Getting married is one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life. Finding the perfect wedding dress is often the crowning moment. With so many options to choose from, it can feel overwhelming trying to find a gown that flatters your body type and reflects your personal style. This comprehensive guide will walk you through how to select wedding attire that celebrates your unique figure and flair.
Elements to Consider When Shopping for a Wedding Dress
Choosing a wedding dress is about more than just finding something white and pretty. Here are the key factors to keep in mind during your search:
Your Body Type
The cut, shape and silhouette of a wedding dress can accentuate or downplay certain features. Knowing your body shape will help you choose styles that flatter your form. The main categories are:
- Hourglass: Proportionate bust, defined waist and curvy hips. Look for fitted gowns to show off your shapely figure.
- Pear: Fuller hips with a defined waist. A-line or trumpet styles will balance curves.
- Rectangular: Minimal difference between waist, hip and bust measurements. Opt for fitted bodices to create a waistline.
- Inverted Triangle: Broad shoulders and bust with narrower hips. Accentuate your waist with wraps or sashes.
- Apple: Fuller midsection and undefined waist. Seek out empire-waist gowns to emphasize the bust over the midriff.
Your Wedding Venue
The location of your ceremony and reception should influence your attire choices. A ballgown works beautifully in a grand cathedral but may overwhelm an intimate outdoor setting.
- Formal, Large Venues: Go for dramatic ballgowns, full skirts and long veils.
- Outdoor Venues: Lightweight chiffons, laces and silks move fluidly outdoors.
- Beachside: Unstructured fabrics like chiffon and shorter lengths are beach-friendly.
- Rustic Barns: Embrace the natural setting with relaxed gown silhouettes and lightweight materials.
Season of Your Wedding
Weather impacts what fabrics and styles will be comfortable. Here are seasonal considerations:
- Spring: Light fabrics like chiffon and tulle work well as temperatures warm.
- Summer: Avoid heavy satins or velvets that may cause overheating. Opt for a slip dress or lightweight sleeves.
- Fall: Embrace autumn hues! Look for rich fabrics like velvet in wine tones and burgundies.
- Winter: Complement the scenery with romantic fabrics like lace or satin. Look for options with sleeves or a shawl to stay warm.
Your Wedding Theme and Style
Your gown sets the visual tone for the event. Seek out silhouettes and embellishments that align with your wedding style:
- Classic and Formal: Timeless ballgowns and A-line dresses evoke traditional elegance.
- Rustic Chic: Relaxed silhouettes like a lace sheath or tulle skirt suit laid-back affairs.
- Vintage: Embrace a bygone era with tea length hemlines, sleeve details and satin fabrics.
- Bohemian: Flowy cottons, crochet lace and floral embellishments have an ethereal, whimsical vibe.
- Minimalist: Streamlined silhouettes and unembellished lines create understated allure.
The venue, season and theme of your wedding should guide your gown selection. Keep these details in mind as you shop.
Wedding Attire and Styling for Common Body Shapes
Now that you understand the elements that impact your dress choice, here are flattering options tailored to specific body types:
Hourglass Figure Wedding Dresses
With an hourglass physique featuring a slim waistline and proportional hips and bust, your options are plentiful! Accentuate your assets with these shapely styles:
- Mermaid and Trumpet Silhouettes: These narrow through the hips and flare out at the knees, perfect for showing off hourglass curves.
- Fit and Flare: A fitted bodice hugs your waist then floats away from the body in a full skirt.
- Sheath: Form-fitting from top to bottom, a sheath gown celebrates your figure. Add a dramatic slit or low back detail!
- Dropped Waist: This elongates your silhouette and defines your waist. Go for a lower waist seam to really emphasize your hourglass shape.
- Add definition at your natural waistline with a belt or sash.
- Show off shapely arms and décolletage with sleeveless or off-the-shoulder necklines.
- Incorporate texture with lace or beaded appliqués over the bust and hips.
Apple Body Type Wedding Dresses
With a rounded midsection and undefined waist, drawing attention upwards is key for an apple shape. Seek out gowns with these apple-flattering features:
- Empire Waist: A dress with a high waist seam hits just below the bust to disguise the midsection and create shape.
- A-Line: This universally flattering silhouette hugs the bust and flows out from the waist down to deemphasize the midriff.
- Ballgown: The fitted bodice and full skirt create the illusion of shape while masking the midsection in swaths of fabric.
- High Necklines: Illusion mesh, jewel neck collars and off shoulder necklines add interest up top.
- Add shape with a structured bodice like lace-up corset backs or boning.
- Draw the eye up by accessorizing with statement earrings, a dramatic necklace or lace/beading around the décolletage.
