How to: Choosing Your Wedding Hairdo

Choosing the ‘right’ hairstyle is tough at the best of times. Hair is probably the single most pliable and transformative feature we have. So deciding on your wedding look can seem like an incredibly defining and onerous task. We’ve compiled a quick and easy guide to choosing a great ’do that’ll suit your hair, your dress, as well as the wedding itself.

Consider Your Hair’s Natural State

The key to a long-lasting, natural looking hairstyle is taking advantage of your hair’s natural qualities. Thick hair is probably the most resistant to change and generally makes an attempt to revert to it’s original state by the end of the event. Thin hair may not be able to hold stiff styles throughout the duration of the wedding. Whilst these are the general behaviours of hair types, you also need to consider how well you know your own hair. For example, you may know that once you straighten your naturally curly hair, it’ll stay that way until you it a proper wash or that hair extensions don’t look at all natural on you.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Out of 10, how easy is my hair to manage? Why?
  • How comfortable am I with my hair’s natural look?
  • What’s my natural frizz factor like?
  •  Do I have any issues with my hair (e.g. oily scalp, prone to dandruff, breaks off easily, etc)?
  • What are my hair strengths (e.g. I love the colour or shine, it holds shape well, etc)?
  •  What are my hair non-negotiables (e.g. it has to remain a certain length, it cannot be dyed, etc)?
  • How am I flexible when it comes to my hair (e.g. I love to colour it frequently, I’m open to just about any style)?

Thinking about these factors will help you prepare your hairstylist, and equip them with a range of options to work with for your wedding-day styling. The objective here is not only to assess your hair’s natural condition, but to establish clear lines of communication regarding what you do and don’t want for your wedding- day style. Your hairdresser/ stylist will most likely be able to offer you a set of most workable options, as well as discuss how different hairstyles will affect your look- not just in terms of style, but additionally how it will affect your face’s natural balance. If you’re stuck for choice, it can be extremely helpful to hear a fresh opinion for an objective professional. No matter what your hair’s natural state, however, you can always pull off a variation of the style you want.

Weigh Up Your Options

Essentially, all hairstyles are variations of a few simple basics. We’ve broken them down into ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ to help you finalise your decision.



–    It’s timeless, glamorous and looks undeniably gorgeous on most women, as it frames the face. It best suits layered or shoulder length hair. Because it’s such show- stopping hair, few other pieces of jewellery or embellishments are needed.
–    It’s comfortable- you wont end up with a tension headache from tightly clipped or bound hair
–    You don’t have to continuously worry if your hair is falling out of place- it’s supposed to be move with you

–    If your hair is heavy, or cut in one length only, the wave will drop out.
–    It’s the least predictable of all wedding styles. Because it’s constantly moving, it’s difficult to keep the overall hairstyle in check, and even one wayward section of hair can ruin the effect of the style. It’s also hard to keep shape and volume in hair that’s not pinned at all
–    You’ll also have to go into frizz management mode on a wet or humid day- any moisture (or huge amounts of sweat) can absolutely ruin the total effect.

Brideonline recommends: If you’re going to wear this look, make sure you touch it up throughout the course of the day. Also, don’t be afraid to have it curled more than you’d like at the beginning of the day, so you allow the curls time to drop and achieve the ideal effect.


Half Up, Half Down


–    This is arguably the most versatile style- you can get away with wearing this style for all types of dresses.
–    You don’t have to constantly sweep hair out of your face.
–    This lightly frames your face (without your having to constantly sweep hair out of your face) and gives you the glamorous look of a loose hairstyle, whilst the hair tie or bobby pins offer you some security and control.
–    The backcombing and bobby pins involved will give your veil better grip.
–    If your hair doesn’t hold curls well, it will still look polished once the curls drop.
–    Since the top half is pinned, it’s more likely to maintain it’s shape throughout the day than a loose hairstyle.

–    The bottom half is still vulnerable to becoming a little more unkempt, like the loose style.
–    This requires some length, and tends not to look as elegant or glamorous if you have a fringe or shorter than shoulder length hair.

