Types of Wedding Dresses: Guide to Silhouettes

Between finding the right silhouette, fabric, and design, wedding dress shopping can seem overwhelming. It's not only about figuring out what you're looking for but also knowing the terms for what you like. That's why we're here to help you discover the perfect dress for you. 

Wedding Dress Silhouettes

Photographer: Adrian Steinbach

Types of Wedding Dresses: Silhouettes

Wedding dresses come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult to determine which style is right for you. Each silhouette will emphasize different parts of your body. Not sure where to begin? Here is crash course on all things silhouette.


Ball Gown Wedding Dress

If you’ve never stopped dreaming about that fairytale wedding moment, then a ball gown dress is perfect for you. It has a fitted bodice with a dramatic flare at the waist. The key to this look is volume, volume, volume!

Ball Gown Wedding Dress

Shop Zinnia Lane by Sottero and Midgley

Mermaid Wedding Dress

If you are looking for drama in your dress then a mermaid is perfect for you. This fitted dress will show off every curve on your body, hugging your bust, waist, hips, and thighs before flaring at the knee.

Mermaid Wedding Dress

Shop Muse by Mori Lee

A Line Wedding Dress

Much like a ball gown, the A line is fitted through the bust and flares at the hips. The main difference is the amount of volume in the skirt. A lines are less dramatic and tend to be less fabric and layers. As its name suggests, the dress gives an “A” shape to the body, accentuating the bust and waist area with a more natural flow than a ball gown.

A Line Wedding Dress

Shop 28025 by Selby Rae

Fit and Flare Wedding Dress

To all you fitted-loving folks at home, this term will be your new best friend. Fit and Flare is one of the most universal terms for form-fitting bridal gowns. This shape will hug your bust and waist and have a subtle flare beneath the hips.

Crepe Fit and Flare Wedding Dress

Shop Espinosa by Willowby

Sheath Wedding Dress

Although sheath is very similar to fit and flare at first glance, this silhouette has straighter lines and tends to fall more naturally on the body. Sheath dresses fall naturally over the hip and flow down. This shape compliments your body without clinging to your hips and thighs.

Sheath Wedding Dress

Shop Marlowe by Wilderly

Empire Waist Wedding Dress

Empire waist dresses hug only the bust and then flares before the waist. This silhouette tends to flow naturally to the ground creating extended lines that elongate the body.

Empire Waist Wedding Dress

Shop Demi by Casablanca

Trumpet Wedding Dress

Trumpet wedding dresses are fitted through the bust, waist, and hips and then have a flare mid-thigh. The silhouette shows off your body without the drama of a large flare in the skirt.

Lacy Trumpet Wedding Dress

Shop 9501 by Allure Bridal

Wedding Dress Fabric: Which Should You Choose?

Now that you’ve discovered what silhouettes you’re interested in, let’s find out what fabrics are going to work for you. Each silhouette tends to have certain fabrics associated with it, so it’s important to know what will and will not work. Along with that, certain materials and textures can change the vibe of the dress, so you’ll want to keep in mind your venue, décor, and mostly your personality to determine which fabrics will fit you the best.

Chiffon Wedding Dress

If you value comfort, chiffon is the fabric for you. This soft, flowy material is perfect for outdoor, backyard, or beach weddings. Chiffon is most often used in A line dresses, giving them a lightweight skirt with minimal volume. This material is difficult to add any applique or lace to, so chiffon dresses tend to have a clean skirt. If you want detail throughout, this material might not be for you.

Beaded Chiffon A Line Wedding Dress

Shop Lorraine by Rebecca Ingram

Lace Wedding Dress

Lace is a great way to add detail to your wedding dress. It is commonly used on both A lines and fitted dresses. There are primarily two categories of lace wedding dresses: knit and embroidered. Knit dresses tend to come in sheets of lace across the dress rather than placed applique. It’s a delicate bridal fabric that has a vintage and boho effect. Knit lace looks stunning with exposed brick venues, in the forest, and barns.

Knit Lace Wedding Dress

Shop Cardin by Wilderly

Embroidered lace comes in the form of applique motifs that are individually placed on the dress. These motifs tend to be more ornate and often have beading on them, giving the dress a dramatic flare. Mansions and churches are perfect for embroidered dresses reflecting their elegant design.

