Wedding Hair Extensions 101: Everything You Need to Know

Thinking about hair extensions for your wedding? It's not as complicated as you think.
hair extensions for wedding
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by
Lauren Whalley
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Lauren Whalley
Fashion Editor, Beauty & Inclusivity
  • Lauren writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a specialty in fashion, beauty and size inclusivity.
  • Prior to The Knot Worldwide, Lauren worked in wedding editorial for Brides, Style Me Pretty and Enaura Bridal.
  • Lauren studied public relations and advertising at the University of Central Florida.
Updated May 02, 2023

Let me tell you a little secret about getting hair extensions for your wedding. It's not as complicated as it sounds. A few weeks ago, I was showing my hair stylist potential inspiration for my own upcoming wedding (think: cascading waves or loose curls), and I was shocked when she told me that many of these styles looked the way they did because of extensions. I never considered them before this moment, but I was shocked to find out how simple the process of getting bridal hair extensions actually was. Before I committed, I needed to do my research first. I knew if I had questions about wedding hair extensions, then you probably had them too. So, I got in touch with expert NYC hair stylist Lizzy Weinberg, of Hair Throne Salon, to get the lowdown on everything you need to know before you book your bridal hair appointment. Consider your hair extension questions answered.

Wedding Hair Extensions 101

Do I need hair extensions for my wedding?

The real answer: no; you don't need hair extensions for your wedding day. I may not know you personally, but I can tell you that your hair is beautiful as it is. However, if you are looking for ways to boost volume and fullness, hair extensions for your wedding may be a great option. "Someone would typically want hair extensions to achieve what I call the "360 view," which means fullness and length from every angle," says Weinberg. "You get photographed from all perspectives, and your hair should look good from each one."

If you're on the fence about getting hair extensions for your wedding, I recommend speaking directly with your hair stylist. They're the professionals, and they'll be able to help guide you in the right direction. Plus, they know what hair type you have as well as what kind of style you want to rock on your big day.

How do hair extensions work?

Let's start with the basics. "Hair extensions come in various different forms," Weinberg explains. "You can have a temporary style for the day with clip ins, which come in track form and attach at the root of a section. If you're looking for more commitment and longevity, hand tied extensions are a beautiful option," Weinberg says. The main difference? How they are applied. More on that below.

What are the best hair extensions for wedding hair?

The best hair extensions for wedding hair come down to what you feel most comfortable wearing and how long you want to wear them. Let's keep it simple and break down two of the most popular types of wedding hair extensions, along with the pros and cons of each, so we can both make our best wedding hair decisions together.

Temporary Clip-In Extensions:

Clip-in extensions are pieces of hair with small clips that you can fasten to your own hair. Because they're offered in a variety of sizes and weights, you can completely customize your look. Add in a few for a touch of volume or several all over your head for a fuller, longer look.

Pros:

  • Seamless application: Clip-in hair extensions come with a clip already sewn into the hair extension, so using them is intuitive and straightforward—all you have to do is snap them in. Each kit contains about 10 to 12 clips with different widths, so your hair stylists can clip them wherever needed to complete your look. This is a great option for to-be-weds who want to add a little volume or a few inches of length to their hairstyle.

  • Affordable options: If you're on a budget, clip-ins can be less expensive than other types of extensions. Psst: This is a great hack to save some money while still achieving a gorgeous head of hair.

Cons:

  • Possible breakage: If you have fragile hair, the clips may not be the best extension choice for you—they have the potential to cause hair breakage or split ends if taken out incorrectly. But since you'll mainly be wearing them for one day, this con is minimal.

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  • Can't be worn for long periods of time. Think of clip-ons like lash extensions. The strip lashes you apply at home need to be removed at the end of the night, and the same goes for clip-ins. They must be removed before sleeping to prevent damage and discomfort.

Permanent and Hand-Tied Extensions:

Maybe you've been dreaming about longer hair for a while. Your wedding is a great opportunity to try out permanent hair extensions. Permanent hair extensions are sewn, glued or taped onto your hair and last from four to eight weeks. That means you could potentially rock your long locks for your rehearsal dinner, wedding day and honeymoon. "When venturing into the more permanent (lasting anywhere from weeks to a few months), following proper extension care guidelines is vital," says Weinberg.

Pros:

  • Long-lasting wear: If you want the long hair look every day (from your rehearsal dinner through your honeymoon, for example), then this is a great option to consider. If it's just for your wedding day, though, you might want to consider more temporary extensions.

  • Instantaneous long hair: If you've had short or fine hair your whole life and want to change things up, getting permanent hair extensions is an instant way to guarantee longer hair. Instead of waiting months or even years for your hair to grow, you'll be rocking long hair in just a few short hours.

Cons:

  • Possible hair damage: These extensions definitely provide long wear, but they can be damaging to those with sensitive or thin hair. If your extensions are heavy and constantly weigh down on your hair, it can cause hair loss or breakage.

  • Higher maintenance: Permanent hair extensions require a lot of specific cleaning and maintenance tricks. Before you commit to permanent extensions, be sure you're ready to commit to the upkeep involved too.

How much do hair extensions cost?

The average cost of hair extensions is between $200 - $500 for clip-ins. Professional hand-tied extensions will range much higher, between $600 - $3000. Many bridal hair stylists offer clip-in extension services for an additional fee, while hand-tied extensions should be done at the salon. So while the average cost of wedding hair was $130 in 2022, you'll need to factor in this pricing if you're considering hair extensions.

