Wedding Dresses: A Guide

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Searching for your dream wedding dress is an exciting part of any brides wedding journey. We’ve all seen the TV shows where brides to be have their teary-eyed, special moment – but where do you begin? In our wedding dress guide we’re talking you through the different styles, budgets, designers and how to start your journey.

Wedding Dress Styles

Choosing your wedding dress style is possibly one of the hardest decisions. Here’s a handy guide to some of the terminology used, and what it all means.

Overall Style

Ballgown: Ballgown dresses have a full skirt flowing from a fitted bodice. They’re one of the most traditional options for wedding dresses, and give a fairy tale type feel to the gown.

A Line :An A-Line dress is a more subtle version of a ballgown. It flows more naturally from the bodice to the floor, with a little less drama but still a lot of volume.

Empire: An Empire dress has a skirt that flows softly from just below the bust. It isn’t as dramatic as an A-line or ballgown, but isn’t fully fitted either. It’s a timeless style that suits a whole range of body types.

Drop Waist: A Drop Wait wedding dress has a fitted bodice, usually as low as the hips, then has a fuller skirt flowing to the floor. It’s a more modern style, and the skirts can be made of all kinds of materials. (We particularly love the feathered ones.)

Mermaid: Mermaid wedding dresses are fitted to the knee, before the skirt flares out adding a little bit of drama. They’re perfect for showing off your figure, and look good with any style train.

Tea Length: Tea Length dresses finish just below the knee. They generally have a few layers to them, occasionally even with bright colours under the traditional outer layer.

Hi-Low: A Hi-low dress is perfect for showing off your shoes while staying floor length (or longer) at the back. It’ a more modern style, particularly favoured by shoe lovers.

Bride and groom portraits 315 Wedding Huddersfield


Sweep: A Sweep is around 6 inches longer than the skirt of the wedding dress. It’s the shortest train style, and works well for relaxed or outdoor weddings.

Chapel: A Chapel is the most common train style. It is usually between 12 to 18 inches long. It’s not over the top, but adds a certain amount of drama to a wedding dress.

Cathedral: A Cathedral train is around 22 inches long, sometimes more. It’s perfect for a grand venue and they look amazing moving down the aisle.

Royal: A Royal is the longest of the trains. They’re over a yard long and are commonly worn by royal brides. They’re extravagant, and not to be chosen for a low-key wedding.

And finally, there’s always the option to have no train at all.

Guests having fun outside Holiday Inn Barnsley Wedding


Lace: Lace is a traditional wedding dress fabric. It adds delicate detail to any dress, and comes in a lot of different styles and designs.

Tulle: Tulle is a light weight, fine netting. It adds a lot of volume to your dress, and is popular for weddings in all seasons.

Satin: Satin is a glossy fabric that feels very soft. It’s made up of silk, polyester and nylon, and is perfect for a classic wedding dress style.

Taffeta: Taffeta is another glossy fabric, but unlike satin it’s very crisp. It was famously used to create Princess Diana’s wedding dress.

Chiffon: Chiffon is a lightweight fabric. It lends itself to a more boho style wedding dress, and is perfect for a wedding abroad.

wedding dress details at Whitley Hall Hotel Wedding


Scoop : A scoop neck can be circular, square or anything in between. It drops towards the bust, but keeps true to its shape.

Sweetheart: A sweetheart neckline quite simply looks like the top of a heart. There are two curved edges, meeting in the middle at a downward point.

V Neck: A Vneck or Plunge neckline drops low towards the bust. It’s one of the more revealing necklines and works well on more contemporary gowns.

Strapless: A strapless dress simply has no straps or sleeves at all.

Halter: A Halter neckline has one strap that runs around the back of the neck. This is generally used in backless wedding dresses, and gives coverage right up to the collarbone.

Sleeves: Sleeves on wedding dresses can be a topic all of their own! From spaghetti straps to full length sleeves, it’s worth taking a look at all your options in this department. You may be surprised at what works for you.

Wedding dress from Bridal Outles


Finally, when it comes to your wedding dress you need to consider he theme of your day. If you’re going to be married in an outdoor ceremony on a farm location, a full ball gown with royal train probably isn’t going to be the most practical dress choice. Similarly if your venue is a castle, a dress covered in flower decoration may not be a good fit.

In addition to thinking about your theme, it’s important to think about comfort and practicality. A summer wedding may call for a lighter fabric with short sleeves, where a winter wedding may need sleeves or even a cape to give you additional warmth. Telling your bridal consultant about your day will help them to direct you to the most appropriate dresses for your wedding.
Your Budget
No matter what part of your wedding you’re shopping for, you’ll need to consider your budget. The biggest tip we can give you when it comes to dress shopping is this.
Do not try on a dress that is over budget.

This means doing your research before you make any appointments. Boutiques generally have a price range, so it’s always worth asking before you go and try on. The last thing you’ll want to do is fall in love with a dress that you can’t afford.
Make sure you take the additional bits into account too. Your veil, hair accessories, jewellery, and shoes – they all add up quickly. Also consider any alterations you may need and factor those in too.

Bride and Groom kiss on the steps outside Wentworth Church


There are more wedding dress designers available than we can possibly count, but they all have their own style. Whether you’re looking for a timeless and classic or a modern and whimsical style, there will be a designer for you.
We recommend heading to Pinterest or Instagram to create an idea of the styles you love. The images are usually tagged with the designer, and from there you can research which local boutiques stock the dress look you love.

The wedding dress before it's worn at Bagden Hall Hotel Wedding

First Steps

So, we’ve given you a heap of information. Now what?

The first thing you’ll need to do is work out your budget. When you’re happy, get collecting! Head to Pinterest, cut out images from magazines, whatever you need to do to create your dress mood board. When you’ve got an idea of the designers you’re interested in, find your local stockist that’s within your budget and make some appointments.
Keep an open mind, listen to the professional advice and we promise you will find the dress of your dreams.

Curious as to where the wedding dress train came from? So were we. Take a look at our Wedding Traditions Explained: The Wedding Train post to find out more.