8 Top Types of Wedding Dress Sleeves to Choose From (With Photos)

Types of bridal dress sleeves

As Wedding Know How editors, we write about things that we love and we think you'll like too. We have affiliate partnerships and sponsorship and may generate some revenue from these at no cost to you.

Wedding dress sleeves come in a variety of styles, from strapless to long sleeves and everything in between. Choosing the right sleeves for you depends on your personal style and external factors like the weather.

Here’s a detailed look at the top 8 types of wedding dress sleeves and some excellent alternatives.

Types of Wedding Dress Sleeves

1- Strapless Wedding Dresses

Bride in strapless wedding dress

Stylish wedding gown by EL Design Studio. Check price here.

Strapless wedding dresses are among the most popular styles of bridal gowns as they accentuate your figure, drawing attention especially to your bust and waist. Over 75% of all wedding dresses come in this style, making it a very in-style choice.

The strapless style is typically chosen for ball gowns, A-line and sheath wedding dresses but can come in a range of other silhouettes and look amazing on almost everyone. These gowns are perfect for a petite bride, as the dress doesn’t overwhelm you with tons of material. However, if you have prominent shoulders, a strapless dress might not be your best option as it can make you look larger at the top. 

Strapless gowns look gorgeous with a well-chosen statement necklace or pair of earrings, and a bracelet to match.

2- Spaghetti Strap Wedding Gown

spaghetti strap wedding gown

Spaghetti strap wedding dress by Blush Fashion. Check price here.

This style of sleeves have very thin straps that look like spaghetti – thin, long and pencil-like. Unlike strapless dresses, spaghetti straps provide a little extra lift to the dress, supporting the bride to keep the dress comfortably up with the minimal amount of material shown.

Spaghetti strap are perfect for princess style dresses with large skirts, sheath dresses or dresses with empire waists. They tend to look less formal than strapless dress styles,  but this of course depends on the overall design.

For a practical and comfortable option, spaghetti straps make a good choice. They’re ideal if you want a strapless look without the worry of the dress moving out of position.

3- Wedding Gown with Straps

Bride wearing strap wedding gown

Strap wedding dress by PT Bridal Handmade. Check price here.

In between spaghetti straps and cap sleeves comes the strap wedding gown, featuring straps a few inches wide attached to the top of your dress on either side.

Straps provide additional support, keeping your dress up nicely, while also becoming an integral part of the design. These straps can be embellished with beading, lace, pearls or crystals to add a touch of bling and detail to your dress.

Straps on a wedding dress can suit a range of styles, but are especially perfect with ball gown style dresses for a classic look. For a modern twist and a statement look, try a one-shoulder strap. You can also opt for detachable straps, giving you two looks with one dress.  

4- Sleeveless Wedding Dress

Bride in sleeveless wedding gown

Sleeveless wedding gown by EL Design Studio. Check price here.

No, a sleeveless wedding dress isn’t a strapless gown. Rather it a dress without sleeves, but with more support than the strapless style. Off-the-shoulder, halter, illusion and bateau are some necklines that are typically sleeveless without being strapless.  

Sleeveless gowns can look more formal and are comfortable to wear. There’s less scope for wardrobe malfunctions and a pleasing balance in the top and lower halves of the dress.

5- Cap Sleeves Wedding Gown

Bride wearing cap sleeves wedding dress

Cap sleeve wedding dress by Kala Kala Bridal. Check price here.

 Cap sleeves can come in a range of lengths and styles, but are typically easy to identify because they cap the curves of your shoulders. They’re typically small, round sleeves that are fixed to the top part of the dress, with no sleeve under the arm. These sleeves are very popular as they have a casually confident, feminine look and are very versatile. They can also come in detachable versions, which give more flexibility to the bride.

Cap sleeves are comfortable and easy to wear. They’re quite casual looking, and are perfectly suited for more bohemian, casual style wedding dresses but can also suit more formal A-line and mermaid style gowns depending on the style of sleeve. Cap sleeves can be very elaborate but they can also be barely-there, and can range in style from subtle to puffy.

6- Short Sleeve Wedding Dress

Bride with short-sleeved wedding dress

Short sleeved wedding dress by Milamira Bridal. Check price here.

Short sleeves are longer than the cap sleeve but stops around the elbow. These sleeves are clearly there, offering more coverage and modesty to the bride. Short sleeves can vary in style, but are typically flat and body-fitting. However, puffier, elaborate sleeves can make a statement and really stand out.

Short sleeves tend to look best with column or sheath dresses that flow straight down, but don’t tend to complement ball gown style dresses in general as the bride can get lost in all the fabric.

7- Three Quarter Sleeve Wedding Dress

Bride wearing bridal dress

Three quarter sleeve lace dress by Milamira Bridal. Check price here.

This style of sleeve falls midway between elbow and wrist, often extending just a few inches past the elbow. Again, three quarter sleeves come in a variety of styles, with some popular options being lace embellished sleeves, bell sleeves (narrow at the shoulders and wide at the bottom half) and detachable three quarter sleeves.

Three quarter sleeves on wedding dresses has a formal, more sophisticated look. It’s a nod towards the vintage styles of the mid-20th century, and is undoubtedly feminine and classy to look at.

8- Long Sleeve Wedding Dress

A-line Wedding dress Belen Long sleeve wedding dress image 3

Stylish long sleeve wedding dress by New York City Bride. Check price here.

You only have to look at the wedding pictures of royal brides to see how important a part long sleeves play. Royal brides are traditionally supposed to wear long sleeves for their wedding dresses, as this ensures modesty, sophistication and respect to the church.

While you might choose long sleeves for another reason, there’s no denying that long sleeves look grown-up, classy and very chic. Long sleeves typically extend up to the wrist or just beyond, and can come in a variety of styles, from fitted to big and dramatic as seen on Princess Diana’s wedding dress.

For wintry weather, long sleeves offers welcome respite from the cold but in summer, choose long sleeves made of lace or other sheer material to provide more breathability and comfort.

Alternatives to Sleeves

Bride wearing bolero wedding dress

Bridal bolero by Mokka Bridal. Check price here.

If you want sleeves for your ceremony but not for the entire day, here are some alternatives that give you flexibility to take off the sleeves when you want:

1- Detachable sleeves

We’ve mentioned this a couple of times above, but here goes again. Detachable sleeves can be fixed onto your dress via snaps or buttons and can be simple straps, or elaborate full-length sleeves. Just ensure that the sleeves complement the dress and look like a single cohesive outfit.

2- Bridal Bolero

A fashionable bridal bolero that elegantly covers your shoulders can easily be taken off to show off a strapless dress. Depending on the weather, you can opt for a heavier bolero or a barely there lace style.

3- Bridal Cape

Yes, capes aren’t just for superheroes, they can be for sheroes on their wedding day too. A bridal cape suits column and body-con dresses, adding a bit of movement and flow at the top, while providing coverage and warmth. Choosing a quality matching cape can make a world of difference. Capes rest around the shoulders, and are generally tied in the front to keep them secure.

Bride wearing cape

Bridal cape by Dave and Chiyo. Check price here.

4- Bridal Shawl

This can be styled in many ways and can be the same color as the dress or a different color for a statement look. Bridal shawls can be thick, woollen designs or light and airy pieces depending on the weather and the look you’re aiming for. While they can be a hassle to arrange and will tend to keep moving around on you, they’re also very practical and versatile.