Weinberg explains that her professional process is part of what makes hand-tied extensions pricey. When she makes custom hair extensions, she takes measurements so that each track fits the client's head shape comfortably, and then they are trimmed and colored to match the hair exactly. "Depending on the length of the hair and the number of tracks needed, a set can range between $500-800," she tells us. "When opting for the non-removable options - expect to invest anywhere from $800-$2500 for the hair and the installation."

When should I get hair extensions for my wedding?

If you are getting hand-tied extensions for the wedding, you should get them done at least two months prior to the wedding. Start by booking a hair consultation with your salon stylist about six months prior to the big day so they can create a personalized timeline and hair care routine. The timeline for clip-in extensions is more flexible, but you should still consider testing them out at least two months in advance to make sure that you like them and that they make you feel beautiful.

How long do hair extensions last, and how do I care for them before and after the wedding?

"The maintenance depends on the kind of extension you go with," Weinberg says. "Extensions need to be properly cared for, or they can damage your real hair." but she did share a few tips and warnings that to-be-weds should consider when it comes to care:

  • Be prepared to brush your extensions frequently.

  • Using the proper tools and extension-based products is key.

  • For hand-tied hair extensions, consult with your stylist about a routine to prep your hair for sleeping.

  • You also must avoid swimming, which is not ideal if you have a tropical or beach honeymoon directly after the wedding.

Are bridal hair extensions right for me?

Regardless of what type of extension you want for your wedding hair, we recommend consulting with an bridal hairstylist or extension specialist who can look at the state of your hair and scalp and determine if they are a good fit for you.

Consider Your Hair and Scalp

"They are a great option to just give your hair a boost if you weren't born with thick, long locks or if your hair isn't known to hold a style well," Weinberg says. "You tend to really live in your wedding hairstyle, especially on a dance floor, so the hair needs to be slightly invincible." If you start the extension process early enough, your stylist may be able to help you come up with a pre-wedding hair care routine to strengthen your locks in advance.

Consider Your Wedding Hair Goals

Before you say yes to the extensions, make sure you have a clear vision for your wedding hair. "You should get extensions for your wedding if you feel like your current amount of hair won't offer you the level of elevation you desire for your bridal look," says Weinberg. Communicating with both your everyday stylist and day-of bridal hair stylist is key to achieving your dream hair, extensions or not.

Another common misconception about bridal hair extensions is that they can only be used if you wear your hair down. This is actually not the case at all. "Not all extensions need to be worn down," Weinberg tells us. "You can use them to add volume and length to a ponytail or increase the size of a bun."

Shop Now: Clip-In Hair Extensions for Wedding

"With clips ins, they are your lowest maintenance options; they are easy to remove, and you simply shampoo and condition them after every few wears and let them air dry until you are ready to restyle them."

1. Luxy Hair 20" Balayage Halo Hair Extensions

Why we recommend it: Luxy Hair Extensions are made from 100% remy human hair, which is the highest quality of human hair because the cuticles are kept intact and not stripped. The single weft application makes these clip-ins super easy to apply and can easily be styled with hot tools. Did I mention that their most popular collections come in 35+ colors with options for highlights and balayage? You're sure to find your perfect match with Luxy.

2. Insert Name Here Shayla Pony

Why we recommend it: Your wedding hair is about to get a whole lot easier with these ponytail extensions from Instagram-famous brand Insert Name Here (yep, that's really their name!) All you have to do is secure your natural hair into a ponytail or bun and apply. The result? A voluminous, reception-ready ponytail that will last you all night long. We particularly love the Shayla pony for curly or coiled hair types, but multiple styles are available at Ulta.

3. True+Pure Texture Jasmine Coil Clip In

Why we recommend it: If you have natural coils, add a little va-va-voom on yoru big day with these Type 4 Afro Kinky Curly Natural Hair Clips from True+Pure. Each natural hair set comes with 7 clips and can be easily colored or dyed, wet set, blown out, or heat styled to your liking.

4. Bellami Silk Seam Hair Extensions

Why we recommend it: Looking for a lightweight, 100% remy human hair extension that won't feel heavy at your wedding? Check out the Bellami Silk Seam hair extensions. These feature invisi-weft technology that lays flat to the scalp, making them 30% lighter than lace weft and virtually undetectable. They're perfect for all hair types and available in various lengths of 16-26 inches.

5. Bebonia Sprial Clip-In Extensions

Why we recommend it: These spiral clip-in extensions are perfect for to-be-weds with wavy hair or curls (think 2C or 3A hair textures). Available in 17 different colors, Bebonia's hair extensions come in lengths of 18-22 inches and will add length or volume to nearly any wedding hairstyle.

Get Inspired: Wedding Hairstyles with Extensions

Need some wedding hair extension inspiration before visiting the salon? I've got you covered. While these looks may not have all been created with extensions, these are great style ideas to consider if you are trying to achieve gorgeous long locks for your wedding day.

1. Romantic Ponytail

2. Loose Boho Fishtail Braid

3. Glamorous Loose Curls with a Hair Comb

4. Half-Up Briaded Hairstyle

Bride wears her hair in a half-up braided hairstyle with extensions.
Photo: Josh Gruetzmacher Photography

5. Long Curls with a Celestial Crown

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