How to Wear Your Natural Hair for Your Wedding

by Deanna deBara

Full article by Zola

Photo by Kamp Weddings

Some brides see their wedding as an opportunity to try something new with their hair, changing the length, volume, and texture with extensions, wigs, clip-ins, and other hair accessories. If that’s not your style (or you just love your hair as is), good news: you don’t have to add a single thing to it in order to nail the wedding look of your dreams. You can wear your natural hair for your wedding and look and feel stunning.

What is natural hair?

To put it simply, by definition, natural hair is hair that hasn’t been altered by chemical straighteners, including relaxers and texturizers. So, it’s just the hair on your head, doing its normal thing. Whether your hair is curly, straight, thick, fine, or any type of texture in between, you can embrace your natural hair and work with what you got to create a stunning bridal look.

We talked to expert hairstylists to get their best advice on how to wear your natural hair for your wedding.

Why wear your natural hair for your wedding?

There are a few reasons you might want to go with an au naturel hairstyle for your big day.

  • Budget. Simply put: Wigs, extensions, clip-ins, and other hair add-ons can be expensive—and those added costs can eat into your wedding budget. Plus, most of those extras are designed to make your hair thicker and longer—and the more hair your wedding stylist has to deal with, the more expensive it’s going to be to get it styled.
  • Comfort. A lot of hair add-ons are just uncomfortable, especially if you’re not used to wearing much in your hair. Wigs can feel hot, extensions can be heavy, clip-ins can slide out of place. The last thing you want to deal with on your wedding day is any unnecessary discomfort.
  • Personal Style. For some, wearing their natural hair is the way they feel most themselves. If you don’t usually play with your hair too much, you may feel more comfortable letting it do its natural thing.

How To Wear Your Natural Hair For Your Wedding

Decided you want to sport a more natural look on your big day? Let’s take a deep dive into how you can rock a natural hair look on your wedding day—no matter what your hair type:

Asian Hair

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Photo Credit // South Shore Studios

“Asian hair is normally very thick,” says celebrity stylist Marshall Lin. While that strength makes for gorgeous hair texture, it doesn’t always make for long-held curls. “Because it’s so heavy, oftentimes curls tend to fall from the weight of [the hair] alone,” Richardson says.

Fortunately, that issue can easily be avoided by sweeping natural hair into an updo or other, more structured style. “Having it braided, in buns, [or in another updo] is a good way to keep it beautiful for a long period of time.”

Here are a few additional styling tips for wearing natural Asian hair for your wedding:

  • Add interest with accessories. If your hair is straight and doesn’t have much texture, try adding visual interest to your updo with a hair accessory. A flower or embellished bobby pin or clip can help elevate your look.
  • Prep hair. If you do decide to wear your hair down, prepping it is key if you want it to hold a curl. Use lightweight shampoo and conditioner and a product that will add volume and texture without adding weight like curl-defining mousse.
  • Add natural highlights. “Because [Asian] hair has a lot of pigment, it will appear darker,” Lin says. And while that pigment can add a serious dose of shine, “the only challenge is that the color might be too dark for some styles because it will not be able to show texture,” Lin adds. Adding a few natural highlights will show movement and make it easier to see the texture in your bridal style.

Fine/Straight Hair

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Photo Credit // VILD Photography

If your hair is fine and straight, your biggest challenge with styling is probably going to be volume. But luckily, that’s a pretty straightforward challenge to solve—and it starts with using the right products.

It’s all in the product.

“First of all with your shampoos and conditioners … we want to make sure that we were using something that’s light and volumizing—not anything that’s moisturizing because that tends to be heavier,” says Dustie Richardson, a stylist at Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa at The Royal Poinciana Plaza in Palm Beach, Florida. “That’s going to give you more body, that’s going to give you more volume from the root.”

In addition to using the right shampoo and conditioner, plan to add an extra product before styling to give your hair some extra “oomph” on the big day. “You’re [also] going to want to use a volumizer, a volumizing spray, or a thickening lotion of some sort,” Richardson says.

