Your Guide to Gowns

When you shop the boutiques for your perfect wedding gown, you’ll probably hear more terms for styles, gown shapes, veils and trains than you thought possible.

Learning all of the different options can be fun and overwhelming – all at the same time. These terms below can help you sort through and decide on the most stunning gown you will ever wear.


A-line: Fitted bodice that has a modest flair in the skirt.

Ball gown: A full, poufy skirt supported by layers of tulle and a fitted bodice.

Drop waist: Ends just above the hip region.

Empire: High waist, hitting just below the bust.

Mermaid: Hugs the body and begins to flair, typically at the knee.


Asymmetrical: Features one diagonal shoulder strap.

Off-Shoulder: Sits below the shoulders to draw attention to neck and shoulders.

Portrait: Wide scoop neckline but covers shoulders to mask arms.

Halter: Straps that fasten behind the neck, most are backless.

Spaghetti straps: Very thin supportive straps at the shoulder.

Strapless: Cut straight across, sleeveless and strapless.

Sweetheart: Curved like the top of the heart at the bust line.


Ballerina: At or just above the ankle.

Floor: Brushing the floor or slightly above.

Hi-lo: Hits at mid-calf in front and is floor length in back.

Mini: Above the knee.

Tea: Ending a few inches above the ankle.


Cathedral: Extends 6-8 feet behind the gown.

Chapel: Extends 3-4 feet behind the gown.

Court: The train extends 1-2 feet behind the gown.

Sweep: Just grazes the floor behind the bride.


Brush: Short, just touching the floor.

Cathedral: Can extend 6 feet or more behind the bride.

Chapel: Extends about 3 feet behind the bride.

Court: Fuller than the brush style, train drapes starting at the waist.