Hand 10

Hand 13

Image credits: Henna Tattoos

Morning Gorgeous People!

Following the party of colour that was the Eurovision last weekend, I thought it’d be kinda cool to make this post a little ode to our British entrant, Molly. That little Miss was most certainly flying the flag for bohemian, free spirited style. From her jewelled headdress and bare feet, to her golden feathered dress; we swooned and cooed our way through her performance. But there was one element of Molly’s attire that really struck a chord with us here at Festival Brides, an element that thus far I haven’t seen Molly without; beautiful, henna adorned hands and arms. I mean come on, those glorious palm designs were totally captivating and screamed ‘hippie-cool’ to the high heavens! Not sure what I’m raving about? Check out Molly’s seriously bohemian chic look…

Molly 2

Image credit: Official Molly

Molly

Image credit: BBC

Right?! Just so cute. Now, I’ve been a huge fan of henna paste and the tradition of Mehndi for years now, since being taught by an Indian work mate as a teenager, but make no mistake, this is no new trend, the use of henna to adorn the skin has been practiced in India, Pakistan, Africa and the Middle East for some 5,000 years, in fact some documentation suggests even up to 9,000. So, what is it? Henna (Lawsonia inermis) is a flowering plant that grows 12-15 feet high and contains the reddish-orange dye, lawsone, which binds to the keratin (a protein) in our skin and safely stains the skin.  The stain can be anything from pale orange to nearly black, depending on the quality of the henna and how well one’s skin takes it.

Process 1

Image credit: A B Weddings

What does the process involve? It’s relatively simple really, albeit a little time consuming! Once the henna paste is made, it’s filtered into a foil cone, or purpose-built squeezy bottle, and effectively piped onto the skin, kinda like decorative icing on a cake. The paste will most likely appear a khaki green colour while fresh and wet, but will dry a dark brown/black. The longer the dried henna is left on the skin (it’s tricky, you have to be super careful not to smudge it, or knock the eventually crumbly residue off of your skin) the darker and more enduring your stain will be; most recommend at least 4 hours. Once you’re happy it’s stained dark enough, you can either gently peel the residue away, or use a little olive oil to wash your hands (oil only, no water!) and you’ll be left with a kinda orange stain; don’t panic though, the stain will darken over the next couple of days to that lovely rich brown (see the 3rd picture below). Avoiding water or washing the stained area for the first 24-48 hours will ensure a dark colour and reduce any smearing, giving you lovely clean lines. Your henna art will last anywhere between 1 and 4 weeks -so it’ll look insanely gorge on your honeymoon too – before gently fading away.

Process 2

Image credit: Viyah Shadinikah

Process 3

Image credit: Live as Born

Hand 11

Image credit: Henna Tattoos

We think henna is the absolute don of boho cool, and when worn a little faded is a perfectly subtle, natural embellishment to accompany your eclectic look. There are some pretty important notes to consider when planning your bridal henna. The first: are you going to a hot honeymoon destination and do you tan well and quickly? If so, now’d probably a good time to make you aware that your henna design will resist the sun, so once the brown stain has faded, you’ll be left with your design in a paler ‘tan line’ style mark! Incidentally, I think this is a positive note, it’s happened to me before and it looks totally divine and means your henna lasts all the longer (albeit, now inverted in colour)!

Secondly, you’ve got to consider your design carefully. Look for inspiration, plan it thoroughly and ensure that it’s going to compliment your bridal look. You might want to go for traditional Mehndi style designs with vine-like lines and shaded flowers, or you may prefer a tribal design with geometric shapes and dotted symmetry. It’s completely up to you, but I’d recommend a practice run a month or so before – trust me, after 4 weeks you’ll definitely know whether you like it or not!

Hand 2

Hand 3

Hand 4

Hand 5

Hand 6

Image credits: Viyah Shadinikah

Hand 1 7

Image credits: Left, Style Craze  Right, Mariaalia

Hand 8

Image credit: Style Craze

Hand 9

Hand 12

Image credits: Henna Tattoos

The final thing to consider is placement. Traditionally, hands were the most adorned part of the body, and more specifically, palms. The palm of your hand contains more keratin and thus is more likely to stain darker. We think hand adornments are the ultimate in hippie cool style, whether you go for a circular palm design, like Molly did, allowing your guests a subtle glimpse just every now and then, super cool cuffs and finger bands or a full hand and arm design; this placement gives off a perfectly indian summer vibe that we LOVE.

However, beach and barefoot brides listen up! This next placement is for you; feet. From full gladiator sandal-style designs, working their way up the front of your shin, to subtle shallow designs focusing only on the side of the foot, this placement is just so gypsy cool and boho beyond belief. It’s just hints of henna, seen only when your feet peep from beneath your gown.

Feet 1

Image credit: kxxrxh

Feet 4 5 Feet 6

Image credits: Viyah Shadinikah

Feet 7

Image credit: Maria Alia

Feet 8

Image credit: Style Craze

Feet 2 3

Image credits: Viyah Shadinikah

Feet 9Feet 10 Feet 11 Feet 12

Image credits: Henna Tattoos

Aren’t they insane?! I’m totally getting a full foot design for the weddings/festivals (same difference) I’m heading to this summer! I’m not sure I could quite DIY this one, I’m a little out of practice! The third to last design is just incredible, I’d love to see one of you brides take on that look. You can see in the penultimate image the contrast between the strikingly dark brown colour the paste dries to, with the softer, rusty brown stain that results. It’s really quite a gentle finish, once the paste is removed.

Finally, let’s take a look at some slightly less traditional placements; shoulders, back, thigh and even décolletage. Entirely dependant on your dress, these more unusual styles may be more, or less, subtle, but my goodness are they beautiful. Best embraced with a relatively minimal dress, back embellishments can look mind blowingly gorgeous peeping up from a backless gown, and equally, a floral hennaed décolletage can make the perfect accessory to a boho strapless gown. It’s worth baring in mind that these areas will not stain as darkly as hands and feet, making your design sublimely pale, but it may mean you want to leave it a little later, only days before the wedding, to get your design. Anyway, enough of practicalities, think outside the traditional henna box, and go a little wild with your placement…

Back 1

Image credit: Tattoos Time

Back 2

Image credit: Style Craze

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Image credit: Silk & Stone

Back 3 5

Image credits: Left, Live as Born  Right, Henna Tattoos

Back 6

Image credit: Henna Tattoos

Back 7 8

Image credits: Left, USA Tattoo  Right, Ino Fashion Style

Back 9

Image credit: Inked Generation

Back 10

Image credit: Bridgette Bubble

Back 11

Image credit: Ken Adams-Greenman

Back 12

Image credit: Creative Athlete

Astounding, hey?! We love the idea of getting a henna band as a garter alternative; beautifully bohemian and it’ll look killer with a bikini on your beachy honeymoon! Henna is also a great opportunity to incorporate some symbolism into your wedding. From a Hamsa on the back of the neck (a sign of protection, also representing blessings, power, and strength) to an ornate lotus flower in the middle of the back (a symbol often used as an example of divine beauty, its unfolding petals suggesting the expansion of the soul), they’re all stunning.

So, whether you choose to go big and beautiful or for a small subtle design, and whether it’s for all your guests to see, or just your new hubby; henna is the hottest little accessory for a boho bride this summer.

Get that complete, warm indian summer vibe and get yourself hennaed.

Much love,

Clare xo

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