- Cinch just under the bustline with a ribbon sash or belt.
Pear Body Type Wedding Dresses
For brides with narrow shoulders, larger bust and defined waist tapering to wider hips, the goal is to add volume and definition through the shoulders while balancing out curvy hips. Ideal dress silhouettes include:
- A-Line: The bodice hugs the curves while the skirt flares out to downplay the hips. This is one of the most universally flattering gown styles.
- Ballgown: The fitted bodice balances the bottom half while the voluminous skirt hides wider hips.
- Modified A-Line: This shape provides more control around the hips than a traditional A-line while still letting the skirt flow.
- Sheath with Flare: A close-fitting gown with a trumpet flare at the knees or just below provides shape without clinging to the hips.
- Draw the eye up with an off-the-shoulder or boat neckline. Cap sleeves also balance proportions.
- Look for strategic ruching at the hips for control.
- Cinch the waist to emphasize your shape (but avoid anything too tight across the hips).
Inverted Triangle Body Type Wedding Dresses
For an inverted triangle shape featuring broad shoulders, generous bust and narrow hips, the aim is to soften sharp lines while accentuating your lovely legs. Flattering dress options include:
- A-Line: The skirt flows gracefully from the waist to downplay broad shoulders.
- Ballgown: The exaggerated full skirt contrasts with the bodice to add balance.
- Empire Waist: Highlight the narrow lower half with a bodice ending just below the bust.
- Slip or Sheath Dress: A streamlined gown with narrow straps shows off your collar bones while celebrating slim hips.
- Soften sharp lines by draping fabric across your décolletage. Look for cowl necklines or cape overlays.
- Draw the eye down with detailing around the hem like embellished trim or an asymmetric cut.
- Accentuate your waistline with a structured bodice or embellished belt.
Rectangle Body Type Wedding Dresses
For brides with minimal curves and similar bust, waist and hip proportions, the name of the game is creating shape. Complement your figure with:
- Fit and Flare: A fitted bodice with a full skirt adds curves while cinching in the waist.
- Mermaid: This style hugs close until below the knees where it flares out, emphasizing your waistline.
- Sheath with Dramatic Neckline: A curve-hugging sheath gown makes a statement when paired with a unique neckline like a deep V or cut-outs.
- Illusion Fabrics: Sheer panels, lace and mesh insets around the waist give the illusion of shape.
- Draw attention to your waist by cinching it with a thick belt or sash.
- Look for strategic panelling, embellishments and fabric textures to add visual interest.
- Go for a dramatic neckline like an off-the-shoulder look to highlight your collarbone and décolletage.
Plus Size Wedding Dresses
Curvy brides, celebrate your beauty by enhancing your assets! Keep these style tips in mind:
- Empire Waist: A dress that cinches just below the bust flatters a fuller bust by showcasing the décolletage.
- A-Line/Ballgown: These styles drape gracefully over curves while drawing eyes upwards.
- Mericmaid: Adding definition at the waist and emphasizing your hourglass shape. Just be sure the narrow skirt is stretchy enough!
- 3⁄4 Length Sleeves: Flatter fuller arms while also providing great coverage for wedding season.
- Avoid: Boxy shapes, jersey fabrics, straight skirts, spaghetti straps.
Embrace gowns that beautifully accentuate your voluptuous figure!
Wedding Attire for Petite Brides
Petite brides under 5’4”, avoid being overwhelmed by overpowering silhouettes. Seek out gowns with:
- Defined Waist: Cinching in the narrowest part of your torso gives the illusion of height.
- Vertical Interest: Look for a deep V-neckline, lace-up back, flowing panels, embellished trim, a long sheer overlay, or a thigh-high slit.
- Delicate Details: Beading, lace or layered fabrics add visual interest without volume.
- Higher Neckline: Off-the-shoulder, illusion neckline and jewel collars elongate the look of the neck.
- Sheath Silhouette: A curve-hugging dress gives you a long, lean line.
- Hem Length: Floor-length adds presence, while tea-length shows off the legs.
Wedding Attire for Tall Brides
Stand tall and proudly at your wedding in gowns tailored for your statuesque frame! Ideal styles include:
- Two Piece Set: Breaking up your look with a cropped top and skirt prevents looking overwhelmed.
- Defined Waist: Cinch in your narrowest point to highlight your long torso.
- Ballgown Skirt: Having ample fabric in the lower half balances broad shoulders.
- Deep-V Neckline: Create vertical interest while elongating your neckline.
- Shorter Veil: Floor or waist length veils don’t overpower.
- Higher Hemline: Tea length or above offers leggy elegance.
Flaunt your height by choosing silhouettes, necklines and hemlines that complement your frame!
