keyhole vs openback wedding dresses blog - header

Keyhole Back vs. Open Back Wedding Dresses

When choosing a wedding dress, brides are often captivated by the intricate details that adorn their gowns. One feature often stealing the spotlight: the back. Dramatic backs will always be a popular wedding dress detail for brides. They typically have two distinct yet equally stunning styles—the keyhole back wedding dress and the open back wedding dress.  

In this blog, we embark on a journey to explore the captivating beauty of keyhole back and open back wedding dresses. We will be discussing the differences and similarities between them and our top styles for fashion-forward brides! 

What is a Keyhole Back Wedding Dress? What is an Open Back Wedding Dress? 

While a keyhole back wedding dress falls under the category of open back wedding dresses, it’s important to note that not all open back wedding dresses incorporate a keyhole design. The keyhole back style showcases a delicate and refined cutout that can vary in shape and size. The defining characteristic is the presence of a closure at the neck or top of the back, creating a “keyhole” effect and preventing the back from being entirely exposed.  

In contrast, open back wedding dresses lack the closure at the neckline or top of the back. They feature more unrestricted designs, allowing for a lower or more dramatic open back or even a modest mid-back opening.  

Open backs can be crafted in a V-shape, scoop shape or incorporate sheer illusion elements to create an open back effect while providing additional support. The versatility of open back styles allows brides to choose the level of boldness and sensuality they desire. 

What are the Main Differences Between the Two? 

Keyhole back wedding gowns and open back wedding dresses may share some similarities but differ in the accompanying details that define each style. While we highlighted the closure as a significant distinction, additional factors set these two back designs apart. This offers brides a range of choices to suit their preferences. Let’s explore these differentiating features and explore the captivating details that make keyhole back and open back wedding dresses truly stand out. 

Necklines: Keyhole backs are often paired with high necklines like mock necks, boat necks or V-necklines. It is rare to see a gown with a sweetheart neckline and a keyhole back. Open back gowns have more flexibility when it comes to wedding dress necklines. You may find a gown with a square neckline, sweetheart neckline or plunging neckline and an open back, but those with high necklines usually feature illusion or keyhole backs.  

Silhouette: Keyhole back dresses are commonly found in column, sheath, mermaid or fit-and-flare silhouettes. These wedding dress silhouettes emphasize the body’s curves and provide a sleek and elegant look. Open back dresses, on the other hand, can be found in a variety of silhouettes, including ballgowns, A-lines, as well as the column, sheath, mermaid and fit-and-flare styles. The availability of open back designs in different silhouettes offers brides more options to match their preferred aesthetic. 

Fabric: While keyhole back wedding dresses and backless wedding dresses are often available in the same fabrics, backless wedding dresses offer more flexibility. Keyhole back styles are usually designed in lace or sleek fabrics, like crepe or stretch satin. Open back styles can be found in virtually any fabric, from Mikado to lace to chiffon. 

Keyhole Back Wedding Dresses  

Lace Keyhole Back Wedding Dress 

lace mermaid wedding dress with keyhole back and scalloped train - 6919 by Stella York

Stella York Style 6916 

A lace keyhole back wedding dress is a major “do” in our book! This style can be classic, modern or a mix of both. Elevated and all-natural, Stella York Style 6916 is a modern crepe and lace wedding dress. The high illusion neckline is the focal point of the nature-inspired bodice. It features asymmetrical floral laces that seem to grow wildly over the collarbone.  

The flourishing petals and vine-like structures of the laces gently curve over the plunging sweetheart neckline and side cutouts of the fitted crepe silhouette. This creates striking contrast and negative space elements that are utterly exquisite. The sheer keyhole back adorned with lace adds a sexy yet elegant look. Finally, the laser-cut crepe creates a gorgeous, scalloped train feature—finished with hand-placed appliqués along the hem for an all-natural beauty from head to toe. 

Cap Sleeve Keyhole Back Wedding Dress 

lace sheath wedding dress with keyhole back and shaped train - D3530 by Essense of Australia

Essense of Australia Style D3530 

Modern glamour and Old Hollywood luxury meet in Essense of Australia Style D3530 for a stunning and captivating gown. The lace cap sleeves frame a plunging V-neckline for a sexy and sophisticated allure, accentuated by the sparkling sequin accents.  

A keyhole back detail is set in a glittering frame with elegant fabric-covered buttons that trail from the low back to the very edge of the sweeping train. The luxe skirt skims the body to form the elegant column silhouette, joining the lace of the bodice with the classically romantic train. 


Open Back Wedding Dresses 

Long Sleeve Open Back Wedding Dress 

backless boho a-line wedding dress with sheer sleeves - 7678 by Stella York

Stella York Style 7678 

A backless wedding dress with long sleeves offers the ideal balance of coverage and sexiness. Stella York Style 7678 captures every eye with its delicate floral lace bodice, blouson sleeves and romantic tulle skirt and train. From lacy spaghetti straps, a deep V-neckline plunges into a semi-sheer bodice that wraps into the scooped back detail. Just past the waist, the elegant lace appliqués dissolve into a sea of frothy tulle for an enchanting finish to this romantic wedding gown.

Open Back Mermaid Wedding Dress 

simple mermaid wedding dress with open back and jewel details - D3823 by Essense of Australia

Essense of Australia Style D3823 

An open back paired with a mermaid silhouette is the ultimate choice for the bride with a red-carpet style! Essense of Australia Style D3823 is clean and modern with a touch of sparkle. It features wideset shoulder straps and a draped scoop neckline with a hint of pearl beaded accents

More shimmering pearls embellish the low open back detail that concludes with a fitted ruched hip to highlight the curves of the mermaid silhouette. In luxurious crepe satin, this chic designer bridal look concludes with a soft sweeping train for an elegant and glamorous finish.  

Open Back Lace Wedding Dress 

lace mermaid wedding dress with open back and plunging v-neckline - cece by All Who Wander

All Who Wander cece gown 

An open back lace wedding dress can fit a variety of bridal styles! Discover the free-spirited glamour of All Who Wander cece gown: a stunning matte lace column wedding dress that embodies the modern bohemian bride.  

From elegant shoulder straps, its sheer bodice plunges into a deep V-neckline with sexy side cutouts and a deep V-back detail to match. From the waist, a sheer tiered tulle overskirt adds ethereal volume that extends past the hem into a magical, whimsical train.  

What Undergarments Should You Wear with Both Styles?  

When choosing undergarments for your keyhole or open back wedding dress, it is important to consider where you feel you need support and how low the back of your gown is. Most gowns come with or can have cups sewn into the bust for support, but with some gowns, the back may be high enough to wear a bra that works with low back styles. When it comes to shapewear, some styles with ultra-low backs may only work with a seamless pair of low-rise underwear.  

What Accessories Can I Wear with Each Style of Gown? 

Once you find your dream dress, it is time to nail down the finishing touches. Let the back shine by forgoing a veil and choosing a beautiful headpiece. Alternatively, opt for a veil for a more modest ceremony look, then wow your guests with a dramatic open back at the reception!  

When it comes to jewelry, take note of the details of your gown. A simple sheath with a plunging V-neckline and back looks beautiful with a statement earring, while a keyhole back style in ornate lace may look best with a simple pair of studs. 

Whether you choose a keyhole back or open back wedding dress, the choice should reflect your personal style. Comfort and the overall theme of your wedding are most important to ensure that you feel confident and beautiful on your special day! 

These are only a few of the stunning keyhole and open-back wedding dresses you can choose from for your big day! Ready to see more in person? Find a bridal shop near you that carries the wedding dress of your dreams or explore even more bridal gowns for the ultimate wedding dress inspiration.