Beautiful nails are the finishing touch to perfect bridal style. We’ve asked the experts to share everything you need to know...
From the exchange of rings to cutting the cake, hands are the centre of attention on your wedding day. It’s vital to nail the perfect manicure — as individual as you are, but chic enough to stand the test of time.
“The big day is not about wearing what’s on trend,” says Essie Weingarten, founder of Essie. “It’s about what’s right for you. Find the colour that makes you feel radiant.”
Start with Perfect Nails
“I tell brides to have their nails filed down to a couple of millimetres six to eight weeks before the big day as they’ll grow back evenly to a lovely length,” explains celebrity nail technician Andrea Fulerton.
“And weekly hand scrubs leave skin fresh and bright,” Andrea adds. “Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Therapy is like a miracle in a tube.”
Keep hands hydrated too. High Intensity Hand & Nail Cream from OPI packs in moisturising shea, cocoa, avocado and almond butters as well as protein peptides for serious TLC.
Then file nails into your perfect shape. “Follow the shape of your cuticle,” explains Essie, “whether that’s round or square. Always file in one direction as back and forth can cause splitting.”
If your nails are prone to flaking or breaking, an intensive treatment is the solution. “Start massaging nail oil, like Ciaté Love me Oil, into your cuticles morning and night at least one month before,” suggests Ciaté founder, Charlotte Knight.
Or Essie Grow Stronger fortifying growth treatment contains gingko bilboa to nourish weak nails, while OPI Nail Envy strengthens nails thanks to wheat protein and calcium.
For an instant fix, there are impressive false options around from gels to more traditional acrylics. But don’t go overboard, cautions Charlotte.
“Although extensions or gels can provide a non-chip, high-shine manicure for up to three weeks it also seriously weakens and damages nails. Take breaks and treat the nails with cuticle oil and nail strengtheners to nourish them.”
“I love Shellac and Gelish two week manicures,” says Andrea. “The secret is not to peel it off, always have it removed professionally or soak off in 100% acetone.”
And OPI’s Gelcolor salon treatment gives long-lasting high-shine colour to see you through to your honeymoon.
The Finishing Touch
The experts agree that painting your nails shouldn’t be left until the big day. “The last thing on my mind would be my manicure,” points out Andrea. “Try to do it at home two days before, so you can give it time to dry.”
Remove all traces of old varnish and hand cream then apply a base coat to ensure the polish goes on perfectly. If it’s a natural colour, a single coat can help avoid chipping, suggests Andrea, but for darker shades apply two. Always finish with a protective topcoat, such as quick-dry version Essie Good to Go.
Smudged? Chipped? Stroke a tiny drop of nail polish remover over the flaw to even it out then re-apply a thin layer of colour.
The final shade will depend on your colour scheme and personality, points out Charlotte. “For an elegant look with a hint of glamour, my favourite is a soft pink base like Amazing Gracie, with gold glitter ombre at the tip, either Antique Brooch or Party Shoes. Or try Ferris Wheel for something blue.”
“Nudes and French manicure are hot this summer,” adds Andrea. “But if done badly it can look all wrong, especially a Tippex white. Choose a colour that complements or matches the dress to look effortlessly groomed. Mother of pearl is always beautiful or soft pink — and less noticeable if you get a last-minute chip.”
Or add a twist to a traditional French manicure, suggests Essie, by playing with unexpected colours and metallics. Just as classic but making more impact is red. “It says sexy confidence — if you’ve got it, flaunt it,” she adds. And for statement nails, OPI’s experts tip hot pink and navy.
The Bridal Top 5 — Our Guide to the Hottest Colour Palettes for Nails
The Estée Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer French Nudes collection has five shades designed to suit every skin tone (£14.50 each, Estée Lauder)
Essie’s new Resort collection is the perfect way to update pastels — as well as dusty blue Find Me An Oasis, there’s gorgeously peachy Fling (£10.95, Essie)
OPI’s Big Apple Red is as bright and bold as you’d expect from the name — a delicious red with real impact (£11.95, OPI)
If you fancy a splash of colour that won’t overwhelm, Loop the Loop from Ciaté is a fantastic summery lemon yellow (£9, Ciaté)
Add some fun with a textured finish — there’s everything from feather and suede to speckled egg effects, but Barry M’s Confetti collection is perfect for brides, especially sweetly pretty Marshmallow (£3.99, Barry M)