Wedding dress styles, what's the difference?

Wedding dress styles can be expressed using different terms for different parts of the dress, different shapes and different lengths as well as to how formal they are.

In general...the more formal a dress is...the more embellishments there will be. What are embellishments? These are the decorative parts of the dress like the beading work, sequins,any appliques that are sewn onto the dress or special stitching work and those sorts of things.

First, let's talk general shape (or silhouette) of a dress...Wedding dress styles are primarily described according to their shape. Here the some shapes and descriptions:

A-line: This is a classic style wedding dress. It Is fitted through the bodice and flows out to the bottom of the dress. It is a streamline dress with no breaks from top to bottom. The dress shape gets its name from the resemblance to the capital letter "A". It is typically worn with a petticoat to give the dress its shape.

Ball gown: Is fitted through the waist and flares out a lot from just below the waist to the bottom of the dress with layers of tulle and other fabrics. You typically will wear a petticoat under the dress for added flair.

Empire waist: Has a band that goes around the dress that is positioned just under the bust line. The dress then elegantly flows straight down from there. You typically will not wear a petticoat under this style dress. It is meant to flow straight down from the band to the bottom of the dress.

Sheath or Column: Is very slim and narrow, hugging your curves from neckline to the bottom of the dress. You typically will not wear a petticoat under this style dress.

Mermaid: This style is very form fitting! It hugs your curves from your bust to your knees and then flares out from there to the bottom of the dress. You may or may not need to wear a small petticoat that is specially designed for this style dress. If the bottom of the dress has a lot of detail, it will be shown best by wearing a petticoat to hold out the material.

Trumpet: This style is very similar to the Mermaid style. However, the dress is fitted to just about mid-thigh before it flares out (instead of down to the knee). It also has a less of a severe flare than then Mermaid style.

Wedding dress styles are also expressed in terms of length. Generally speaking there are three lengths of dresses:

Floor length – hem of the bottom of the dress just about touches the floor
Tea length – hem of the bottom of the dress is bit below the knee
Cocktail length – hem of the bottom of the dress is just above the knee

Last topic is the style of the neckline. Wedding dress styles will also be described by the type of neckline it has. There are so many styles to choose from, here is an explanation for the more common ones:

Strapless: – This style neckline goes from under one arm pit, straight across your body, under the other arm pit; and does not have any straps to hold it up.

Sweetheart: - This style neckline looks like the top of a heart shape, it arches over the top of each breast and comes to a "V" in the middle. You can either go strapless with this shape or have straps or even sleeves.

V-neck: - This style is quite simply explained as the front of the dress creates a "V" shape. You can have either a very modest dip in the fabric to a very deep "V" extending down between the breast.

Halter: - This style dress basically comes with two straps that connect to the top of the bodice and loop around the back of the neck. You can either have one continuous piece that you have to just slide over your head or have two separate straps that connect in the back of your neck with a button or snap.

Off the shoulder: - This style dress is basically a sleeved dress where the sleeves are intentionally designed to rest just off the shoulders rather than up on your shoulders.

It seems that the most common neckline these days is the strapless or heart shaped strapless. You can find other style dresses with straps and sleeves...just takes a little digging!

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Useful books to help you with your wedding plans:

Wedding planning guide
Planning a theme wedding Wedding speeches
Marriage and wedding vows

Budget Busters:

Guide to wedding savings
Create your own wedding flower arrangements
Cake decorating