The time has come in your wedding planning to choose a wedding dress for your special day. While your wedding might be months away, it’s important that you give yourself plenty of time to find the perfect dress that will make you feel beautiful and special on such an important day.
This article is dedicated to helping you through this process, which can sometimes be stressful because of so many different styles available. From the history of the wedding dress to some of the tips that will help you select your dress, this is an important article to read if you’re engaged and in the process of planning your wedding.
One of the most important features of your wedding will be the wedding dress that you select. This chapter is going to highlight some of the basics of the classic wedding dress. From what a wedding dress is to how you choose a dress based on your body type, we’ll cover it all for you, so you don’t feel stressed about picking the perfect dress.
What is a wedding dress?
A wedding dress is a formal garment that is worn by the bride during a wedding ceremony. It is usually kept on for the remainder of the evening as well, for the reception part of the day. However, some brides choose to change into something lighter and more comfortable, so they can dance and enjoy themselves.
Wedding dressing comes in all different styles and varieties. While the overall style of the wedding dress has changed over the years in many ways, the concept remains the same. This is a formal dress, usually in color white, that a woman will wear while going through the ceremony of marrying her spouse.
Some brides choose very simple wedding dresses that don’t have a lot of fabric or details to them. Other brides like to be elaborate with their choice, selecting many layers of fabric and tulle that create a big, puffy skirt.
Different beading and embroidery are available on the bodice and skirt. The dress you choose will really be determined by your style and personality. You may also take into account the time of year that you’re getting married or the type of venue where the ceremony and reception will take place.
What’s the most popular wedding dress style?
There are a few different popular wedding dress styles that are commonly worn to date. In general, you can choose between two main styles: simple and elaborate. The simple bride likely cares about comfort and simplicity while still looking gorgeous. The bride that wants to really stand out on her special day wants a wedding dress that will make everyone swoon at her beauty.
Wedding dresses come in a variety of styles. You can choose one of many necklines. The most popular ones are strapless dresses that simply cut straight across the chest, halter necklines, boat necks, or heart-shaped.
The bodice will usually be fitted, with the skirt either flaring out at the waistline or flowing simply down to the ground. On the bodice and skirt of a wedding dress, different details may be included to give some unique flare to the dress.
This can be beading, embroidery, lace, different designs of fabric sewn on to create a layered effect, and more. If you’ve ever taken a peek at wedding dresses, then you understand that there seem to be endless options available.
History & origins of the wedding dress
Wedding dresses have a rich history that dates back all the way to ancient Chinese times around the year 1070. This culture was the first to have a specific garment worn during the ceremony uniting two people in marriage.
In other parts of the world, wedding dresses didn’t become popular until the 19th century. Medieval times dresses were the start of the elaborate wedding dress that we have today.
Dresses were very different in the 19th century than what we see today, though there are some similarities that you might be able to pick out. For example, white dresses were popular, as were certain materials like lace, satin, and tulle.
However, the large ball gown style of a wedding dress didn’t come around until many years later. Wedding dresses had a simple bodice that covered most of the upper body. Women didn’t show off their décolleté or expose any cleavage.
Wedding dresses had full sleeves, often incorporating different ruffles and bunches of fabric. The skirt of the dress was full-length but would remain relatively simple with just a few layers of fabric.
Queen Victoria had the first very elaborate wedding dress that featured a full skirt and loads of beading. However, this type of dress didn’t become accessible to other women until much later on.
When it did, it was embraced fully by brides all over the world. In the 1800s, whalebone was used to create structure in a wedding dress design to give it a fuller look and turn the skirt into a bell shape.
In the early 1900s, the wedding dress became slender again. Corsets were included in dress designs to create a very narrow shape. The sleeves ballooned out a bit, and ruffles were added to the skirt to give it a bit of definition.
A number of years later, skirts and waistlines became looser with not as many tucks. Lace became a popular material added to the look of a wedding dress.
In the 1950s, David’s Bridal opened up. This provided affordable and fashionable wedding dress options to women all over the country. It’s still a popular store today, acting as a one-stop shop for all of your wedding and bridesmaid dress needs.
