African hair braiding styles vastly open up your options for African American wedding hairstyles. African hair is so versatile that you are literally only limited by your own imagination and creativity. You can choose to go classic, neo-classic, modern, or ultra-modern. You just don’t want to cross the line into tacky because let’s face it… that’s also quite easy to do.
African hairstyles for your wedding can be done in the traditional up-dos, flowing bone straight, Shirley Temple curls, or a hybrid of styles. These are all very easily achievable by any hair stylist worth his or her salt. I would however like to focus more on the various types of African hair braiding styles that you can do for your wedding.
In general, African hair braiding styles have become an increasingly popular alternative to chemical processing and other hairstyles that require higher maintenance. There is quite a big movement to, as someone I know describes it, quit the “creamy crack”. That’s not to say of course that hair relaxers are bad for everyone, but more so that when it comes to our hair, it’s okay to go back to our roots (pun intended).
Also known as plaits or plaiting, braids are formed when three, sometimes more if you’re a creative pro, strands of hair are layered one over the other until the braid or braids have reached the desired length. They can be done using just one’s own hair alone or with hair extensions for added length and more dramatic flair. Different effects can be achieved by using various combinations of hair strands, or by weaving multiple braids together.
Traditionally, African hair braiding was a social event between women, and actually sometimes still is these days, especially among family members who would practice on each others’ hair and create new styles.
African Hair Styles For Weddings
Sometimes referred to as “Bob Marley” braids, these are your most basic hair braids. They are simple to do and usually all one length and clean cut. They are good for everyday but for a wedding may be just a tad bit un-festive if you don’t accessorize and jazz them up just right.
Also known as pixie braids or invisible braids, these plaits take extremely thin cuts of hair… literally strands of hair, depending on how thin and neat you want your hair to look. They can be long or short, depending on your preference but invariably if you choose to do micro braids then you’ll get the most life out of them if you make them thin and long.
They do tend to look more elegant and because they are so fine, they come very close to looking like a fuller head of hair and are very easy to style into traditional classic African American wedding hairstyles such as up-dos and dramatic side sweeps. With the added length you also have the option of pulling your hair back into a ponytail, or better still, a classy chignon.
Though these are okay for basic everyday wearing, depending on the size of the “boxes”, they may not really be wedding-worthy. However, if you just want a simple African hair braiding style and don’t want to sit down for too long to get it done, then this might be a viable option for you.
Cornrows are great… but I’m not biased. To do these, unlike some of the other African hairstyles, you don’t necessarily need to have long hair as they can very easily be done with the shortest of hair lengths. Because they lie down flat on the head, unless your hair dresser intentionally tries, they are very hard to mess up.
Cornrows typically lie in neat, usually even, rows and can go from front to back, side to side, criss-cross over each other, zig-zag all around the head and even go in circular patterns too. Cornrows are fun. What I particularly like is that if you go to an African hair stylist and ask to have these done, the different styles all have a variety of interesting names, some in English, some in the traditional language of the hair stylist, but all very creative.
These are similar to braids except that instead of using three strands of hair to make the plait only two are used. Twists have a nice wavy flow to them, and best of all, when it comes time to take them out all you need to do is unravel the strands by pulling them in opposite directions!
Twists are good for weddings as well and will pretty much flow the same way as your basic braids. I however think that they are more festive than basic braids and given the choice between the two for a wedding, I’d go with the twists.
African Hair Styles For Men
Depending on how liberal or conservative you are, men can also employ some of these same African hair braiding styles as well. Men can wear cornrows, and in the U.S. to day it is widely accepted. Many professional musicians, athletes, and everyday regular men wear them very comfortably. In place of hair braiding styles, they can wear dreadlocks.
The truth is though, that even though in some traditional African cultures men wear their hair plaited, in many others they don’t and this can be considered somewhat effeminate. Some people just view plaiting one’s hair as something only women should do… I don’t make the rules though, so to each his own.