The Most Common Wedding Dress Embellishments, Explained

Learn about seven popular gown details, from lace appliques to crystal beading.

jessica brian wedding dress detail
Photo: Abby Jiu Photography

After finding your dream wedding dress, it's time to think about adding any finishing touches, otherwise known as embellishments. These details instantly elevate any gown, transforming a wedding dress you love into something that's unique and personal to you. According to Kaitlin Nonko, manager at anna bé bridal boutique, embellishments aren't just pretty-they can be functional, too. "Embellishments like border trims often give a gown a finished look," she says. "And a trend we're seeing more is bride's choosing very revealing gowns with embellishments creating a sexy yet elegant look by covering unwanted exposure."

While embellishments aren't necessary, brides-to-be should still know which options are available to them. Here, everything you need to know about seven most common wedding dress embellishments: lace appliques, beading, sequins, border trims, pearls, fringe, and ribbon.

Lace Appliques

Lace appliques are pieces of fabric cut into different shapes (like flowers or swirls), then attached onto the wedding dress. They add dimension when placed in strategic locations, like on a plunging neckline, open back, or flouncy skirt. Most lace appliques are white, and they're generally sewn onto sheer or nude-colored pieces of fabric on the gown, but if you prefer a different look you can work with your alterations specialist to understand the options available with your specific dress.


If you like the look of a beaded wedding dress, you have lots of options. Crystal and glass beads are the most popular beaded embellishments, and they come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, so your seamstress can apply beading to create a look that's as subtle or ornate as you like. For just a hint of detailing, consider applying them to localized areas like the neckline or bodice; alternately, if you prefer a glamorous look, a fully-beaded gown will ensure you turn heads on the big day.


Some brides are scared of sequins, but there's no reason to be. These shiny disks add iridescence and glimmer to a wedding dress, not full-on sparkle (unless, of course, that's the look you're going for!). Just the right amount of sequins will help your dress shimmer as you move about the party.

Border Trims

If your wedding dress feels unfinished, Nonko says you may want to add a border-many brides feel this gives them the "finished" effect they're looking for. These decorative edges often come as ruffles, scallops, florals, and braids.


Similar to beading, pearls are attached to a wedding dress to add detail and dimension. Whether you go natural or faux, pearl elements look especially nice along the bust and bodice. They're also a nice option in place of classic buttons.


When you cut a piece of fabric into countless tiny threads, you end up with fringe. Brides who love a bohemian aesthetic will sometimes add fringe to their sleeves or train. When incorporated throughout the entire dress, the fringe can lend your dress a 1920's flapper vibe.


If the back of a gown needs extra "wow" factor, consider adding ribbon tied into a bow. This feminine material, which comes in many colors and fabric, also works well tied around the waist in lieu of a belt.

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