How To: Braided Bun


Plus, a fancy braid trick!

by Maddie Eisenhart, Managing Editor

How To: Braided Bun | A Practical Wedding

I wish there was a way to say “business in the front, party in the back” without invoking a visual of Billy Ray Cyrus. But once you get past the part where I just described a mullet, this is really what I see at most APW reader weddings: something that looks natural from the front so you look like the real you on your wedding day (instead of the prom version of yourself), but then you turn around and BAM! Not your mama’s French twist (are people still doing that, by the way?).

As an added bonus to today’s tutorial, I learned a brand new didn’t-even-know-it-was-possible technique from our resident stylist, Yesenia, and it’s going to blow your mind. (Do you remember how excited you were when the Topsy Tail came out? It’s that kind of awesome.)

How To: Braided Bun | A Practical Wedding

Don’t Forget to Prep

Even though this hairstyle is a little softer than last week’s tutorial, you’ll still want to prep before you start styling. To save you the trip to our previous tutorial, the steps for prepping your hair are below. In the comments of last week’s tutorial, someone asked what you can do if your hair is normally very fine and oil prone. There are a lot of tips floating around the Internet (and in the comments of that post) about how to deal with oil-prone hair, most of which are techniques you can try far in advance of the wedding. (I, for example, recently switched to sulfate-free shampoos and started shampooing my hair only once or twice a week, and have found that adding an oil serum to my prep routine has made my hair less likely to be oily. Go figure.) But if you’re looking for a quick fix, dry shampoo is your best friend (here’s a great list of brands you can try at a bunch of different price points). Or for a cheap fix, I usually put a tiny bit of baby powder or cornstarch in my hair just at the roots before styling it. Just make sure you blend it in really well with your fingertips so you don’t see any powder residue. It’ll zap all the oil at your scalp, without messing with the rest of your hair.

Prep Work, The Details

  • First, apply a styling product to your hair that is tailored to heat. There is a whole subsection of products available these days that are formulated specifically for the purpose of prepping your hair before you apply heat to it, and they are magic (if your hair never turns out the way you want when you blow-dry or curl it, applying this stuff first will change the whole game). They usually take the form of a cream or a serum, but the one that is best for your hair will depend on its texture. Your best bet is to talk to your hair stylist at your next appointment to figure out what product works for you. Sticker shock warning: they can be a bit pricey, but I find I use less of the professional products over time than their drugstore counterparts because the formulas are better.
  • Next, blow-dry your hair using a boar-bristle brush. The boar bristle will make it easier to smooth your hair, and adds a nice shine to your hair to boot. (For finer hair, use a metal brush to get more fullness.)
  • For the best blow-dry technique, start close to your scalp, then pull out with your brush.
  • But be careful: you don’t want to go overboard. Too much texture will be difficult to work with (too little will go flat).

How To: Braided Bun | A Practical Wedding

The Braided Bun

Even though our Braided Wedding Hair for Beginners was considered the easy tutorial of this series, this looks is perhaps even simpler. All the effort is in Yesenia’s magic step. But we’ll get to that in a second. For now, to start this look:

1. Take a 4–5” section of hair from the crown of your head (a.k.a. the very top, toward the back a little). Do some very light teasing with a comb. This means you want to just skim the hair a bit with your comb, instead of full-on 80s teasing it. This will give you a small cushion of volume, but not a big bouffant. If you’re new to teasing, all you’re going to do is hold your hair as demonstrated above, and then comb down toward your head to create the kinds of knots you’re usually try to get out when you comb your hair.

2. Next, create a shallow side part in your hair on the side of your head where your hair normally falls. (If you have a middle part, just pick the side that takes the part more easily. I’ve got a wicked cowlick on one side of my head, so my hair usually decides for me). If you want a more dramatic look, you can deepen this side part. Then wrap the front pieces of your hair (the ones you’ll have hanging down) around a curling iron to create soft curls that frame the front of your face.

3. When you’re done with that, gather all your hair (except for the parts you’re leaving to hang down in front), pull it to the side of your part that has more hair, and make one big braid down one side of the head. Important! Don’t secure it yet. Just hold it in your hands.

