33 Modern Curly Hairstyles That Will Slay on Your Wedding Day


Updos and down-dos that work WITH your natural texture, not against it

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer
curly hairstyle for wedding

Photo by Christine Doneé via OnceWed

If you’ve ever looked for curly hairstyles online, you may have noticed something funny: curly wedding hairstyles, it would seem, are not actually for girls with curly hair. Almost all of them are straight hairstyles in disguise. Which is why for so many naturally curly-haired girls, formal hairstyles can be a nightmare. First there’s the “let’s just pile it all on top of your head and call it an updo” technique. Then there’s the “let’s blow-dry your hair straight only to re-curl it” routine that leaves you praying to God no moisture comes within a ten-foot radius of your body. And if you’re lucky, you won’t end up with a bad ’90s prom do with those two godforsaken tendrils hanging down (why, stylists, why?).

Luckily, times they are a changing. Curly hair is having a resurgence (thanks in large part to the tireless work of the black women championing the natural hair movement). There are even hair salons dedicated specifically to curly hair. And formal curly hairstyles aren’t all bad ’90s flashbacks anymore. So we’ve rounded up thirty-three of them (plus eighteen video tutorials, in the event you’re DIYing) that won’t insult your hair’s sensibilities (note: one or two of these were obviously created on hair that has been curled with a curling wand, but we think they’d look just as good on naturally curly hair too):

Curly Updo Wedding Hairstyles

25 curly hairstyles for your wedding day

Photo by Carmen Santorelli Photography via Style Me Pretty

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Low Tuck Updo via Delightfully Tacky

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The Curly Twist via Hair Romance

natural updo bridesmaid hairstyle

Photo by Natural Meze Curls

curly hairstyles for your wedding day

Photo by Krista Lee Photography via Mon Cheri Bridals

25 curly hairstyles for your wedding day

Photo by Hair and Makeup by Steph

easy curly hair bridesmaid updo

Photo and Tutorial via Hair Romance

natural bridesmaid updo hairstyle

Photo by Zoe Allamby

25 curly hairstyles for your wedding day

Photo by Lindy Yewen via My Wedding

25 curly hairstyles for your wedding day

Photo by Joey Kennedy via OnceWed

25 curly hairstyles for your wedding day

Photo by Cat Mayer Studio

curly hairstyles for your wedding day

Photo by Hair and Makeup by Steph

curly hairstyle for wedding

Photo by Giuli&Giordi

 curly hairstyle for wedding

Photo by Alex G McClelland

 

Half-Up Half-Down Curly Wedding Hairstyles

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Asymmetrical Curly Updo via Munaluchi Bridal

curly half up half down bridesmaid hairstyle tutorial

Photo and Tutorial via Hair Romance

curly hairstyle for wedding

Photo by Ciara Richardson Photography | Hair and Makeup by Hair and Makeup by Steph (similar tutorial here)

Danielle Evans Photography

French Braid Twist via The Bride Link | Hair by MOPS Hair Designers

natural bridesmaid hairstyle half up half down

Natural Updo Tutorial via A Practical Wedding

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Photo by Hair and Makeup by Steph

curly hairstyle for wedding

Elegant Updo via Wedding Sparrow UK | Hair by Amelia Garwood

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The Curly Ponytail via Hair Romance

down-do Curly wedding Hairstyles

curly hairstyle for wedding

Photo by Sawyer Baird via Style Me Pretty

curly hairstyle for wedding

Photo by Sposto Photography via Style Me Pretty

natural afro bridesmaid hairstyle with floral crown

Photo by Michelle Scott Photography

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Photo by Katy and Co via Rock My Wedding

 

Photo by Michael Radford Photography | Hair and Makeup by Jen Plus Colour

curly hairstyle for wedding

Photo via Emilia Jane Morgan | Hair by Kathy Collins

Short Curly Wedding Hairstyles

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Photo by Elizabeth Messina via Munaluchi Bridal | Hair and Makeup by Erin Skipley

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Soft and Romantic Pixie via Refinery29 | Hair by Tracey Gustave of Sparrow Salon

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Photo by Elizabeth Messina via Munaluchi Bridal | Hair and Makeup by Erin Skipley

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Photo by Winnie Au via Refinery29

diy curly wedding Hairstyles

If there’s anything a curly-haired person knows, it’s that sometimes the best stylist for your hair is you (or your parent or your BFF). Luckily there are plenty of tutorials out there specifically for curly hair; YouTube in particular is a goldmine (and video tutorials are typically much easier to follow than photo spreads because rewind button). Here are ten that you can try yourself:

1. Curly wedding hairstyle: Naturally Curly shows you how to pull off a sideswept curly wedding look.

2. Easy half-up half-down curly hairstyle: This tutorial is simple, but the results are super pretty and also veil-friendly.

