The ancient Mughal tradition has grown into a necessary custom for South Asian weddings and also a source of amazing artistry. The craftsmanship required to draw the curved, motif-laden lines of a mehendi tattoo is reflected in today’s huge, talented henna market.
We’ve scoured the best looks – from the simple, minimalist designs to the complex floral explosions – to present our 21 favorite styles of bridal henna:
The Single Mandala, from Mika and Neil’s Bengali Wedding
The mandala is a common design in bridal henna – the large circle often serves as a base around which other patterns are drawn. Often, flower petals are arranged in the center to create a multi-dimensional look. The symbol also reminds me of the rays of the sun.
The Split Mandala, from Beauty You Deserve
A split mandala can also be the central focus of a henna design. With half of the circular pattern on each hand, the design plays on a beautiful symmetry. The complete picture of both hands together looks stunning, but each side of the design is still impressive.
Geometric, by Aman’s Mehendi
The latest henna trend is an appreciation of minimalist designs and lots of negative space. This design uses an off-center square as its focus, and allows the intricate detailing inside it to steal the show. The fingers are decorated too, but only at the tips, so that the main geometric pattern stands out.
Paisley Print, from Neeraja and Timothy’s Telegu Wedding
Paisleys are a timeless classic in Indian henna designs. The curved motif is recognizable in forms such as mango print as well. This mehendi design has pretty little paisleys on the bride’s fingertips, as well as larger paisleys on the palm. The small curved tips add a smooth flow to the look, with intricate strokes that are emphasized by the asymmetry.
The Twist, from Divya’s Henna Art
This unique, twisted henna design is gorgeous and eye-catching. The sweep of the pattern draws attention to the bride’s nail polish and jewelry. This look can even be accented with a half-mandala or other larger designs to accompany the long, twisted one. With such a delicate, floral border that laces around the fingers, you can tell the henna artist had some very steady hands!
Peacock Passion, from Anokhee and Mital’s Mehendi and Garba Celebration
The stunning and elegant peacock is respected everywhere in Indian bridal fashion – from lehengas to bindis. Henna designs are no exception. With room for detail in the peacock’s long, elaborate feathers, a peacock design can easily be adapted to include other motifs and patterns. And the grace of the bird’s long neck and showy feathers is unbeatable.
Minimal Swirl, from Yogi’s Henna
This twisting, curvy design starts at one finger and ends just below the wrist. The paisley and swirls with dot accents is a classic look for a bride who want mehendi, but wants it minimal.
Flora and Fauna, from Henna Lounge
This pattern is all floral and all fabulous. The tiny leaves really accentuate the bride’s long fingers, and the large flower design is even shaded for extra depth. With vines and petals of all sizes, this design is delicate, yet intriguing. Flowers are a neutral motif to wear since they are bound to match any bridal attire.
The Crafted Cuffs, from Beauty You Deserve
The focus of this pattern is the thick, intricate wrist cuffs that are emphasized with shaded and green mehendi. The finger lace pattern features florals and paisleys in a line leading up to the more geometric cuff design. This look is modern, with less focus on the hands and more detail on the wrists – but small mandalas behind the cuffs make sure the lower arm is also jazzed up!
Lacey Hearts, from Divya’s Henna Art
What could be a better suited symbol for marriage than the tried and true heart? This henna design uses shaded hearts and lacy, flowing borders for an inky, spell-binding look. The borders surrounding the hearts are made of flowers and wavy lines. Even the fingertips are decorated in the same controlled, yet abstract pattern, but they are done simply enough as to not take focus away from the hearts on the bride’s wrists.
Royal Architecture, from Beauty You Deserve
This design reminds me of the detailed architectural designs that one might find at an ancient Mughal palace. The shaded domes and floral details resemble those carved into cement pillars at a royal residence. The focus of this pattern is the split, checkered design – similar to a tapestry, but the petals and paisleys on the fingers and wrist are pretty eye-catching too. It’s easy to get lost in the layers of detail in this bridal henna design.
Tips and Cuffs, from Divya’s Henna Art
This look features minimalist designs on the fingertips and elaborate details on the cuffs, often with little or no design on the palms of the hand. A very modern pattern, the henna still draws from architectural and floral inspiration for its designs. I love how it makes the bride’s hands look as if she were wearing bracelets.
The Asymmetric, by Aman’s Mehendi
Sometimes, henna styles don’t need to be contained with matching designs or symmetry. The beauty is in the unique patterns here – with vine designs and florals all over the hands. Neither the fingers nor the palms match in terms of pattern, and only a few repeat symbols are used on both hands. I like the freehand and inspired look that this gives off – there’s much more room for variety in patterns in such a design.
Ganesha, from Henna Lounge
Ganesha is a powerful image in Indian designs, as are many gods and goddesses. This intricate design is a stylish way to pay homage to your culture and religion – all while looking fabulous! Because Ganesha sits upon a lotus flower, the image can include many different patterns before leading up to the main focus.
Blank Fingertips, from Syra Skins
Arabic henna styles often left the fingertips blank, in order to simplify the designs’ complexity and add a unique, fingerless glove effect. This look is best for elaborate manicures or colorful painted nails, since they will be showcased with blank fingertips.
Palm Perfect, from Henna Lounge
This design only involves a simple mandala on the bride’s palms. While the rest of the hands are left blank, the focused mandala is carefully detailed with a floral motif and straight line patterns. For a bride who wants to keep her look simple but doesn’t want to miss out on the henna fun, this idea is perfect.
Finger Lace, from Preeya and Pramod’s Hawaiian Wedding
This simple and pretty design allows a bride’s manicured fingers to really stand out. The floral and paisley patterns lace between two fingers and down the hand. There are no center designs or wrist cuffs to distract from this delicate pattern. It’s a good design for brides who want to keep the backs of hands simple, especially if the inside design is very elaborate.
Faces in Fine Henna, from Lauren and Sanjay’s Interfaith Wedding
This heavily detailed design features peacocks and feathers all down the bride’s arm. The face that’s drawn into the bride’s palm adds a fun and unique feature to the delicate pattern. Many brides opt to have faces portrayed in their henna to depict a story – perhaps their own love story – or simply to change things up in an otherwise uniform pattern.
Curvy Floral, from Bridal Mehendi and Henna Lookbook
This design is big on curves and florals – but some contemporary hearts are thrown in for fun too. The filled-in fingertips are another trademark of Arabic designs, drawing focus to the rest of the hands and allowing painted nails to stand out.
Elephant Fantasy, by Aman’s Mehendi
This fun look features elephants, a favorite Indian motif. The swirly, curvy patterns add a flair to the design – keeping the hands and arms decorated, but not so much that the elephants go unnoticed. Elephant themes are a great way to diversify henna design away from more common motifs like peacocks.
The Lace Glove, by Aman’s Mehendi
The lacy design on the wrist and back of the hand is unlike most other patterns. For one, it doesn’t feature a central design – but it uses common petal-like patterns to create a lacy glove look. The minimal pattern on the fingers keeps the focus on the cuffs, which are easily the most elaborate and delicate part of this design.
The Raja and Rani, from Caitlin and Vikrant’s Indian Jewish Wedding
Raja and rani motifs are common in mehendi designs. They’re a symbol from the Mughal era of elegantly styled monarchs. Despite the array of sweeping, intricate patterns around the two faces, the focal point of the design is still very much appreciated.