Brides September 29, 2023


makeup & Hair

20 Half-Up, Half-Down Wedding Guest Hairstyles


Get the best of both worlds with this popular 'do.

Long or short dress? Stilettos or sandals? Shawl or coat? As we all know, there are many choices we're asked to make once invited to a wedding. But when it comes to certain decisions—like wedding guest hairstyles—why choose one option when you can have the best of both worlds? Specifically, if you’re currently a guest looking for the perfect coif, a half-up, half-down look is the ultimate compromise between a romantic updo and sexy loose hair.

From gorgeous braids to flirty bangs and maximum curls, there are a variety of ways to rock a half-up, half-down 'do, no matter your hair texture or length. That's why we asked the experts to break down a few of their favorite half-updo wedding guest hairstyles and provide tips on how to DIY the look for your next celebration. Read on for more.


Devin Toth is a hairstylist at Salon SCK in New York City.
Raven Hurtado is a hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago.
Chuck Bass is a hairstylist based in New York City and Boston.


Faux Tuck

This style is a bit of an optical illusion. While the hair seems like it's tucked behind the ear, it's actually fastened and lacquered in place for an all-night, effortless look. To do it yourself, take both front sections of the hair and brush them down and back, bringing the ends together at the nape of your neck (underneath the rest of your hair) and fastening with an elastic, says Toth. Comb a lightweight gel along those sections to get a sleek finish, then curl the rest.

Maxed-Out Texture

This guest decided to work with her hair texture, not against it. “Using the point of a tail comb, find your part, then brush and pull the hair in the front to the back of your head,” says hairstylist Devin Toth. “While it’s pulled back, hold it all flat to your head with one hand and secure all the hair above your hand with a line of bobby pins going in one direction. Then, cross-hatch all of those bobby pins with another line of bobby pins going in the opposing direction.” You can also create more body in the back by pulling your curls apart for a voluminous look.

Half-Up Box Braids

Box braids and other braided styles look especially fresh and summery pulled up in a half-updo pony. Leave the bottom layer loose in the back and a few braids in the front to frame your face. 

Half-Up Bob

Bobs and short styles can rock a half-up, half-down style with a few extra bobby pins. Start with a blowout using a volumizing mousse, like Kevin Murphy Body Builder Mousse. Then, brush the top section back and secure it with pins. If your front pieces are too short to meet in the back, you can cross-hatch bobby pins on each side to secure those pieces in place.

Slicked Back

A slicked-back “wet” look is a sleek, ultra-modern take on the half-up, half-down style. Start with a strong hold gel and comb it back through your hair from the hairline to the crown. Spray with extra hold spray for good measure and pin in a few places if need be. Lastly, loosely curl the rest of your hair and let it hang in the back.

Sleek and Pulled Back

“This look is simple, chic, and no-fuss, but still looks put together,” says Toth. To achieve yours, firmly brush your hair backward, then fasten just the sides in the back with an elastic. “Make sure you don’t fasten the hair in the middle," Toth adds. "You want the hair from the sides to overlap the hair in the middle, not combine with it.”

Side Braid

A braided fringe is a whimsical, English countryside look that would be ideal for any garden wedding. It's also easy to recreate! Simply reserve a one or two-inch section of hair in the front, braid it back towards your ear, then pin it with a bobby pin behind the ear. Up the romance by curling the rest of the hair and shaking it out before spraying with a flexible hair spray.

Simple Clip

Clipping one side of your hair with sleek bobby pins is the definition of a low-effort, high-impact style. You get the benefit of getting bangs out of your face, while still having a little swing and movement throughout the rest of your hair. Chicago-based hairstylist Raven Hurtado recommends curling the rest of the hair with Trademark Beauty’s Mood curling iron, which has different attachments depending on what kind of texture you want to create. 

Twisted Fringe

Bangs are like a flirty wink—they up the fun on any hairstyle. To achieve this VIP look, allow your bangs to frame your face, then twist back the sides of your hair and pin them in place (this allows the bangs to be the star of the show). What's more, use a curling iron to put a slight wave in your hair for an elegant style.

Half Pony

This pumped-up half pony has a '60s swing to it, but you’ll need a good amount of thick hair to get optimal height and fullness (or extensions for those of us who are not naturally blessed with a full mane). To recreate this look, curl your hair, tease it at the crown, and secure the top half with an elastic, says Hurtado. Teasing the ponytail will also give it an extra boost of '60s bounce.

Romantic Curls

A half-up style looks particularly magical with curls, as you can hide the pins and tucks under your mane, making it look like your hair simply lands in a perfect coif every day. To make the ends look polished, hairstylist Chuck Bass recommends leaving a touch of conditioner on the ends in the shower, and finishing the style with Iles Formula Curl Revive Spray for extra definition. 

Pinned Back Bangs

If you’re guilty of twirling your bangs until they’re flat and greasy, you’ll want an updo that eliminates the temptation. By brushing the top center of your hair back and fastening it with a stylish pin, you'll be able to keep your guilty pleasure at bay while still looking polished. 

Half-Up Ombre

An ombré hair color is the perfect canvas for a half-up, half-down style. Why? Well, when you pull the top portion of your hair back and fasten it with a clip, you're able to reveal more of your "grown-out" roots. You can even curl or tease the bottom portion to give it some air and lightness. “Pull out pieces around the face for a softer look,” adds Hurtado. 

Floral Accent

Feeling a bit uninspired about your half-up style? Don't worry, we have a trick that'll help add some flair. Simply tease your hair at the crown, pull the top portion back, and tuck a flower into the elastic. Don’t have much of a green thumb? Jennifer Behr’s Jardinia Hairpins are an elegant alternative (that you can reuse, too). 

Over-the-Shoulder French Braid

If you’re constantly flipping your hair to one side for every photo, we have the perfect DIY hairstyle for you. French braid one side of your hair until you reach the nape of your neck. Then, kick the rest of your hair over your other shoulder, and use pins along the bottom of your hairline to keep everything in place. Hit it with a strong-hold hairspray as your finishing touch.

Rhinestone Barrettes

Let's face it, a little sparkle can make anything feel special. You can even jazz up a simple “I just pinned it back” look with rhinestone or pearl barrettes throughout the crown of your head. We like the floral design of the Scunci Rhinestone Bobby Slides or the fun colors in the Petit Moments Bijou Crystal Barrettes. 

Deep Side Part

A deep side part is like tossing raspberries into your champagne—it’s a sexy, sweet garnish that brings your style from good to better. After curling your hair, use the tip of a tail comb to draw a deep side part from the front to the back. Then, fasten the top layer of your style in the back for the perfect half-updo wedding guest hairstyle.

Braid Crown

If you’re dextrous or handy with a braid, a braid crown is a blushy, innocent look that's easy to achieve. “Once you have your part, section out your two sections of hair and start braiding,” says Toth. “Once the braids are complete, it’s really important you take a final look at the braids to make sure they are the same size and look balanced. Then you can combine the two braids in the back with an elastic and let the ends loose, falling into the rest of your mane.”

Extra-Long Curls

Extra-long, mermaid-esque locks look regal with a half-up style and classic curls. To recreate this wedding guest style, pin the top half of your hair, then curl your loose pieces with a one-inch barrel. Follow up with a strong hold hairspray, so the length of your hair doesn’t pull the bouncy curls down throughout the night (spray each lock before and after curling for extra hold).  

Side Tuck

For a modified take on a half-up style, pin one side of your hair back for a trendy silhouette. For an added 90s flair, use butterfly claw clips instead of bobby pins, like these bejeweled Scunci Jaw Clips.