Question: why is it so hard for natural hair brides to wear natural curls on their wedding day?
Three years ago, I was deep in the throes of organising my wedding. I thought I had everything mapped out; flowers, dress, venue – tick! But then Covid hit and, like many, we had to postpone our wedding with just a month’s notice. Whilst I was devastated at the time, I still had no clue what I was doing with my hair; so for this reason, I sort of welcomed the delay.
One of the biggest decisions for a bride is how they’ll wear their hair on their wedding day. For many, the dress you’ll wear is the most important thing, but for me it was absolutely my hair. With all kinds of inspiration online and in magazines, you’d think I’d be spoilt for choice – that is, I realised, unless you have curly hair.
Here’s the thing: I have often listened to stories from brides who wish they hadn’t straightened their curls for their big day (in turn creating damage they’d spent years trying to undo). I understand why; if it wasn’t for me being a natural hair content creator and feeling a responsibility to be an example of the things I talk about, I think I too may have succumbed to the same pressures.
Growing up in the UK in a predominantly white school, I was reminded of society’s Eurocentric beauty standards daily. My hair didn’t fit into accessories the same way my peers’ did, it defied hairbands, and it even snapped a few brushes.
It’s no surprise then that I always thought straight hair equals ‘better.’ I was too busy squashing my relaxed curls into tight buns to see that many straight-haired brides were tonging their locks into voluminous waves and curls for their big day to achieve the body, dimension and texture that us curlies have naturally in abundance.
Fast forward a decade, when I eventually went back to my natural hair, and I was anxious about not having the ‘right’ curls.
My wedding searches only reinforced this notion. I wanted to see curls and coils that were frizzy, styled in a way that only enhanced their natural state. But whilst I sifted through what must have been every possible bridal style you could think of for straight hair textures, I was left with very little that represented me, my hair and my personality.
I felt denied of the opportunity to be the bride I’d envisioned, as if weddings weren’t reserved for people who look like me.
We shouldn’t have to feel this way – the lack of representation and diversity in the wedding industry has let us down. Reinforcing the notion that natural hair isn’t appropriate, sophisticated or professional enough for formal occasions.
In fact, similarly, a recent study even found that 80% of Black women felt the need to alter their natural hair to fit in at work.
It’s part of a larger issue and there’s still so much work to be done, so that we all feel confident to wear our hair in a way that represents our truth. It’s one of the main reasons I started @curlygallal six years ago; we need a community to feel heard and seen, and I believe I have created one.
In terms of my own wedding style, I look forward to embracing my curls on my big day. My plan is to keep it simple and elegant, using feature accessories to elevate my natural curls.
Product-wise, I will make sure my hair is washed and deep conditioned for the day, using the Intense Moisture Mask, £33, Living Proof for a boost of moisture, especially if it’s hot or dry weather. For styling, I’ll reach for the Innersense Quiet Calm Curl Control Styling Cream, £24, Cult Beauty and the Innersense I Create Hold Styling Gel, £25, Content Beauty for defined curls that will hold all day. I’ll finish off with a tiny amount of the Bread Beauty Supply Hair Gloss, £22, Selfridges for shine.
On a final note, I’d like to point out that good stylists for curly hair are few and far between, so don’t be afraid to style your own hair on the big day – I always say we know our hair better than anyone!
The current trend is for bridal hair to look as natural and untouched as possible, which I think is really beautiful. In its natural state, curly and coily hair is more than enough.
How to find the best curly hair bridal inspiration
In order to help you streamline your search for the perfect wedding inspiration, I’ve listed my go-to sources for finding the perfect style below:
- Pinterest has created a more inclusive experience for their users with their Pattern feature. Created with Black and Brown people in mind, it lets you filter by hair texture – from protective to curly, and straight to coily – a feature I wish I had when I was wedding planning. Take a look at my ever-growing Pinterest board for wedding hair.
- The instagram ‘tags’ search tool is great for finding inspiration from everyday brides; try “#curlyhairbride” and “#naturalhairbride.” I also love to scroll through hair accessory accounts such as Jennifer Behr on social media, who is always debuting its luxury hair accessories in a range of hair types!
- The curly bride co is a bridal accessory platform that was born out of the lack of representation for curly and coily brides, and contains inspiration for a variety of curl types.
- I also found curlybride.com, a photo search tool with advice and inspiration for naturally curly brides, which I would also recommend.