How to Choose Your Wedding Dress

Wedding dress hanging on arbor at Il Bella Gardens, NC
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Choosing your wedding dress is arguably one of the most enjoyable and exciting parts of wedding planning. I SO wish I had put more time and research into it. During wedding planning I was terribly stressed, and really just wanted this item off my to-do list.

I went to one shop, and loved the first dress I tried on most, so I went with it. Now, is it a beautiful dress? Yes, it is. It wasn’t cheap, and it’s a dress I’ll always cherish. BUT I do wish I had moved slowly during that special time in my life to really savor it. My advice is to go to several boutiques and try on as many wedding dresses as you can (even the ones you think you’ll hate). Above all, take your time. Ideally, this will only happen once in your life.


In this post I’ll start with explaining the 5 main styles of wedding dress, and go into the 6 categories of body shape. After that, I will share which dress type is best for what body shape, and then give information on different types of necklines. Let’s jump right in!

The 5 main styles of wedding dress:

  • 1) Ballgown. A fitted bodice paired with a dramatic full skirt.
  • 2) Sheath/Column. A slim cut that follows the body’s natural shape.
  • 3) Trumpet/Mermaid/Fishtail. Slim through the bodice and hips before flaring out around the knees.
  • 4) A-Line. Trim on the top with a skirt that widens gradually from the hips.
  • 5) Short. Hemlines tea-length and higher. (If you don’t know, tea-length dresses are below the knee but above the ankle).

So which style is right for you? The best place to start is by understanding which style works best on your body shape. Not sure what body shape you are?

The 6 main body types:

  • 1) Hourglass: Balanced bust and hips, defined waist.
  • 2) Pear: Hips are wider than shoulders, defined waist, proportionately slim arms/shoulders.
  • 3) Triangle: Wider on top of the body, wide back, narrow hips and subtle waist.
  • 4) Apple: Voluptuous, full bust, a tummy and round hips and bottom.
  • 5) Athletic/slim: Straight up and down, undefined waist.
  • 6) Petite: 5ft and under, with a small frame.

So now we know the styles of wedding dress, and our body types, let’s see which dress is right for us.

The dress styles, and which is right for each body type:

The Ballgown.

This is best suited for a pear or athletic shape because the layered fabrics below the waist on a ball gown balance out your figure. Similarly, it also helps to disguise larger hips. For athletic brides, a corset with ruching or embellishment gives the impression of a fuller chest. You’ll want to avoid this style if you are petite though because you’ll end up looking swallowed by all the fabric.

Next is Sheath/Column

Illustrated image of a sheath or column wedding dress.

This looks best on a tall, slim shape. The simple lines and also great for adding height to petite brides. You’ll want to avoid this if you’re pear or apple-shaped because it tends to emphasize any lumps or bumps in your figure.

Trumpet/Mermaid/Fishtail

Illustrated image of a fishtail wedding dress

This dress style is best suited for an hourglass shape. This curve-loving dress is the best way to show off your figure. Above all, you’ll want to avoid if you’re pear-shaped because it draws attention to your lower body.

A-Line

Illustrated image of a champagne colored A-Line wedding dress.

This style is flattering on almost all body types. It can be particularly helpful for those with a triangle shape. It is one of the best cuts there is for streamlining silhouettes, helping you to appear taller and slimmer. You will want to take note to avoid this style if you are extremely boyish up top because the volume below your waist will make you appear even smaller.

Short Dresses

Illustrated image of a pink high-low wedding dress

This style of dress is becoming increasingly popular, especially for casual weddings, pre-wedding events, and as a second-dress option for the reception. This style is best suited for an apple shape because it accentuates the waist. In addition, it flatters your calves which can be further elongated by a pair of killer heels. This style of dress is perfect for showing off your legs, dazzling shoes, and your epic dance moves. You may have also noticed that the “high’-low” style is very popular right now! Above all, you will want to avoid this cut if you’re petite because it can shorten your legs.


The last few tips that I will share apart from the dress shape reference the neckline.

The 4 main categories of necklines are:

1) Halternecks. This option adds curves to those who are smaller-chested. It suits someone who is tall and/or athletic and is a great way to balance our broad shoulders. Those with petite shapes or full busts may want to avoid this as you may look smothered in this style.

2) Strapless. This style has been one of the most popular for the past couple of decades. It suits petite brides as it elongates the silhouette. You’ll want to avoid this if you are triangle shape as it further emphasize your shoulders, and of course avoid this style if you are self-conscious about your arms.

3) V Neck. A plunging V neckline is another perfect way to flatter broad shoulders, and looks more modern than a sweetheart neckline. It suits hourglass figures because the v-neck balances out your proportions and is very flattering for your bust. You’ll certainly want to avoid this style if you are self-conscious about showing cleavage.

4) Sweetheart. A sweetheart neckline is shaped like the top of a stylized heart. The heart can be more rounded in the center, or come to a point. This is a perfect way to flatter broad shoulders. 


I hope you found this post helpful, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out! Happy planning!

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