4. Take the three ends of your braid in one hand. Hold the end of the center piece of hair with your other hand.

5. Now for magic! While holding the center strand of hair firm in one hand, push the rest of the braid up towards your head. It will form a braided, full bun. (For a video of what that looks like, head over to APW’s Instagram feed.)

6. Tuck the tail of the bun under at the nape of your neck and secure with pins. Tuck any loose bits in with pins as well.

How To: Braided Bun | A Practical Wedding

So if you’ve been thinking you might want to try some kind of updo for your wedding that feels current, but doesn’t remind you of bad prom hairstyles of years past, this is your happy medium. Plus, you can wow your friends at parties with your fancy new trick. And who doesn’t want that?

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is the Managing Editor of A Practical Wedding. She’s been writing stories about boys and crushes since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) in the art of talking from NYU in 2008. In her spare time, she takes pictures of people in love. Maddie lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband Michael, her Mastiff named Juno, and her roommate named Joe.


The Info:

Hair: Yesenia Guinea of Smoke and Mirrors Salon in San Francisco | Photographer: Eyes and Hart for APW | Model: Kit Taylor

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  • Caitlin_DD

    Whaaaaat? That was magical. And it it turned out gorgeous.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Gorgeous model helps! She’s HOT!

      • Caitlin_DD

        Right?! I’ve always wanted to rock a little gray a la Stacey London.

        • Sarah E

          I feel like we’ll all get that chance in due time.. .it’s just remembering how much we want to rock it when we actually get it.

          • vegankitchendiaries

            Yeah, my grays arrived this year (30th b-day present… thanks GENES!) and mine are way more Emmett Brown than Stacey London. :(

  • D

    looks good! I will try everyone of your tutorials. any tips on good (really good) bobby pins?

  • Nina B

    WOAH! That is craziness. I’m going to have to try this…

    … okay, I tried it and making the braid and scooting it up is really easy BUT what do you do with the rest of the middle strand??? I can pin up the braid and hide those ends, but the middle strand is now extra long and just hanging down by itself.

    • Meg Keene

      I think you tuck it up underneath! And pin it, obviously.

      • Nina B

        Hmmmm, maybe my hair is too long for this hairstyle, or I’m just missing something really obvious. I just can’t figure out how that much hair can be hidden. I suppose I could wrap it around the whole braid for like a wrapped-bun look. I’ll have to play with it, but I DO like the scrunched up braid effect.

        • Sarah E

          If you have a ton of hair, maybe cheat from the beginning and keep one of the sections purposefully skinnier, make sure the skinny section ends up in the middle, and then (theoretically) you’ll have less hair to tuck out of the way. Also, you can shove it up under the rest of your hair (especially if you have a lot of hair in general) and it will only add some volume to the braid or generally disappear in a haze of romantic un-perfectness. Also? HAIR FLOWER. (Or any other accessory) Covers all mistakes.

        • Lisa

          I think what I would do is wrap the long leftover strand around my finger into a pseudo-pincurl and hide that by pinning it up underneath the braided bun!

  • vegankitchendiaries

    So pretty! (And easy looking!)

    Is APW going to do some more styles for natural black hair too, by the way? The earlier ones (with Chloe modeling) are SO awesome!

    • Meg Keene

      We will for sure, but not in this round. This was a SUPER short shoot (something like three makeup looks and three hair looks all in one day OMG), so we just used one model.

      We ARE having a black hair style roundup next week though. Not original stuff, but good for discussion.

      • vegankitchendiaries

        Are you bloody serious!? Awesome, I love round-ups!! Jeeze, ask and the universe shall deliver, eh? If you want to raid my awesome “Wedding Hairs” pinterest board, lemme know. Oh, and if you want to fly me in to model for you guys in the future, I’m open to that too… :)

        • Meg Keene

          Give us the link!!

          • vegankitchendiaries

            Done! (via the submission form)

  • Katie

    So, can we go back to the “pre-basics” and talk about the hair prep? No matter how I blow dry my hair, it turns into a frizzy, big, poofy mess. That makes all of these styles hard… Also, how do you use a curling iron?

    • Katie

      Actually, how do you BUY a curling iron? CHOICES….

    • Meg Keene

      We should do pre basics. But it really depends on your hair type. I put hair oil in, and then I blowdry with a roundbrush, and then flat iron as needed. That’s how I manage my frizzy poofy hair.