Using the right products is key for prepping your hair ahead of styling. Here are some hair styling tips to get the most out of your fine or straight hair:

  • Ask for the right haircut. Certain haircuts will help add more volume to your hair—which can make for more of an impact on your big day. “Generally with fine hair, your shorter styles and your blunt cuts are going to be what gives you the most body and the most manageability,” says Richardson. “Bobs especially can be great for building weight.”
  • Go sleek. Having fine or straight hair is a serious plus with certain hairstyles—especially sleeker looks. According to Richardson, sweeping straight hair into a sleek bun is a great way to work with your natural texture—and get an impossibly chic look in the process. For added visual interest, try adding embellished bobby pins to the front of the hairstyle, which work better for a finer hair texture than heavier accessories like clips. “The bobby pins are smaller and they’re tighter which means they can stay on the hair a little bit better,” says Richardson. “They stay in place better and they’re lighter on the hair.”
  • Add texture with a braid. If you decide to do an updo, ask your stylist to add a braid. This adds texture to otherwise straight hair—and, when pulled apart, can also make your updo look more full and voluminous.

Wavy Hair

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Photo Credit // Britt & Bean Photography

The right haircut is important for every hair type—but when it comes to bridal styling, it’s even more important for wavy hair. “Oftentimes there can be a lot of weight in the ends of [wavy] hair that’s removed with a good haircut,” Richardson says. “Also, having those dead ends trimmed will allow a better shape to form in the waves.”

Get to know your waves.

Once you chop your split ends (and get rid of any dead weight), the next step is to really get to know your hair—and, in particular, get to know your wave. Typically, with wavy hair types, some areas are more wavy or curly than others. But there are strategies your stylist can use (from a product, haircut, and styling perspective) to even out your hair and give you more uniform waves for your wedding.

“You want to really look at the hair and understand what’s going on because you can encourage more curl in the places that there’s less curl,” says Richardson. Here are a few hair styling tips to rock your natural waves for your big day:

  • Go fully natural… If you want to go fully natural on your wedding day, let your waves air dry. “If you use the right product, you can honestly get a great look with air-dried waves,” says Richardson. Use an anti-frizz serum and a texturizing spray, then braid (for a more natural wave) or twist (for a more beachy look) wet hair and let air dry.
  • …or add definition with heating tools. If your waves are unpredictable (or don’t dry as planned), you can also add definition with heating tools. A traditional curling iron will give smoother, natural waves while a curling wand will give you the more textured, beachy look.
  • Go for a textured updo. “Wavy hair is really great for wedding looks,” says Richardson—especially more textured updos. Add a volumizing lotion at the root, blow-dry, and pin back for a relaxed, tousled, and elegant look.

Natural Black Hair

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Photo Credit // CMK Photography

“African American hair is generally characterized by tight curls and kinks, and grows almost parallel to the scalp—but in general, natural black hair usually ranges from wavy to kinky-coily, with a wide range of variation between the two.” says Alicia Henry, celebrity hairstylist with years of experience working with black and African American hair.

Different textures, different styles.

While weather can play a large role in determining the best style for natural black hair (“[You] need to consider whether they are having an indoor or outdoor wedding because the weather and humidity can play a big factor on the style chosen,” says Henry), the good news is, whether you have curls, coils, waves, or locs, there are a ton of different options for natural hair wedding looks, depending on hair texture.

If you have a curly texture, adding height and volume for a more free-flowing, unstructured look is a great way to embrace your natural hair. “To achieve that look, you have to have a pretty tight natural curl,” says Richardson. “Then it’s blown out—and what that does is it stretches that curl out” and adds the height and volume.

If wearing all your curls loose doesn’t feel like the right look for you, you can also part the hair and pull it back tightly (either with braids, twists, or just smoothing out the hair) and leave the rest of the hair out for more of an updo. Soft curls are a great look for more relaxed hair—just make sure to add some smoothing serum before styling to control frizz and add shine.

