What Is a Mid-Wedding Chop?

This season's hottest wedding trend is a new spin on the "second look."

May is now coming to a close, which means wedding season is creeping up. And with wedding season comes a flurry of new wedding traditions and trends.

One of the hottest events this season is the “mid-wedding chop,” displays of which have gathered over 1.6 million views on TikTok. So what exactly is a mid-wedding chop and why are brides including it as part of their ceremonies? Here is exactly what you need to know about the new trend, as well as how you can pull it off for yourself.

What is the mid-wedding chop?

Woman Cutting Her PonytailMarko_Marcello/Getty Images

The mid-wedding chop is a haircut that takes place during a wedding, typically between the ceremony and the reception. Brides are opting to enter the ceremony with long, luscious locks—often in an updo—then debuting a completely different, shorter, loose hairstyle for the afterparty. Many are doing so as an alternative to, or in addition to, changing from their wedding dress into a reception outfit.

Anyone can perform the mid-wedding chop, though it is typically done by a professional hairstylist. However, according to the New York Times, some brides ask their spouses-to-be to cut their hair for them, as in the wedding of Angela and Chase Gulick. Angela explained, “I surprised him with scissors. He was speechless.” Angela also opted to donate 11 inches of hair to the organization Wigs for Kids, a positive consequence of the trend.

Why are brides cutting their hair mid-wedding?

Portrait of a bride in a white wedding dress while posing with hands framing her eyes and faceGeorgi Fadejev/Getty Images

Numerous impulses may inspire a bride to make the mid-wedding chop, from the desire to get the best of both worlds in their hairstyling, to enjoying the shock value of a new do, to imparting a symbolic meaning onto the haircut.

One bride, Jamie Littleton, explained that she “thought it was a great way to represent letting go of [her] past and embarking on this new exciting chapter of [her] life.” Hair historian Rachel Gibson concurred, claiming, “There’s a rich history of hair reflecting relationship status.” She continued, “Some Orthodox Jewish women shave their heads the day after their wedding in keeping with tradition, while in many African cultures, the choice of braiding and styling techniques is used to visually convey marital status.” In this context, the mid-wedding chop seems like a natural extension of hairstyles marking momentous occasions.

Other brides appreciate the excitement and individuality of the mid-wedding chop, which can feel like a fun “wedding rule break.” Such is the case for Courtney Sneddon and Christopher Laird. Sneddon had grown her hair out for two years before her November 2022 wedding. After the fact, Laird recalled, “The first thing she did after we cut it was head to the dance floor and headbang. She felt amazing, fierce and really liberated.” Similarly, self-described “short hair girlie” Natalie Pizard wanted her hair in a bun for her wedding ceremony but wanted to “look like herself” while dancing.

How can I do a mid-wedding chop?

Unknown person adjusts brides hair before the wedding ceremonyBFK92/Getty Images

If you are planning a wedding and intrigued by the proposition of a mid-wedding chop, keep a few key tips in mind.

First, according to celebrity hairstylist Alex Brown, avoid using large quantities of hair product for the reception. The mid-wedding chop is a dry haircut, so globs of product can hinder a sleek result.

Second, plan your reception accordingly. Build time into your wedding schedule for the mid-wedding chop (10 to 20 minutes is standard). Additionally, inform your wedding planner and photographer so they’re ready for the big reveal. If you’re worried about entertaining the guests, plan to pass out dessert or drinks while the bride sneaks away.

Finally, manage your expectations. For the best mid-wedding chop possible, hire a hairstylist—and pay them accordingly! However, note that a dry, speedy haircut may not be as flawless as a usual salon job (especially if your spouse performs it). Still, the excitement of the mid-wedding chop lies in its adrenaline-fueled spontaneity, so lean into the moment! After all, joyous dancing hides any number of uneven hairlines.

And if you’re attending a wedding this season, be sure to follow these important pieces of wedding etiquette.