Look. I get it. Maybe you weren’t actually looking for ball gown wedding dresses when you walked into the bridal salon. Maybe you were thinking more in a sheath or A-line direction. But then you saw that dress, and now you’re trying to talk yourself out of …A sweeping skirt. A classic bodice. A jaw-dropping silhouette. A stunning ball gown that has the nerve to be totally dreamy.
If you’re a bride-to-be who is at all insecure or nervous (or whose relatives have a lot of opinions about the gown for the big day), you’re likely to second-guess yourself about the dress. So much expectation and socialization is wrapped up in the main part of your wedding ensemble, and you’re likely to find you have some expectations around that – expectations you weren’t even aware of until you started narrowing down your dress options. Plus, it’s a shopping experience, and while shopping for your wedding dress should be one of the biggest pleasures of wedding planning, it’s normal for some stress to creep in. You’re making a big decision that will be immortalized in photos. No matter what your body type, you might be feeling some pressure to drape it just right (and since ball gowns look great on every shape, they’re likely to be the style that tempts you!) Gowns that are in any way attention-getting or over-the-top can bring out those common bridal worries, making it more difficult to feel decisive when you’re choosing the dress. And there’s nothing more charismatic than a ball gown wedding dress.
Reason #1: You deserve it.
You have a list of reasons you can’t splurge or go beyond the understated when you pick your wedding dress. Maybe you’ve spent lots of time working your legs and you feel guilty about hiding them. Maybe you’re invested in people thinking of you as low-maintenance and super-practical, and you worry a fantasy bridal look might contrast with that image. Maybe all the pictures you marked in the magazine were tea-length A-lines, and you’ve already kind of hinted that’s what you’re looking for. Now take a deep breath and let those reasons go. It’s your wedding. If you love that ball gown, you deserve to wear that ball gown, and everyone will think you look fantastic in it.
Reason #2: Ball gowns aren’t that over-the-top, anyway.
Yes, yes, all the jokes comparing stuck-up brides to French pastries or decadent aristocracy assume a fluffy ball gown wedding dress. But it’s not the dress that makes it so! The cheap laughs come because ball gowns are instantly recognizable as wedding dresses. There are other occasions you might wear a white sheath, but a full-on gown? That says “bride” very clearly, so it’s a simple shorthand in wedding-themed comedies. In reality, ball gowns can be crisp and clean-lined, too, like Calla Blanche’s plunging vintage-modern Paulette.
Reason #3: There’s so much style variation.
Want a romantic, straight-out-of-a-Victorian-novel wedding aesthetic? There’s a ball gown for you. Casablanca 2194 has my attention for that look.
Maybe you prefer the exact opposite: something modern and theatrical, very much you, and a little unexpected. There’s a ball gown that suits that look, too. (Rory by Maggie Sottero?) Just look at those delicate beaded straps – and it has pockets!
Reason #4: You really could dance all night.
If you’re planning a rocking club dance party, you might want to pick something shorter for the reception, but if you’re taking waltz lessons with your honey, a ball gown is just the thing to show it off. Imagine your skirt sweeping along the floor, swirling around you in the perfect turn. Well, it takes a traditionally structured dress to get that kind of drama, and ball gowns are just the ticket.
Reason #5: They’re unbelievably flattering on just about everyone.
What’s your body type? Never mind – there’s a ball gown that brings it out just right. Curvier women often find they’ve never looked better than when they don the grace and gravitas of a ball gown (with a full skirt and fitted bodice to emphasize the waist and bust). Taller girls get an angelic, statuesque effect when they accentuate their height with a wide, floor-skimming hemline. And petite frames get all-eyes-on-me scale from a ball gown – just pick a curve-enhancing neckline so the dress doesn’t overwhelm a smaller lady. And if you’ve discovered you love yourself in layers of tulle, but can’t let go of a sexy figure-hugging fit, there are always dropped-waist ball gowns with elongated, sculpted bodices – like the drama-rich Allure Couture C405.
Reason #6: Two words: Full coverage.
Maybe you’re just more comfortable covered up. Maybe conservative family members in the front row of the groom’s side, or the priest who has performed all your sacraments and intends to do this one, are lovingly cramping your style. Maybe your dream venue had a great booking deal … in mid-January. There are many reasons to look for a modest cut that still feels glamorous and special, and ball gowns are where you’ll find that winning combo! (But if you also want to look sexy at the reception … even the skimpiest ball gown bodice looks great with a jacket or crop top layered over it.)
Reason #7: It actually gives you more options for bridesmaids’ dresses.
The rule of thumb for wedding parties is that your bridesmaids should wear a slightly less formal silhouette than the bride (unless you’re going with the same cut in a different color, but hardly anyone does that in the twenty-first century). Some brides balk from ball gowns because their ‘maids have requested a simpler style they can wear again, and they fear that understated bridesmaids won’t look right with a ball-gowned bride. However, a ball gown for the bride can actually expand the options for bridesmaids. Suddenly a floor-length gown (which everyone can cut to their preferred length after the big day) makes a great tableau on either side of your bold, ballooning skirts. Or if you want a short bridesmaid frock, why not go retro and pick out swingy 1950s-inspired dresses? A ball gown can certainly hold its own with a flock of petticoated charmers in the wedding party! And cool accessories won’t compete with a glamorous old-world silhouette for attention at the altar.
Reason #8: When will you get another chance?
It’s overwhelmingly likely that you’ll only wear your wedding dress once, and you might as well make it count! How often in your adult life are you going to get to wear a skirt that grand? Carpe diem! If what you really want is a sexy blush mermaid gown that will make Aunt Prudence gasp, you should find a way to make it work, right? If what you really want is an artsy couture dress with daring asymmetry, your wedding is the time to get what you truly desire. And if what you truly desire is a ball gown, well … I think I’ve made it pretty clear you’ve got me on your side! Do you have a Pinterest board full of ball gowns, or are you lukewarm about the lavish style? How do you think a ball gown wedding dress can be best accessorized? Tell us about it in the comments!