      • ktan

        My question about the basics is…..why? Whenever I see my stylist she fusses with the hair oil and heat shield and round brush hair-dying thing and it honestly looks the same as when I style it at home (with no product, regular brush, and sometimes a hair dryer.) I have very thin, fine hair. Am I missing something about the whole prep thing?

        • Maddie Eisenhart

          I think it REALLY depends on your hair. Mine takes on a totally different texture if I try to use heat on it without any product (it’s super fine and very curly, so it frizzes up like crazy if I don’t coat it with product first.)

          Otherwise, prep also helps give updos more hold. Dirty hair stays better than clean hair, and product is an easy way to “dirty” your hair.

          • http://www.military.com/spouse/military-deployment/reintegration/returning-to-home-life-after-deployment.html USA

            How To Stop A Divorce And Save Your Marriage?(Dr.Brave).

            Hello to every one out here, am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me three days ago, My name is Jeffrey Dowling,i live in TEXAS,USA.and I`m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she did not love me anymore So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.(bravespellcaster@gmail.com}, So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day what an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who did not call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website http://bravespellcaster.yolasite.com
            ,i f you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.{bravespellcaster@gmail.com} , Thanks..

        • Meg Keene

          Yeah. You have easy hair ;) That’s what you’re missing.

          For those of us with crazy half curly hair, it’s not going to look anything near the same. Iike think round poof ball vs flat hair.

          BUT. I would recommend heat shielding your hair. It’s something I’m not doing and need to be, but that’s just to keep from damaging it, not for looks. And yeah, if you want more hold for an updo, do something like dry shampoo to “dirty” it up.

    • http://www.etsy.com/shop/DIYIDo Laura

      Um yes, can someone please teach me how to curl my hair? What would be really amazing is real life workshops for this. Like, “How to Girl: Using a Curling Iron.” I would pay cash money to attend that and get that whole learn by doing thing.

      • Helen

        The Small Things Blog has some good video tutorials that I used to learn to curl my hair: http://www.thesmallthingsblog.com/hair/ For irons, she recommends Hot Tools, which is actually not crazy expensive, as these things go (around $30 on Amazon). 1.25″ or 1″ seem like the most versatile/basic size to get, depending on hair length; this graphic gives an idea of what each size can do: http://thebeautydepartment.com/2013/04/what-does-each-curling-iron-do/.

        • Jess

          I think you may have recommended both those sites before. While I still don’t have the curling iron/flat iron down, I did Learn to Girl (ie do make-up, blow-dry my hair, and put my hair up into things that weren’t the ballerina bun or french braid I’ve been doing since 2nd grade). Strongly recommended.

  • Maddie Eisenhart

    For anyone wondering what that braid trick looks like in real life, we’ve got an Instagram video with your name on it: http://instagram.com/p/ol7dvknVVr/

  • snowmentality

    I’m a little lost. If you hold the three ends of the braid in one hand, how is there another center strand end to hold with your other hand? Aren’t there only three strands in a braid?

    Or, wait, maybe I get it. You grab the three braid ends with one hand (say your left hand), then grab the end of the center strand with your other hand (say your right hand) below where you’re holding the braid with your left hand. Then you keep holding the center strand in your right hand, and push up the rest of the braid with your left hand. Is that right?

  • laurasmash

    I love all the gorgeous hair tutorials you’re doing! But… I have short hair. Maybe could you do a short hair roundup? Like with cute hair ornaments and stuff?

  • http://www.missgiggles.com/blog Giggles

    One tip I remembered after last week’s tutorial – prep your tools!

    I remembered this because I looked at my brush and couldn’t remember when I last washed it. So I washed it. A brush full of product, dust, hair, gross unnamed stuff, makes you hair oily and gross too.

  • Amanda

    Love this! With the veil round-up today, just wondering if you guys have any inspiration pics of how you could pair this style with a veil or sparkly hair piece :)

  • http://www.military.com/spouse/military-deployment/reintegration/returning-to-home-life-after-deployment.html USA

    How To Stop A Divorce And Save Your Marriage?(Dr.Brave).

