Every bride wants to look picture perfect on her wedding day. After all, all eyes will be on you as you walk down the aisle. As crucial as it is to find the best waterproof mascara and perfect shade of lipstick, it’s equally important to have your hands looking their best with an amazing manicure.
To help you choose a nail design that’s perfect for your special day, we’ve put together a list of wedding nail ideas for every style of bride. From simple nudes and pinks to French manicures to more colorful options, there’s something for every bride on our list.
Minimalist Wedding Nails
If you want to keep the focus on your rings rather than on your nails a light or barely there color is the way to go. Even if you opt for a minimalist color, that doesn’t mean you have to settle for boring. There are a wide variety of nudes, pale pinks, pearly shades and pale metallics, not to mention white and clear, to choose from.
One of the biggest advantages of opting for a simple, pale color, is that you can do your nails yourself with a minimum of effort. Whether you do your nails at home or go to the salon, here are the most popular subtle shades of nail polish for your walk down the aisle.
A classic nude nail polish can have undertones of tan, pink or even mauve, but it is always light and flattering. In fact, because of its neutral shade, nude-colored polish looks lovely against any skin color and is also flattering with gold, platinum or silver jewelry.
DIY nails pick: Tanacious Spirit by OPI
Pale pink nails
Another traditional choice, pale pink also works with every skin and jewelry color. It is an especially good choice for brides who have vintage or princess-style dresses because of the romantic color.
DIY nails pick: Ballet Slippers by Essie
Neutral doesn’t have to mean flat color. If you like a bit of sparkle, a pearl-toned nail polish is just the ticket. Peralized nude, pink, pale mauve, pale rose gold or opal all offer that lovely neutral nail but with just the right amount of shimmer.
DIY nails pick: Out of This Pearl gel nail polish by Sally Hansen
If you’re not a fan of nail polish, but want your hands to be camera-ready for your wedding day, clear nail polish is the perfect compromise. It will give your nails a subtle sheen, and will look much better in pictures than an unpolished nail.
DIY nails pick: Clear Revlon Super Lustrous Nail Enamel
Whether you want your nails to match your dress or you’re partial to the hue, white nail polish is a lovely choice. If you’re wearing a white dress, wearing pure white nail varnish looks stunning. If you’re wearing off-white or ivory, you may want to grab a nail polish with creamier undertones to complement your gown.
DIY nails pick: Olive & June nail polish in HD
Nothing looks richer or more opulent than gold finger nails. If you want to keep your nails fairly neutral, lighter-skinned brides will want to stick with a pale metallic. Darker-skinned brides, however, can pull off a deeper gold without losing that minimalist feel.
DIY nails pick: CND Vinylux in Get That Gold
French Tip Wedding Nails
A French manicure remains a go-to for many brides on their big day. While traditional french tips are painted white at the ends while the rest of the nails are polished in pale pink or nude, modern brides are adding in new colors for a unique twist on a classic nail design.
French tips, which can be short or long, oval or square, depending on your preference, are more expensive at most nail salons than requesting a single color, so keep that in mind when putting together your hair and makeup budget.
If you don’t mind paying more for French tips, here are some ideas for your special day.
Traditional brides will love this classic look for their big day. Traditional french tips look lovely with any style of dress and are the perfect way to draw attention to your wedding ring because they don’t steal the show.
DIY nails pick: Everlasting French by KISS
This design is certainly a new and modern take on the traditional french tips. If you like the idea of a neutral nail, but want to make your polish unique, this could be just the design you’ve been looking for.
DIY nails pick: Vishine Gel Polish French Manicure Kit
If you like the idea of a classic french tip, but want to shake it up a bit, simply add thin strips of white polish over fully-dried clear nail polish. If you’re a fan of color, choose a shade that matches the hues you’ve chosen for your wedding.
DIY nails pick: Diamond Strength French Mani in Barely There by Sally Hansen
Why not use your nails to honor the age-old ‘Something borrowed, something blue tradition?’ You can still have a classic French tip and get creative with the blue nail polish of your choice.
DIY nails pick: Blue French tip nails by KiNailedIt
These French tip nails might not be bright, but they will definitely get noticed thanks to different silver designs and pearls on each nail. If you like a lot of bling, these nails would be perfect as is, if you just like a little, this style could be scaled back with just subtle touches of silver and fewer pearls.
