Wedding dress shopping is an incredible experience, and one that many brides have been excited about for for years. Whether you plan to visit every store around with your entire bridal entourage or find a couple small boutiques with your mother and maid of honor, it’s important to go in with an idea of what you’re looking for.
Before we dive into the different silhouettes, here are a few important terms to remember when it comes to wedding gowns:
Bodice: This is the top of the dress, from the waist (which depending on the dress may not sit on your actual waist) up.
Skirt: The bottom of the dress. Typically made of tulle, organza, satin, or the like.
Embellishment: This is the “decoration” on the dress – think beading, lace, or even flowers.
Train: This is the length of the skirt where it drags the ground behind you. You can find gowns with no train, an extremely long one (cathedral), and everything in between.
Now that we’ve got those basic terms down, let’s talk about the fun stuff!
This is what you think of when you think of fairy tales. It usually has a fitted bodice, and then flairs out at the waist (either naturally or dropped, meaning slightly lower than your natural waist) that flows into a large, full skirt. Great for a dreamy, romantic look.
With a fitted bodice like the ballgown, the A-line also flairs at the waist into a much smaller skirt. The skirt typically resembles the shape of a letter “A” (hence the name), and gives off some of the look of a ballgown, without all the weight and poof.
The bodice of a trumpet is much longer than the previous silhouettes, which accentuates the bride’s figure more. It typically flairs out at the hip into a fuller skirt, giving it a more dramatic look.
Much like the trumpet, the mermaid has a much longer bodice, but it goes all the way down to the knee, showing even more figure than the trumpet. It typically gives a much more modern and dramatic look, since the skirt flairs so suddenly.
A sheath gown is much narrower than other silhouettes. It flows straight from the neck all the way to the floor, and can be very fitted, or have a little more give to it. It’s great for showing off your figure with a much simpler look.
If you’re dreading the thought of a long wedding gown (maybe even just for the reception), a tea-length silhouette is an option. This can be narrow like a sheath or have a fuller skirt, but usually falls between the ankle and the knee, making it less formal and easier to walk or dance in.