Whether you’ve been dreaming of your wedding dress for years or are a last-minute bride, choosing the perfect gown can feel like entering a tulle-filled maze. But don’t worry — we’re here to help you navigate this confusing, yet exciting time. This guide will cover everything you need to know about picking the right dress for you.
When it comes to a wedding dress, the neckline is one of the first details guests notice. Designed to frame your face and upper body, the neckline can create a range of different shapes from more structured silhouettes like bateau, jewel or one-shoulder to more romantic styles, like portrait, sweetheart or V-neck. More than just a practical element, the neckline also sets the tone for your entire look.
The bodice is the top layer of your wedding gown that stretches from your neckline to your waistline, covering your bust and midriff. This part of your dress isn’t just functional — it’s also meant to show off your personal style, with many bridal designers offering up embellishments, such as corsets and boning, to give you the structure you want while still looking elegant.
Sleeves are another feature that can make a big impact. Whether you prefer sleeves that offer just a hint of skin, like cap or spaghetti straps, or a statement-making sleeve with more coverage, like puffed or bell sleeves, there is sure to be a style that will fit you perfectly. For the ultimate in romanticism, lace sleeved dresses are always a favorite, while embroidered flowers and sequins are great for adding bold, intricate detail.
The skirt is one of the most eye-catching components of a wedding dress, and it can affect how formal or casual your gown is. The shape and length of the skirt is also determined by the fabric you choose. Satin and silk are often used for their lustrous, shimmering appearance, while others, such as charmeuse and shantung, are more muted and sophisticated.
While there are endless options for skirt lengths, trains can be a true showstopper. Originally used to signify societal rank (the longer the train, the higher the status), modern train lengths include sweep and Watteau, which barely graze the floor for a more casual aesthetic, and cathedral or chapel, which are typically reserved for very formal weddings.
If you’re planning on wearing a long train, it’s a good idea to invest in a bustle, which is a discreet set of hooks or buttons fastened onto the back of your dress that allows you to easily raise and lower the back of your skirt during the reception. While this isn’t a necessary part of every gown, it can make navigating the dance floor easier for you and your guests.
Wedding dress lining is a layer of nude or white fabric that’s sewn on the inside of your gown, usually under the skirt and in front of the bodice. This layer keeps your skirt from being sheer, and it can also add a pop of color to your ensemble if you’re planning on infusing it with botanical prints or other bright embellishments.