Getting invited to someone’s wedding is one of the highest honors and usually cause for serious celebration. Whether you’re attending a casual backyard wedding or a luxe, white-tie event, you’ll probably put some thought into your day-of attire.
Even though selecting your hairstyle might be one of the last steps to pulling together your wedding guest look, it’s a vital one that makes you look put together and cohesive.
Here, we’re breaking down everything you need to know regarding easy wedding guest hairstyles, so you feel good about your ’do on the dance floor and beyond.
Table of contents:
While you’re not the one getting married, it’s important that you dress to impress for the special day. Here’s what to consider when deciding how to do your hair for the celebration.
The very first step to choosing the best wedding hairstyle is to consider the season. If you’re attending a celebration in the springtime or summer, you’ll want to be wary of the heat and humidity. Nothing can deflate curls or an updo like heavy air or an afternoon thunderstorm. Check the weather before deciding on your look, and consider how your style will look after the ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and dancing—especially if you’ll be outside.
Next, you’ll want to consider the celebration venue, formality, and wedding colors. A casual beachy wedding might make you lean toward something a little more casual than a formal celebration at a rooftop club.
If you’re outdoors, be sure to take things like weather and exposure into account if you think wearing your hair down or adding hair extensions will get too hot or uncomfortable in the environment. “Anything with an outdoor environment greatly affects how the hair should be styled for longevity,” says Heather King-Labeur, senior stylist at Radio London.
If the celebration has a specific theme—such as beachy, fairytale, or boho—consider subtly leaning into the vibe. Perhaps adding a shell clip for a wedding on a sandy shore or an art deco gold headband for a Gatsby wedding. While you don’t want to be too flashy, adding a little something extra to highlight the theme is a great nod to the hard work the couple went to to pull the event together.
Naturally, you want to consider what you’re wearing to the wedding to ensure your hairstyle complements it instead of detracts from it. If you’re unsure, pay attention to the neckline of your outfit. Higher necklines look great with your hair pulled back. That said, it all depends on your preference, comfort, and aesthetic.
Naturally, your hair length will play a factor in the style you choose, but if you have a vision that doesn’t work with your length, feel free to get creative. Things like weaves, wigs, and extensions can give you longer-looking locks and some artfully-placed pins can make your hair look shorter if you’re after a cropped style. Just keep in mind your comfort level before adding extensions or opting for a wig, especially if you’re new to the style.
Finally, you’ll want to consider your hair type to determine the best look that will hold all night long. If you’re not sure what type of hair you have—or what type of wedding guest hairstyles work best depending on the setting—read on for the full breakdown, complete with ideas and inspo.
Hair types are typically broken down into four types, ranging from straight, to wavy, to curly, to kinky.
Type 1 is straight hair that’s anywhere from fine and fragile to coarse and thin. One of the main factors here is that it’s curl-resistant and doesn’t curl naturally.
Type 2 is wavy hair that’s fine and thin to coarse and frizzy. If your hair has a little body to it and doesn’t dry straight, it’s probably wavy.
Type 3 is considered curly hair, which could be anything from loose curls to corkscrew curls that are more defined than casual waves.
Type 4 hair is considered kinky and showcases natural, tight coils and Z-angled coils.
While hair type is important to consider when deciding on a hairstyle for a wedding, your length will play a major role as well. Whether you rock your natural locks or incorporate extensions, weaves, or wigs, here are a few of our favorite options broken down by hair length:
You might not think you have a lot of options with short hair, but that’s totally false. From fresh cuts, to sparkling hairpieces, to different parts, there are tons of ways to dress up your look. Here are a few of our favorite short hair looks for wedding guests:
If your hair falls anywhere between your collarbones and your shoulder blades, you land in the “medium length hair” category. Consider choosing a style to accentuate your facial features or change up your usual look by incorporating a braid or bun. Here are a few fun medium length styles to consider:
Long hair—which is any length past your shoulders—gives you a lot of options by way of style. That said, if it’s a warmer month or you’ll be outside most of the time, you might want to opt for a hair up or back style, so it’s off your neck to keep you cool.
If you’re unsure how to do your hair or don’t want to worry about spending extra time in front of the mirror, consider setting up your usual cut a day or so before the event. This way, you’ll have fresh, healthy locks, and your look will still be sleek and styled from your appointment.
Another great option is heading to a blowdry bar the day before or the day of the event. Not only will your hair be sleek and celebration-ready, but oftentimes they also offer services like makeup application, nail services, and even complimentary refreshments.
While you’ll want to consider your hair length and type as well as the season and the venue, the formality of the celebration can give you an idea as to how you should style your hair. From themed parties, to casual events, to formal affairs, here’s a look at some hairstyle options depending on the specific event.
This is a newer theme we’ve been seeing, which might throw you for a loop if you find it on an invite. A “come as you are” event means the couple wants you to be entirely comfortable and yourself. Take note of the venue—whether it’s the beach, a backyard, a park—and dress how you would if you were going there on a date. As for your hair, feel free to style it how you normally do or spice it up with some waves or braids. No need to get fancy when you’re just supposed to show up as you.