Brideonline’s Recommendation: If you’re cant decide between wearing your hair up or down, this is a great middle ground. It’ll be easier to manage and more secure than a loose style, and more comfortable than an updo.




–     Really versatile: this can be interpreted as a simple bun, or elaborate braids and everything in between. It can fit just about any style.
–    Works particularly well for brides wit oval or round faces
–    It’ll hold its shape all day, so you’ll have more control over it and is the most likely hairstyle to look in all your photos.
–    Some updos can look a little boring form the front
–    They can be uncomfortable, most especially if you have particularly heavy hair
–    Fringes don’t work particularly well with this style.
–    If you have a lot of baby hair around your face, you’ll see it with this style

Brideonline’s Recommendation: If you’re considering this look, make sure you love it from all angles- including the back, sides and front. A great way to achieve this is to keep some hair framing your face- this achieves a more interesting and feminine look.


Side Updo


–    This functions similarly to the half- updo style, in that it affords you security (from pinning it up in a controlled way), but gives the impression of length
–    Focal points at both the front and back! This means it’ll accordingly look great from the front and back (excellent for those over- the-shoulder- photos)
–    The feminine look of the hairstyle will help soften a structured dress
–    Great on a windy day

–    This can be uncomfortable. Side updos are generally pinned on the base of the neck, which can get a little irritating after a while.
–    Though front, back and one side will look great in photos, the opposing side to where it is pinned can look a bit boring.
–    You’ll need relatively thick hair and a defined jaw line to balance the weight of the ponytail on the other side of your face.
–    Only suitable for longer-length hair and if your hair isn’t overly layered (otherwise the shorter layers will show up and make the hairstyle look messy).

Brideonline’s recommendation: Make sure you plan around which side you’ll have facing the audience during the ceremony, and pin your updo on the same side. Also be aware of where you’re facing throughout your photos- always try to have your updo pointed at the camera.


Work With Your Dress

Don’t think of your dress, hair makeup and accessories in isolation, but rather as building blocks which make up an overall look. This is the key to avoid looking underdone or, frankly, like a bit of a hot mess. So try and have your hair complement  your dress: in other words, fancy dress= simple hair. Simple dress= fancy hair. Observe:

Here the dress serves as the focal point, so her hair is kept simple and sleek, making sure it does not detract from the dress and so balances the entire outfit.

The dress is quite minimal, so there is more room to play around with more dramatic hair to bring a bit of oomph to the look.

Don’t Make Any Dramatic Changes Close to Your Date

The lead up to the wedding is notoriously stressful, and this, unfortunately, tends to be the time when women are most prone to drastic aesthetic changes to make them feel better, more beautiful, calmer, more refreshed, or whatever else they feel they need. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT attempt this under any circumstances. There are far too many horror stories out there for you to imagine that making a spur-of-the-moment, emotionally based decision will somehow end well for you. So please, no drastic cuts or dye- jobs in the month leading up to your wedding. If you feel the overwhelming urge to do something with your hair, go get a trim and a blow-wave. You’ll walk out feeling a million bucks, I promise. If you just want to something a little crazy to break the routine, I suggest you go get a novelty manicure/ pedicure. A couple of hours after the excitement of having Hello Kitty charms hanging off your nails has calmed down, you’ll be thankful that you didn’t direct this energy on your hair. If you need further motivation to not get too insane with your hair, think of the wedding photos you’ll have to look (or more likely, cringing at)at for the rest of your life.

Plan Ahead

Once you’ve decided on your final look, try it out! Visit your hair stylist/ dresser for a trial run. If you’re particularly organised, you can also have you makeup trial done on the same day to get a better idea of your comprehensive bridal look. This should be done 2- 6 weeks in advance (not too far in advance as weather changes can affect how the finished product will look).  Ask yourself if it suits your wedding style, dress and face. You never know if it’ll look different to how you envisioned it, or if it just plain doesn’t suit you. Wear it home and try it on with your dress and even perhaps your headpiece and veil. Have a look from as many angles as you can, and make notes on if you’d like anything changed.  It really pays to find an issue before hand than on the day of the wedding!

As ever, play around until you know what you want, don’t be afraid to ask for it, and try to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime process!