When should you start shopping for a wedding dress?
In all of the hustle and bustle of planning for a wedding, there’s a lot that you can forget about. Though, making a timeline for yourself that you can stick to will ensure that everything gets done before your big day.
You want to make sure that you’ve selected your dress with plenty of time left before your event. It’s recommended that your dress is selected and purchased approximately eight to ten months beforehand.
The goal of choosing a wedding dress almost one full year before your wedding is that you’ll have enough time to look around at different stores and find something that you really like.
Some brides are lucky enough to love the first or second dress that they like, but other brides will try on dozens of dresses to find the winner.
Also, you need to take into account the potential for alterations. Most women can’t put on a wedding dress off the rack and have it immediately fit. The length may be too long, the waist may need to come in a little bit, the chest area may need to be adjusted to look appropriately sized, etc.
Alterations on a wedding dress are complex. Seamstresses will need to give their full attention to this job to provide you with the most perfect wedding dress possible. Don’t force them to rush through your alterations by cutting it too close to the wedding.
What’s the best wedding dress for your body type?
There are so many different styles of wedding dresses out there that you’re probably wondering which dress will look best for your specific body type. Here are some of the most common styles to consider.
Pear-Shaped Body – Ball Gown
If you have a pear-shaped body that is larger from the waist down, but your waist and top half are smaller, you can cover up the bottom portion of your body with a full skirt. The top of the dress will be fitted and slender, showing off your curves up top.
Hourglass Body – Mermaid Dress
Show off your very slender body type with a slender dress design. The mermaid dress has a fitted bodice that remains narrow down the body before flaring out at the very bottom. This look will show off your hips, chest, and curves.
Apple Body Shape – A-Line Dress
A woman with an upper body that is much wider than the lower half of the body will benefit from an A-line dress that is narrow at the top but then flares out right at the waist.
What’s the best wedding dress silhouette for pregnant brides?
Your wedding timeline doesn’t always work out how you expect it to, and you may be pregnant for your big day. Don’t feel like you have to put off the wedding. There are plenty of dresses that can accommodate your growing belly.
There are specific maternity dresses to consider, with a high, cinched waist that flows out over your stomach and the lower half of your body. They are called empire waist dresses.
You can also stick with an A-line dress that has a large flare to the skirt. It’s more of a typical wedding dress style and doesn’t look so much like a maternity dress. If you’re not very far along, this is a way to keep the traditional look of your wedding dress without having to show off your belly too much.
We’ve covered a lot of information on the wedding dress in this chapter. So take a moment to soak it all in before you start thinking about the kind of dress that you want. The great thing about wedding dress shopping is that styles are generally the same for the most part, with a few new trends thrown in here and there.
You’ll come across many of the same styles at the different boutiques that you go to, with a little bit of variety here and there. It just comes down to deciding what looks best on you.
Stick around to read more about wedding dresses, including different necklines, sleeves, skirts, and some tips for choosing the perfect wedding dress.
Even today, brides have a multitude of options available to them for their big day. Whether you’re a simple bride or someone that wants to make a bold fashion statement, you likely won’t have a hard time finding something that you love.
This chapter is dedicated to more specific information on wedding dress styles and the different details that exist for things like the sleeves and neckline. All of these different features can be mixed together to get the personalized look that you want.
While a wedding dress definitely stands out from other basic dress styles, you don’t have to conform to one option. Let’s take a look at all of the different details you can consider for your special dress.
Wedding dress styles
Wedding dress styles have changed quite a bit over the years. If you look at the original concept of the wedding dress compared to some of the elaborate looks that brides embrace today, you’ll see the difference.
The funny thing is, there are still many wedding dresses being sold in stores and boutiques that include a lot of the same features that were included decades and decades ago. From a simple slip dress to an elaborate ball gown, here are some of the most popular wedding dress styles.
A-line wedding dress
The A-line wedding dress has a style and shape that works for all brides. It’s also very simple and can be worked into different lengths and skirt styles. A-line wedding dresses work for ball gown skirts as well as for a fun, tea-length dress.
