Wedding Dresses

A Guide to Wedding Dress Styles

Some brides begin the wedding planning process knowing exactly what kind of dress they want, with little or no idea of what the wedding itself may look like. Others know what kind of wedding they want but haven’t put much thought into a dress, while some women are starting with a completely blank idea slate. Whether you have your heart set on a particular dress style, wedding or neither, understanding the different dress styles and which work best for certain wedding styles is critical to picking a dress that will look – and feel – great on your special day.

Before beginning the dress shopping process, a bridal shop that’s worth their salt will first want to know what kind of wedding you’ll be having. Indoors? Outdoors? Formal? Informal? Beach? Courtyard? Large? Maybe you don’t have your mind set on a certain kind of wedding, but you know what kind of dress you want. A good bridal shop will consult with you to plan out the key details of your wedding, helping you “build a wedding” around your dream gown, or vice versa.

Before shopping, however, you should know what types of gowns are available and what settings they work with best.

Ball Gown Wedding Dresses

Perhaps the most classic formal style wedding gown, ball gowns range widely in style, fabric types and price range. Ball gowns offer the classic “princess” look, with a close-fitting bodice and a full skirt. While many ball gowns are strapless, they may also come in halter top, tank top, shrug shoulder or sleeved styles. Skirt styles vary widely, from satin skirts and trains to taffeta or full tulle ballerina style skirts.

Ball gowns tend to work best with formal wedding settings. Indoor weddings are the ideal setting for ball gowns, especially those with trains, as they are typically heavier gowns that are not ideal for warm outdoor weather and lots of outdoor movement. Because ball gowns tend to use more material, these gowns tend to fall in a higher price range than lighter, more informal gowns.

Mermaid Wedding Gowns

Similar to ball gowns, mermaid wedding dresses typically work best in formal, indoor settings due to the amount and weight of the dress’ fabric. Mermaid gowns are fitted through the waist, hips and upper thighs, gathering into a skirt at the knees or below, offering a fun, modern twist on the traditional formal wedding gown. Ideal for hourglass and slim body types, a mermaid wedding dress can be the perfect centerpiece to a winter wedding or other indoor formal wedding.

Vintage Lace Wedding Dresses

Vintage lace gowns have long been a traditional favorite for brides who favor a romantic, elegant look. Wedding dresses featuring lace are typically long, and may have long, sweeping lace trains. Vintage lace may be incorporated in the dress as an overlay, or as part of the dress’ embroidery; some styles feature sheer lace collars or sleeves, such as the dress worn by Kate Middleton during the royal wedding.

A favorite for formal weddings, vintage lace gowns can also be an elegant way to dress up a smaller, less formal wedding. Brides who want to allocate more of their wedding budget to the dress may choose a beautiful vintage lace gown. Some vintage lace gowns that are shorter and without a train may be ideal for outdoor settings.

Informal Wedding Gowns

Dresses that are best suited for informal weddings vary widely in style, but they have a few key features in common: they have no train or a removable train, are made from a lighter fabric such as organza, chiffon or taffeta, are typically less ornate and tend to offer lower pricing. Informal wedding gowns do not have to be short, although some may be tea length or even above the knee. The lighter weight, freer movement and lower pricing of informal gowns are ideal for outdoor and informal settings such as beaches, vineyards or barns – three of the many settings which are popular for West Michigan destination weddings.

Short Wedding Dresses

For outdoor weddings – especially smaller, informal weddings – short wedding gowns are the perfect solution. While may wedding dress designers do make a small selection of tea length and short wedding gowns, a bride searching for a short wedding dress will find her style options broaden significantly when she expands her search to bridesmaids dresses. Bridesmaids dresses are almost always available in white or ivory, and no one will be able to tell that the dress was chosen from the bridesmaid section of the catalog.

Short wedding dresses and white bridesmaid dresses tend to offer much lower price points as well, making them the perfect solution for a low budget informal wedding.

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