Types of Wedding Dresses

We have sorted a few wedding dress designs and listed their advantages and disadvantages of their styles for you!

Wedding Dress Types

Check out a short description of each design? Which design suits you best? 

Have you been flipping through magazines or endlessly browsed the internet in search of the perfect wedding dress? At Stunningly South African, we understand the difficulty that comes with choosing the dress of your dreams. Deciding which style will best suit your body type, what role fabric plays in your decision and your wedding dress budget; are a few among many questions you may have. While style is primarily based on personal preference, the style you choose should be determined by both body type and time of year (season). As your wedding whisperer, we outline and guide you through the different wedding dress silhouettes to help you find the best fit. Pro Tip: Make a list of descriptive words to build the dress style you’re aiming for.

There are a number of wedding dress types or styles and we take you few a few that we think you may like and lean towards. We share some info on the A-Line, Ballgown, Mermaid, Sweetheart, Backless, Boho Chic, Column and Trumpet.

The A-Line

The silhouette of the A-line style fits the waist and flares out at the bottom, resembling an A-shape. This dress style offers more advantages to brides than it does disadvantages. Coined a universally flattering style, A-line dresses suit most body types. Full-figured, rounder bodied women can benefit from the slimming effect of the dress. It accentuates the waist while the flare out effect covers problem areas such as bigger thighs and wider hips.

For petite brides, the A-line style compliments a smaller and slimmer frame by defining the waist and bust. The appearance of added height makes this silhouette style an ideal choice for shorter brides. And A-line dresses allow you to comfortably move around without restricting movement. This wedding dress type is versatile and suits both formal and casual occasions.

Advantages: A universally flattering style proven to suit all body types.

Disadvantages: None, this dress style is perfect in every sense.

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Ball Gown

A dress fit for a princess, ball gowns, also known as the Cinderella dress is characterized by its fitted bodice and a waistline that leads to a dramatic, full skirt enhanced by a petticoat. This classic fairytale type dress allows pear-shaped or bustier women to benefit from the full skirt which places focus on the upper body and creates balance and curves in the right areas. The dramatically full, attention-grabbing skirt allows brides to freely move around.

Ball gowns are show-stopper dresses with a feminine appeal. While they may suit most body types, and effortlessly flatters the brides with fuller figures, it’s an overwhelming gown for petite brides as it can make them look disproportionate with the amount of weight the dress carries. If you’re a bustier bride, a ball gown with an illusion neckline and sleeves will best suit you. Plunging necklines can make you look top-heavy.

Advantages: A romantic dress style perfect for pear and busty body types.

Disadvantages: Ballgowns don’t suit casual affairs. They are best for formal ceremonies.

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Mermaid gowns are best described as the sexy, sleek and sophisticated wedding dress type. The form-fitting style hugs the bust, waist, hips and thighs and flares out just below the knees. The fit and flare characteristics of the Mermaid style dress accentuates a woman’s natural curves and feminine figure. Since the Mermaid design fits the natural shape of the body, women with a bigger waist and wider hips may steer clear of this silhouette as it emphasizes those areas. The Mermaid design is usually a satin gown paired with a ruffled skirt, ruching or beading for an added dramatic effect and wow appeal.

Advantages: The curve-enhancing fit creates the desired hourglass figure and elegantly shows off a woman’s curves.

Disadvantages: Mermaid style dresses are tight and restrict movement, making it difficult to dance comfortably. And you may require assistance from your bridal party when visiting the restroom.

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The neckline of your dress is a crucial element, it allows you to flaunt prominent features and hide flaws. Sweetheart style wedding dresses are a classic style that perfectly portrays romance. The heart-shaped design lengthens the neck and arches over your breasts to either enhance the breasts or to create the illusion of curves. While Sweetheart neckline gowns are known to be a strapless design, this versatile design can feature spaghetti straps, long sleeves or a collar. Sweetheart necklines allow you to effortlessly show off your bust and suits both bustier women and the average-sized women.

