The Ultimate Wedding Dress Sizing Guide

Wedding dress shopping is an experience unlike any other. Your friends and family are surrounding you; emotions are running high but deciphering the various wedding dress size charts can sometimes seem like rocket science. That’s why we are here to help you along your wedding dress shopping journey and demystify bridal sizing! 

How Does Wedding Dress Sizing Work? 

Wedding dress sizing is similar to regular clothing sizing in that bust, waist and hip measurements are considered when choosing a size. After saying “I do” to your dream dress, your bridal consultant will take your measurements. Next, they’ll compare them to a wedding dress size chart and choose the size closest to your measurements to ensure the gown will fit. Alterations are usually necessary to take in any areas that are too large, hem the gown and add the bustle. You can watch this video for even more bridal sizing tips! 

What Should I Know About Wedding Dress Sizes? 

There are a few tips and tricks when it comes to wedding dress sizes, so you are in the know during your appointment. Bridal sizing usually runs one to two sizes smaller than your average ready-to-wear sizing. This is because the wedding industry still uses the standard European sizing from the 1940s, which has stayed the same over the years — so don’t let the number shock you!  

Keep in mind bridal gown sizing can depend on the silhouette and fabric of your wedding dress. For example, a sheath in a stretch satin may have more wiggle room to work with than a lace mermaid dress. Remember, your bridal consultant will help you choose the proper size, so don’t worry! 

Should you Size up for a Wedding Dress? 

Wedding dress sizing runs larger than typical ready-to-wear sizing, which means you’ll likely need to order a numerical size that is larger than what you would typically wear. Despite that factor, you should only size up if it is recommended due to the gown’s silhouette or fabric. Don’t worry, though! Your bridal stylist will be able to help navigate the sizing differences and what will work best for you. 

Altering a gown to be smaller is much easier than letting out the seams, so it’s always good to air on the side of caution and order a larger gown.

Wedding Dress Sizing Chart and Tips 

While a stylist will assist in measuring you, if you want a friend or family member to measure you out of curiosity, here is how to get the best measurements. We recommend having someone else measure you for more accurate results. 

  • Bust: Make sure you are wearing a bra and stand with your arms down at your sides, placing the tape around the fullest point of your bust. 
  • Waist: Stand straight and find the narrowest part of your waist, also known as your natural waist, and wrap the tape measure around that point. You can find your natural waist by bending to the side and finding the point that creases. 
  • Hip: Place the measuring tape around the widest point of your hips with your feet together. 

Ensure the tape measure is wrapped around each point comfortably, being careful not to squeeze too tight. From there, compare your measurements to the size chart and choose the size where all the measurements match up or go by your largest measurement. 

When it comes to the length of your gown, bring a pair of heels in the height you plan on wearing on your big day to your appointment. Many dresses come in standard lengths. However, if you want to measure for length, take a hollow-to-hem measurement, which starts at the hollow at the base of your neck to the floor.  

Silhouettes for Each Body Type 

A-Line Wedding Dress 

simple a-line wedding dress with square neckline - 7731 by Stella York

Stella York Style 7731 

A-line wedding dresses typically hug the bust and waist, then flair into an A-shape skirt, accentuating the natural waist. This silhouette is beautiful on brides of all body shapes and sizes and can balance a larger bust or flatter a more prominent lower body. 

Stella York Style 7731 is an A-line wedding gown that fits the current bridal fashion trends! If you have a simple bridal style, this wedding dress could be the one.  

Chic shoulder straps meet a glamorous square neckline and flawlessly fitted bodice for a clean, minimalist bridal look in luxe satin. A scooped back adds to the sleek aesthetic, while a row of fabric-covered buttons extending to the cathedral train’s hem adds a classic touch. Minimalist glamour reigns in this modern A-line wedding dress. 

Ballgown Wedding Dress 

plus size lace ballgown with off the shoulder sleeves - D3274 by Essense of Australia

Essense of Australia Style D3274+ 

A ballgown wedding dress is for brides who want a regal, showstopping look! Ballgowns are similar to A-line wedding dresses, except they have a fuller skirt. A ballgown will flatter and conceal the same areas as an A-line dress. However, we do not recommend a very full ballgown for the petite bride, as it may overwhelm their figure. 