Fitted up top, the A-line dress will flare out towards the bottom. It works well for women that have a larger body type on the bottom, such as a pear or apple body shape.
You can show off your curves up top, creating more coverage on the bottom where you want some concealment. Once you’ve chosen your A-line dress, you can then expand to the different necklines and sleeves that are an option.
Ball Gown wedding dress
The ball gown wedding dress was one of the first elaborate styles that became available to all women in the 1950s. All of the major celebrities and notable women wore them. It was originally worn by Queen Victoria in 1840 when she married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg.
With heavy layers of satin and fabric, the skirt of her dress was very large. Designers have come up with ways to make this look more comfortable and accessible today using lighter materials like tulle.
We definitely don’t use whalebone for the structure as they used to centuries ago. Ball gown wedding dresses have a tight bodice with a very large skirt that flows out right at the hips.
Column/Sheath wedding dress
A column or sheath wedding dress features a very narrow shape that will flow straight down from the top of the neckline down to the hem. Its goal is to look very simple while hugging the body to show off your curves.
You generally won’t see a lot of beading or embellishments on this type of dress. It’s worn by very simple brides that don’t want to make a big fashion statement but still want to look beautiful. It’s also a great wedding dress option if you’re having a more casual event in a backyard or at a restaurant.
Princess wedding dress
A princess wedding dress features a full skirt ball gown design that often has tons of different embellishments, sequins, and beading. The neckline can vary but usually is very feminine, showing off the neck and chest.
This is the dress that you choose when you want to turn heads when you start walking down the aisle. Everyone will ogle at how beautiful you look.
Empire wedding dress
A wedding dress with an empire waist has a raised waistline that allows the skirt to flare out, starting up higher than the traditional hip waistline. The exact placement varies, but the goal is to hide the stomach and hips with just the bust area being fitted.
Some brides appreciate a little bit of extra definition in the form of a slender skirt, while other brides will still want more flowing fabric. The empire dress is often used for maternity wedding dresses as well.
Mermaid/Fishtail wedding dress
The fishtail or mermaid gown has a trumpet style that hugs the body all the way down to the very bottom. It is there so that there will be a small flare of fabric that resembles the tail of a mermaid.
You can pair this look with many different bodice styles before the fabric will change at the area of the knee. Some of the ‘tail’ designs are simple and almost unnoticeable, while others flare out much more dramatically with a lot of features at the bottom.
Slip wedding dress
A slip wedding dress is a very loose-fitting garment that usually has spaghetti straps holding it up. Its design looks like the bride is wearing a simple slip that would be worn under a formal dress, but this is the actual wedding dress.
This is for the bride that wants a sleek and clean wedding dress design without a lot of crazy details. This dress is usually constructed from shimmery satin fabric. The look can still be very gorgeous when paired with a beautiful hairstyle and accessories.
Short wedding dress
You don’t have to stick to a run-of-the-mill wedding dress that is worn by the majority of brides out there. If you’re looking for a fun and flirty wedding style, consider wearing a short wedding dress.
Even if you’re not prepared to walk down the aisle in this look, you may want to change into something shorter in length for later in the evening when you’re at your reception and will be dancing and socializing.
Separates wedding dress
Another unique style for a wedding dress is a two-piece design. You can’t necessarily tell right away that this is the case, but there is an actual top to the wedding dress that is separate from the skirt.
It allows for a lot more movement without the entire dress shifting with you. Some adventurous brides may even opt for a dress that shows a small strip of skin on the midsection. This look is very pretty and works well for brides with a smaller, thin figure.
Tea-length wedding dress
A fun and flirty party dress style for your wedding is the tea-length dress. This wedding dress will have a fitted bodice up top and then a flared skirt that will end at the knee. It looks a little less formal than the large ball gown wedding dress.
So consider where your wedding is going to be held when you choose this dress. A tea-length style would work well for something like a simple wedding or dinner party-style event.
