Whether you’re the bride-to-be or a proud guest, wedding season is the perfect opportunity to experiment with various nail shade trends and intricate nail art. Although you might think there are just a couple of acceptable colors to choose from when it comes to a neutral wedding palette, there are really countless shade variations and subtle nail art designs to choose from (in true The Devil Wears Prada “It’s a tough call. They’re so different” form).
For wedding season, there are a few favorites that return each year, though often with shiny new names — like quiet luxury nails “to showcase your most natural, perfected self,” explains Alyx Lippiatt, a London-based manicurist who specializes in minimalist designs. There's also the American manicure, a muted version of the classic French manicure.
Then there are more trend-led designs such as vanilla chrome, which uses a pearlescent finish to “elevate a traditional sheer pink or milky white nail to new heights of glamour and sophistication," says manicurist Alex Philamond. And the increasingly popular "overcast nails," despite the name, are anything but dreary.
For the busiest time for newlyweds and their guests, we’ve called in the help of five beauty experts to share the top 11 nude manicures shade trends that are perfect for the season.
Oyster shell nails take our love of all things chrome and pearlescent and turn them into a beautiful iridescent finish that’s special yet understated, as exemplified by this design by Briav Nail Boutique. “This is achieved by layering milky white or pink and pearl polishes and marbling them using either a brush or dotting tool to resemble the veining of natural milky pinks and whites found inside seashells,” explains Philamond. “These make for beautiful bridal nails because of their blink-and-you-might-miss-it intricacy; from far away they look beautifully clean and fresh, but up close, the iridescence of the pearl polish provides depth and elegance."
Quiet Luxury Nails
TikTok is obsessed with the quiet luxury aesthetic, and luckily for our nail inspiration, the two are a match made in heaven. The goal: effortless, understated, and incredibly elegant nails. There is a focus on cuticle work, exfoliated and hydrated hands, and a prescriptive nail color tailored to your skin tone for a “your nails but better” finish. Look to this shade shared on Instagram by Gelly Bean Nails.
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If you want to combine traditional with contemporary, consider a scalloped French for either your bridal or bridesmaid manicure. The scalloped French is exactly as it sounds: “a dainty and ornamental alternative to the traditional French manicure that sees the usual white line replaced with a row of semicircular arcs,” Philamond explains. “This is a versatile piece of nail art that can be switched up by varying the size and/or number of arcs around the edge, from just two large curves on each side forming a deep V to as many meticulously placed dots as desired,” he adds. It’s a particularly fitting design for brides wearing lace detailing on their gowns. Take inspiration from Mannacured on Instagram.
This one is perfect for both wedding guests and brides, thanks to the low-key vanilla shade paired with a special chrome finish. This look — as seen on The Hot Blend — takes an off-white shade chosen specifically to suit your skin tone and pairs it with a subtle mirror-shine chrome over the top. Ideal if you’re hoping to keep your manicure fairly neutral, yet want a little something extra to elevate them.
This look is particularly apt when embracing the unpredictability of the weather if you’re getting married — but fear not, it's anything but dreary. Overcast takes inspiration from cloud nails, turning some of our least favorite weather into an all-time favorite hue. It sits somewhere between white, pink, and cream with a slight jelly finish, like this look on London pro nail artist Julia Diogo. This is one best created bespoke by a manicurist to perfectly suit your skin tone.
The American Manicure
Another take on the classic French manicure is the American manicure — also known as baby boomer nails or the soft French — which borrows all of the traditional elements (pink base and white tip) yet blurs the line to create a softer finish. The shades can also be adjusted for a more understated finish, “We use a creamier shade of white rather than a harsh white for the French tip to make it subtle but still beautiful,” explains Lippiatt. This design is so popular, it’s what celebrity manicurist Stephanie Staunton chose for her bridal manicure, elevated with Swarovski caviar beads.
Why only have one nude shade when you can have five? This design is playful and unique, and it can be totally bespoke to your preferred neutrals. Depending on your role this wedding season, it can be dressed up or down and matched to special elements like your outfit or flowers.
If you’re a bride that wants to keep things fairly simplistic but not forgo nail art altogether, take inspiration from Harriet Westmoreland. George Driver, ELLE UK's digital senior beauty editor, wore these on her wedding day: A light nude pink with tiny rose-tinted hearts hit her brief of being “elegant, chic and modern but also a little bit cheesy and cutesy." The main takeaway for George was not obsessing over being timeless. “I wanted to be pared-back and chic but I didn't care about it being timeless; the nails were my nod to being not timeless at all, but a bit lighthearted and fun," she says."
Velvet nails haven’t gotten quite the same love as chrome has, but they’re equally as special — just look at this design by licensed nail tech Kim S-R. Activated with a magnet using something called "cat eye" nail polish, velvet polish is unique in that no two nails will be totally identical. The magnet creates a shifting shade that, when the light catches it, forms a beautiful velvet-like effect. The effect comes in all different colors and can be layered to make a one-of-a-kind design. “I’ve been seeing a lot of brides do sheer pink bases with silver cat eye gel diluted in clear over the top,” says Staunton.
If your aim for a wedding season manicure is “my nails but better,” then lip gloss nails are for you. “This super wearable, fuss-free look follows on from the popular dewy make-up trend sported by many celebs and seen all over TikTok,” explains Juanita Huber-Millet, founder and creative director at Townhouse. There are two key elements to mastering this manicure like Melly K here. The first is to get the shade exactly right, so you'll have limited visible regrowth for the honeymoon, Staunton explains. This manicure will typically feature tailored layers of “a soft pink, warm pink, or darker truffle healthy base,” she says, with an ultra-shiny top coat to finish. The second point is all about immaculate hand care. “Keep up on your cuticle oil, as it’s all about looking glowy and hydrated,” Staunton adds.
We’re dreaming of piña coladas at a beach wedding with this coconut-inspired hue. This shade takes the milky manicure with a touch more cream blended in to create a more opaque finish. This is special enough on its own, but also works perfectly as a base coat for any subtle nail art, like gold foil or dainty hearts.
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