17 Stunning Henna Designs From Real Brides

There’s nothing we love more than a good wedding tradition, and the Indian culture knows how to do them right. Among one of the rituals in their three-day (sometimes more) wedding celebration is the mehndi party, a ceremony held before the wedding in which henna designs are applied to the bride’s hands and feet—as well as the hands and feet of her closest female family and friends, while they share their secrets for a happy and fruitful marriage for the duration of the event.

To create henna, an artist applies paste in delicate designs on the hands. After drying, it flakes off, leaving the skin stained with the artwork. The longer the paste stays on, the darker the stain becomes. It’s said the depth of the color in the bride’s henna—and the longer it lasts—indicates just how much the groom will love her. Traditionally, the most intricate henna patterns are applied to the bride to set her apart from everyone else. It can feature anything from lace patterns and nature-inspired elements to the groom’s name (which he has to locate) and depictions of animals and Hindu gods, as well as symbolic designs that signify blessings, luck, joy, and love.

Priyanka Chopra's wedding-day mehndi even featured a tiny guitar on her upper right hand as a tribute to her musical groom. But there’s more to henna than its beauty. Its natural herbal medicinal remedies are supposed to cool the nerve endings of the body, helping relieve the bride of stress before her big day—all the more reason to carry on with the mehndi party. Its herbaceous properties don’t prevent us from gazing at the stunning intricacies of a good henna pattern, though.

We’ve rounded up 17 henna designs that we just can’t take our eyes off of.

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