Modern Wedding Hairstyles for the Cool, Contemporary Bride

modern wedding hairstyles
Photo: Kelly Berry Photo

From sleek low ponytails to intricate milkmaid braids, these are the hairstyles today's bride needs to know about.

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bridal ponytail half bun pony
Into the Light

For some brides, the traditional wedding updo just doesn't feel right. It's not that there's anything wrong with the classics, but they don't always suit your wedding dress style or overarching vision for your big day. If you consider yourself a modern bride, you're likely looking for a hairstyle that fits into the contemporary category, right alongside your trendy wedding décor or your fiancé's nontraditional tux. Luckily, you're not the first modern woman to challenge the wedding hairstyle status quo.

Ahead, you'll find a wealth of brides that took their locks to the next level. They ditched the traditional bridal chignons and blowouts that have become so synonymous with wedding hairstyles, and went with different braids, twists, and alternative updos instead. You'll discover that a cool, contemporary hairstyle doesn't necessarily imply a more intricate, involved look or added accessory (like a colorful flower crown!). The majority of these brides chose simple, understated styles, like wispy loose buns, messy fishtail braids, or low, deconstructed ponytails (like this incredible half-bun, half-ponytail creation by Katie Culleton).

Simplicity might be the theme when we talk about modern wedding hairstyles, but that doesn't mean that you're limited to looks that lack variety. We're loving how these brides styled their different hair types and lengths into something that felt completely imagined. From natural curls and pin-straight locks, to bobs and bangs, there's a modern hairdo out there that works with your specific look. Click through to discover the modern wedding hairstyle you'll wear on your ultra-cool big day.

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Loose Ponytail

modern wedding hairstyles
Kelly Berry Photo

Looking for an easy way to make just about any hairstyle more modern? Let a few tendrils fall into your face. A stylist from MG Hair and Makeup did just that with this beauty's loose ponytail, which was softened by the natural wisps.

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The New Top-Knot

modern wedding hairstyles
KT Merry

If you love the top-knot, but don't dig the tight, formal feel the look often requires, make like Sandra Lovisco and go rogue—the hairstylist added volume back into this bride's high bun by allowing natural bumps and ends to show through.

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Structural Chignon

modern wedding hairstyles
One and Only Paris Photography

A modern wedding hairstyle doesn't necessarily require splitting (entirely) from the classics. Take this structural chignon, for instance. It's to-the-side positioning and swirled composition help the signature style feel fresh.

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bride with under-braid updo
Gaby J Photography

Want to keep your curly hair off your back (to show off your wedding dress' incredible detailing!), but don't want to go full-blown up do? Consider the under-braid, which keeps hair up sans formal styling.

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modern wedding hairstyles
Betsi Ewing

Redefine the wedding ponytail with a loose, twisted version, like this one by BE.NYLA.

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Over the Ears

modern wedding hairstyles
Sylvie Gil Photography

While more traditional low updos keep hair neatly tucked behind the ears, you'll find that more fashion-forward iterations actually cover the tops. Bookmark this Ava Belle creation if it fits your bridal vision.

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Bohemian Milk Maid Braid

modern wedding hairstyles
Jen Huang

Modern bohemians, this messy milk maid braid by Chiali Meng is for you.

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Millennial Pink

modern wedding hairstyles
Someplace Wild

Simple beach waves feel infinitely more contemporary on platinum-blonde locks—especially if those locks also feature a subtle pop of millennial pink. Kristen Byron of PageBoy Salon was responsible for this bride's style and color.

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New Heights

modern wedding hairstyles
Tutde of Terralogical

It's hard to imagine that a bun this voluminous could be more high-drama—and then Sami Knight went and added in fresh orchid and wildflower accents.

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Middle Part

modern wedding hairstyles
Lauren Scotti Photography

A middle part instantly adds modern vibes to just about any hairstyle—even simple beach waves. The secret? It all comes down to symmetry.

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Lock and Key Updo

modern wedding hairstyles
Dev Photography

This Samara Toby creation is as intricate as it is sculptural—the way the right side of this bride's updo fits into the left reminds us of a lock and key.

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French Braid Bun

modern wedding hairstyles
Rachel May Photography

Upgrade the basic low bun by French-braiding a ponytail. Then, make like Emily Artistry and form a defined circle at the base of the neck.

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Gilded Crown

modern wedding hairstyles
Carmen Santorelli Photography

A modern hairstyle calls for a just-as-contemporary accessory. Since tiaras are best reserved for classic brides, opt for the new-age version to dress up simple waves: A golden crown of bejeweled leaves.

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Wispy Chignon

modern wedding hairstyles
Jenna McElroy Photography

Perfection isn't necessarily the goal when it comes to more contemporary bridal hairstyles. Notice how this chignon by Makenzi Laine flows naturally through the crown and features plenty of wisps at the base.

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modern wedding hairstyles
Renee Hollingshead

Reverse a crystal headpiece and wear it below (instead of above!) your high bun, like this one by Beauty by Keena Queen. Curly fringe adds another dynamic element.

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Tousled Waves

modern wedding hairstyles
Sydney Marie

Determined to look like you on the big day? If you've made tousled waves—they're not tight enough to read as beachy—your signature style, reprise your day-to-day look for your walk down the aisle. Just be sure to take Flawless Faces by Alicia's lead and use plenty of product to keep subtle waves in place.

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modern wedding hairstyles
Stephanie Gan

Show of a contemporary wedding dress style—like one with an open back—with a low updo that (literally) ties your hair all the way up. This knotted bun was created by Makeup by Quis.

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Rolled Ponytail

modern wedding hairstyles

A low ponytail can look lived-in and free with the right touch. Ask your stylist to rethink the classic style (which typically involves wrapping an inch of hair around the base to hide the elastic) with a twisted, rolled detail, instead.

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Half-Bun, Half-Braid

modern wedding hairstyles
Tetiana Photography

Can't choose between a messy bun or a fishtail braid? Take notes from Lisa of Paper Dolls NW and make both work.

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Curly Pixie

modern wedding hairstyles
Levi Tijerina

If you wear your natural curls in a pixie cut, let your bangs fall over onto your forehead, à la this bride.

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Windblown Ponytail

bridal ponytail wispy
Kenzie Victory

A teased, windblown ponytail (like this one, by Katie Livingston) is a great way to show off a pair of modern earrings.

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Sleek Top Knot

Mademoiselle Fiona

A classic pick for the cool-girl bride? The famous top knot, which this bride pulled off perfectly with help from hairstylist Vanessa Afshari.

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Low, Messy Bun

Adam Barnes

Keep things casual with a low messy bun parted sleekly down the middle. This 'do was styled by Bridal Hair by Ramona.

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Sleek Low Bun

Weddings by Sasha

Love the look of a pulled back, sleek, tight bun? Make it your own by opting for a uniquely-wrapped bun style, like this one by Professional Makeup Artistry.

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Braided Half-Up, Half-Down

Erich McVey

Add in a pretty plait to make the half-up, half-down wedding hairstyle feel fresh. Amy Clark created this simple but fresh half-up half-down hairstyle, which was held up by a twisted braid.

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