Trumpet/Fit-and-flare wedding dress
Trumpet wedding dresses used to be very popular, but they have sort of gotten lost in some of the other styles that are out there right now. Similar to a fishtail dress, the trumpet gown will have a very tight and slender bodice as well as on the top of the hip and thigh area.
It is here that the skirt will flare out rather than flaring out all the way at the bottom of the dress. This is a lovely way to show off a curvy figure when your hips are your best asset.
Basque wedding dress
The Basque waistline has a fitted bodice that sits naturally on the hips. It then dips below the curves of the waist to form a “v” shape. The goal of this dress is to create the illusion that there is more length to the dress by elongating the bride’s silhouette.
It is flattering for many different body types. This wedding dress style looks really flattering on slender body types.
Drop Waist wedding dress
A dropped-waist wedding dress will have a low waistline that usually ends around the hip area. This is a style that became very popular in the 1920s, and it has gone on to be featured with the still-popular mermaid-style dress.
It looks lovely on a slender woman that has pronounced hips and wants to show them off without covering them up under a large skirt or empire waistline.
Boho wedding dress
A boho wedding dress is a very laid-back and simple dress design that is perfect for the bride that wants to look relaxed and simple. For the free-spirited bride, different fabrics and features can be used in the construction of a boho dress, such as lace, dramatic sleeves, layers of material, stitching, and much more.
Most boho dresses are simple and don’t have a lot of structure. They won’t have that uncomfortable boning or wires that many brides hate, allowing you to move easily throughout your wedding day.
Colorful wedding dress
We’re all used to seeing a classic white wedding dress on a bride, but there isn’t any reason why you can’t be adventurous and select a colorful option instead. Some brides opt for an off-white, silver, or light pink wedding dress to be a bit unique.
If you really want to make a bold statement, maybe a black or red wedding dress is more your style. If you just want a subtle hint of color, consider wearing a white dress that has a little bit of colored detail by way of stitching or beading.
Embroidered wedding dress
An embroidered wedding dress can be any style of dress, but there will be embroidery and stitching on the bodice and/or skirt that will produce a very detailed and personalized look. This embroidery can feature sequins and beading as well.
You may just want a little bit of detail at the bottom of the skirt, but this embellishment can be featured all over the dress as well.
Wedding dress necklines
Another feature that varies from wedding dress to wedding dress is the neckline. There are many different neckline styles that you can choose from, whether you want to show off your neck and chest or you would like to embrace a more modest look that covers everything up.
The shape of your upper body will typically determine what neckline looks best on you, but let’s take a look at all of the popular options that are available for your big day.
A halter neckline will have a V-shape or a scoop that cuts down on the chest a bit. The straps for the dress will reach up the sides of the chest and wrap around the neck instead of reaching up over the shoulders.
A halter neck is featured on many different styles of shirts, but it’s been popular on wedding dresses for many decades. This is a lovely neckline that shows off thin and slender shoulders and the collarbone.
The sweetheart neckline has side edges that are very linear, and they will then feature a curved bottom edge that concaves downward. The neckline has a very scalloped resemblance that looks like the top of a heart.
The side edges of the neckline look somewhat similar to a halter neckline. This look is designed to show off the chest area. Just make sure you have some structure added to the dress and that your dress fits well to keep it up comfortably on the body.
This simple neckline features a square shape that brings a good deal of attention to the areas of the shoulders and neck area. It’s flattering on a body type that has a smaller top half, as you’ll be showing a good deal of skin on your chest. A square-shaped neckline doesn’t really look appropriate on a busty figure.
The v-neckline looks great on just about every body type. You simply need the right dress and the right bra to pull this look off. This neckline draws the eyes inward, adding length to the neck and torso areas.
A v-neck can extend down just a little bit, but a plunging v-neckline can be very dramatic and revealing. It’s your choice how low you want the neckline of your wedding dress to go.
An asymmetrical neckline has a one-sided design. It can have an off-the-shoulder look in many cases. This neckline is used for wedding dresses but also for other dresses that work for a variety of occasions.
You can choose an asymmetric neckline that is very modest or opt for something that is very revealing if you want to show some skin and personality.
