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Find your dream wedding dress with this guide on styles, fabrics, accessories, budgeting, and shopping tips for your big day.

Find your dream wedding dress with this guide on styles, fabrics, accessories, budgeting, and shopping tips for your big day.

Choosing the perfect wedding dress is one of the most exciting parts of wedding planning for any bride. Your wedding dress will be the focal point as you walk down the aisle and dance the night away at your reception, so it's important to find the one that makes you look and feel absolutely beautiful. 

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When beginning your search for the ideal wedding gown, start by considering the overall style, theme and formality of your wedding venue and vision. This will help guide you towards silhouettes, fabrics, colors and embellishments to look for in dresses. You'll also want to think about your own style, body type and what flatters you best. Look through bridal boutiques online like, bridal magazines and websites for inspiration on styles you love.

Next, set a budget so you can narrow your search to dresses in your price range. Shop at bridal salons and boutiques that carry dresses fitting your budget. Schedule appointments in advance and allot plenty of time to try on a variety of styles. Bring along supportive friends or family who can provide honest feedback. 

Keep an open mind when trying on dresses - styles often look very different when worn. Take pictures to compare later. Focus on how the dress makes you feel when making your final decision. 

Finding your dream wedding dress can feel overwhelming, but this guide will walk you through all the options so you can confidently choose the perfect gown for your big day!

Types of Wedding Dresses

There are several popular styles of wedding dresses that brides can choose from:

 Ball Gown Wedding Dress

Ball Gown wedding dresses are fitted at the bodice and flared out dramatically at the waist, creating a full princess-like skirt. They are reminiscent of the classic fairy-tale wedding dresses and are perfect for traditional and formal weddings. Ball Gown dresses come with built-in petticoats to create and hold the full skirt shape. This style pairs well with a cathedral veil.

Mermaid Wedding Dress 

Mermaid wedding dresses, also known as fit-and-flare dresses, are fitted through the hips and thighs, and flare out below the knee. This style is perfect for showing off your curves and highlighting your waist. The tight fit through the hips and thighs works best for athletic body types. Mermaid wedding dresses range from having a slight flare to a dramatic trumpet shape. 

A-Line Wedding Dress

A-line wedding dresses are fitted at the bodice and gradually widen from the natural waistline to the hem creating an "A" silhouette. This versatile style flatters most body shapes. An A-line dress is a great in-between from form-fitting dresses and full ball gown dresses. The A-line seam gives you definition while allowing comfortable ease of movement.

 Sheath Wedding Dress

Sheath wedding dresses drape over the body forming a slim-fitting column from shoulders to hem. This simple and elegant style flatters slender figures and is ideal for showcasing beautiful necklines, backs, and accessories. Sheath dresses can have embellishments added to create more visual interest. 

This covers the main types of wedding dress silhouettes brides may choose from for their big day! Let me know if you would like me to expand on any part of this section.

 Wedding Dress Necklines

Choosing the perfect neckline for your wedding dress is an important decision, as it frames your face, shoulders, and bust area. Here are some of the most popular wedding dress neckline options to consider:


A V-neck wedding dress has a plunge in the center of the bust that forms a "V" shape. This style looks great on most body types and draws attention to the neck, face, and bust. V-necks range from subtle and demure to plunging. This neckline elongates the look of the neck and balances out wider hips.


Sweetheart necklines are shaped like the top half of a heart. They accentuate the shoulders and bust by dipping in at the cleavage. This romantic look is flattering on small to medium bust sizes. Sweetheart gowns are a great way to show off toned arms and shoulders.


Off-the-shoulder wedding gowns feature wide shoulder straps that sit below the shoulders, leaving them bare. This style highlights the collarbone, neck, and shoulders beautifully. Off-the-shoulder is ideal for petite brides, as it creates the illusion of height. Brides with broad shoulders can balance proportions with this neckline as well.

Illusion Neckline

The illusion neckline uses a sheer fabric to create the effect of bare skin. Often made of delicate lace, the illusion fabric covers the chest while revealing a hint of skin underneath. The sheer panel can be subtle or plunged deep for a sexy look. Illusion necklines are versatile for any body type.

Halter Neckline

Halter wedding dresses have straps that wrap around the back of the neck, leaving the shoulders bare. This style is striking and sensual, showing off the shoulders, back, and neck. Halter tops provide great support and lift for the bust. A halter neck flatters an athletic build with strong shoulders.

High Neck 

High neck wedding dresses have a closed neckline that reaches up to the collarbone or covers the collarbone. This traditional, elegant style ranges from a refined high collar to a sexy mock turtleneck. High necks slim the bust and shoulders while elongating the neck beautifully.

There are so many neckline options for wedding dresses. Try various styles to determine which flatters your body shape and matches your wedding style best!

