The Perfect Wedding Manicure, Even If You're Not Getting Married

Get wedding-worthy nails without the hassle of, you know, finding a husband.

I’ve never actually been married, but I almost had a wedding once. I was quite prepared, with a dress and a lot of false hope. The wedding (and engagement) never happened, and after the breakup, I didn’t want the dress anymore. It was totally evil and cursed by the terrible vibes left over from that train wreck of a relationship.

It’s a loooong story that you can read over at xoJane. Basically, after carting the dress around with me for two years post-breakup, I, along with a couple of friends who had wedding dresses they similarly despised, decided to trash and burn them.

We took this very seriously, so before we set out to ruin our dresses, we had to get good and ready for our un-wedding day.

Primping ourselves for the dress trashing was a strange experience. We did our hair and makeup with nervous stomachs. We didn’t really have anything to be nervous about--we were just taking some pictures in some big white dresses--but those dresses represented a lot of putrid emotional baggage that we were eager to rid ourselves of.

We wanted to look like pretty, blushing brides to start, and then slowly ruin ourselves with mud, spray paint and tears.

I’ve never been someone who fantasizes about my wedding day, or dress, or the colors I would want to accent the backs of chairs or whatever, but one thing I always knew was what my hands would look like.

Is that weird? Whatever.

I think bride, and a lot of “LOOK AT ME!” comes to mind. The bride is indisputably queen for the day. Her hair and dress are allowed to be big, beautiful and over-the-top, and her face shall glow and her shoes will be pristine under that long skirt.

But what of the nails?

Because there’s so much going on everywhere else, I chose a simple, elegant nail on my faux wedding day. A pale, barely-there pink on top of perfectly shaped nails that would be appreciated if noticed, but that didn’t take away from the look or clash with anything.

If I ever have an actual wedding day, I could get a mani/pedi done at a salon, but judging by how well my dress-trash nails turned out, I might just do it myself. The DIY wedding mani was, however, an exercise in patience and… well, mostly just patience.

Of course you can’t really see them in any of the shots we took, except this one, sort of.

I never grow out my nails because I’m lazy and long nails require more upkeep. When I do have long nails, I’m usually like, “Oh perfect, picks to strum my guitar with,” or “Now I can scrape the gunk off of those dirty plates with my bare hands in this boiling hot, soapy water.” To me, long nails are tools, which means they inevitably break and tear and then I cut them off.


I needed to grow my nails out so I could shape them into the perfect little oval topped wonders they would become. OPI's Nail Envy, a base coat that contains protein to make nails stronger and more resilient, became my BFF. I also avoided painting my nails with anything other than the basecoat for about a week. (If you do love painting your nails on the regular but want to retain their strength, try using an acetone-free nail polish remover to keep them strong.)

I also applied L’Occitane Shea Butter Dry Skin Hand Cream. It hydrates hands and nails and acts as a wonderful cuticle cream as well.

Vitamin B7, or biotin, is essential for keeping nails (and hair and skin) strong and healthy, so if your nails are constantly brittle, you might be B7 deficient. You can take a supplement if you wish, but most peeps should get enough B7 from diet alone. Milk, tomatoes, eggs, nuts, beans, meat and fruit all contain the vitamin.

Because I was avoiding milk at the time, I took a supplement for a couple of weeks to help my nails get stronger. Be careful with vitamin B supplements, though. You normally don’t need to take them and you shouldn't have more than 2.5 milligrams per day.

Once they were long enough, I soaked my nails in warm water with a bit of lavender bubble bath, as I do. With anal, time-consuming, expert precision, I shaped them with a file that had a harder and softer side, using the softer file side last to get rid of any ridges. Then it was time for the fun part: polish!

I discovered my pink polish of choice thanks to watching Food Network goddess Giada De Laurentiis slice, dice, mince and stir on her show Everyday Italian. A LOT of my time was spent watching her make delicious meals, and while I salivated over the food she was preparing, I was also often distracted by her BEAUTIFUL nails. They are always painted a very pale pink color and manicured to perfection.

She had the wedding nails I wanted.

Luckily, Giada has divulged the secrets of her wedding nails and a quick Google search told me that she either uses Essie’s Sugar Daddy or Ballet Slippers, both pale pinks.

Before my “big day” I got myself some Sugar Daddy, mostly because the name is great and goes against everything I stand for.

I can be a lazy self-manicurist. By that I mean I use two coats of color polish and no base or top coat. This was not the case for my faux wedding manicure.

For a base I used Nail Envy again, and then applied my first coat of Sugar Daddy. I let each coat dry for 10 to 15 minutes, which was longer than I EVER wait between coats, but I was obsessed with nail perfection at the time. After my second coat of Sugar Daddy, I finished off with Sally Hansen Insta-Dri top coat.

At breakfast the morning of our dress-trash day, my friends were all like, “Ooooh pretty nails!” And I was like "I KNOW!"

They were pretty.

And all of my effort was worth it when my faux wedding mani lasted long after our dresses had gone up in flames.

To recreate the look the other day, I did almost everything the same as I did on my un-wedding day, but I threw in a coat of Sally Hansen’s Hard As Nails in Hard Core Party, a slightly brighter pale pink that's less exciting than it sounds, after my base coat.

I think I prefer the look with just the pale, barely there pink of Sugar Daddy, but the beauty of a wedding mani is that, unlike real weddings, you can give yourself one anytime you want, so spice it up! (I guess my definition of “spicing it up” is a coat of pale pink nail polish. Wanna party?)

Now you can have wedding day-worthy nails without worrying about where to seat awful Aunt Milly.