Advantages: The shape of the neckline allows you to feel comfortable as it lifts and supports the breasts.

Disadvantages: The Sweetheart design does not suit women with smaller breasts, as the neckline accentuates the bust area.

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Backless Design

If you’re looking to be a little daring and bare some skin, backless designs are perfect. These designs are bold and radiate sophistication. Back-baring designs vary from deep plunges that extend down to the waistline to sleek and sophisticated designs that expose only the shoulders and upper back. What sets backless designs apart from alternative silhouettes is their classy appeal that makes a statement in a flirty and seductive way without revealing too much cleavage or leg.

We love that backless designs are so highly versatile. While loose fitting backless designs are timeless and classic, the form-fitting backless design is both sexy and glamorous. This daring silhouette can feature accessories such as a back chain, is best paired with hairstyles that will make your back the focal point, such as a bun or an elegant updo.

Advantages: This design can be customised in various ways, from fun frocks to sexy and sleek plunging designs. You can pair this design with a back chain and use different materials such as lace to add texture.

Disadvantages: Backless designs may not suit bustier women or those who suffer from unappealing breakouts.

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For the free-spirited bride in pursuit of romance with a soft elegance, a boho-chic style dress is the perfect finishing touch to a bohemian themed wedding. These whimsical dresses feature effortlessly flowing fabrics that are perfect for a laidback garden or beach wedding and equally appropriate for a more formal affair. Long-sleeved, lace bohemian style dresses are both classic and chic. For slender brides, a fitted skirt will
show off all the right curves, while a flowy skirt can help hide a bigger lower body.

A satin boho-chic design is both classic and timeless, while lace and tulle add a more modern appeal to these designs. Elevate your boho-chic style dress by adding detail such as flowers, embellishments, sparkle
or a belt to the design.

Advantages: What’s not to love about a boho-chic dress? They are dreamy, ideal for both summer and winter and effortlessly chic.

Disadvantages: This design may not be ideal for full-figured women.

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Column / Sheath

Column wedding dresses, also referred to as Sheath dresses embody classic elegance in a modern sense. For the lean, athletic figured and hourglass-shaped women, column/sheath dresses are perfect as they accentuate and flatter your figure in a sleek and sexy way.

This polished and sophisticated silhouette is so versatile it will suit any theme; from a simple beach wedding to a classic, bohemian styled wedding. For a chic looking design, fabrics such as chiffon and satin give this vertically designed dress with simple lines a sultry look that demands instant attention. If you’re looking for a silhouette that can be transformed into your desired gown while still keeping its basic shape, you’ll hit the jackpot with the column dress. Elevate your gown by means of embellishments, lace detail or the addition of a belt.

Advantages: The column dress follows the natural shape of your body, making it a design that will fit comfortably.

Disadvantages: The simplicity of the column dress may be deemed as “boring” by some brides, this dress style won’t suit brides wishing to look like a princess in pursuit of her “fairytale”.

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While the Trumpet style dress, much like the Mermaid design falls into the fit and flair category, the notable difference between these two is that the Trumpet wedding gown flares out mid-thigh and the skirt has a more fitted look. This linear cut design accentuates your curves and looks good on hourglass figures. The design elongates the body without restricting your legs, allowing you to freely move around. Paired with a sweetheart neckline, the Trumpet style gown embodies both sexy and sultry. An illusion neckline with lace detail elegantly portrays the romance of the Trumpet style gown.

Advantages: If you’re looking to flaunt your natural curves, the Trumpet design is your best bet. You can freely dance the night away in a Trumpet design wedding dress.

Disadvantages: Since this design hugs the figure and accentuates your curves, it may not be ideal for women who do not wish to bring attention to their hips.

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Finding the right style will come with much trial and error. Be sure to fit different styles to see which best fits your body type and seek input from your bridal party, wedding dress designer or experts when going dress shopping.

Now that you’re one step closer to your dream dress with our wedding dress guide, be sure to check out our bridesmaids dresses category for insight into what makes the perfect bridesmaids dress and current trends.

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