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Wedding Dress Sizing: What You Need to Know About Dress Sizes

Purchasing your bridal gown is one of the most exciting moments of being a bride. From the perfect cut, fabric, veil, and shoes, there is a reason why so many women dream of the moment they wear their dream dress. Some women stress over wedding dress sizing, however.

Your dress will only have the desired effect if it fits properly. The last thing any bride wants is to be stuck in an uncomfortably tight dress on their wedding day or to be unable to alter a large dress.

If you want to make sure your dress is sized right, keep reading for all you need to know about wedding dress sizes and sizing.

How To Pick the Perfect Dress That Fits

wedding dress shopping

Obviously, you don’t have to worry about the size until you start thinking about what your perfect dress may look like. There are a lot of factors that go into your perfect wedding dress, but the first is to just imagine how you want to look on your wedding day.

You can do some research on the different types of cuts, styles, and fabrics that wedding dresses come in.

Many consultants and wedding dress shop owners speak this lingo regularly, so being able to communicate with them in “wedding dress speak” will help you find what you’re looking for. 

Are Bridal Dress Sizes Different from Standard Sizing?

Yes, wedding dress sizing is often different from standard sizing. You may know your dress size normally, but it’s highly likely that your wedding dress size will be different.

Read on to learn how to determine your size in wedding dresses!


How To Determine Your Size in Wedding Gowns

Once you’ve found your dream dress, continuing to work on perfecting the fit might be a longer process, because a garment as delicate and precise as a wedding gown needs to fit in several ways. Knowing what to look for in dress fit is a great start.

From the bust, to the length, to the sleeves, and the waist, there are a lot of places where your dress may not fit your body perfectly.

Further, you may gain or lose weight during the time between dress purchase and your wedding day, meaning that fit is always able to vary.

Keep reading for more about wedding dress sizing and finding your best size.


Get an Idea of Your Wedding Dress Size Before You Go Shopping

wedding dress alterations

Before you go wedding dress shopping, it’s helpful to have an idea of what your sizing might be. While your wedding dress size may be different than your regular streetwear size, even just knowing that might help your consultant or shopping assistant.

Maybe go to a nice boutique and try on the dresses there, examining how the different sizes fit, and how different cuts look on your body. You might notice that standard sizes work for one aspect of your body, but not another.

By knowing your regular size and what types of dresses look good on your body beforehand, it’ll be easier to determine your bridal size.


Differences Between Bridal Sizing and Regular Sizing

wedding dress shopping

Because so many bridal gowns are made to order, there are no set rules for bridal sizing.

Different brands size differently– one gown’s size 8 may be equivalent to a regular size 8, or it may be equivalent to a regular size 2. That’s why trying it on before purchase and getting alterations is so customary.

However, the answer lies mostly in the company you buy from and how their gowns are made. Very popular brands may mass produce, in which case the dress sizing will be closer to that of street sizes.

However, if a brand’s dresses are highly customizable, that ability is put in place because it’s difficult to create a size chart for the dresses.


Dress Sizing Measurements

To get an idea of what you need in a dress, there are a few key measurements to know that you can learn from dress size charts. If you look at the chart above, there are four measurements you can use to size based on.

They are your bust, your waist, your hips, and your hollow-to-hem, which is the length from the base (or hollow) of your neck to where you want your dress to fall on your legs, usually at or past your feet.

Like stated above, this does not necessarily prescribe you to a specific size. However, knowing these measurements will give you an idea of what sizes you should be looking at.

It can also help you learn what aspects you may need altered, like if you’re specifically tall and thin or have a much larger bust than waist.


How To Take Your Dress Measurements

white lace

To measure these elements, get out a flexible tape measure. Make sure you’re not wearing bulky clothes and that you are standing up straight.

If you have a friend, family member, or fiancee willing to help, that will make a big difference in getting the most accurate measurements possible.

To measure your bust, waist, and hips, simply wrap the tape measure around the area of your body, and mark off where the measure meets itself. 

For your bust, measure at the fullest part. For your waist, measure at the natural crease– you can bend to one side to see this spot. Measure your hips around the fullest spot as well, with your legs flush together. 

For hollow to hem, measure from the base of your neck to your feet, as stated above, and stand up very straight.


Do Wedding Dress Sizes Run Small?

getting wedding gown fitted

One thing that throws many brides for a loop is that many wedding dresses run a bit small. This means that if you’re technically a 10, you may end up in a 12 or 14 bridal gown.

This is not something to worry or feel insecure about– it’s pretty standard that most dress sizes will be different than what you expect.

This is part of why most wedding dresses have no standard sizes, because they tend to run small, and have different measurements based on the design and designer.

It is important to keep in mind that your dress will likely have a bigger number on it than you expected.


Making Sure Your Dress Isn’t Too Big

wedding dress tailor

While one always is terrified that your dress might be too small, there are also ways to prevent it from being too big.

It’s more than bust, waist, hips, and length– there are also the shoulders, straps, sleeves. Sometimes a dress is even just too heavy for you to walk comfortably in.

If you have any issues where parts of the dress are loose, baggy, or come close to falling off, take the dress in for alterations. You don’t want to walk down the aisle covered in safety pins.

To check, take a deep breath in and out while in the dress. Does anything slouch when you breathe out and contract? If so, that area is too large.


Do Different Brands Size Dresses Differently?

wedding dress tailor

Yes, different bridal brands and wedding dress designers size their dresses differently! They all work on different charts, with different models, and in different places, making it impossible to compare one brand’s creations to another.

After trying on dresses, it’s possible that you’ll find a specific designer whose dresses you feel look really great on you. That’s an awesome thing!

Be sure to try dresses from all different brands to see if any are a magically snug fit. If you find a perfect one, you may even be one of the sample sizes!


Sizing Your Dress If You’re Trying to Lose Weight

wedding gown stored

If your heart is set on losing weight before the big day, don’t let that stop you from going dress shopping.

In fact, since most dresses need to be bought at least six months ahead of time, it’s best to start shopping as early as you can while still keeping your weight goals in mind.

However, if you choose to do this, be sure to get in touch with a seamstress, as you will likely need your dress taken in closer to your wedding if you do end up losing weight.

Purchase a dress of the size you are when you shop, and then keep at your goal, tailoring the dress to your new body closer to the wedding.


What is Considered Plus Size in Wedding Dresses?

buttoning wedding dress

Because there is not a set sizing chart for wedding dresses, it is somewhat impossible to ascribe a set number to “plus size”.

It is worth noting, however, that plus size wedding dresses typically are not standard size wedding dresses made larger. Plus size wedding dresses are made differently, and not all wedding dresses are made in plus size.

If you generally wear plus size in regular clothes, definitely find a boutique or store that carries plus size dresses to do your shopping.

Calling ahead of time to check to see if they carry larger sizes will make it easier for you to find your dream dress in the right size when you end up going wedding dress shopping.


Minor Alterations You Can Make on Your Wedding Dress

wedding dress being hemmed

If you have to make some quick alterations, there are some options for you. However, try to bring your dress for professional alterations at least once before your wedding– a trained seamstress will do a better job than you or your friends. For example, a seamstress can make a bustle to hold your train.

However, if necessary, you can do some minor alterations at home or even on the fly the day of your wedding. 


More on Wedding Dresses

Here at Yeah Weddings, we’re here to help you with all of your dress needs. From dress shopping tips to what you should wear gown shopping, be sure to read more before buying your dream wedding dress.

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Katie Sheets

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