Wedding Dresses by Style
So you can stay true to you on your big day.
If you took a personality test, what would it say? Your wedding dress choice should provide a good idea of the results. Wedding dresses are an outward expression of what's within—from personality to personal style and everything in between—which makes choosing the right one even more important, special, and rewarding. Online, on the runways, and on the racks, there are tons of gowns to choose from. But how can you best navigate all the wedding world has to offer? Ahead, a wedding dress style key to help guide you through the options. We'll give you a general sense of what's out there so you can narrow your search down the road, plus specific designs and designers look out for. And if you're unsure where your style falls, feel free to feel around—how can you know if the shoe fits if you never try it on?
Your wedding dress doesn't have to be formal, long, or even white. The one thing it should be, however, is a true representation of you. Whether you classify as classic, quirky, or something different altogether, prepare to meet your match on the following slides. And as you scroll through the styles, think about your big day, too. We'll give a run-down on the kinds of weddings each dress typically falls into.
Classic gowns take a range of shapes and forms, but the overall feel sticks to an established set of attributes: quiet beauty, sophisticated modesty, and understated elegance. Ball gowns and princess silhouettes are surefire ways to keep traditional, as are sleek, simple dresses with timeless appeal. With its clean, strapless construction and long, trailing train, this Carolina Herrera gown fits the bill. The classic bride is also likely to carry a bouquet of peonies, choose an all-white color scheme, and host her ceremony in a chapel or banquet hall.
A modern dress gives a nod to the contemporary, which can vary from year to year. More generally, modern styles sidestep tradition, whether that means swapping classic for bold, formal for casual, or timelessness for trends. The unique black embellishments on this Vera Wang gown add a bit of edge that feels current and unforgettable. A modern wedding is just that, likely featuring new music, fresh décor, and minimalist details offset by eye-catching add-ons.
Ethereal translates to otherworldly—what better descriptor for these dreamy, airy dresses? Delicate designs, flowing tulle, and floral appliqués are standards of the style, and this Marchesa Notte gown is a perfect example. Ethereal brides opt for soft hues, bright spaces, and dainty details, which can take shape in outdoor ceremonies, muted palettes, and petite blooms.
A preppy wardrobe abides by a few signature rules—it's well-tailored, somewhat sporty, and full of functional cuts with playful patterns. This structured, striped Rosa Clará gown speaks to any diehard prep with its near-boatneck neckline and waistline bow. Pair your preppy gown with pastels and a nautical theme or pre-ceremony lawn games and an old-estate venue.
Whimsical weddings are for creative, lighthearted types—they're fun, charming, and eccentric, with plenty of magical storybook flare. Fluttering, ruffled tiers and fairytale-worthy lace make this Costarellos look a no-brainer for the style (although the shimmering, swirling fabric and illusion details on this Naeem Kahn number are close second). Cascading bouquets, nontraditional accents, and artful ceremony locations will all help tie the theme together.
The unconventional genre encompass a diverse array of dresses—it's unexpected, nontraditional, and features new twists on the classic gown. Separates and jumpsuits are unconventional styles, while non-whites, patterns, and prints are unconventional color schemes. Houghton is a go-to for over-the-top and avant-garde designs, and this pink, cold-shoulder piece is on the tame end! Match your unconventional ensemble with an unknown venue, non-floral arrangements, or creative vows or proceedings.
If your motto is "go glam or go home," you're probably captivated by the opulent, the luxe, and the (classily) flashy. Glamorous wedding gowns often tap into old-Hollywood allure, like this slinky, figure-flattering Elizabeth Fillmore dress. A formal dress code and a bit of sparkle will bring your wedding an even larger dose of charismatic luxury.
Alternative brides are apt to embrace a bohemian look, characterized by free-spirited and informal designs. This lacey Sachin & Babi peasant-skirt dress is as chic as it is unorthodox. We'll make a bet that the bohemian bride has also been eyeing flower crowns, or at the very least, she has something eclectic and rustic in mind for her special day.
Sweet, lovely, and pretty are common descriptors of romantic dresses, which are adored for their ornate, feminine, and historically-influenced compositions. The soft shoulders, delicate sleeves, and flowery lace on this Lazaro gown, for example, give an undeniable air of romance. A bride who wears this dress will also gravitate toward other romantic details, like roses, jewel tones, and beautiful venue landscapes or architecture.
Sensual dresses are wedding-appropriate without hiding the bride's best assets. Form-fitting and feminine, these gowns embrace all bodies. Pnina Tornai is renowned for her sensual designs, like this figure-hugging dress with illusion details and Swarovski crystals. To balance out a sensual gown, you may consider upping tradition in other areas of the wedding—besides, a conservative venue, for example, will keep your dress from getting out-shined.