Essense of Australia Style D3274+ is a plus-size lace ballgown with a sheer bodice that offers a decadent bouquet of organic lace florals! Sheer long sleeves embellished with lace add an elegant touch, while a floating off-the-shoulder neckline creates an extraordinary illusion with sheer tulle and highlights the décolletage. 

The tiered skirt features gorgeous layers with horsehair trim, creating a light and voluminous style full of movement. Shimmer elements and 3D appliqués gently cascade down this dramatic yet fresh silhouette for the wow effect. 

Mermaid Wedding Dress 

lace mermaid wedding dress with open back and train - 1547 by Martina Liana

Martina Liana Style 1547

A mermaid wedding dress is the ideal silhouette for the bride who wants to show off her figure! This sultry shape hugs the body through the bust, waist and hips before flaring out at the knees. A fit-and-flare is similar and is also a beautiful choice, but it flares out above the knees. Both silhouettes are stunning on brides with an hourglass shape. 

Martina Liana Style 1397 is an elevated, elegant mermaid wedding dress for the fashionista bride. The plunging V-neckline on this wedding dress features illusion tulle for all-day comfort, with delicate beaded straps adding a sweet touch. The bodice and waist are covered in ornate floral details, with dimensional texture and sparkling accents from sequins and beading throughout. 

On the back, bead-encrusted details layer on top of illusion tulle, making the glimmering appliqué appear to float effortlessly. The skirt flares out just above the knee into a voluminous skirt with layers and layers of soft tulle. The full train has a soft, ethereal look for a truly romantic walk down the aisle.  

Sheath Wedding Dress 

simple sheath wedding dress with sparkling plunging neckline - D3763 by Essense of Australia

Essense of Australia Style D3763 

Sheath wedding dresses are beautiful on the bride with an athletic or rectangular body type. This style is fitted through the bust, waist and hips and falls straight to the floor. Effortless and elegant, it is a favorite of minimalist brides. 

Essense of Australia Style D3763 is a sophisticated column sheath wedding gown that combines modern runway fashion with timeless elegance. From the contemporary shoulder straps, a deep plunging V-neckline outlined in subtle beaded accents meets the waist.  

Shimmering beaded details also highlight the V-back before meeting a row of fabric-covered buttons that extend to the hem of the sweeping train. Flawlessly tailored, this clean and chic minimalist wedding dress lets the bride shine. This wedding dress is also available in plus sizes. 

Wedding Dress Alterations 

How Will You Determine Your Alterations? 

Bridal dress sizing usually requires alterations to ensure the ideal fit! While it may be as simple as just a hem, a few nips and tucks or a bustle, alterations can also include adding customizations or taking a gown in one or two sizes.  

Your seamstress will pin areas that are too big so you can see how your dress should fit once the alterations are complete. Make sure you wear your wedding shoes and any undergarments you plan on wearing to your alteration appointment, as these can affect the fit of your gown.  

What is the Timeline for Wedding Dress Alterations? 

Typically, alterations begin around two to three months before your wedding, but it also depends on your seamstress and their schedule. Simple alterations may take less time while adding components like sleeves or customizations will take longer. For standard alterations, it may take two or three fittings to get the right fit. You’ll want to book your last alterations appointment as close to the wedding date as possible to account for any weight fluctuations. 

Last Minute Alteration Tips and Tricks 

Besides our tips and tricks above, here are a few more so you get the most out of your alterations! 

  • Bring Accessories: If you have accessories like a veil, jewelry or a belt, bring them to your fittings to see how they coordinate with the dress. 
  • Bring a Friend: Having a trusted friend or family member with you during fittings can provide emotional support and an extra pair of eyes for feedback. They can also learn how to do your bustle and take videos and photos to help remember the steps. 
  • Try the Dress On: Before leaving the seamstress’s studio, try the dress on to ensure you’re satisfied with the fit and any changes made. 
  • Practice Walking and Sitting: Practice moving, sitting and walking in your dress during the final fitting. This will help you feel more comfortable on your wedding day. 
  • Emergency Kit: On your wedding day, bring an emergency kit with safety pins, fashion tape and a needle and thread just in case of unexpected mishaps. 

With all this information about bridal sizing and wedding dress alterations, we hope you feel equipped and confident to find the wedding dress of your dreams! 

Are you ready to begin your search? You can view even more gorgeous wedding dresses to fit every bridal style in our wedding dress gallery, then find a store location near you. Happy shopping!