Whether your wedding is large or small, religious or not, offbeat or classic, a lot of thought goes into your clothes, your hair, and your shoes. Your nails deserve the same kind of attention.
Everyone is going to want to see your ring so you’re going to be extending your hand out to all your guests to admire.
Plus, planning a wedding is way more stressful than you’d expect and making those decisions on dresses and suits and flowers can be tough. But picking how you want your wedding nails to look can actually be a fun, relaxing part of your planning for a change. Unlike with gowns or shoes, you can buy a couple of nail lacquers without breaking the bank and try them all on at home as many times as you like until you find the look that’s perfect for you.
Wedding nails tips and tricks.
Start early. If you plan on sparing your hands the process of artificial nails, you want to start thinking about getting your natural nails in shape early. Nails take a long time to grow, as in one tenth of a millimeter per day, so you want to give yourself at least three months of time for your nails to grow out. If you have brittle nails or you think they could use a little help, check out my guide to the best products to make nails grow fast. Keeping your nails properly shaped and groomed will help them grow without breaking. If you’re still using cheap emery boards from the drugstore, see my best manicure kits and sets guide to pick up the tools to keep your fingers and cuticles looking neat and tidy.
Check different lighting. When you’re deciding on a nail polish color, try to copy the same lighting you’ll have on your wedding, that way you’ll have a better idea of what it will actually look like. If you can set your hand against something resembling the color of what you’ll be wearing all the better. That taupe polish is going to look much different against a coffee table in your living room than against cream white out in the sun.
It’s not just your nails that need care. Don’t forget to keep your hands moisturized and cared for so they’ll photograph well. And be at prime hand-holding softness.
Experiment. Don’t be afraid to try several different shades. If you’re not sure what nudes suit you, pick up a trial set like Brand Spanking Nude by bliss Genius Polish which comes with six mini-size neutral tones so you can test them out against your skin tone. Even if you’ve been planning on a nude, go ahead and try that deep red or that metallic that caught your eye. You can surprise yourself with how unexpectedly perfect these turn out to be.
Prep your manicure. If you don’t already have one, get a quality bottom coat and top coat to prevent chipping and keep your colors glossy and bright for days. Check my guides to the best top coats for long lasting nails and the best bottom coats.
Keep it fresh. Don’t have your bridal manicure done until right before the wedding. Two days before maximum. One day before is better. Even the best lacquers and top coats can lose their shine over time and you’ll be so busy that chips can happen despite the best precautions.
Bring it with you. Make sure once you have your polish color picked out that you pack it in your wedding emergency kit to clean up last minute chips. Bring it with you on your honeymoon to freshen up your color too.
You do you. Listen, you know you best. If the color you have your heart set on bucks tradition, wear it. If the shade you fall in love with is last year’s trend, honey, who cares? If the classic, traditional look feels romantic to you, don’t be pressured into going bold if you don’t want to. What matters is that you feel fabulous.
I’ve gathered together some of the best bridal nail colors around. I’ve tired to pick shades that look amazing on all skin tones and work for all seasons. Come daydream with me.
1. Skinny Dip by Essie
We’re starting out with a really beautiful sheer nude color from essie’s 2017 Wild Nudes Collection. This is a great color if you’re looking to make your natural nails look healthier and bright. It’s not fully opaque at two coats and you’ll probably be able to see the whites of your nails but that adds to the clean, healthy look of this shade. The formula is a tiny bit thin which is to be expected for a sheer but it’s still very easy to work with.
- Rated 4.5 out of five stars by users on Amazon
- Perfect for a traditional neutral tone
- Trusted brand
- Not opaque
2. Piece of Cake by Butter LONDON
Piece of Cake is an opaque light pink lacquer from butter LONDON. This pastel is close to a white and is a really nice soft, feminine shade to brighten up your fingers. As part of the Patent Shine 10X line, you can expect about a week of wear from this polish and a thick gel-like finish. If you love a high gloss, this one won’t deliver as much as it promises from the name but a nice top coat will fix that right up. This is one of butter LONDON’s 10 free formulas so it’s free from 10 of the nastier chemicals often used in nail polish like formaldehyde and DBP.
- Long lasing
- Subtle, girly color
- 10 free
- Glossy but not intensely glossy
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3. Best of British by LONDONTOWN Lakur
If you’re feeling a little more bold, this warm, hammered gold lacquer might be just what you need. This creamy formula is easy to apply and is opaque in one to two coats. There are several different shades of gold foil in this metallic so the color is dynamic and has depth. It really gives that opulent, royalty feeling, especially against creams and whites. This polish is five free, vegan, and doesn’t contain gluten. It does contain vitamin A, biotin, and extracts of cucumber, evening primrose, and chamomile. If you love the idea of a gold nail polish for your wedding, but Best of British isn’t quite doing it for you, check out my guide to the best gold nail polish colors.