This off-the-shoulder neckline is named after the actress Brigitte Bardot, who was very popular in the 50s and wore this style often. This neckline is usually constructed using elastic and gathering that can be decorated or adorned with frills and ruffles. It’s a great wedding dress style to wear if you want to show off your décolleté.
Similar to the Bardot neckline, a boat neckline has a very wide neck that extends below the collarbone area. This wide look runs horizontally to the point of the shoulders. It’s a very feminine look that is often used for wedding dress designs.
It shows off your décolleté and chest, so make sure your skin looks clear and lovely on your chest, shoulders, and back when you’re wearing this neckline.
A high neckline is perfect for the bride that wants to look modest and simple on her wedding day. This dress will cover the chest and shoulders, so there isn’t a lot of skin showing.
The high neckline can be styled a few different ways, featuring a simple crew neck design or something different like a high collar. It’s common for this area to have beading and embellishments that make it stand out and have some detail.
A scoop neckline on a wedding dress will be very rounded in shape. It will dip down to reveal some degree of the upper portion of the chest. Scoop necks provide a more casual and comfortable look that shows a bit of skin without being too revealing or uncomfortable.
Wedding dress sleeves
Many wedding dresses don’t feature long sleeves that reach all the way down to the wrists, but it’s not uncommon to have some sort of detail in the shoulder area. Though, there are brides that choose to have sleeves on their wedding dresses that will create a more modest look.
Let’s take a look at some of the different wedding dress sleeves that you can choose from when you’re picking out your look for your special day.
Skip the straps altogether and choose a wedding dress style that has a strapless design. This means that the neckline of your dress will typically cut across the chest in a straight shape or something with a sweetheart design.
Strapless dresses will be fitted on the bodice in order to keep the dress up on your body while you move throughout your special day. For a little bit of extra detail, some strapless dresses will have small strips of fabric that hang across the arms where your neckline reaches horizontally. Though, this fabric doesn’t provide any kind of structure to the dress.
A cap sleeve doesn’t reach down over the arm too much. Rather, it’s just a small cap of fabric that cups over the top of the shoulders. It doesn’t flow all the way down as you would see on a regular blouse or shirt.
Cap sleeves are pretty on a wedding dress, and they often include quite a bit of detail. Some cap sleeves on a wedding dress are even removable. So you can change the look of the dress later on in the evening if you want to show a little more skin for your reception.
Long sleeves on a wedding dress are ideal if you want to choose a dress that is very modest. The sleeves can reach all the way down to the wrists, but you can also opt for long sleeves that are ¾ in length.
Long sleeves are also a great option for a wedding that is being held during the winter months. Colder temperatures make it uncomfortable to have a wedding dress that is very revealing. Brides get cold too!
An off-the-shoulder wedding dress look is very feminine and looks gorgeous on every body type. It shows off the shoulders and chest of a bride while still looking like plenty of coverage is provided.
The dress’s interior will usually have some sort of boning to keep the look in place. You may want to consider using fashion tape to keep your look in place so you don’t have any fashion slip-ups.
A one-shoulder wedding dress will essentially have one sleeve attached to the dress. The type of sleeve that’s featured will vary. It’s a unique look that shows off a bride’s personality quite a bit.
Now that you’ve learned a lot about the different options available on a wedding dress, take a look back through this article to see what stood out as your favorite options.
You can truly construct a wedding dress using all different combinations of styles and features. Keep reading to find out more about how you choose the perfect wedding dress that will dazzle your guests while making you look your absolute best.
We’re going to be talking about how to go about choosing the perfect wedding dress. Some women find this extremely challenging, while there are brides that select their dress after just trying on one or two styles.
There are some tips that we can share with you that will help make the process of choosing a wedding dress much easier. It’s common for women to feel stressed out when going about this process of selecting their special dress, but it’s important to remember that this is a special occasion that you will remember for a lifetime.
You should enjoy the process of choosing the dress just as much as you will enjoy wearing it on your wedding day. Let’s get started with some important information regarding how to choose a wedding dress.
