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Wedding Dress Lengths – Tips on Choosing the Right Style

Bride with white long-length wedding dress

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For a wedding day look that pairs flawlessly with your wedding style, start by choosing a gown with the right hem length. It might be easy to overlook this, but the length of your wedding dress is one of the most important factors that dictate the feel of your overall look. With that said, here’s all you need to know about wedding dress lengths to get the look you want for your wedding.

What to Consider When Choosing Your Dress Length

Wedding, Bride, Bouquet, Bridesmaid Dress, White Dress

In general, if your wedding is more formal, your dress will be longer.

The first thing to consider when choosing the length of your dress is the style of celebration that you want to have. A general rule of thumb is that the more formal your wedding, the longer your dress will be. You’ll also want to take into account how you want to move on the day. A longer gown will be more difficult to move in but will look more regal as you walk down the aisle whereas a shorter gown may look too casual in an opulent black-tie wedding.

How Your Venue Influences Your Dress Length

The location of your ceremony and reception should also be taken into account when choosing your wedding dress length. This is particularly true for outdoor celebrations that take place on grass or sand that could soil your hemline if it drags on the ground.

If you like the look of longer gowns but are concerned about the venue or how a long skirt might hinder you there are some tricks that will help you get the best of both worlds which we’ll talk about later. But first, let’s get familiar with wedding dress length options.

Different Wedding Dress Lengths:

Wedding dress hemlines are much more than long or short. There is a myriad of different lengths that brides can choose from to achieve the look that they are aiming for.

Floor Length

Bride accessorizing her wedding dress

Floor-length gowns suit all styles and elongate the body.

As the name suggests, a floor-length hemline drapes to the floor. Floor length-gowns are well-suited to all wedding dress silhouettes as this flattering length elongates the body. However, brides with outdoor ceremonies may want to steer clear of floor-length gowns as they may drag along the ground. Instead, opt for a full-length or a gown with a train (explained further in the article) to get the formality of a floor-length gown without having it drag behind you.

Full Length

A full-length hemline hovers just an inch above the floor. This length works well for brides with outdoor or beach weddings or those that want a little more movability on their day, but still want to look formal. Full-length hemlines will compliment voluminous Ballgowns and flowing A-line styles. Avoid figure-hugging silhouettes such as mermaid and trumpet as these shapes look best when there is more length in the gown to emphasize the curvature of the cut.

High low Length

Bride wearing white bridal separates

High low hemlines are a fashion-forward statement. Bridal separates by Jurgita Bridal.

Check price HERE

High low hemlines are shorter in the front and trail down towards a longer back. This hem allows brides to make a fashion-forward statement not only with their gowns but with bridal shoes as well. High low hemlines suit gowns made of stiffer material that can show the asymmetrical shape of the gown off. Structured silhouettes such as columns and A-line will best suit the architectural look produced by this interesting hemline best.

Tea or Midi-length

Wedding dress 'STEFANI' // short wedding dress tea image 4

Tea length gowns have a feminine, vintage touch. Dress by Alex Veil Bridal.

Check price HERE

Tea or midi-length gowns have hemlines that stop anywhere from below the knee to just above the ankle. Playful, full skirts and interesting necklines such as off-the-shoulder are well-suited to this hemline. As these gowns are shorter, these details help to add a little opulence to what can look like a casual gown.

Tea-length skirts are reminiscent of swing dresses and are befitted to vintage weddings. Brides that want to appear taller should steer clear of these lengths as they cut through the legs and make you appear shorter.

Short Length

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Short hemlines are perfect for send-off dresses.

Wedding gowns that stop above the knee are best suited as second wedding dresses, send-off dresses or relaxed weddings because of the casual feel of the look. Keep the style elegant and classy by avoiding anything that is too figure-hugging or layered with too much ballerina-looking tulle. Short gowns with long sleeves help to balance out the amount of exposed skin which keeps the look demure. 

Adding Length with a Train

If you are having a black-tie wedding and want to make a fashion statement, choose a gown with a train. Like hemlines, wedding dress trains come in a variety of lengths that suit different styles.  Aside from the length, trains can also differ in where they are attached to the dress. A train can directly extend from the bottom of the back of a dress, may be a detachable part of a gown’s overlay or extend from the shoulders as a cape.

Monarch or Royal Train

Bride in white wedding dress

Royal trains are the longest and most dramatic train length.

Nothing exudes magnificence like a dramatic monarch or royal train that extends for over a yard. This look often adorns princess-brides and looks stunning for a walk down the aisle. Especially long royal trains can be quite heavy and can require the assistance of several bridesmaids of flower girls for the walk down the aisle. Because of their length and weight, royal trains should be detachable to allow the bride to move freely without the weight of the extra fabric.

Chapel Train

Bride wearing chapel train wedding dress

Chapel length trains balance length and movability.

Chapel length trains are the most common length of the train as they are perfect for making a statement without being too fussy. These trains are between 12 and 18 inches long and look breathtaking at formal weddings. The best part is that chapel length trains can be maneuvered easily so you can choose to wear your train as an overlay or design it into your dress. A detachable train affixed as an overlay on the waist looks especially stunning on figure-hugging dresses as it gives your hips and legs a beautiful backdrop and allows you to feel like a princess without wearing a big ballgown all night.

Sweep Train

Bride wearing white sweep train wedding dress

Silky sweep trains are an alluring extension to your gown.

Sweep trains are the shortest but most alluring train length. Sweep trains are around six inches longer than the rest of the wedding gown’s hem and are an ingenious way to extend the length of your look. Exude effortless elegance by creating a ‘pooling’ effect from a sweep train made from silky fabrics. Sweep trains can also be used to exaggerate the curved lines created by a mermaid or trumpet silhouettes by inviting the eyes to follow the silhouette for longer.

What to Consider When Youve Chosen Your Length

Once you’ve committed to certain lengths for your dress and your train, you’ll need to think about how you will practically make that length work on your wedding day. Think about whether you would like to wear a dramatic length all day, or only for the ceremony or photos. If this is true for you, consider adding length with a detachable train.

If you choose a style that is longer or has a sweep train, add a bustle to lift the back when you want to walk or dance freely. A bustle is a tailoring design that uses loops, buttons, or ribbons to pull up and tuck the long end of a wedding dress or train. Brides can either choose a hidden French bustle that folds and attaches to the underside of the skirt; or an American bustle that is affixed to the outside of the skirt at the waist to create an overlapped drape.

Wedding dress and shoes

Shoes will alter your height, so wear the right height shoes at your dress fittings.

It’s also important to commit to a shoe height early into your dress fittings. Your wedding shoes can change the distance between the ground and your hem dramatically. Only an inch differentiates a floor-length gown and a full gown.

What Dress Length Should You Choose?

So to recap, when choosing your dress length, consider the following factors:

  • How formal your ceremony is going to be
  • The type of venue – indoors or outdoors
  • How comfortable you want to be on the day
  • The style of your wedding
  • Whether you want a train or not

And finally, here’s what some real brides say about wedding dress lengths:

Moira: I went with a long wedding gown because short dresses are what we tend to wear all the time. How often do you get to wear a long gown? Long gowns make you feel special and stand out on your wedding day which is what I wanted.

Kristy: I think it largely depends on the venue and the time of year too. I had a destination wedding in Bali and the weather was stinking hot! A short dress made of breathable fabric was the best choice for me.

Tanya: I always wanted a long dress, so I got married in a beautiful ballgown on the beach in the Caribbean. It wasn’t the most practical choice to be honest but I didn’t want to compromise on the length I’d always wanted.