3. Naturally curly updo: I like this style because it’s not too fussy. If there’s wind or humidity, it won’t be the end of the (hair) world.

4. Romantic UpdoThis tutorial is done on wavy hair, but it’s the kind of style you could adapt to different textures. And it’s simple enough to pass off to a friend to try.

5. 10 hairstyles in 10 minutes: If you want range with your tutorial, here you get ten hairstyles for short curly hair—all in ten minutes and forty-five seconds.

6. Braided updo: Once you get past the intro music, this tutorial is super great for anyone looking to pull off a braided updo on their own.

7. Easy updo for naturally curly hair: If you’re worried about your hair coming undone, this tutorial might be what you’re looking for. It’s not going anywhere.

8. Easy natural updoThe YouTuber who created this video calls it the “sophisticated pineapple,” which is reason enough to try it. Also, it’s super simple and would look great with a birdcage veil a la this look.

9. Braided chignon: Braids are a curly-haired girl’s best friend. Plus, this style was inspired by The Hunger Games. So points for that.

10. Curly hairstyle ideas for short hair: Don’t have long flowing locks? No worries—there are a bunch of short hair ideas in this tutorial.

tips for diy curly hair

If you are going the DIY route, one of the easiest ways to practice for your wedding is by simply figuring out how to make your curls look their most awesome on the daily (because that’s half the battle, amiright?) And for that, YouTube is once again your best friend. Here are my best general tips for curly hair care and daily prep:

find your routine: The bulk of getting your curly hairstyle to look right is in the prep. It has taken me thirty years to figure out a prep routine that works with my hair’s texture and curl pattern (super fine, super dry, wimpy curls). But now that I’ve got it down, I can make my hair look ? in under ten minutes. There are a million YouTube videos on curly hair routines for just about every texture and length of hair. I just search for my texture and then “curly hair routine” and scroll until I find someone whose hair kind of looks like mine. While just about every video is different, there’s typically a common thread to curly hair prep:

  • Avoid drying your hair out. I don’t wash my hair daily (I think I get it wet with conditioner once a week, and cleanse it every other). But when I do, I try to avoid anything that contains drying ingredients like sulfates.
  • No, but seriously, don’t dry it out. It’s almost a joke how many curly hair prep steps are about retaining moisture. In fact, I just learned that my towel-drying routine is adding friction to my hair and I should switch to a microfiber towel or a t-shirt. #themoreyouknow
  • Add moisture. Add moisture. Add moisture. For the longest time I thought that if I added things to my hair after showering, it would weigh the curls down. But it turns out almost all my curly hair grievances can be answered with “add more moisture.” So now I have a running cocktail of products I use to keep my hair moisturized (my hair is short, so I spring for the expensive stuff). I start with a heat protection lotion, then add curl cream, and top it off with an oil serum and shine spray.

Here are a few videos I found particularly helpful:

1. VCoral’s curly hair routine: Like I said, I have fine, wimpy curls. This video is the closest approximation to my own hair texture. It’s also a good example of how you can add more definition to your curls if you’ve got fine, wimpy curls like me.

2. best curly hair products from Shawnta’s Way: Not sure where to begin looking for products that work well with naturally curly hair? This breaks down all the different types of products, and what each one is used for. And as an added bonus, a lot of them are more affordable brands, which is good, because curly hair gets thirsty.

3. Diana’s Beauty’s Big Curly Hair Routine: I really liked this video because it shows not only which products to use, but also how much of them. Also, it’s a great example of how much your hair’s appearance can change through prep. If you struggle with frizz, this might be a good video for you.

Learn the tools of the trade: Beyond learning which products to use, unlocking the secrets to my curly hair has also been about how to use them. Some curly-haired folks have hair that can air dry into a perfect curl (hint: not me). But the number one game-changing tool in my arsenal is my diffuser. It cost $15 on Amazon and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent on my hair. If you have a hard time getting your curly hair to have volume, diffusers are like magic. Again, there are tons of videos on how to use a diffuser for all hair lengths. The video above is a good example of how to get more relaxed curls. And the videos below are good examples of how to use a diffuser for bigger, bouncier curls:

1. Veronica Mezza’s Curly Hair RoutineThis video is great for people who are trying to figure out how to add more definition to their curls, while still getting big, bouncy hair.