DIY nails pick: Reusable French tips with pearls by LeStarCo
If you want to make a statement on your big day, these are the nails for you. Classic french nails are enhanced by clear tips for an edgy look. This would look best with a dramatic or very modern wedding gown. If you love this style of nails, you will need to go to a salon because it would be almost impossible to replicate this look at home.
Pastel Wedding Nails
Perfect for spring and summer weddings, a pastel polish is ideal for brides who want a subtle manicure with a bit of color. Pastel shades can be chosen to complement your wedding’s color theme, your engagement ring or your wedding dress, if you’ve chosen to wear a non-traditional color.
Here are six lovely shades for brides who love pastels.
Flat or shimmery, you simply can’t go wrong with this rosy-hued manicure. Pink looks as lovely against pale or fair skin as it does against tan or brown skin, making it a great shade for any bride.
DIY nails pick: Fiji by Essie
Great for brides who look best in warm shades, a peach manicure is a lovely complement to shades of yellow, orange, green or blue. If you are planning your bouquet in any of these shades, peach nails would work beautifully.
DIY nails pick: Malibu Peach Miracle Gel nail polish by Sally Hansen
Nothing is lovelier for a spring wedding than shades of lilac. If you’re planning a warm weather wedding or have chosen shades of purple as your wedding colors, a lilac manicure is a great choice. Lilac complements many shades of pink but also contrasts nicely with greens, blues and cool yellow shades — so you can carry many different types of bouquet and still pull off this versatile nail polish shade.
DIY nails pick: Lilac You Mean It by Orly
Mint green is a soft dreamy color, but it may not work for every bride. Olive-skinned brides should avoid this particular shade because it will bring out the green tones in your skin. Fair-skinned brides look especially lovely in mint, but that doesn’t mean that darker skinned ladies can’t wear this shade. Simply choose a pale green with warm rather than cool undertones.
DIY nails pick: Fresh Start by Orly
Light blue nails
Sky blue, baby blue, powder blue are all shades you’re likely to come across when searching for the perfect pastel nail polish. And any of these light blue shades are perfect for your big day. A light blue nail color looks particularly stunning if your bouquet features blues, purples or pinks and is a great choice for brides who have chosen to wear a white or diamond white gown.
DIY nails pick: Creekside by CND
A pale yellow manicure looks stunning with ivory or cream-colored wedding gowns, but that doesn’t mean it will work for every bride. Particularly flattering against darker skin tones, pale yellow isn’t the best choice for brides with olive-toned complexions. Fair-skinned brides can usually pull off pastel yellow but if you have pale skin without rosy overtones may want to opt for a different shade.
DIY nails pick: Pina Colada by Sally Hansen
Jewel-Toned Wedding Nails
If you’ve chosen a jewel-toned wedding palette or plan to hold a bright, bold bouquet, going for a deeper colored nail makes a lot of sense. Burgundies, garnets and deep purples and pinks come to mind for brides wanting richly colored nails, but if you prefer something less traditional, sapphire, emerald or turquoise are also options.
The key to choosing the right jewel-toned manicure is to match your nails to your wedding colors or to offset your own skin tone. Here are our six favorite jewel-toned nail polish shades.
This shade of polish works for almost every skin type and is especially lovely for fall and winter weddings. Burgundy also goes with a variety of warm and cool shades, making it easy to match with many wedding color palettes.
DIY nails pick: Obsessed by Olive & June
You can’t get much more classic than a red manicure. The go-to shade for stylish ladies in the 1940s and ‘50s, red is still on trend for modern brides. From deep, rich garnet to bright ruby to warmer-hued carnelian, there is literally a shade of red for every skin tone. Garnet is perfect with fair skin while ruby is stunning against darker skin. Olive tones, however, look lovely with carnelian.
DIY nails pick: A Little Guilt Under The Kilt by OPI
A deep purple manicure is lovely for fall and winter weddings, but can also work for spring and summer. The key is to choose a dark or bright purple that goes with your wedding color palette. Whether you’re using a lilac and lavender color scheme, shades of pinks and purples or even purple and blue, a deep purple nail will tie in well.
DIY nails pick: Powers Of Persuasion by Morgan Taylor
If you want to look pretty in pink in a shade that stands out, then magenta is the hue for you. Other similar colors like raspberry, fuschia, hot pink or bubblegum also look great and allow you to pick the hue that best compliments your skin or wedding color palette.
DIY nails pick: Dreamcatcher by CND – Vinylux
Deep or bright blue nails is a modern way to pay homage to the ‘Something blue’ tradition. Lovely for weddings at any time of year, you can also look for similar colors such as royal blue, cobalt, azure or lapis.
