While wedding nail designs might not be at the top of your big day to-do list, they are something to consider before the morning of. Much like the wedding hairstyle or make-up you choose, bridal nails are a brilliant way to stamp your personality on the experience. Whether you like minimal, pared-back designs or are flirting with something more modern, there's a nail design to suit you and your aesthetic, some you might have never heard of. First, though, let's go over some healthy nail housekeeping.
When should you book your wedding nails manicure?
"If you want to grow them naturally, you’ll need around two months to get them to a good length," advises Amanda Lee, wonder and founder of Fitzrovia beauty salon, Iris Avenue. "Try and get manicures that strengthen and protect the nails so they can grow out without breaking. Our SOS Gel Manicure is great for this, as it provides up to three weeks of wear and keeps the nails strong.
"If time isn’t on your side, you can get nail extensions up to a week before the wedding. The closer to the wedding is better, so ideally up to three days before so there is no sign of regrowth," she advises.
Surprisingly, Lee also suggests a couple of wedding nail trials ahead of the big day, much like you would your hair and make-up: "You’ll be surprised at how the different nudes can look different on your skin."
Is gel polish better than normal for wedding nail designs?
It largely depends on your plans. Ashleigh Alli, founder of vegan nail polish brand Ashe London, suggests taking a look at the schedule before deciding. "Nail polishes are great for those of us unable to wear gel or who want more flexibility, perhaps even a change of colour for the evening outfit or pre-rehearsal dinners," she suggests.
If you are opting for 'normal' nail polish, though, give yourself a full day for it to be properly set. "Any nail varnish will take a good hour to be completely dry (no matter how fast drying it says it is)," says Alli. "Nail varnish can be touch dry in a couple of minutes but you will still run the risk of knocking them and smudging or denting your perfect manicure.
"I always recommend getting your nails done the day before as it gives them time to completely dry, as well as allowing enough time to fix last-minute disasters."
For durability and tighter time constraints, gel polish and extensions are instantly dry thanks to the curing process of UV light but will require more time for removal should you want to change colours or design.
How to strengthen weak nails before your wedding
Lee has a number of recommendations she makes to clients looking to improve the strength of their nails before their wedding. First up, cuticle oil. "When nails are dry, they are brittle and easily break. Applying cuticle oil twice daily will make a huge difference to your nail health as it helps keep nails flexible when exposed to pressure."
Lee also suggests avoiding submerging hands in water for long periods of time. "Water takes away the natural oils from our skin, so remember your marigolds when doing the washing up." Using gloves when washing up or otherwise soaking hands in water is a great tip for people with sensitive skin or skin that's prone to flare-ups when stressed.
The final non-negotiable Lee says is committing to removing your gel properly. That means no picking on the sofa or mid-Zoom. "Removal should be done gently, with no peeling or scraping action," she says. "Soak-off gel nails should 'crumble' away from the nail after being soaked."
31 wedding nail designs to save, screenshot and share (Hearst Owned)