Start searching for the perfect dress early
You’re only going to stress yourself out more if you try to shop for a dress a month or two before your wedding day. Giving yourself enough time will reduce a lot of the pressure that you feel to choose the perfect dress.
You’ll be able to shop from store to store, going back if you need to try something on again. Covering all your bases will ensure that you’re going to end up picking a great wedding dress.
Be open to trying different possibilities
The process of choosing a wedding dress usually involves looking at the racks and finding things you want to try on. You’ll pick up things that pique your interest, but you should also pick a few styles that are different from what you’re naturally gravitating towards.
You may surprise yourself or be turned onto a different style. This also gives you the opportunity to figure out what styles and details you don’t like.
Set your budget before you start shopping
It’s easy to talk yourself into an expensive wedding dress that you come across, but this could really affect your wedding budget in a negative manner. Set your budget prior to starting your shopping, and make sure that you’re adhering to that budget.
If something is hundreds (or thousands) of dollars outside of your budget, it’s a good idea to skip that dress and move on to something more affordable. Otherwise, you could be taking money away from other aspects of your wedding, like flowers or the cake.
Don’t forget to buy the right undergarments
An important part of wearing a wedding dress is making sure that you have the right undergarments for underneath it. There are a few different items and styles you may want to consider, depending on the style of your dress.
A strapless bra will be needed for a strapless gown, and certain styles of panties will look better than others, depending on whether you have a high-waist dress or something with a looser flow.
Bring shoes with you to try on wedding dresses
Bring your shoes along with you when you’re going to be trying on your wedding dress. If you want to get a good idea of the entire look of your dress as well as figure out how much the dress needs to be altered, your shoes are imperative.
Bring Along Other Accessories You Have
Other items to bring along include your veil, shawl, or gloves. Some brides choose these accessories after they’ve selected their dress, but you should bring them with you to your fitting if you already have them.
You’d be surprised at how different one material can look from the next, and shades of white can sometimes vary a bit as well, which would affect the overall look of your wedding dress ensemble.
Consider Sizing Up
After you’ve selected a certain dress, you’ll have to choose what size you want to order. It’s often a good idea to order a size up and have alterations performed. Most brides aren’t able to find a dress that fits them perfectly, whether it’s in regard to the length of the dress, the bust area, or something else.
You also want to have a little wiggle room when it comes to fitting into your dress many months later. It’s much easier to alter a dress down a size than it is to make it bigger if you’ve gained a little weight or changed your body shape from working out.
Before you head out wedding dress shopping, do some research to determine the different styles that are popular and available. It’s a good idea to get a head start on your shopping before you even leave the comfort of your home.
It’s likely you’ve never selected a wedding dress before, so this is all new to you. Even if you’ve been married before, styles may have changed since your last wedding.
Shop From a Reputable Store
There are chain wedding dress stores that you can consider buying from, but there’s a certain type of service you’ll receive from shopping at a small, privately-owned boutique.
You’ll have someone helping you every step of the way to make sure you’re getting what you want. You’ll want to make sure you call ahead to set up an appointment before you stop by.
Take Your Family and Friends with You
It helps to have other opinions of dresses when you’re looking for the special one. Your friends and family can come along to make this process more special, and they can give you their opinion on what they do and don’t like.
You may want to leave the overly opinionated people at home, so they don’t offend you or prevent you from getting the dress that you really love.
This information will hopefully help you as you start shopping for a special wedding dress for your special day. There are so many different styles available, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
Make sure you’re taking as much time as you need, and don’t feel like you have to pick a dress the first time you head to a boutique to do some looking. Every bride is different, and it may help you to remember that you will eventually find a dress that you fall in love with as much as you have fallen in love with your fiancé.
Wedding dress shopping doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be a special occasion that you share with your bridesmaids and family. Just keep reminding yourself that it is not necessary to become stressed out by this process.
You’ll find a wedding dress eventually, whether it takes you a few tries or you’re lucky enough to find a dress right away.
Let us know if the comments below what style you ended up choosing, and we’d love to hear if one of our tips was helpful for you when heading out to shop.
Share this article with any other brides-to-be that you think would benefit from this information.