DIY nails pick: Butler Please by Essie
Emerald is a lovely shade of green and looks fresh at spring and summer weddings and festive at winter nuptials. If emerald isn’t the color for you, you can opt for jade, kelly green, shamrock or deeper hues such as forest, pine or hunter green.
DIY nails pick: Rated Pea-G by OPI
Wedding Nails Wraps and Press Ons
Nail art, stickers and jewels allow you to get really creative with your wedding manicure. Some nail wraps offer a clear background with embossed designs and can be used over any color of nail polish while other wraps take the place of nail polish completely. Nail art, such as rhinestones and gems, however, is affixed atop your already painted nails.
Here are some of our favorite looks for a wedding day manicure.
This rosy nail polish is made special by the floral accent courtesy of nail art. If pink isn’t one of your wedding colors, you can switch up the color to nude or pale gold for a classic look or to a deeper hue if you want more drama. You can also change up the nail art to a different type of flower.
DIY nails pick: Embossed White Roses nail wrap
Perfect for brides who like a bit of bling, nail wraps featuring metallic accents can be lovely for your wedding day. Pink with gold or silver is our hands down favorite, but metallics also look amazing with a variety of neutral shades as well as deeper shades of pink and burgundy.
DIY nails pick: Fairy Tale by Lily and Fox
What could be more perfect for your wedding day than a lace enhanced manicure? Your hands will be as pretty as a picture and will photograph well for your closeup ring shots.
DIY nails pick: White Floral Lace Nail Wraps by the Delighted Daisy
‘I Do’ accents
If you want to amp up a plain manicure, nail decals are just the thing. Hearts, florals and dots are all popular choices, but we think these ‘I do’ decals are adorable. You can use the same decal on every nail, different ones on each nail or only put them on one or two nails.
DIY nails pick: Wedding Nail Decals by ShopRisasPieces
Embellished neutral nails
Not every bride has nails long enough for a manicure. If you’re a bride-to-be with very short nails, then why not opt for press ons? They are easy to use and will add instant glamor to your look. These pale pink nails offer the perfect neutral background to enhance the glitter and subtle rhinestones and pearls.
DIY nails pick: Pretty in Pink by Annyeongnails
White nails with bling
If you want your nails to match a white or ivory gown, press on nails like those shown above are sure to do the trick. Most shops will customize the shape and length of the nail to your preference to ensure you get a product that you love.
DIY nails pick: White Wedding nails by Onyx Nails Design
Accent and Multi-Shade Wedding Nails
Accent nails are not a new trend, but they are a popular one. Accent nails allow you to add a contrasting color to one nail on each hand. If you want to kick it up a notch, you can even add some subtle designs to one of the nails too. To really make this look work for you, paint your ring finger an accent color to really show off your new wedding band.
If you want to put a spin on the traditional accent nails, try using three colors or even choose a different hue for each nail in the same color family.
Variety of nudes
You may like the idea of a more minimalist nail, but don’t want to give up interesting textures. This look features a beautiful nude as the main color with one sparkly gold nail and one nude nail with a gorgeous white pattern.
DIY nails pick: Nude nail polish set by 786
Lilac, gray and silver nails
This pairing of dreamy lilac, sparkly silver and muted gray is a modern yet romantic look that is perfect for weddings at any time of the year. Whether this trio of shades matches your wedding palette or not, it’s muted enough to blend with virtually any color scheme.
DIY nails pick: Lilac Luster, Silver Dream and On the Runway nail polish by ella+mila
Shades of the sea
If you’re having a beach wedding, why not celebrate that with your manicure. You can choose similar but different colors for each nail in a range of blues, turquoise or a mix of blue, green and turquoise.
DIY nails pick: Choose from Essie’s Blues + Greens palette
Dark and dramatic nails
Nothing is better than a mixture of burgundy and cinnamon with a bit of shimmer for a fall or winter wedding. Perfect for most skin tones, this manicure can be done with three colors or five based on your preference.
DIY nails pick: Misty Rose gel set by Beetles
If you want to make a statement with a bold manicure, a mixture of bright pink, black and gold is the way to go. Perfect for brides who prefer an edgier look, this style of manicure is best paired with a non-traditional wedding gown.
