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What is a Side Updo?

G. Melanson
G. Melanson

A side updo is a hairstyle that is swept up and gathered to the right or left side of the head. Side updos range from very informal styles to more classic versions that are often worn by brides. The side updo can serve as a fresh and modern alternative to other classic updos, such as the French twist, the chignon and the bun. A side updo also requires longer hair than the average updo, as the hair must be gathered both up and to the side, which is hard to achieve if the hair is shoulder-length or shorter.

A side ponytail is a hairstyle that’s most commonly associated with hair trends of the 1980s. This version of the side updo can be achieved with straight or curly hair. The side ponytail has been parodied in such films as Napoleon Dynamite, The Wedding Singer, and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. A more modern version of the side ponytail can be achieved when the ponytail is secured in a low position near the nape of the neck and falls over the shoulder.

Braids have become a popular addition to the modern side updo.
Braids have become a popular addition to the modern side updo.

Hair that’s gathered to the left or right side and pinned beside one ear has become a popular wedding hairstyle for brides. This style of side updo is typically loose, featuring wavy tendrils of hair at the front to frame the face. The “side bun” as it is sometimes known, is also often complemented with a flower, crystal hair clip, or other wedding hair accessory. Side buns are sometimes accompanied by bangs that are swept to the side, a combined look that’s been seen on such celebrities as Heidi Klum, Tyra Banks, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift.

French twists that are secured behind one ear are another version of the side updo. This side twist is also a popular wedding hairstyle with brides, and typically accented with bejeweled hair combs, flowers, and other accessories. Another variation of the side twist updo features the hair twisted at the side and flowing loosely over one shoulder in a ponytail.

Braids have become a popular addition to the modern side updo. Hair that’s French braided off to the side will then rest over one shoulder naturally, without the need of bobby pins or barrettes. Tiny braids can also be added at the front of the hair and secured around the crown of the head to complement a loose side updo.

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Discussion Comments


Fish tail braids are so in lately and my favorite is when it's braided toward one side. It looks so cute and keeps the hair out of the way.

The great part about side dos and updos is that the hairstyle is seen right away. If I were to make a regular fish tail braid directly behind, people wouldn't see it unless I turned around. But a fish tail braid is a style that is done to grab attention, so it needs to be on the side and laying over one shoulder.

This goes for any updo really. Updos that require a lot of effort to make deserve to be seen all around and making it to the side is the best for that.


@babylove - If you have a bridal consultant just ask for his or her advise. That's what they are there for. If you're not using a consultant then try getting some advise from the staff at the bridal shop where you purchased your gown. They're usually pretty knowledgeable with these types of issues.

Another place you can try is at a professional beauty salon. Ask the stylist who's doing your side updo what he or she thinks is the best way to wear your veil.


@babylove - Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I attended a wedding once where the bride wore her long hair in a side updo that was similar to what you're talking about doing.

She also wore a veil with it, but she kept it very simple. There was no tiara attached to it or any color or sparkle whatsoever. She had it pinned more towards the back so her dark hair really stood out when you viewed the front of her.

I think she also had some little white flowers pinned in around the updo which accented her hairstyle even more. It was really beautiful and I'm sure you will be too.


My hair is fairly long so I plan to wear a curly side updo with it draping my neck and shoulders at my wedding, but I also plan to wear a veil.

I've seen a lot of beautiful styles in the magazines and on some websites but I can't find any of them wearing a veil with their hair in a side updo. Can this be achieved? Does anyone have any suggestions or photos they could share? Thanks from a desperate bride.

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    • Braids have become a popular addition to the modern side updo.
      By: terex
      Braids have become a popular addition to the modern side updo.