 Wedding Dress Fabrics 

The fabric you choose for your wedding dress is one of the most important decisions you'll make. The fabric impacts the overall look, feel and structure of the dress. Here are some of the most popular wedding dress fabrics to consider:


Satin is a smooth, luxurious fabric with a beautiful sheen. It drapes nicely and is perfect for a glamorous, formal wedding gown. Satin wedding dresses come in a variety of styles from sleek, figure-hugging silhouettes to full ballgown skirts. The lustrous look of satin photographs beautifully.


Lace wedding dresses are utterly romantic and feminine. Lace can be used throughout an entire gown or just for accents and details. Vintage-inspired lace with delicate floral patterns is a perennial favorite. More modern lace styles feature geometric patterns or floral appliques. Lace flatters a variety of body types.


Ballet tutus and veils are made from this delicate, netted fabric. Tulle is often used for full ballgown skirts to create a dreamy, ethereal effect. It's very lightweight and pairs nicely with lace or beading. The layers of a tulle skirt move beautifully as you walk down the aisle. 


Crepe is a lightweight woven fabric with a slight crinkled texture. It drapes nicely and is perfect for showing off the natural shape of the body. Crepe wedding dresses have an effortless, understated elegance. The fabric is versatile enough for sleek, minimalist styles as well as softly gathered skirts.


This gauzy, lightweight fabric flows gracefully and gives a dreamy, romantic vibe to wedding gowns. Chiffon works wonderfully for skirts with soft gathers or draped details. It's also ideal for creating a floaty, ethereal look when layered over a more structured underlayer.

The fabric you select can really make your wedding dress vision come to life. Consider the overall look you're going for as well as your venue and season when choosing your fabric.

 Wedding Dress Embellishments

Embellishments like beading, sequins, and embroidery can add gorgeous detail and personality to your wedding dress. Here are some popular embellishment styles to consider:


- Delicate beading - Small beadwork in floral or vine patterns is romantic and timeless. Often seen on lace.

- Bold beading - Heavy, ornate beaded designs make a major style statement. Clustered beads create visual interest.

- Beaded lace - Lace overlays with beaded accents blend texture beautifully. Works well for vintage inspired gowns. 

- Beaded belts/sashes - A beaded waist accent is an easy way to add sparkle.

- Scattered beading - Subtle, singular beads sprinkled across the dress offer a touch of shine. 


- Minimal sequins - Sparsely placed sequins give subtle sparkle. Great for highlighting the waist or décolletage.

- Sequin gowns - All-over sequins make a glamorous statement. Try a sequin top with a flowing skirt.

- Geometric sequins - Angular sequin patterns feel modern and fresh.

- Sequin lace - Sequins combined with lace creates dimension.


- Floral embroidery - Delicate embroidered floral accents look romantic. Especially pretty on illusion necklines.

- Metallic embroidery - Gold, silver or bronze embroidered patterns add striking contrast.

- Vines & swirls - Embroidered vines trailing across the dress are a pretty, organic motif.

- Scattered embroidery - Embroidery used minimally adds sweet pops of texture and visual interest.

The options are endless when it comes to embellishing your wedding dress! Keep your venue and wedding vibe in mind when deciding on the perfect embellished details.

Wedding Dress Sleeves

When selecting a wedding dress, the sleeve style is an important decision that can dramatically impact the overall look and feel of your gown. From classic and romantic to modern and edgy, sleeve options are plentiful. Consider the following popular sleeve styles when choosing your dream dress:


A sleeveless wedding dress is a timeless and elegant option. Strapless, one-shoulder, and halter necklines beautifully showcase the arms, shoulders and décolletage. Sleeveless gowns are ideal for warm weather weddings or for brides who want to highlight their shoulders and arms. A sleeveless dress can be paired with gloves or a sheer overlay for those wanting a bit more coverage.

 Cap Sleeves

Delicate cap sleeves add a romantic femininity to wedding gowns. Sitting just above or on the shoulder, cap sleeves gently drape over the arms, creating a soft, graceful silhouette. Cap sleeves are a great choice for the bride wanting sleeve coverage without the warmth of a full sleeve. They elegantly show off the collar bone and a touch of the arm. 

 Illusion Sleeves

Illusion sleeves have sheer mesh that covers the arm while still revealing the skin underneath. Also called "illusion netting," this sleeve style combines coverage with a sexy, figure-flattering look. The see-through lace or netted fabric creates an alluring, elegant appearance. Illusion sleeves look gorgeous when paired with sleeveless gowns, adding dimension through layered fabrics.

The sleeve of your dress helps convey the mood and formality of your wedding. Consider the climate, your arms, and the style of your gown when selecting a sleeve option that makes you feel confident and beautiful on your special day.

