Like the icing on a wedding cake, a perfectly polished manicure tops off a timeless and elegant bridal look. Whether you opt for a classic sheer polish—think Instant Hot from Essie’s 2012 bridal collection— or a bolder pop of colour, nail care maintenance is a beauty essential for your wedding day.

“People notice everything—especially on your wedding day!” says Cathy Crispo, expert manicurist and CEO of LUX-Spa in Toronto. “Everyone wants to look at your engagement ring and of course, at the new wedding band. Having beautifully manicured nails will make the bride feel super confident so that she can show off these timeless tokens of love!” Crispo gives us the I-dos (and don’ts!) for a photo-ready manicure that’s sealed with a ring.

Wedding beauty manicure tip #1: Vow to maintain proper nail care for your wedding prep journey.

“A bride should really start her manicures at least three to four months prior to the big day. Keeping on a regular manicure schedule allows your nails to grow strong and healthy and allows your manicurist or nail technician enough time to achieve the desired shape and length. The absolute last manicure should be a day or two before the wedding. Allow nail polish to dry thoroughly prior to leaving the nail salon.”

AVOID: Untended fingertips on your wedding day. “It’s the equivalent to just doing eye makeup and forgetting about the blush and lipstick—you look unfinished!”

TRY: “A squoval shape is the most flattering for many fingertips.” (Squoval = straight edge with somewhat oval corners.)

Wedding beauty manicure tip #2: Commit to at-home nail TLC.

“If your budget or time does not allow for professional manicures, then a bride should take the time to take care of her nails weekly: applying a cuticle oil to soften the cuticles, which makes pushing back the cuticles easier, filing nails to desired shape and applying cuticle oil to cuticles and sidewalls, which ultimately allows nails to grow longer since it’s strengthening the nails.”

AVOID: “Buffing the nail plate. Over-buffing weakens the nails and causes nails to split and break.”

TRY: A wedding beauty must: “While it’s nice to be giving so much attention to nails, if a bride is not taking care of herself internally, then all efforts will be lost. A proper diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and a healthy intake of water consumed daily, will all contribute to overall health—including the health of the bride’s nails and skin.”

Click here for our best picks of bridal jewelry for sparkling wedding beauty.

Read on for more tips on how to maintain a perfect, chip-free manicure on your wedding day…

Wedding beauty manicure tip #3: Stick with your type (stylishly speaking).

“A very small group of brides tend to go for bolder colours. The brides that do this will most often have fall or winter weddings. They take advantage of the bold colours of the seasons and incorporate rich colours into their nails—bold reds,
corals, burgundies. I would say that a bride would be able to wear any colour she prefers, as long as it falls in line with the rest of her wedding colour theme.”

AVOID: "A polish that is exactly the same colour as the bridal bouquet. This causes the bride’s nails to blend right into her flowers; she should choose a complementary colour so that her nails stand out!"

TRY: "It all depends on the type of wedding a bride desires; a wedding that is very formal and elegant most certainly calls for lighter nails. On the other hand, a
funkier wedding where the bride may not choose to go very traditional will allow for the bride to select various forms of
nail art. Themes most certainly dictate more than just table linens!"

Wedding beauty manicure tip #4: Fall in love with your perfectly polished nails.

“No bride wants to look at her photos years later to find that she was so trendy that she wants to hide her photos and bury her wedding DVD,” says Crispo. “Themes dictate everything: the attire, hair,
makeup, nails, decor, flowers—so choosing a theme that is more subtle and elegant will obviously lend itself to a bride that is timeless.”

AVOID: "Super long, Cruella De Vil nails; crazy nail art—including textures and patterns."

TRY: Take a look at the theme and all components of your wedding and then consult with your manicurist to help you pull everything together through your polish selection. “OPI’s NYC Ballet collection, and Essie’s Bridal Collection allow brides to break away from the traditional French manicure with softer subtle colours.”

Wedding beauty manicure tip #5: Plan for those small bumps that can arise in your otherwise seamless day.

To ensure a chip-free colour: “The absolute best look, whether a bride goes with her natural nails or nail enhancements, is a nail that is not much longer than the finger tip—about 2 cm past the finger tip. If she can’t Shellac, she should get a manicure the day before and ensure it’s completely dry before doing anything.”

AVOID: For the day before? “Too-hot baths and showers, housework and housecleaning of
any kind!”

TRY: “A bride should carry a very small emergency nail kit with her on the big day: nail file, nail glue (for any breaks or splits), a little polish remover, cotton, and polish.” Then raise a champagne flute to nailing a classically polished
bridal look!

Read more:
Wedding makeup that lasts all day
6 steps for creating a personalized bridal look
5 steps to get glowing skin on your wedding day
10 bridesmaid dress ideas from the runways