2. Discocurls’ Diffuser Routine: This video is great if you’re looking to add more volume to tighter curls.

 WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR ROCKING CURLY HAIR? WHAT TUTORIAL VIDEOS DO YOU LOVE? WHAT DOESN’T WORK FOR YOU AT ALL? GIVE US EVERYTHING!

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Robyn

    Ah yes the old blow dry straight and re-curl cop-out. Not that my wedding hair didn’t look fine with this technique but there was NO reason I needed that much hairspray to get my hair to basically look how it would have if i’d left it natural. Wish I had this post to show my stylist 4 years ago!

    • doublegus

      Seriously! My stylist did the same damn thing. And it took forever since I have a lot of hair.

  • Lisa

    All of the love for those first few paragraphs. I ended up DIYing my hair because of my fear of most stylists. (I was on a TV show several years ago and arrived on-set “camera ready,” and the first thing the celebrity hair stylist did was say, “The problem with curly hair is it’s never uniform” before raking his fingers through my hair. He employed the re-curl it technique.) I actually didn’t have a great hair day for our wedding, but at least I didn’t spend a couple of hundred dollars to possibly have an even worse one.

    I actually do the #7 style on my hair pretty frequently and always get tons of compliments on it. It’s not too difficult, and the rope twists work so much better than braids. They’re easier and stand out better for super dark hair.

    • Saxyrunner

      Nooo the raking…

      • Lisa

        Yeah, my heart fell at that point. I was screaming “NOOOOOOOOO” in my head!

      • Danielle

        TBH I even get annoyed when my husband puts his fingers through my hair…

        • Aubry

          My husband knows now to ask when were going to sleep/couched for the night if its Ok before touching it. I love the scalp massages but don’t you dare touch my hair if I’m still needing it to look good today!

          • Danielle

            Yes. Exactly.

        • Saxyrunner

          I have a rule about that. He can touch my hair when we are home at the end of the day.

  • Ashlah

    I know we all want what we can’t have, and that there are frustrations that come with curly hair too, but the thin, flat straw on my head is turning green with envy at the volume. *heart eyes emoji*

  • albertiraross

    This is perfect timing! I’ve been spending a lot of time lately trying to embrace my natural curl, and have been wondering how I’m going to wear my hair for my wedding in three months. I am so bookmarking this and will spend some time (probably hours, admittedly) choosing my favorite. Hard choice as they’re all so lovely….

    • Lisa

      Welcome, curly-haired sister! If you’re just getting started, I’d recommend Naturally Curly and Curly Girl as some good starting points. If you’re planning to transition to No-Poo from shampoo, I’d recommend giving it a month or so to transition and then finding a stylist through Naturally Curly’s directory. A curly haired stylist can help you find the best cut, styling products, and techniques to work with your individual curl pattern. Best of luck!

      • albertiraross

        Oh yes and thanks for the advice! My city now has a salon full of DevaCurl specialists but I had to wait two months to get an appointment, which is about a month before my wedding! I couldn’t be more excited, as before I would have had to drive to Chicago to get it done. I hope it’s worth the wait and money!

        • Lisa

          I got soooo excited for a second when I saw “Chicago” because my stylist is up there (Cally at Cally’s Curls & Co.). I haven’t gotten a haircut in two years because I’m afraid to go anywhere else. We’re heading back to Chicago for Labor Day, and I’m so excited to get my free haircut (from referrals) and donate my hair again!

      • Saxyrunner

        I’m looking up the Seattle salons on there now. I’m doing the post wedding chop and donating to Locks of Love.

        • Lisa

          That’s awesome!! I’d recommend looking into Pantene Beautiful Lengths (who has partnered with APW in the past) or Wigs for Kids instead of Locks of Love though. LoL makes it difficult for kids to get the wigs they need and scraps a lot of their donations to be used for for-profit wigs. (Here and here are a couple of articles about the issue. You can find more through Google.) I went with Beautiful Lengths and had a great experience with them. I hope you love your post-wedding chop as much as I did!

          • Saxyrunner

            Oh dang, I’ll check those out. Thanks!

          • Saxyrunner

            D: D: I had no idea! After reading those, I’ll definitely go with Beautiful Lengths or Wigs for Kids. Thank you!

          • Lisa

            You’re welcome! I learned about the organization’s issues a few months before my donation from a friend who was really upset that she’d given hair to them on three separate occasions. People are still welcome to donate to that non-profit, but I find that, once many know exactly what is happening, they find that the others line up better with their intentions!

  • Bethany

    Such great timing! I have my hair trial in a few weeks and I’ll definitely be showing my stylist some of these! I had completely given up hope on finding inspiration on pinterest (or anywhere, really) and was just planning on winging it and hoping for the best. Now at least we’ll have a starting point!

