Wedding Dress 101

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Your wedding day is arguably one of the most dreamt about days of your entire fabulous life. A dream man, a beautiful ring and a swoon-worthy dress unite on one single day. Speaking of the dress, that can honestly be the hardest part. Being fashion-minded and decisive enough to decide on one gown to match your dreams and expectations – with not breaking the bank – can be tough. There are seemingly endless silhouettes, necklines, variations of white and details – enough to make your engaged head spin.

I teamed up with the bridal beauties Rita and Kayse, from Pure Bridal to help sort through the beaded, lacy and white chaos. Here is your all-inclusive guide to silhouettes, necklines, styles and accessories to flatter and fit your event with styles that won’t break the bank (all are under $2,000).


1. The Ballgown: equal parts regal and dramatic, this style is not for those “minimalists” out there. With an err towards traditional, especially this particular, Jackie O inspired number. This shape flatters many body types because it accentuates your waist and flatters your bust. Are you classic or a traditional? This shape might be your perfect fit.

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<< Casablanca ‘Onassis’ Gown – $1,123 >>

2. The Full A-line: This dress gives you a “Cinderella” moment without all the fuss of a ballgown. This silhouette is ideal for most sizes, especially the curvier ones. For brides with a slimmer and straighter figure, it gives the illusion of curves. For everyone, it will elongate your body, giving you the appearance of being longer and leaner. Add a belt (or opt for one that’s already built in) for extra emphasis on your waist and a little extra eye candy.

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<< Allure Bridal Sheena – $1,248 >>

3. The Empire Waist: This shape is for the easy and breezy brides who want comfort and ease on their big day. This is perfect for weddings with laid-back venues, such as beach nuptials. Also, this is the ideal silhouette for expecting brides. Ideal for pear shaped or curvier body types, it simply flows over any and everything you might not want to draw attention to.

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<< Casablanca ‘Everest’ Gown – $1,450 >>

4. The Trumpet: I personally love this silhouette because of the curve-hugging, show-stopping fit. The Trumpet flares out starting at mid-thigh, making it the most glamorous in my personal opinion. If you are craving a bombshell look or wanting to add curves to a more straight shape, this may be the shape for you. It flatters many different body types including petite, straight and even plus-sized.

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<< Kenneth Winston ‘Fransis’ – $1,990 >>

5. The Mermaid: My personal favorite, this silhouette is a curve-hugging number that is refined and sultry all in the same dress. This silhouette is not for the bride looking to be “simple” or hide any part of the body. This shape highlights every curve and makes a fashion-forward statement because of it. This fit is flattering on slender body types or proportionally-fuller women who want to flaunt what they have.

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<< Mori Lee ‘Ellena’ Gown – $1,265 >>

6. The Slim Fit-and-Flare: This shape is a perfect marriage (excuse the pun) of a sheath and fit-and-flare. You gain the sleek appearance of the sheath style but with the forgiving and flattering “flare” of the fit-and-flare style. This silhouette feels so romantic and feminine to me and creates a hourglass shape – (this one even has that “shape” built in).

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<< Casablanca ‘Keena’ Gown – $1,335 >>

7. The True Sheath: With it’s lean and long shape, this silhouette is refined and elegant, perfect for the bride looking to convey that. This is the ideal shape for petite and lean brides, creating a sleek look. This is perfect for a garden or a more low-key wedding because of the lack of “poof.”

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<< Casablanca ‘Connor’ Gown – $1,325 >>


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Off-The-Shoulder // Surplice V-Neck // Spagetti Strap V-Neck // Cape Sleeved V-Neck // Minor Sweetheart // True Sweetheart // Scoop Neck // Bateau High-Neck with Illusion Lace Sweetheart // Sweetheart // V-Neck

Some Tips & Tricks:

V-neck gowns are universally flattering on virtually any bust. If you are more well-endowed, a scoop, V-neck, surplice or a sweetheart neckline (that doesn’t plunge so deep) will be some of your best bets. If you have narrow shoulders, an off the shoulder style dress is the perfect way to show off your thin build while being modest about showing your bust.

If you have a smaller bust, a sweetheart, high-neck or a neckline that plunges a bit deeper can all be complimentary. You can get away with a slightly lower cut while keeping an err elegance in tact.


Veil or no veil?

This is a question every bride must ask herself. Many traditionalist’s and drama-craving brides love this final touch. In the words of Rita, co-owner of Pure Bridal, “This is the only time in your life you’ll get to wear a veil and get away with it.”

That being said, many modern brides are opting out of this sheer tradition in favor of a flower or headpiece instead. Spoiler alert: I fell into this category.

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Faux Fur Shawl:

Considering a winter wedding? Well certainly consider a faux fur shawl. It is functional in that it provides warmth and frivolous in the fact it is totally glamorous in a vintage Hollywood way.

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<< Allure Bridal Owen – $1,775 >>

Belt or no belt?

Just like in everyday fashion, this is a prominent question. It truly depends on the intricacies of your gown and if a belt would take away or add to it’s beauty. In my opinion, belts highlight your smallest part and therefore flatter, so it is a yes in my book. If you are a minimalist, it might not be your cup of bridal tea. See the visual difference below.

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Expecting Brides:

There are plenty of brides who tie the knot while they are expecting and they need a, ahem, roomier gown to allow for any growth. This is where an empire waist dress is the dress silhouette. Please note I am not pregnant, I simply posed like I was for the picture.

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Now, think of your coveted bridal style (i.e. glamorous, classic, traditional, romantic, vintage, etc.) and find details in a gown that are parallel to that. Make sure what ever style you choose fits your venue as well as your personal aesthetic for picture-perfect nuptials.

Here’s a couple easy indicators of which style a gown might fall into. If a dress has lots of beading, it most likely gives off a glamorous, dressy and/or vintage vibe (my personal favorite). If a gown has a lack of embellishment (like lace or beading) and a overall silky appearance, it is most likely a classic and/or traditional dress. If a dress features lots of lace, it probably radiates a vintage, romantic, feminine and/or traditional appeal.

PicMonkey Collage12My favorite outtake from the shoot of my man being a babysitter to Kayse, the co-owner of Pure Bridal’s baby girl.View More:

All styles featured in this post can be ordered through Pure Bridal at a fantastic price.

Thank you to Pure Bridal and Everlasting Love Photography for partnering with me on this post.

Have any questions for me or the ladies behind Pure Bridal? Comment below and we would love to answer them.

As always, thank you for reading.

  1. Minau Wrote:

    Great wedding dresses! My fave is the second and fourth!

    • Brenna Wrote:

      Thank you! The fourth is my favorite as well!


  2. Kylan Wrote:

    I squealed for joy when I saw this post. You looked stunning in every single gown! I absolutely adored your fiancé at the end with the little baby! How precious!!

    • Brenna Wrote:

      Aw thank you so much, Kylan! That picture is probably my favorite from the whole post.


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      So glad you stopped by!


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      Thank you so much! Welcome to CSS.


  7. kathy baichtal Wrote:

    The article was great. My daughter is expecting and looking for her wedding dress. Would you be able to tell me who makes the maternity gown that was featured and approximately how much it costs?

    Thank you

    • Brenna Wrote:

      If you call Pure Bridal salon in Ames, IA they will give you all of the information and can even have a dress shipped! All of their dresses are very affordable too.


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    • Brenna Wrote:

      Aw, thank you so much!


  9. Susana Wrote:

    Hello !
    Do you have Size for petites ?

    • Brenna Wrote:

      Hi Susana,

      They do! They are really good at accommodating every body type.