When you begin looking for wedding updos, let’s just say it can get real scary, real quick. Image after image of tight curls piled high on the head, doused in so much hairspray that the slightest flame would ignite the whole thing? AKA, what you wore to your 8th grade dinner dance. Or at least what I wore to my 8th grade dinner dance (So many curls. So high on my head.) And that might not be what you’re into these days…. or um, for your wedding.
That’s why in the past we’ve rounded up wedding updos for black hair, unique hairstyles, long hair, short hair, and curly hair. But today we wanted to round up updo hairstyles for all hair types. The truth is, an updo executed with skill generally leaves you clueless as to how long the person’s hair is. It just looks so pretty! But styles vary, and some are really updo hairstyles for long hair, and some are updos for medium hair. So on each updo hairstyle, we marked what length of hair they’d work best on, to make sure you focus your hopes and dreams on something achievable (or leave a budget for extensions).
Wedding Updo: What You Need To Know
Some of these wedding updos will take a pro to pull off, but some of them are easy updos that you can DIY with the help of a friend, if that’s how you plan on making this happen. But first, let’s do a quick rundown of what makes (and breaks) the almighty updo:
- Find the right stylist: In general, the type of style plus your own hair skillz will determine whether or not you need a stylist. Having someone who knows what they’re doing is key for wedding updos. Since these styles require a certain skill set—plus more time, more product, and ALLLLL the pinning—most stylists charge more for them than other styles. Not all stylists specialize in updos, so be sure to check in ahead of time and ask for pictures if you haven’t seen any.
- Do a trial run: Once you’ve found a stylist, always, always, always do a trial. Most stylists require it, and it’s just as much for you as it is for them (trust us, it’s not a ploy to squeeze more money out of you). This is the time for the stylist to get familiar with your hair, your style, and you as a human, and it will give you an opportunity to connect with them. This is someone who is literally going to be all up in your business during what is typically a stressful and fun time, so you want to really enjoy them.
- Think About Your Hair texture and density: Typically what people love about wedding updos is their fullness. They make a statement: they’re bold and beautiful, or effortless and organic. But often times we want what we can’t have (meaning, a shit ton of hair). Luckily there are LOTS of ways to fake it. Your stylist will be able to determine what you’ll need to get the look you’re after. It may involve extensions (temporary or otherwise), hair forms (big spongy things that get hidden in your hair), or other hairpieces. If you’re not comfortable going this route, that’s totally cool, but be sure to talk through this with your stylist. They’ll help you find a style that’s appropriate for your hair and your style.
- Be honest and be patient With Your Stylist: Your stylist is not out to make your life miserable, it’s completely the opposite! They’re on your team and want you to look your best and for their work to look its best. So if you’re not feeling it, just tell them. Keep it nice and non-emotional if possible. It WILL work, even if it’s feeling like it never will. If there’s one big thing to remember, it’s that almost every single updo hairstyle looks completely wrecked until the last few minutes when all the magic happens. So until you hear the “all done!” words and you’re handed the mirror to look at all the angles, try to avoid picking the style apart. Once the stylist has indicated they’re done, it’s the perfect time to point out areas you love and parts that maybe aren’t working for you.
- Think about the venue, the weather, and your attire: Getting married on the cliffs of Northern California? Yeah, it’s gonna be windy. In the summer in the South? Oh, it’s gonna be humid. These are the things to talk to your stylist about from the start. Loose curls in an updo look beautiful, until the wind has whipped them into a hot mess. And those sleek French twists? Great until the heat just melts them into a frizz. Also be sure to think about the neckline of your dress. It’s always best to show your stylist what the dress looks like—we promise they won’t tell a soul! Consider it stylist-bride confidentiality. But they need to know if there’s something going on in the back or on the shoulders so they can create a shape that will flatter not only you, but the dress itself.
braided Wedding Updos
Braids are great for so many reasons, and they have almost endless uses in updos. They can be pulled apart for a looser, tousled look, or kept tight to the head. Either way, braids add tons of visual texture, which means great things for your photographer to snap images of. Some stylists specialize in braiding, so if you’re looking for something a little extra, seek out someone who knows what they’re doing.
Cotton candy braids are giving off that chic touch-of-madness vibe that you’re going for…
An updo that perfectly combines a bun on top, a braid down the back, and loose enough to feel relaxed.