  • Elizabeth Estrada

    THIS IS AMAZING! It’s so true that all these images online typically feature girls with straight hair curled, it drives me CRAZY. This is a great compilation of photos and videos that are great even in day to day life. The “sophisticated pineapple” looks so great. Too bad my hair is too short. :)

    Also, Shameless Maya (who is featured in the videos) has GREAT hair care tips on her channel. THANK YOU, MADDIE!

  • Lawyerette510

    Absolutely not washing too frequently is key, as is embracing that everyone’s hair is different in terms of what it takes to refresh your curly in between washes. For me, I know that generally I need a mist of very diluted “beach hair”/ “sea salt” type spray and some gentle scrunching with my hands to refresh my style and that I lay a good foundation for that refresh by using moisturizing and defining products when I do wash. Also, as someone who works out regularly (nearly daily) and sweats a ton, I’ve also learned that the key to not washing after those workouts is twofold: an absorbent headband that I wear during class, then taking it off immediately after, arranging my hair and letting it dry, occasionally depending on the weather and how much I sweat, I might need to add a little product. When it gets icky is when I mess with it during class or afterwards. Personally, I love Kevin Murphy’s products for my fine, curly, short hair. I use the Killer Curls defining creme or Motion Lotion on my damp hair after washing it, then some Anti-Gravity spray for a bit of volume, then if as I’m drying it’s not quite right I add some Hair Resort (I prefer the spray). I use a diluted version of the Hair Resort spray to refresh on non-wash days.

  • Keri

    At the last minute, I decided to leave my hair down for the ceremony instead of putting it up and just put it up like I normally do during the reception, but with a jeweled headband. Still legally married.

  • Lily

    Thanks for using pictures of actual naturally curly hairstyles rather than styles featuring straight hair that has been curled!

  • Rebekah Jane

    From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. I’m having an outdoor ceremony at the end of April in Atlanta (aka Humidity City). I’ve been doing the proper curl technique since I was 22 and first discovered DevaCurl (which I’ve given so many recommendations for that I should frankly be a spokesperson) but I have been a little wary about embracing the curly on my wedding day, even though my dress would work with it perfectly. I guess it’s just years of mediocre hair days on important events? But this is just the mini-confidence boost I needed!

  • elliejay23

    I love the inspiration, and the commenters who embraced their curls or DIY’d! I’m black and I have a big, corkscrew curly fro and I’m getting married in NOWHERE, Virginia in two months. So I’m starting to freak out after realizing nobody in the area will know how to do my hair, but I’m not sure I can do it myself. Sigh. Curly hair struggles.

  • CBC

    Yassss. So many people tried to talk me out of going curly for my wedding. I’m so happy I didn’t listen. I DIY’d (well, my friend helped) my unruly curls for my August beach wedding last year. Finished my natural curls with a curling iron and some intense smoothing serum, and though I ended up slightly frizzy by the end of the night, I did not look like a total puff in photos. I talked with my hairdresser a few weeks in advance, and she gave me tips on which products to use for my hair, which curling wand to use for finishing so it wouldn’t look unnatural, and she helped me decide how to place my halo. I’m not someone who ever thought they would wear a headpiece for my wedding (I’m not someone who ever thought they would have a wedding), but I found one I could rent, and decided to go with it because it would keep the top of my hair under control/keep me from playing with my hair all night. Plus I loved it. I highly recommend embracing the curl for your wedding!

  • CellarDoor

    Thank you SO much for this! It has been way tricky finding legit curly styles online!

    Question for the curly crew: I’m planning on semi-DIY – styling my curls as normal (product, diffuser, definition with the curling iron) before arranging with the stylist on my wedding day. Stylist also suggested I style curls the day before and she’d go over it and, well, that makes me nervous. Any thoughts about working with “fresh” curls vs day old, so to speak? I’ve got thick, long, frizzy locks and my hair is giving me major anxiety…

  • Cay

    I actually appreciate that this post doesn’t just have the typical curly hair styles. One of the frustrations for my hair is that it’s not curly, it’s kinky (4b/c for those that do hair typing),when stretched is at that awkward length (around collarbone length) and can shrink to like 30% of my actual length when water hits it, so I’m honestly considering either DIY or getting box braids/senegalese twists and styling those *sigh* I sweat too much in general, so for a May/June wedding where the weather can be unpredictable, flat ironing my hair or adding much heat at all is pointless. I’m looking for an updo that will work, so I’ll definitely be bookmarking this page as I go.

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