Wedding Dress Trains

The length and style of a wedding dress train can dramatically change the look and feel of a gown. There are several popular train styles to consider:

Cathedral Train

A cathedral train is the longest option, extending 60 inches or more from the waist. This ultra-dramatic train is suited for formal weddings and elaborate venues like cathedrals or ballrooms. The train trails gracefully behind the bride as she walks down the aisle. Cathedral trains make the biggest statement but require extra care when moving around the venue.

 Sweep Train 

A sweep train extends just lightly behind the bride, with a length between 30-40 inches from the waist. This is a good middle ground option that adds elegance while still allowing mobility. The train will gently sweep the floor as the bride moves. Sweep trains work well for various wedding styles from backyard to black-tie.

No Train

Some wedding dresses have no train at all. This streamlined look allows complete freedom of movement and is ideal for outdoor or beach weddings. Dresses without trains have a modern, unfussy aesthetic. Intricate details like beading can be shown off better without a train in the way. Brides aiming for convenience may prefer to go train-less.

The train style should align with the bride's priorities and the formality of the event when choosing a dream wedding dress. A dramatic cathedral train makes a bold statement for formal affairs, while no train suits laid-back celebrations.

 Wedding Dress Silhouettes

Choosing a wedding dress silhouette that flatters your body type is one of the most important decisions when selecting your dream gown. The silhouette is the overall shape of the dress from top to bottom. Each silhouette is designed to accentuate some areas of the body while diminishing others. 

A-Line/Princess Silhouette: This style has a fitted bodice that flares out at the natural waist creating an "A" shape. It's one of the most versatile silhouettes that can flatter many body types. It highlights the waist and elongates the torso.

Ball Gown Silhouette: This dramatic silhouette has a fitted bodice with a full, floor-length skirt. It cinches the waist and creates a romantic, fairy tale aesthetic. The full skirt balances curvier hips and is great for petite brides looking for height.

Mermaid/Trumpet Silhouette: This style hugs the body through the hips and thighs, then flares out dramatically around the knees. It's sexy and sensual, showing off your curves. The tapered skirt slims the hips and elongates the torso.  

Sheath Silhouette: Form-fitting from top to bottom, this style elegantly drapes against the body. It's perfect for showing off an hourglass figure and elongating petite frames. Simple lines keep the focus on you.

Empire Silhouette: This dress has a high waistline right under the bust with a loose, flowing skirt below. It disguises wider hips and creates definition for a smaller bust. The emphasis lands on the shoulders and bustline.

By considering your body's shape and proportions, you can select a wedding dress silhouette that stylishly accentuates your best assets. The right fit will make you look and feel confident as you walk down the aisle.

Trying on Wedding Dresses

When it is time to start trying on wedding dresses, make sure to schedule appointments in advance at bridal boutiques that fit your style and budget. Trying to squeeze in last minute appointments will only add stress! 

When you arrive at your appointment, let the bridal consultant know your vision for your wedding dress and show any inspiration photos you've gathered. Be open minded and try various silhouettes, even if it's not what you originally pictured. You may end up loving something you didn't expect!

It can be helpful to bring along 1-2 people you trust to provide feedback as you're trying on dresses. Having a second opinion from someone you're close with can give you another perspective. Just be sure not to bring too large of a group, as you don't want to become overwhelmed by too many opinions. 

Take photos of yourself from all angles in each dress you try on. It can be difficult to remember details of each dress after trying on so many options. Having photos will allow you to compare the dresses side by side later on. 

Keep an open line of communication with the bridal consultant throughout the process. They are there to help guide you to the perfect dress for your wedding vision. Don't be afraid to vocalize what you like and don't like about each gown.  

The most important thing is that YOU feel beautiful and confident in the wedding dress you choose. Trust your instincts and choose the dress that makes you feel like the best version of yourself!

Wedding Dress Budget 

When budgeting for your wedding dress, there are a few key things to keep in mind. 

Prioritize Your Must-Haves

Make a list of the elements that are absolute must-haves for you in a wedding dress, like a specific fabric, silhouette, or type of detailing. Focus your budget on finding a dress with those features first and foremost. You can save money on extra bells and whistles that aren't as important to you.

Factor in Alterations 

Most wedding dresses need some type of alteration, so make sure to leave room in your budget for tailoring. On average, simple alterations like hemming start around $100, while more complex changes like adding a bustle can be $500+. 

Consider Hidden Costs

There are often extra expenses beyond just the dress itself. Undergarments, headpieces, veils, and preservation can all add up. Leave a buffer in your budget for these additional wedding dress costs.

 Explore Used Dresses

Pre-owned wedding dresses are a great way to score designer names and styles at a fraction of the original price. Check sites like for like-new gowns. Consignment bridal shops are another option for finding pre-loved dresses locally.

Be Flexible

Have some wiggle room in your wedding dress budget and remain open-minded during the shopping process. You may fall in love with a dress that's over budget and decide it's worth the splurge. Just don't blow your entire clothing budget on the dress alone.

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