Here are some additional tips for styling natural black hair for your wedding day:

  • Moisture. Natural black hair can lack moisture, depending on the season, location, etc.—so make sure you’re adding plenty of hydration (via moisturizing conditioner, oils, and styling creams) leading up to your big day.
  • Give yourself time to prep. “For natural hair, you should start prepping your hair—not just the night before, but 3-4 days before,” says Henry. “Natural hair swells and expands each day after you wash it so depending on how full you want it to be it needs time to prep [to get your desired look].”
  • Have fun with an updo. Natural black hair can be extremely thick—and that can make for amazing updos. Sweep your hair into a topknot, side bun, or more elaborate updo. The hair’s thickness and texture will create a visually striking look with minimal styling and touch-ups necessary.
  • Braid it. If you really want to keep your hair off your face and neck while you’re on the dance floor, braids are a gorgeous option. You can talk to your hairstylist about not only different size and style braids, but also how those braids can be styled into updos or down-dos.

Curly Hair

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Photo Credit // Ruby Sky Photography

Not all curls are created equal—but for most curly-haired brides, moisture is the biggest challenge. “There are so many different types of curls. You have your soft curl, your loose curl, your tight curl, your kinky curls,” Richardson says. “But if there was one thing I could say about all curls? It’s moisture, moisture, moisture.”

Prep with moisture.

In the days leading up to your wedding, make sure you’re using plenty of hydrating products to add plenty of moisture to your curls. You may even consider heading to the salon for a moisturizing treatment.

Similar to wavy hair types, with curly hair, it’s all about the cut. “If you want to wear that hair naturally curly for your wedding, again, a good cut is always key for the shape,” Richardson says. The right haircut will give your hair the shape and texture it needs “so that your curls can form to their best potential,” she says.

Once your is hydrated and properly cut, here are some key tips for rocking your natural curls on your wedding day:

  • Dry with a diffuser. Using a diffuser will add more definition to your curls—as well as infuse some extra “oomph” for your wedding day. “Diffuse it for more body and volume,” Richardson says. Finish off with a blast of cool air, which “will alleviate that frizz and that will leave it shiny and feeling healthy without heat damage,” says Richardson.
  • Experiment with different hair accessories. Typically, curly hair is thicker—which means it can hold the weight of hair accessories better than fine or straight hair. Have fun and experiment with different types of hair accessories like clips, headbands, or crowns).
  • Work an updo. Work with your existing texture and pin curls into an updo. Not only will your curls add volume to the updo, but the natural texture will add visual interest—and make for an unforgettable wedding look.

Short Hair

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Photo Credit // Amber Robinson

If you have short hair, you might think your options are limited—but according to Richardson, short hair (which she considers anything above the shoulders) can be the most fun to style.

Working with short hair is going to depend on your length. Styling a pixie cut is going to be a bit different from styling a bob or a shoulder-length do. Here are some styling tips for rocking your short hair as you walk down the aisle:

  • Add texture to a pixie. If you have a pixie cut, adding texture with a styling cream or pomade will give you more hold—and allow you to play with different shapes (for example, adding more volume or pushing hair to one side).
  • Add accessories. When you don’t have much hair to work with, accessories can be a really fun way to amp up the drama of your bridal look. Stick a large flower behind your ear or rock a headpiece. Without a more elaborate hairstyle, there’s nothing to compete with the accessory—which allows it to take center stage.
  • Rock waves and a braid. If you have a bob or shoulder-length hair, rocking beachy waves and adding a small braid can be a cool way to play with texture. “A soft braid or even a fishtail braid can add a little fun in there,” says Richardson.

These tips are a great jumping-off point. But remember, it doesn’t matter what type of hair you have—you can rock your natural hair on your big day in any style that feels right to you. “I don’t consider the type of hair when creating styles,” Lin says. “I would tell the bride to go for the style she wants. Texturizing updos, a silky, clean straight style, or a sexy wave—all of these are able to be applied to different hair types.”