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[2024] Wedding Dress Lingo And Terms You Should Know Before Wedding Gown Shopping

Wedding Dress Lingo And Terms You Should Know Before Wedding Gown Shopping

If you are newly engaged and beginning your research on wedding dresses, don’t be surprised if you are confused by terms like “fit and flare”, trumpet style, mermaid, etc. These are all words that commonly float around in bridal boutiques, those that you will hear during wedding dress shows and even see on blog pages like ours.

To be honest, this industry has its own language! Unless you’ve been following it closely, it can sound confusing and you may have no idea what the terms mean. But, as a soon-to-be bride, we think it is essential that you familiarize yourself with some of the most commonly used wedding terms before you go shopping. This will make you more comfortable and also allow you to understand what your bridal consultant means when she uses technical terms to define a dress. Trust us, it will save you from feeling overwhelmed at your dress appointment.

To save you the trouble of finding all these out by yourself, we have compiled the commonly used words from the wedding world here. This will allow you to describe the dress in your vision in crisp terms to your shop assistant, without having to just search through hundreds of dresses to find what you think you want.

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Wedding Dress Necklines

The neckline of a wedding dress is one of the most noticeable features. The designer may choose to use a particular neckline for a dress to reflect the overall style. Occasionally, a dramatic neckline is used to make a bold statement and transcend a style. For example, otherwise simple, classic ball gowns may have an illusion neckline that might draw more attention to the bride’s face and create a balanced look as opposed to a wildly designed dress that gets all the attention. Consider these wedding dress necklines and what they may do to enhance the bride’s appearance or jeopardize the look

A V-neck is a neckline that dips significantly lower in the middle to resemble the letter V. The V-neck is one of the most popular wedding dress necklines. Some women do not like how low the V-neck plummets in their favorite dress. If the bride has her heart set on a dress but is not in love with the deep V-neck, she might want to have a modesty piece sewn into the dress. A modesty pieces is used to cover the lower portion of a V-neck neckline to make it less revealing.

The sweetheart neckline is also very popular. A sweetheart neckline is lower in the front like a V-neck, but the sides arc upwards to form a heart shape.

Square necklines fall straight or almost straight across the bust. As the name indicates, they would form a square shape with straps. A boatneck or bateau has a similar shape to the square neck, but the boatneck is high, often right below the neck and features a very wide opening to the shoulders.

Traditional strapless necklines also fall straight across the bust. While the strapless neckline is rather square in appearance, many strapless gowns have a variety of necklines including V-neck or sweetheart necklines.

Scoop necklines are rounded necklines. Halter necklines typically tie around the back of the neck. The halter neckline for a wedding dress may have the shape of a halter top without the actual tie at the back of the neck.

Asymmetrical necklines have sides that are vastly different. The neckline might appear like a traditional strapless neckline at one side but then rise to the one shoulder on the other side. This one shoulder look is a common asymmetrical pattern.

Illusion necklines have become more popular this year. The illusion neckline uses fabric, lace, or embellishments over a strapless neckline. The crystals, lace, or other material used to create the illusion neckline offers more coverage and interest than a plain strapless neckline.

Queen Anne necklines are high on the neck and drop to a lower neckline in the front like a V-neck. High necklines and cowl necklines are less common wedding dress necklines. The high neckline resembles a turtleneck. A cowl neckline has a loosely draping middle. Cowl necklines may have a straight modesty piece of lace or fabric under them if the loose fabric creates a low neckline.

Shopping for the perfect wedding dress can be overwhelming. For more helpful information about the differences between wedding dress styles and what can be most flattering for you, please visit the Best for Bride blog.

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A guide to wedding dress necklines

Of the various features that you have to choose carefully in your wedding dress, the neckline is an important one. The right neckline should highlight your facial features, flatter your figure and balance out the proportions of your chest with the rest of your body.

Once you are aware of the effect that different necklines create, finding one that suits your body shape and facial features is relatively easy. This is what we will help you with. Let us look at popular wedding dress necklines, and the body shapes they suit best.

Sweetheart neckline

via Best for Bride

One of the most popular necklines, the sweetheart softly follows the contours of the bust and dips in the center. It is often seen on gowns without straps, and it emphasizes the decolletage and shoulders. This pattern elongates the neck and torso, and creates a classic Cinderella-style look. It is especially suitable for brides with angular faces and sharp jaw features. Consider this neckline if you are medium to large-chested.


via Best for Bride

This neckline cuts across the chest, drawing focus to your shoulders and arms. It looks best on brides with well-toned shoulders and arms, and are medium-chested. Avoid this design if you have a large chest as it further emphasizes your bust proportions. Similarly, if you are small-chested, it doesn’t really help to add any curves to your figure.


via Best for Bride

The illusion neckline is by and large, one of the biggest trends this year. There is a sheer layer of fabric above the original neckline of the bodice, and this layer ends higher up creating a second neckline for the gown. It is stylish, elegant and exciting, with an air of mystery.

Illusion necklines embellished with lace or metallic embroidery add a sophisticated touch to the gown. This second neckline may be clubbed with any bodice, but it looks prettiest with the sweetheart neckline. The style is universally flattering, and it looks good on most brides. It adds a modest touch to a gown, while still allowing you to look sexy and stylish.


via Best for Bride

Also known as the Sabrina, this high neckline stretches across your shoulders, following the natural curve of your collar bones. It offers extra coverage even while looking chic and enhances the proportions of the bust. The bateau looks best on slender brides with narrow shoulders, and it creates the impression of a fuller chest. Avoid this neckline if you have a large bust, as it draws focus to the chest area.


via Best for Bride

This neckline can be deep or high, and this plunge of the V determines whether the gown looks classic or modern. The shape elongates the neck, and exposes the decolletage and collar bones.

A deep cut V-neckline displays cleavage, and works well on gowns with sleeves and has a slimming effect. The pattern looks good on brides who are apple-shaped or have hourglass figures.


Any neckline that has a U-shape is called a scoop neck. Like the V-neck, the depth of the scoop may vary, and accordingly create different looks. It generally suits brides with angular facial features, and a high scoop neckline can provide modest coverage to a bride who is large-chested.

At Best for Bride, we have wedding gowns in all styles and silhouettes. Browse through our online gallery to find the dress (and the neckline) that flatters you, and make a great choice for your big day.