Basic Wedding Gown Lingo Every Bride Needs to Know

When you begin shopping for a dress, wedding gown lingo can leave you feeling confused if you don’t know what’s what. Here are some basic wedding gown terms every new bride should know.

If you’re new to basic wedding gown lingo, it’s time to study up and become acquainted with the most common elements of a bridal gown. The minute you step into that first bridal boutique, you’re faced with searching through a number of different gowns and a wedding dress consultant asking you which type you’re looking for. As soon as you start trying the gowns on, you’ll be overwhelmed with “bridal gown speak” that refers to the types of trains, fabrics, lengths, silhouettes, and trains.

To know what’s what before you start shopping, get to know the following basics:

Fabrics—There are countless different gown fabrics to choose from, but some of the most common include satin, brocade, chiffon, voile, organza, tulle, and taffeta.  Satin and brocade are the heaviest and are also very elegant. They are ideal for formal weddings. Voile is lighter than cotton but has a similar feel, and chiffon and organza are very lightweight and are perfect for spring, summer, or less formal weddings. Taffeta is also lightweight, crisp, and smooth. Tulle is classic open-weave netting that is sheer, commonly used for the skirt part of the dress.

Silhouettes—Ball gown, empire, and A-line styles are the most common silhouettes. A ball gown silhouette has a fitted waist and bodice, as well as a full skirt. An empire silhouette has a slender skirt with a scooped bodice or a drop-waist bodice, while the a-line (princess) silhouette has a seamless waist and a slim fit.

Trains—Trains can be tricky, but the three most common kinds are: floor length, chapel, and cathedral. Cathedral trains are the longest and are typically worn in very formal weddings, while floor-length trains just hit the floor or have a sweep train, which only extends about eight to twelve inches.

Chapel trains are not too long and not too short, ideal for both formal and less formal weddings. Keep this basic train and wedding gown lingo in mind as you begin shopping for your dress, and your search will be much less confusing.

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