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Bridal Gown Guide

Bridal Gown Guide for the Petite Bride

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Woman adjusting seam of brides dress
Betsie Van der Meer/Stone/Getty Images
The Big Day and the Dream Dress
Naturally every bride, whether short or tall, wants to look her very best on her wedding day, and the biggest part of "the look" is the bridal gown. Some women have been dreaming about the gown since they were little girls while other brides find inspiration in bridal magazines when they become engaged and begin planning their weddings. No matter when the idea of the dress started forming in the bride's mind, most brides have some very definite preferences about the type of wedding gowns they like. Sometimes a bride's dream dress suits her perfectly, but other times, the dress that looked so good on the model in a bridal magazine doesn't look the same when the bride tries it on in the bridal salon..

Bridal Gown Style Tips for the Petite Bride
The biggest problem for a petite woman when selecting a bridal gown is to find a gown that allows her to be the star of her own wedding. In other words, the bride should wear the gown, rather than the gown wearing the bride. Big, puffy ballgowns can be just far too overwhelming for a short woman, and the wider the skirt, the wider the bride may look also. Some bridal gown features that usually work well for petite women include

  • empire waistlines
  • princess seams
  • column styles
  • A-line styles
  • sleeveless gowns
  • fitted sleeves
  • asymmetrical style lines
. Simpler styles usually look better on the petite bride than very elaborate styles.

Most bridal gowns have some type of embellishment, frequently lace, beads, and sequins. Since the gown is for such a special day, this decoration is appropriate. Any areas covered with lace or glitz beads and sequins will stand out, so it’s a good idea to make sure that’s where the emphasis should be.

Where to Shop for Petite Bridal Gowns
David’s Bridal offers bridal gowns that are specially sized for the woman who is 5’4” or under in sizes 0P – 16P (Vendor’s Site). Most gowns at David’s Bridal are priced under $1000; many are under $500; gowns on sale are even less expensive, sometimes as low as $99.
Alfred Angelo sells bridal gowns in short, regular, and long lengths. A short length would be helpful to the petite bride, but other alterations may be needed. However, almost all bridal gowns require some alterations in any case. You can look at gowns on the Alfred Angelo Web site (Vendor’s Site), but they must be ordered through an Alfred Angelo store.
Major Department Stores such as Nordstrom (Buy Direct) and Macy’s (Buy Direct) often have formal or informal dresses that will work as bridal gowns, many of which are available in petite sizes.

Custom Wedding Dresses
Having a family member make the bridal gown is an option for those who have someone in the family who sews and who would like to make the wedding dress. It can be a good way for the bride to design her dress herself and get a custom fit. I made bridal gowns for both of my daughters, who have very different styles. One gown was white satin with a sweetheart neckline and lots of French re-embroidered Alencon lace while the other gown was Renaissance style made of silver-beaded natural white silk chiffon. If there's nobody in the family who sews, another way to have a custom gown is to find a custom clothier, a dressmaker in the local area who is experienced with bridal gowns. In this case, it’s a good idea for brides to check the dressmaker’s references as well as photos of gowns she's made and have a firm contract so that there won’t be any surprises.

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