plus, look to see how long it holds its body, and how often you might need to apply more spray during your event. “To make the hair look more polished, use a shine spray as the finishing touch like 7SECONDS Glossing Spray,” suggests Hsu.

Hair Trial Pro Tip:

Most hair and makeup trials cost around $100 to start, which isn’t a cheap investment, especially considering how many wedding-related costs you’ll have related to the big day. That being said, a trial is definitely an important component of the wedding planning process. One way to get the most out of your hair trial is to schedule your engagement photos for just after your trial. This way you’re already done up, and you’ll get to see how your look photographs professionally.

If you’ve already taken photos (or aren’t up for some extra time in front of the camera), you could plan a nice date for the day of your trial so that you get to rock your swanky day-of look for another special occasion.

2022 Bridal Hairstyle Trends

“Each year bridal hair trends a little differently, but the classics are coming back! Think less boho and more romantic,” notes Jared. “Some of the most trending wedding hairstyles this year are sleek and smooth. Even one hair out of place can throw your entire look off! I’ve been loving 7SECONDS Glossing Spray and CONUNDRUM Paste by UNITE for controlling flyaways and creating sleek looks.”

Here are a few of the most popular style trends of 2022, broken down by hair type:

For Straight Hair:

  • Wear your hair sleek, straight, and down with a part that you don’t normally gravitate toward.
  • A sleek, classic chignon.
  • Opt for a high-low bob with a deep, side part for a retro look.

For Wavy Hair:

  • Wear your natural waves down and further define them with salt spray.
  • Choose a romantic updo with some florals tucked in the twists and pins.
  • Opt for a loose, low bun with a few escaped tendrils and strands.

For Curly Hair:

  • Switch things up with a chic, straightened low pony.
  • Showcase your volume and texture with a low, side bun.
  • Further define your curls with a hot iron for extra romantic body.

For Kinky Hair:

  • Slick back the front of your hair and wear your locks low and straight down your back.
  • Let your natural texture shine with a low afro ponytail.
  • A piled-high bun with your hair’s texture front and center will combine both modern and classic style.

Zola: The Answer to All Your Bridal Hair Styling Questions

When it comes time to select your wedding day hairstyle, there’s a lot to consider. From vendors to ‘dos to products to accessories, Zola is your one-stop-shop for selecting the best day-of look for your special day. As long as you stay true to your personal aesthetic, and follow these dos and don’ts, you’ll look and feel as radiantly special as possible on your big day and beyond.

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