Wedding dress shopping can be equal parts fun and heartache. The industry (like many others) has its own language and as an outsider it can be uncomfortable coming in as a newby. To avoid being overwhelmed Team Wedding recommends that you prepare by first learning the key parts of a wedding dress. The second thing to do is to get really comfortable with the hands on approach to wedding dress shopping.
Wedding Dress Lingo: Cheat sheet
At the end of the day this cheat sheet of wedding dress terms is going to help you walk into an appointment with the ultimate level of confidence. You’re going to have a much better experience asking to try on the A-line gown with chapel train and Bobbin lace, than pointing to a sea of white dresses and asking to “try that white gown in the corner”.
- Blusher: loose veil worn forward over face and, after the ceremony, turned back.
- Flyaway: multiple layers that brush the shoulders; usually worn with informal dress.
- Fingertip: several layers of veiling that touch the fingertips.
- Ballet-length/Waltz-length: falls to the ankles.
- Chapel-length: cascades 2 1/3 yards from headpiece.
- Cathedral-length: cascades at least 3 1/2 yards from headpiece.
Wedding Dress Necklines
- High: high band collar; fits close to neck.
- Sabrina: gently follows the curve of the collarbone, almost to the tip of the shoulders.
- Portrait: off-the-shoulder; extra fabric framing the neckline.
- Jewel: round neckline at base of throat.
- Queen Anne: rises high at the back of the neck; sculpts low to outline a bare yoke.
- Sweetheart: shaped like the top half of a heart.
Wedding Dress Fabric
- Brocade: Jacquard-woven fabric with raised designs.
- Charmeuse: lightweight, smooth, semilustrous satiny fabric.
- Chiffon: delicately sheer, a thin, transparent fabric of silk or rayon with a soft finish.
- Crepe: silk or rayon fabric made with crepe yarn, with a slight pebbly texture.
- Eyelet: open-weave embroidery.
- Linen: a cloth made of flax, that is noted for its strength, coolness,and luster.
- Moire: silk taffeta; wave-patterned to glisten like water when illuminated.
- Organdy: sheer, transparent crisp silk or rayon fabric; sometimes printed or embroidered.
- Organza: sheer, crisp fabric like chiffon, but with a stiff finish.
- Silk Gazar: a four-ply silk or man-made fiber; rough in texture.
- Silk-faced satin: smooth, lustrous silk weave with a glossy face and dull back.
- Taffeta: crisp, smooth fabric with a small, crosswise rib.
- Tulle: fine, sheer, open-weave net in silk, nylon, or rayon; for skirts, veils.
- Voile: fine, sheer fabric; more like linen than cotton.
Gown Lengths & Trains
- Short: above-the-knee length.
- Knee-length: hem just covers the knees.
- High-low: hem falls from slightly below the knee to ankle in the front; ankle to train-length in back.
- Midcalf/ballet-length: hem reaches to center of the calf to ankle length.
- Floor-length: hem fully skims the floor.
- Sweep train: shortest train; extends back 8 to 12 inches after touching floor.
- Chapel train: trails 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet from waist.
- Semicathedral train: extends 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet from waist.
- Cathedral: flows 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 feet from waist.
- Extended cathedral/Monarch train: cascades 12 feet from waist.
Wedding Gown Silhouette
- Ball gown: fitted waist and bodice, full skirt.
- Basque: natural waist with V-front.
- Empire: small, scooped bodice, gathers at high waist and has a slender, graceful skirt.
- Princess/A-line: slim fitting; vertical seams flow from shoulders to hem. There is no seam on the waist.
- Sheath: a narrow, body-conscious style indented at the waist or sculpted, following the bust, waist and hips. Perfect for slim brides with easy curves.
Wedding Dress Shopping: Get Used to Lots of Attention
Bridal consultants are there to help and they are very service oriented. You can’t just walk into a bridal boutique, pick a dress, buy it and walk out. Not only are the salespeople willing to help, it’s usually mandatory because of the delicate — and expensive — nature of the merchandise.
They’re also paid on commission so they can be a little pushy (sometimes), be prepared. The great news is that you will be the center of attention and they are all there to make you happy and to help you pick the dress of your dreams.