While braids are traditionally associated with slumber parties and school girls, the hairstyle is becoming increasingly popular among brides. And for good reason – braids come in many shapes and sizes, and can complement a range of wedding looks.
“Bridal hair has truly become so versatile and diverse. Looks that may have once not been considered formal or glamorous enough in a traditional sense have become popular for modern brides,” says Elle Martens, a hairstylist at G2o Spa + Salon in Boston.
Brides should look at the location, dress and overall style of the wedding when choosing their hairstyle, Martens advises. While elegant looks go best with ballroom weddings, the general hairstyle doesn’t have to be structured and stiff — a polished-looking braid can still be added while keeping an updo glamourous.
“Braids can work for any bridal style as long as the style itself is cohesive and makes sense with the brides own personal style and taste,” Martens says.
Plaited ‘dos can also pair well with more rustic affairs, according to Britny Bassett, a hair and makeup artist from Richmond, Va. Farm weddings, for example, are an ideal setting to go for something like a side-swept bun with a braided headband. Or, a bride with a dress that’s low-cut in the back may opt for a soft loose braid down her back. Flowers or ribbons are another popular addition to braids and can create an ethereal or fairy-tale look.
Jenna Mast, a stylist from New York has also seen an increase in requests for boho-esque braids from brides. “A lot of bridal styles have really veered away from the perfectly curled and sprayed loopy styles of the early 2000s and into more relaxed, romantic styles,” Mast notes.
In addition to looking great, braids are also a very practical hairstyle. If you’re planning to really get down on the dance floor or are getting married outside, braids are more likely to hold up to heat, humidity and activity.
Even the most laidback affair may not be ideal for braided hair, though. If you have a very detailed dress, a braided hairstyle may overwhelm the look. Additionally, if you don’t have thick hair, a braid may not be your best bet, Bassett warns.
Kiyah Wright, a celebrity hairstylist from California, recommends the following braided bridal styles:
Halo frame. An effortless crown braid sits like a halo around your head and is ideal for formal affairs. It also helps focus attention to your neckline, ears and face, allowing accessories and makeup to be on full display.
Classic ‘do. A royal French braid is the perfect unfussy formal look that exudes elegance. To make the look appear more romantic or casual, add a decorative tie or silk ribbon.
Half up, half down. The waterfall braid integrates a plaited element into another style without braiding all of the hair. The ladder look enables brides to keep some hair down. “The nice feature of this braid is it can be a little messy and still look great, making it the perfect casual look for both short and long manes,” Wright says.