- Classic and trendy
- Contains strengthening ingredients
- Multidimensional color
- Might want to consider the color metal of your rings before going metallic
4. Lace to the Altar by Essie
Lace to the Altar is from essie’s 2017 Bridal Collection which is a collaboration between essie and bridal designer Monique Lhuillier. All the shades in this collection are lovely and so soft, but this one is my favorite. It’s a sheer shimmer on the first coat and opaque on the second. Lace to the Altar is opalescent and reminds me of pearls. As part of essie’s Gel Couture line, this regular polish is long lasting without being an actual gel polish so it doesn’t need a lamp in order to dry and won’t wreck your nails. Some of this line has a tall, plump finish like a gel manicure, but Lace to the Altar has a thinner, normal thickness for nail polish. If you want that magnified shine reminiscent of gel manicures, top this with the Gel Couture Top Coat by essie.
- Long lasting
- Elegant shimmer
- Needs a top coat to pop
5. Romantique by CND Vinylux
Romantique is from Creative Nail Design’s Vinylux line which boasts gel-like staying power without UV lamps or the damage gel manicures can do to your nails. Vinylux is applied to bare nails without a base coat and is topped with CND’s Weekly Top Coat. Together, your manicure should last chip-free for a week or more. It works by having a formula that hardens when exposed to sunlight so your nail polish actually gets tougher the longer you wear it which is pretty genius. Romantique is a beautiful, sheer pinky-nude which makes a great natural nail alone or as a base for a French Manicure. CND’s Weekly Top Coat was featured in my guide to the best top coats for long lasting nail polish.
- Extra long lasting
- Classic look
- Too subtle for some
6. Genesis by Zoya
This polish is a long lasting, cool white with a silver shimmer. It’s a little sheer on its first coat but is opaque and pearly in two. This one looks a lot more like a white polish than a shimmer and has a slight blue quality to it that would look gorgeous contrasted against warmer cream colors. It’s from Zoya so you know you’re looking at high quality lacquer and the formula is five free.
- Rated 4.7 out of five stars by users on Amazon
- Long lasting
- Classic with a touch of glitter
- Could be too matchy for some wedding attire
7. The Red by Oribe Lacquer
The more traditional look isn’t for all of us. Sometimes you need to throw on a bold, unexpected red. The Red is about as red as red gets. (Wow, that was a lot of reds.) It’s opaque in one coat, but two really deepens the color. There’s something really classy about this lacquer while at the same time being such a nontraditional wedding color that it strikes a nice balance for people trying to tow the line between offbeat and traditional. It’s from ORIBE, known for their incredible, high end hair products and was formulated to be flexible which is awesome for people like me with bendy nails. It’s just so pigment dense! I love it. The Red is eight free and should last you about a week without chipping.
- Rated five out of five stars by users on Amazon
- Bold but classic
- Can’t get any redder
- Too loud for some
8. Sugarette by Smith & Cult
Sugarette is a milky silver with a pearlescent, satin finish. When it’s dry, it actually looks like silk fabric to me. It does take a couple of coats and can go on a little streaky for some, but with the slight metallic shimmer, it’s not noticeable. Smith & Cult is a long lasting polish brand with a thin, but not too thin, formula. The cap might look a little unwieldy, but it actually lifts up to reveal a much smaller twist off top that’s easier to work with. This polish is eight free and the color Sugarette is limited edition so get your hands on it quick if you think it could be in the running for your wedding nails.
- Unique satin finish
- High end
- Not quirky enough for some
9. Cheshire Plains by LONDONTOWN Lakur
This is fairly nontraditional, but I think this soft robin’s egg speckle on a nude base is a really fresh look to wear with a wedding gown. It makes me think of confetti and champagne bubbles. It’s subtle enough to not overpower your look, but unique enough to leave an impression. LONDONTOWN Lakur shows swatches of their colors against a variety of skin tones, which is a fantastic feature, and Cheshire Plains looks especially stunning on darker skin tones. Add this one to your maybe list and make a splash.
- Unique but subtle
- Five free polish
- Speckled wedding nails isn’t for everyone
10. Yes to the Dress by Jessica Effects
This last shade is a milky white-gold with a textured finish. The traditional cream tone is offset by a raised texture and micro-glitter. When dry, it reminds me of rich fabric covered in small, intricate beading. Yes to the Dress has a very expensive, classic beauty to it which could go with any style. Jessica is one of my favorite nail lacquer brands at the moment and this polish is five free, cruelty-free, and vegan.
- Salon-grade polish
- Classic cream with a twist
- Not attention grabbing
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