    Hello to every one out here, am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me three days ago, My name is Jeffrey Dowling,i live in TEXAS,USA.and I`m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she did not love me anymore So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.(bravespellcaster@gmail.com}, So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day what an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who did not call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website http://bravespellcaster.yolasite.com
    ,i f you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.{bravespellcaster@gmail.com} , Thanks..

  • Jess

    Reporting back: I tried this after work yesterday, because I figured if I could do it, anybody could. I found my official hairstyle for the summer. It’s quick and easy, it gets the hair off my neck, and it looks really good. It took about 3-4 minutes, on hair that I washed the night before, and with some hairspray I could have worn it all day without it falling out (a big deal when you have feet of hair to manage – that stuff weighs down).

    The details:

    I have super fine, super flat, super long (1/2 way down my back or longer), mostly one length hair (i.e. nothing that is featured on the model above). I couldn’t do the “save some layers” bit, since my layers are still below my armpits and I can’t curl my hair to save my life… while Zelda is great, I’d prefer to not go with that look in real life.

    I followed the basic steps with a deep side part (a little more teasing, see super fine, super flat hair), and at the end just kind of pulled at some of the hair around my face so it wasn’t quite tight to my scalp. I added a small clear rubberband to the end of the bun after scrunching it up – again, super fine hair = major slipping.

    I had about a foot of extra tail at the end of the braid, so I looped it around my finger and shoved it under the “bun” – Lisa suggested this below. This basically added some volume to the bun and nothing else. I secured with two hair screws (best thing on earth) and a few bobby pins.

    So… if I can do it, you can too!

    • Lisa

      I’m going to have to give this a go tomorrow. Glad to hear it worked out well for you!

      • vegankitchendiaries

        Post pics too, Lisa. Haha… I’m just going to make you model all of the APW hairstyles for my benefit! ;)

        • Lisa

          I tried it yesterday, and the style was pretty cute (despite my needs-to-be-washed-frizzy hair)! I’ll do it again next week and give you a photo then.

          • vegankitchendiaries

            I tried this too but my hair was too frizzy to look ‘polished’. Going to try again with my hair drenched it Lotta Body and see if that helps. I think, in the end, I’m going to go for the ‘tight spirals’ tutorial that APW posted ages (years?) ago… Ha!

          • Lisa

            I don’t remember that one! Which tutorial is that?

          • vegankitchendiaries

            It’s for hair that’s curly to the nth degeree!
            http://apracticalwedding.com/2012/08/how-to-smooth-curls-on-naturally-curly-hair-2/

            My hair isn’t nearly as curly as the beautiful model’s but it does coil up pretty good when I use this technique.

          • vegankitchendiaries

            And here’s a pic (i just snapped in my office) to show of how it looks: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6a_xBTBg3hRNEd4clI0SkhRVm8/edit?usp=sharing

            I coil it all up in the morning (it takes a WHILE) and then when it dries, part the coils in half (or in 3 for bigger chunks) to make it a bit more natural looking. Some peoples curls just ‘chunk together’ magically but mine is frizzy and crazy. This method really helps!!!

    • vegankitchendiaries

      Pictures or it didn’t happen. :-)

      • Jess

        Oh no… now I have to figure out how to take a selfie of the backside of my head?! I can’t even take a decent selfie of the front of my head!

        • vegankitchendiaries

          Haha… Just being bossy! :)

  • jdubs

    I’m typically dubious of hair styles that finish by saying “secure with pins,” because no matter how many bobby pins I shove in, the style falls out and I end up looking like I was attacked by a porcupine. I tried this style this morning, and it looked great! Romantic, yet casual, relaxed, yet refined. However, after my hour commute, it had already fallen out. My hair was sufficiently dirty (day 3 hair, sprayed with gel on day 1), is long, curly and thick, so in theory, it should stay together.

    Basically, what I’m asking for is clearer directions than “secure with pins.” What does that mean? How many pins? Which way do they go? Up, down, to the side, pointed towards the bun, locked together in a criss-cross? I can’t imagine this style lasting through a wedding if it can’t make it through a train ride. Help!

    • Lisa

      I usually crisscross my pins into the bun. I tried this style yesterday and didn’t have any issues. I posted this video on the last tutorial, but I think it’s a great basic for learning how to bobby pin no matter your skill level!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxSOyUGrNZ8