Choosing Wedding Nails

Photo of a bride and groom with their hands on the bride’s bouquet. 

Image Source: Drew Coffman

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Wedding ceremonies from cultures all around the world include one pivotal moment: the exchanging of wedding rings. This special moment brings the focal point to you and your partner’s hands, inspiring many people to put their best hands forward with unique wedding manicures. The right wedding nail designs can enhance your wedding look, showcase your personal style and even incorporate traditions or themes from your wedding. 

There are countless wedding nail ideas, but the manicure you choose depends on your own tastes. Your bridal nails should feel comfortable, bringing added touches of elegance to your big day. Explore our tips for choosing wedding nail styles, shapes and colors to find the right bridal nail style for your wedding day. 

Photo of a bride’s hand pressed up on her groom’s hand.

Image Source: Alekon Pictures

Wedding Manicure Types

Classic polish, gel, acrylic or dip? There are many different types of wedding nails for brides, starting with how the polish itself is applied. Before choosing your nail shape, color and design, it’s important to choose the type of manicure you’d like. Manicure types include: 

  1. Classic Nail Polish: In this bridal nail style, classic nail polish is applied and then dried slowly. This is ideal for brides in search of more natural looks, simple nails or thinner shapes. 
  2. Gel Nails: An increasingly popular nail style, gel nails are cured for longer wear. Brides who love unique designs and longer lasting styles on natural nails often opt for gel nails.  
  3. Acrylic Nails: Longer nails, dramatic shapes and the strongest designs are all benefits of acrylic nails. This is a popular choice for bridal nails that turn as many heads as the dress itself.  
  4. Dip Nails: An in-between of gel and acrylic, dip nails are thicker than gel but more natural looking than acrylic. Dip nails are popular for brides looking for a more sculpted look.  

Each type has its own features, and some have limitations, so it’s important to understand which type works for you at the start of your bridal nails journey. 

Picking a Nail Shape

Photo of a bride and groom sitting next to each other with their hands touching, their faces are not visible.

Image Source: Tim Bish 

Wedding nails for brides are often more understated than everyday manicures, so shapes that highlight natural looks are the most popular. Common shapes for bridal nails include almond, oval, rounded, squoval and square. Each shape has its own unique silhouettes, and all can support different designs or colors.  

Typically, brides choose shorter nails for their wedding day, but some prefer the dramatic look of long nails. If you’d like your dress, makeup, hair, shoes and wedding jewelry to take the spotlight, opt for shorter nails that complement your look without overpowering it.  

From streamlined solitaire engagement rings to romantic vintage engagement rings, standout gemstone engagement rings, unique engagement rings and everything in between, there’s a nail shape that perfectly matches your jewelry style. 

Color Options for Wedding Nails

Open bottles of nail polish on a light background.

Image Source: Dan Cristian Pădureț

While shape and manicure type are important decisions for your wedding nails, color will have the biggest impact on your bridal nails. From softer shades to dramatic pops of color, there are endless options for your wedding day manicure. 

Soft Colors for Bridal Nails

Image Source: Korie Cull

Soft colors such as white, cream, nude, ballet slippers and tan hues are some of the most popular shades for bridal manicures. These colors match all types of rings including rose gold engagement rings, designer engagement rings, yellow gold bands, white gold wedding rings and toi et moi rings

When choosing a soft shade for your bride nails, focus on a gentle hue that complements your skin’s undertones, your dress or your jewelry. 

Symbolic Wedding Nails for the Bride

Image Source: Engin Akyurt

You can bring extra meaning to your wedding manicure by incorporating symbolism in the colors. Choose a soft blue shade for your nails to serve as your something blue, pick colors that match your wedding theming or surprise your soon-to-be-spouse by wearing their favorite color on your nails. 

Dramatic Wedding Nail Colors

While soft nails are the most popular for wedding manicures, some brides prefer the pop that more dramatic colors bring. Daytime or tropical weddings are excellent options for colorful manicures with bright colors such as rich red nails. Evening weddings or those in cooler climates are perfect options for deeper dark nails, such as rich mulberry shades.

Image Source: Fray Bekele 

Wedding nails with bright colors are an excellent pop of color for brides wearing styles in mainly platinum or white gold. For a matching look, pick a bright nail polish color that matches any gemstone jewelry you may be wearing on your wedding day

Extra Designs on Wedding Nails

Accent designs are a great way to add pops of color to an otherwise simple manicure. Many brides opt to add an extra design to their ring fingers, their thumbs, the base of their nails or the tips of their fingers. 

Photo of a bride’s hands, she has nails with crystals.

Image Source: Itzel González Lara 

Bridal nail designs include: 

  1. Swirls or Lace 
  2. French Tips 
  3. Floral Shapes 
  4. Crystals 
  5. Chrome  
  6. Pearls 
  7. Ombre 
  8. Lines 
  9. Marbling 
  10. Glitter 
  11. Gold or Silver Leaf  
  12. Custom Art  

For a wedding manicure, brides usually focus on just a few of these elements to keep understated elegance. These designs can be incorporated on many different nail shapes, lengths and colors.  

Ring Finger Accents for Bridal Nails

When it comes to extra designs or accents on your wedding nails, the ring finger is the most popular spot for adding these enhancements. Some of the most popular ring finger accents for bridal nails include crystals, hand painted designs, pearls, marbling and glitter. 

Classic Wedding Nail Ideas

Photo of a bride and groom’s hands together, the bride has a French manicure.

Image Source: Samantha Gades

The most classic bride nails are simple and include more natural shapes, lengths and colors. Designs such as sets with swirls, French manicures, plain color manicures, gentle pink hues and soft nude shades are the most popular wedding nail designs. 

When to Get Your Bridal Nails

If you’re looking to wear long natural nails on your wedding day, it’s important to start working with a nail technician long before your wedding. Starting with regular professional nail care a few months before your wedding will help you grow your desired length of strong, natural nails for your big day. 

For brides looking to wear their normal nail length or enhance their nails with artificial extending styles, the nail salon visit can be much closer to the wedding day

Person having their nails painted in a salon.

Image Source: Giorgio Trovato

For your wedding manicure itself, it’s best to get your nails done up to two days before your wedding. This helps ensure that you have as little growth as possible, which keeps your nails looking well-manicured and fresh. 

Personal Style for Wedding Nails

Wedding manicures aren’t just about bridal nails, grooms can also enjoy the fun of self-expression with their nails. Many grooms opt for clear manicures on their wedding day, having their nails shaped and buffed for a clean look. 

Close up of a bride and groom’s hands as the bride puts the groom’s ring on.

Image Source: Andrew Itaga

While there are popular wedding nail designs, styles, shapes and colors, it’s ultimately about your own personal style. The right groom or bridal nail design is one that helps you feel your best on your big day. Social media is a great place to start for finding inspiration and wedding nail ideas, along with tips from your nail technician.

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