DIY nails pick: Cave the Way, I Mica Be Dreaming and California Raspberry all by OPI
Ombré Wedding Nails
An ombré manicure boasts a light color on the top that gradually blends into a darker color toward the tip although you can do it the opposite way as well — dark to light. Here are our favorite ways to wear ombré nails on your special day.
Not sure how to do ombré at home? Here’s a great tutorial to walk you through the process.
Pretty and subtle nails
This gorgeous pink and white nail is made stunning thanks to the shimmery pink polish. While the style gives a subtle nod to French tips, it is a more modern take on the classic manicure. This look would be perfect with a ball gown as well as with a classic or vintage dress.
DIY nails pick: Petal to the Metal and White on Time by Sally Hansen
Pink and lavender with sparkle accent nail
This look combines an ombré manicure with the classic accent nail look. While you can pull this off with other color combinations, we love the soft, romantic vibe these shades offer when paired together.
DIY nails pick: Go Go Pink, Ah Ah Ah-Mazing! and Pick Me Up Purple by China Glaze
Black and red nails
If you want a punk or goth vibe for your wedding that is still gorgeous and glamorous, a basic black and red ombré is the perfect choice. It’s dramatic yet still totally wedding-appropriate.
DIY nails pick: Mind Over Matter and Cherry Bomb by Orly
Glittery rainbow nails
This look, which is perfect for a whimsical wedding, is flattering to almost any skin tone and would look especially lovely for spring or summer nuptials. While you can do this at home with the right nail polishes and a lot of time and patience, we recommend going for a nail wrap for a flawless finish.
DIY nails pick: Rainbow ombre by Lily and Fox
Blue and white nails with shimmer accent
Another nod to the ‘Something blue tradition,’ a blue and white ombré is definitely a modern take on it, especially with the addition of a glittering accent nail.
DIY nails pick: Baby Blue, White Out and Hyp Nautical by Sally Hansen
Press-on ombré nails
If you love the idea of an ombré manicure but your nails are non-existent, there are a lot of great options for press-on nails that will have your hands photo-ready on your big day. If you don’t usually paint your nails, we suggest opting for something subtle such as nude and white or pink and pale silver.
DIY nails pick: Short Coffin Ombre Press on Nail by Nail Bella
Wedding Nail FAQs
Now that you have some great color and style ideas for your wedding day manicure, here are a few things to keep in mind for a flawless finish and long-lasting wear.
How long before your wedding should you get your nails done?
We recommend brides do their nails (or have them done) no more than one or two days before their wedding. If you want your nails to be done for your wedding rehearsal and dinner, then we suggest doing them that day or the night before. If, however, you want your wedding manicure to be a surprise — and your wedding is late enough in the day to pull it off — you can always do your nails the morning of your big day.
What are the best nails for a wedding?
A shellac gel manicure, SNS manicure or acrylic nails offer greater longevity than traditional nail polish, but each of these options does come with a higher cost.
A shellac gel manicure uses a mixture of gel polish and regular polish and typically lasts two weeks while SNS lasts three to four weeks. A SNS manicure uses dip powder and glue to offer a long-lasting bond on your nails.
Acrylic nails, which are fake nails placed over your natural nails, last a whopping six to eight weeks.
Can I use regular nail polish for a wedding?
If you are on a tight budget, don’t worry; you can use regular nail polish for your big day. Done right, it should last at least three to five days.
Be sure to give yourself a proper manicure by filing and buffing your nails, pushing your cuticles back and massaging them with oil. Allow the oil to sink in completely. Next, use a base coat before applying two coats of color and a chip-resistant top coat. Make sure you allow sufficient drying time between each application.
Once done, allow your polish at least 10 minutes to set before doing anything with your hands that could harm your manicure.
What nail shape is most common?
Rounded nails are still the preferred shape for brides, but it certainly isn’t a hard and fast rule. You can rock oval or square nails if that is your preference. Just be sure your manicure complements your wedding dress and your personality.
Do brides wear white nail polish?
A white manicure is a classic look for a wedding but, today, brides are choosing their nail polish based on a number of different factors from personal preference to skin tone to their wedding colors. Popular shades continue to be nude, pale pink, white, gold, red and burgundy as well as the classic French-style.
Should bridesmaids get nails done?
Your bridesmaids nails are up to them, pure and simple. They have likely already paid for their dress and are also shelling out for hair and makeup, so expecting them to have a professional manicure isn’t realistic. If you, as the bride, want your wedding party to have a uniform look, you can pay for manicures for your attendants as a thank-you gift.