Though some of you may have dreamed of your wedding dress long before you got engaged, we know there’s a ton of you out there that don’t even know where to start! The different silhouettes, the different waistlines, the arrangement of necklines and sleeves? This can all certainly feel overwhelming if you don’t have the slightest idea of what type of wedding dress style you want to walk down the aisle wearing. But this guide will help! If you learn the A-Z’s of wedding dress styles before stepping into your first bridal boutique, you’ll be able to offer the sales associate more direction as to the type of dresses you’d like to start with. Or if you’re shopping for your wedding dress online, you’ll know what to search for. WGM TIP: Even if you have an idea of the type of style you want, try different ones on! Chances are you might be surprised.
Asymmetric: The asymmetric gown has a strap on one shoulder that drapes across the bustline. It’s flattering for brides who want to show a bit of shoulder and décolletage without baring it all.
Bateau/Boat Neck: The bateau/boat neck gown follows the collarbone almost from shoulder-to-shoulder and is generally cut in more of a straight line. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a more modest neckline.
Halter: The halter gown offers a shoulder-flattering cut in the front with a round neckline at the base of the neck. The straps wrap around the neck, and the back of the dress appears strapless. This is a great option for those who want more exposure in the back of the dress.
High Neck: Like the jewel gown (below), the high neck offers a more modest silhouette, only with a mock neck collar. This dress can have sleeves or be worn sleeveless.
Illusion: The illusion gown offers the modesty of a jewel neckline, but with the general shape of the sweetheart. The material connecting to the sweetheart neckline is usually made with a more transparent material ,so it’s a great option for those who doesn’t necessarily want to go strapless but still want to show off their collarbone and shoulders.
Jewel: The jewel gown has a round neckline at the base of the neck. It’s great for those with a small bust, and is a good option for those seeking a more modest dress.
Off-the-shoulder: The off-the-shoulder gown offers sleeves that dress part of the upper arms. This style has more material than the sweetheart but while still accentuating the collarbone and shoulders.
Portrait: If you’re looking for more material, opt for the off-the-shoulder’s cousin, the portrait. It has a soft scoop from one shoulder to the other, and it’s a great option for those looking to accentuate their collarbones but with a little more dress.
Queen Anne: This neckline with a high collar in the back and a scoop or v-neck in the front is an elegant option for those looking for another more modest option.
Scoop: The scoop neckline is u-shaped and is ideal for just about anyone. The scoop can be cut at varying levels, and it’s traditionally a great shape for those who are set on a dress with straps.
Square: The square neckline has a straight bodice with straps or sleeves that make a 90-degree angle. It’s a great option for those who want something a little more romantic.
Straight Across: The straight across neckline is for brides looking for a strapless option, but don’t necessarily want to reveal a lot of cleavage.
Sweetheart: Arguably one of the most popular styles, the sweetheart neckline actually looks like the top half of a heart and accentuates the décolletage.
V-Neck: The v-neck, like the name suggests, dips down in the front into a v-shape – organically taking the focus away from the bustline.
A-Line: A tamed down version of the ballgown, the A-Line gown resembles the figure “A” (literally) because it is more fitted through the waist and gently gets fuller from the waist to the hem. This is generally a great style for all body types.
Ballgown: This is your princess dress. It has a fitted bodice and poufs at the waist with a dramatic, full skirt. This shape can feel a bit overpowering on more petite frames.
Mermaid: The mermaid gown is one step in the tighter-fitting dress department than the trumpet. The dress is fitted all the way through to the knees, at which the dress then begins its volume. This is another style that is great for women with an hourglass figure.
Mini: The mini dress is well, mini. The skirt should fall above the knee.
Modified A-Line: The modified A-Line is even less dramatic than the A-Lin,e with a skirt that fits a bit closer to the body than the traditional version.
Sheath: The sheath dress drapes straight and narrow from the top of the dress to the bottom. It’s ideal for tall or petite women alike, though it’s not the most forgiving.
Tea-Length: The tea-length gown does not reach the floor. Rather, the dress’s hemline stops between the ankle and the knee.
Trumpet: The trumpet gown is fitted throughout the bodice and the volume begins at mid-thigh. This style tends to look great on women with fuller hips.
3/4 Sleeve: The 3/4 sleeve dress hits midway between the elbow and the wrist, offering a classic and timeless look.
Cap Sleeves: The cap sleeve is a gentle addition to the sleeveless gown with shorter, slight sleeves.
Long Sleeve: The long sleeve gown is for the bride seeking full modesty for her wedding day. This option has full length sleeves that reach the wrist.
Short Sleeve: The short sleeve gown adds enough sleeve for the triceps/biceps, but isn’t as modest as a long-sleeve option.
Spaghetti: The spaghetti strap gown has delicate straps that add comfort without changing the style of the dress too much from a strapless gown.
Strapless: The strapless gown has no straps, and is typically a sweetheart or straight across neckline.
Sleeveless: A sleeveless gown does not have defined straps, rather the dress flows evenly from the shoulders to the hem.
Asymmetrical: The asymmetrical waistline is similar to that of a drop or exaggerated drop waistline, except that the seam is higher on one side than it is on the other.
Basque: The basque waist offers a slimming option with a bodice that falls below the natural waistline and creates a v-shape in the front of the dress.
Drop: The drop waist features a bodice that fits to the mid hip. It’s a great option for those with hourglass figures.
Empire: The empire waist has a seam that hits where the bustline meets the stomach, and the rest of the dress then flows to the hem. This is a good option for those with undefined waists or larger hips.
Exaggerated Drop: The exaggerated drop waist gown is typically seen with trumpet or mermaid style gowns where the bodice is long and meets the volume at the thigh or knees.
Inverted Basque: While the basque has a bodice that creates a v-shape pointing down, the inverted basque is the opposite, with a bodice that has a v-neck pointed upwards towards the bustline. It generally sits higher up near the bustline, more like that of an empire waist than the basque waistline.
Natural: The natural waist dress (which hits at your, you guessed it, natural waist) is one of the most figure flattering options. It works with most body types and works well in many different dress silhouettes.
No Waist/Princess Seams: The princess waistline does not have a defined waistline, rather the seams run vertical from the top of the dress to the hem.
What’s your favorite wedding dress style? Tell us in the comment section, below!