Photography and Hair by Ashley // Great updo for long hair or medium hair
Long braids wrapped across your head is elegant and boho at once.
Photography and Hair by Braids by Jordan // Great updo for long hair or medium hair
A full crown of braids made perfect with some teasing out and a well-placed flower.
Photo via Black Bride // Great updo for long hair or medium hair
Everything nice, neat, and powerfully sitting up top where it belongs.
classic-inspired Wedding Updos
Classic does not have to mean stuffy. Many updos like the French Twist, for example, bring to mind a certain era. But with more texture and modern accessories, these looks can absolutely feel contemporary and on point. Many of these updos have clean lines and simple forms, which makes them perfect for adding accessories. While this may feel like something you don’t totally need, accessories just give you a fun way to tie-in all the goodness that’s happening in your dress/shoes/jewelry/etc. to your hair. Also, so great for photos and makes it feel finished.
Reaching that ideal balance of just-thrown-together with a bit of I-mean-business. Getting Married Business.
A tight collection of hair with spring leaves equates magical fairy status—with a bit of get out of my way.
The hair is gently gathered and collected to fall in just the right way, while flowers and leaves add color, and life.
Via A Practical Wedding // Great updo for long hair or medium hair or short hair
A classic updo enhanced by the use of a great fascinator.
Curls pinned and held in tight. Pearls woven throughout. This was almost haiku.
Easy WEdding Updos
Going the DIY route on your hair doesn’t mean it won’t have great style (our own EIC went DIY on her wedding hair, and it was glorious). We’ve shown you some great tutorials for updos like a braided bun, vintage rolls, an edgy curly hair updo, and a side-swept curled updo. When searching for a DIY style, less can definitely be more. Look for styles that use a similar hair type to your own, so you’ll know it’s feasible. DEFINITELY do a trial run, or two, to figure out how much time you’ll need and work out the kinks—we can’t stress this enough. Get creative with bobby pins and other accessories to give your style a completed feel.
Updos with long hair always have the option of turning into some kind of basket weaving experiment.
Via The Right Hairstyles // Great updo for long hair or medium hair
When you decide that you want to look like some form of Imperial Queen instead of a Shakespearean Fairy, DO THIS.
Via Allure // Great updo for long hair or medium hair
Your hair can double as a directional sign as well. This way to… love.
Everything up top and out of the way. Now let’s go get married!
Curls are wild and under control. Perfection.
Less is typically more with modern updos. Keep the overall shape fairly sleek, but don’t be afraid to have some texture. Go bold with a great metallic accessory or weave a long strand of beading or chains for an unexpected look. Modern styles have structure to them, meaning they’re not overly loose. These styles can appear to be rather simple on the surface, but require precision and technique to make them appear that way.
Photography by Yves Saint Laurent | Via Fashionisima // Great updo for long hair or medium hair
Gold in your hair is generally, always, mostly, usually, full of WIN.
A crazy bohemian situation interlaced with a shiny chain throughout.
Photography by Elie Saab | Via Fashionising // Great updo for long hair or medium hair or short hair
“I would like my hair to look like a tiny, poisonous snake in the back. But like, magical.”
Showing off the best of your hair’s natural texture and body.
Hair by The Loft Salon // Great updo for long hair or medium hair
Elegance, style, and a little bit of height.
EDGY Wedding Updos
Looking to go really bold with your updo? Use color, texture, and shape to create a mega statement. These styles toe the line of editorial or runway looks, but with the right combination of attire, they can truly be a showstopper. Using color to highlight certain aspects of the style will only enhance the look.
Hair by SimSimStyles// Great updo for long hair or medium hair
Go big or go home. This green dreadlocked up-do is everything.
Hair by Hair Romance// Great updo for long hair or medium hair
Let’s hear it for the faux-hawk french braid. Upswept and free all at the same time.
Hair by Danielle O’Connor // Great updo for long hair or medium hair
When you take your hair styling cues from a Frank Gehry-designed structure, this is what you get.
Hair by Nicole Bellows // Great updo for long hair or medium hair
A little bit of crimping, a little bit of purplebluegreen, and you have a colorful pixelated hair style.
This braided natural hair updo is made extra perfect with two-toned hair.
We want to see your wedding hair! Married folks, how did you wear your hair? any tips for our soon-to-be-weds? and if you haven’t tied the knot yet, what are your style ideas? Leave your pictures in the comments!