Embroidered Lace A Line Wedding Dress

Shop Joelle by Wtoo

Crepe Wedding Dress

If you are searching for a simple dress, crepe is for you. This lightweight fabric tends to be used on fitted dresses and creates a striking, minimalist look. Crepe looks great at vineyards, beaches, and country clubs. Although this material is comfortable and chic, it tends to cling to the curves of the body, so make sure that’s what you’re looking for if you want crepe.

Long Sleeve Crepe Wedding Dress

Shop Aston by Sottero and Midgley

Satin Wedding Dress

Satin is sleek and dramatic. It is a more structured and heavy material perfect for anyone planning a grand entrance during their ceremony. Both A lines and fitted bridal gowns look great with satin. Your satin dress will make a statement in cathedrals, historical venues, and ballrooms. Make sure to bring a steamer the day-of because this beautiful material can wrinkle easily.

Beaded Satin Wedding Dress

Shop Arielle by Casablanca

Tulle Wedding Dress

Tulle is for all those brides wanting a romantic and whimsical wedding. This material is often layered giving an ethereal effect. Most lace is placed on top of tulle, so if you like detail then a tulle dress just might be for you. And if you don’t like lace, this material stands on its own just as well! This netted material is most often seen on A lines and ball gowns, but, when used as a base for applique and lace, is seen on many fitted dresses as well. Tulle dresses are great for eccentric venues such as brewery’s, mountains, and planetariums, as well as more traditional venues like renovated warehouses, mansions, and golf courses. If you are having an outdoor wedding, tulle looks great in nature but easily gets caught on twigs and grass, so use caution!

 Lacy A Line Tulle Wedding Dress

Shop Audrey by Mori Lee

Wedding Veil Styles: Veils for Brides

Finding a veil for your dress is a great way to complete the look. There are many different types of wedding veils, so here is our guide to finding the right one for you!

Birdcage Veil

If you have a vintage-inspired dress, a birdcage veil is perfect for you. This veil sits on the side of your head and partially covers your face creating a 1920’s inspired look. This trendy veil works well with both clean and lace dresses.

Birdcage Veil

Fingertip Veil

One of the more common veil lengths is a fingertip veil. As in the name, this veil flows down to the hips or the “fingertips.” This length goes great with fitted dresses, usually ending where the flare of the dress begins, but can also be an understated addition to A lines.

Beaded Fingertip Veil

Shop Aria by Kennedy Blue

Chapel Veil

A chapel veil will fall to the floor but won’t have the length or drama of a cathedral veil. This length is great for dresses with small or no trains.

Floral Chapel Veil

Shop Lavinia Veil by Maggie Sottero

Cathedral Veil

Cathedral veils are for the brides who want to add drama to their dress. This veil tends to be around 10-12 feet long, usually extending past the train of the dress. This veil looks stunning with ballgowns and A lines but can be used to spice up any kind of dress.

Black Lacy Cathedral Veil

Shop Zander Veil by Maggie Sottero

Blusher Veil

A Blusher is used to describe a veil that drapes over the face and is removed during the ceremony. Blushers are primarily used as symbols of purity but can also be a great accessory. These veils are paired with other types that stay on the back of the bride’s head. This can be anything from fingertip to cathedral!

Lace Blusher Veil

Beaded Veil

Whether it’s diamantes or pearls, a beading can help tie a veil in with the dress. Pearl veils go well with vintage or ornate dresses, while crystals and diamantes can make a dress even more glamorous. If you are looking for a little something extra for your big day, consider wearing a beaded veil!

Mantilla Veil

Mantilla veils are veils with lace around the trim. It is often scalloped, can range from a thin, dainty lace to a thick, embroidered lace. This veil can be used to match lace on a bridal gown or add detail to a simple one!

Mantilla Veil

Knowing your body and what you want to accentuate is a great start to finding the silhouette that’s right for you. Don’t be afraid to try styles that you might not think you’ll like. Different fits, fabrics, and even veils can change the look of your dress so take the time to research and explore your options.

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