Wedding Attire Styling for Common Wedding Dress Codes
Wedding attire varies based on the formality established on the invite. Here is what’s appropriate for popular dress codes:
This “formal” code calls for dark tie suits for men and opulent floor-length gowns for women.
Women: Opt for a ballgown, A-line or mermaid silhouette in luxurious fabrics like satin, taffeta or velvet.
Men: Wear a black tuxedo, white dress shirt, formal shoes and a black bow tie.
Black Tie Optional
Guests may get glamorous in formal attire or simply smart cocktail wear.
Women: A cocktail dress, dressy jumpsuit or dressy separates like a skirt and topper.
Men: Dark suit with a tie or tuxedo if they desire.
This “cocktail attire” dress code means dark colored suit and tie for men, dress or pantsuit for women.
Women: Cocktail dress, pant suit, or dressy skirt. Knee to tea length hemline.
Men: Pair a sport coat with dress pants, button down and tie. Loafers work for shoes.
Lightweight chic fabrics and styles that suit the sand.
Women: Cocktail dress, caftans, jumpsuits. Embrace prints and brighter hues.
Men: Lightweight sports coat or dress shirt with pants, loafers or boat shoes.
Every day smart separates work for a laid-back vibe.
Women: Sundress, skirt, nice top, wedges or sandals.
Men: Khakis, polo, casual button-down, loafers or canvas sneakers.
Use the dress code as your guide to find wedding guest outfits that meet expectations!
Unique Non-Traditional Wedding Attire Ideas
Tired of the same old wedding wear? Take the plunge with these creative alternatives:
Sleek and chic, bridal jumpsuits range from minimalist crepe to embellished lace. Pair with a veil and heels for drama! For guests, sequin, satin, or printed jumpsuits make a modern statement.
A bridal cape layered over a gown or jumpsuit adds ethereal volume. Or wear one solo for an untraditional look. Guests might opt for a lace or satin cape over their dress.
Mixing a cropped or corseted top with a voluminous skirt offers ease of movement and a contemporary vibe. Guests can also rock the look with a skirt and beaded top.
A tailored bridal pantsuit feels refined yet modern. Guests might choose velvet, silk or printed pants with a matching blazer.
Shimmer in gold, silver or mercury grey! Liquid metallic fabrics elevate nontraditional wedding wear from simple to spectacular.
Today’s brides can rock sleek cocktail dresses, mini skirts, and knee-length hems. Show some leg for your big day!
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Splashes of Color
Don’t limit yourself to white! Add pops of color with a two-tone dress, bright heel or colorful veil. For guests, embrace rich jewel tones and punchy prints.
Get inspired by these trend-setting alternatives to traditional wedding attire. The most important thing is finding an outfit that makes you feel like your best self!
Frequently Asked Questions About Wedding Dresses and Attire
Here are answers to some common questions about selecting wedding dresses and attire:
What are the most flattering wedding dress styles for plus size brides?
Empire waist and A-line/ballgown silhouettes beautifully complement curvier figures. Mermaid can also be nice for an hourglass shape. Look for dresses that cinch the waist, with 3⁄4 length sleeves, and avoid boxy shapes or spaghetti straps.
What should petite brides avoid when wedding dress shopping?
Avoid massive tulle ballgowns, voluminous skirts and sheer, billowing fabrics that will overwhelm a small frame. Steer clear of high necklines or strapless dresses that cut your torso short.
How soon before the wedding should you buy a dress?
It’s best to shop for a wedding dress 8-10 months in advance to accommodate ordering, tailoring and alterations. Ordering off the rack too far ahead risks issues with fluctuating weight.
What do you wear to a beach wedding?
Light, flowing fabrics like chiffon, crepe and lace work well seaside. Hemlines above the ankle and lightweight open-toed shoes keep you cool and sand-friendly. Embrace prints and bright colors!
Can you wear black to a wedding?
It’s best to avoid wearing all black, which may look somber. However, incorporating black through accessories or prints is fine. Check with the couple if unsure.
What should mother of the bride wear?
Moms should coordinate colors with the wedding palette. Appropriate attire depends on formality, but knee to tea length dresses or dressy pantsuits are common. Don’t try to upstage the couple!
Finding your dream wedding attire is a joyful journey! Let your body shape, venue, season and style guide you towards the silhouette, fabrics and details that help you shine. Keep an open mind when trying on different kinds of dresses. You never know what will make you glow until you slip it on!
With a myriad of options from glamorous ballgowns to contemporary pantsuits, embrace what flatters you best. The right wedding outfit showcases your unique beauty while blending seamlessly into the special day’s vision. Confidently wearing attire that reflects who you are inside and out allows your inner radiance to beam.