Themed events are becoming more common, and we love to see guests lean into the celebration’s vibe. Opt for a vintage hairstyle like pinup curls for a roaring ‘20s or vintage celebration or some carefree waves and braids for a beach or boho wedding.
A festive-themed event means the couple wants you to get a little creative and out-of-the-box with your attire. Depending on the venue (and formality, if that’s included) consider multiple braids, fun clips, extreme curls, or even a little glitter to make your style sparkle.
The key to a tropical celebration is making sure your style will not only stay, but you’ll feel comfortable in the humid weather and heat. If you have long hair, consider wearing it up in a loose bun or ponytail, or weave into a braid or two to keep it off your neck.
A casual celebration is just that: casual! Don’t feel like you need to do anything out of the ordinary with your hair. Clean, brushed, and styled as you would for going to a nice lunch or dinner is perfectly acceptable in this formality.
A semi-formal celebration is a step up from casual, so think of it as if you were going to a church, a nice brunch, or an interview. You want your hairstyle to be a little more elevated than your everyday look. Consider adding a few loose waves or pulling one side back with a barrette for a quick-yet-elevated take on your normal style.
If you’re heading to a cocktail event, you’ll want a hairstyle that’s elevated yet understated. This isn’t the time for an elaborate updo, but something a little more styled than your standard look is a safe bet. A loose, low bun, some big waves, or a fresh blowout are all fantastic options for a cocktail wedding.
A formal celebration calls for a special ‘do, so whip out your curling iron or favorite clips. A sleek low ponytail, half-up, half-down with curls, curled dreadlocks, or defined curls pinned back will all elevate your look for a more elegant event.
One of the most formal occasions, a black-tie affair is the perfect time to up your elegance and opt for a fancy hairdo. Thick braids, artfully twirled buns, and sleek, straight ponytails are all appropriate for a night full of opulence and splendor.
It doesn’t get any more formal than a white-tie event. The most elegant of dress codes is reserved for events like White House dinners and red carpets, so if you’re going to this type of event, now’s the time to pull out all the stops. If you have the means, head to a salon for an updo, full curls, or a sleek style that will last all night and add to your extremely formal ensemble.
One of the best ways to really add to your celebration style is with accessories. Not just necklaces and earrings, but wedding hair accessories as well.
Whether you add some curl to your hair, straighten it out, or stick with your usual style, clips, flowers, and artfully-placed pins can really change your look. Here are a few of our favorite hair accessories for wedding guests:
From jeweled options to braided crown pieces that look like your own hair, headbands are a chic and unique way to elevate your hairstyle for any special event. Consider one in a color that matches your outfit, your hair, or your other accessories for a quick addition to your look. A few options we really love are crystal/rock headbands for modern weddings and flower or greenery crowns for boho or outdoor celebrations.
Why not opt for a more natural look for your hair? We especially love florals if you’re attending a springtime or summer event, or one in a garden or on a beach. Leaning into the seasonal and locational vibe is a great way to elevate your normal hairstyle, and it’ll show the couple you appreciate their venue and celebration.
You can easily tuck flowers behind your ear or into your hairstyle or updo to create an earthy, romantic feel. Opt for a big hibiscus for a beach celebration or simple baby’s breath for a formal affair.
Love the idea of a nature accessory, but aren’t feeling flowers? Consider greenery—like eucalyptus or even mint—as a way to tie the earth into your elegant hairstyle. Tuck the greenery between your braids or around your bun for a simple, yet sophisticated eco-friendly hair accessory.
Whether you’re sporting an updo, a braid, half-up, half-down, a short crop, or just your natural style, a fun clip can really elevate your look. Select something sparkling, on-trend, unique, or nature-inspired to create a cohesive wedding guest look. Additionally, if you opt for a bun or half-up style, sticking a simple comb accessory in your hair can not only help hold your style in place, but also add an extra dash of elegance.
Heading to a Gatsby or vintage-style wedding? Tuck some feathers into your hair or opt for a headband that lays across your forehead. Going to a formal wedding on the beach? Some glittery seashell clips or a few artfully placed green extensions will add the perfect amount of fun to your festive look.
It’s a wonder what a few perfectly placed pins can do—even if you keep the rest of your look simple. You don’t need to spend hours on your hair, either—just grab a few bobby pins to create an elegant look. Pull your hair back on one or both sides and secure it with pins from the back to keep your hair off your face and showcase your joy for the celebration.
As with every wedding, the whole purpose of the day is to celebrate the love of two very special people. While it all comes down to the venue, formality, and season, doing something special with your hair will help elevate your look for the occasion.
Ultimately, when it comes down to choosing your hairstyle for any sort of event, we know there’s a lot to consider. From the venue, to the weather, to the rest of your outfit, making it all look cohesive is no easy feat.
That’s why we make it easy with Zola’s wedding shop. Order matching accessories, so your earrings coordinate with your hairpiece, and even get the couple’s registry gift while you’re at it. It’s so easy to check off all the boxes, so you can spend less time stressing and more time celebrating. Whether you’re attending a casual event or a formal affair, the perfect hairstyle can set you apart in the best possible way.