Although bridal wear tends to err on the side of tradition, it does go through trends. Like any type of clothing, styles come in and out of fashion as tastes change and grow. Currently, one trend is dominating the world of wedding dresses both on the runway and in the boutiques. Short wedding dresses have emerged as a new favourite amongst designers and stylish brides alike. Whether they’re cropped just above the ankles or cut to a daring cocktail length, short dresses are appearing on aisles everywhere. Not only is the short wedding dress a refreshing departure from the traditional floor-length or train gown, it’s also convenient and versatile. Whether you’re having your wedding at the beach, are opting for a vintage theme, or are looking to be the most fashion-forward bride, there’s a type of short wedding dress to suit your needs.
We know that for many women, the thought of finally finding that special dress to tie the knot in conjures images of grand ball gowns and flowing cathedral veils, the stuff Disney princesses would be envious of. For other women, however, it means elegant tea-length dresses and box cut knee grazers. In this case, we’re talking about the classic that is the short wedding dress. This style of dress can often be overlooked or written off by brides for the fact that it may appear slightly outdated or boring. Short wedding dresses are more modern and trendsetting than you previously thought, why else would the greats such as Oscar De La Renta, Delphine Manivet and Monique Lhuillier and more create and reinvent them year after year? There are a whole host of reasons why a short wedding dress is more appealing than a full-length gown, some of which are obvious concerns and others can be a bit more personal.
It can be more practical
It can be naturally more practical to walk down the aisle in a short length gown. Many brides don’t want to feel constrained by a fitted trumpet gown or cathedral trail. Others are simply in love with how flattering and complimentary a short dress is on their body type. There are endless reasons, styles and designers to go to when you want to wear a short wedding dress, and we’ve chosen to name a few.
It may suit the theme of the wedding
Like we have repeated time and time, the most important thing you need to consider when choosing a wedding dress is the location. A grand ball gown will fit perfectly at a church wedding or an estate manor reception, but won’t do too well on a stretch of sand. When we see knee-length dresses, we can’t help but think of an open-air garden in the summertime nibbling on cucumber sandwiches and sipping prosecco. It’s the perfect gown for a summer wedding, particularly if you plan on having an outdoor reception. The length of the skirt will lend an elegant, refined tone to your outfit not to mention getting rid of all that extra fabric pooling at your feet will help keep your body temperature down – weather permitting, of course.
A short wedding dress shows off your shoes
The length may not be the first priority. Your wedding priority list usually begins with whatever you see most important, whether that’s a particular type of silhouette you want or that you cannot even imagine getting married without a beaded sequin dress. Whatever those priorities are, they will be different for each woman. In some cases, the priority may not even begin with the dress at all – it could be an accessory. Maybe you have already had your heart set on a particular shoe since before you can remember (did we hear Manolo Blahniks?) and you have decided to frame the dress around that show-stopping, heartbreakingly beautiful shoes. For such an essential accessory, the perfect dress would be a tea-length gown to really have your shoes on show all day and night.
They can be even more elegant
They can be the epitome of ladylike elegance. Going back to that iconic Audrey Hepburn look, a short wedding dress can always be relied upon for guaranteeing a sense of elegance and grace. Maybe it’s your second time down the aisle, and you’ve already done the ball gown thing, and you’re looking for something simpler and refined. A short wedding dress, paired with an equally stunning jacket, will have you feeling regal and stylish all at the same time. We love how Monica Lhuillier has effortlessly created this look with her poised and tailored shirt gown and jacket ensemble.
A short wedding dress can be stylish
They don’t have to be overly feminine, either. We know that many people fall victim to the assumption that all short wedding dresses are dainty, flowing A-line gowns. While this is an ever-loved silhouette among the short dresses, they can also have an edgier undertone to them. Short wedding dresses can come with dramatic hemlines, illusion necklines, plunging bodices and much more to give a bride a dress full of sensation and drama. Take, for example, this full-sleeved, short number from Monique Lhuillier. The full-length sleeves and the box cut hem with a high neckline create a sense of drama, while the perfectly planned ratio of full fabric on top and bare skin on the bottom makes for a fearsome, bold bride. Another great designer who creates short, tea-length gowns full of edge and attitude is Oscar Del La Renta, with his angular bodices and structured skirts.
They can be multidimensional
We’ve all seen those wedding dresses that can go that one small unfortunate feather past ornate and into crazy. With a floor-length gown and skirt that already dominates the bridal silhouette, a high level of adornment can look extremely out of place. However, with a shorter length gown, a balance can be perfected between the level of decoration and the shape. Because the legs are left bare, and on show, that leaves plenty of room on top for embellishment and volume. This will work out in favour of any brides who want to inject that bit of glamour and drama into their wedding dress, without looking overwhelmed by their weight and emphasis. Ines Di Santo has done this perfectly, by adding ruffled skirts and details of lace to their dresses for that perfect glamorous gown that cuts off just before the knee.
Before you begin searching for the perfect dress, set a date for the wedding and find your venue. Your dress needs to suit the time of year and the location: there is no point buying a micro mini dress if you are having a midwinter wedding in an Irish church. Here are some tips for choosing a short wedding dress, with the venue in mind: church or other sacred places.
Some women prefer not to wear anything too revealing. A short wedding dress with a traditional lace pattern is perfect for a religious wedding, as it is quite majestic. If you are not a fan of lace, consider wearing your short wedding dress with a full-length veil for a grand entrance. This style was popular in the 1920s, so try to find pictures from that era for more inspiration. Alternatively, you could opt for a short wedding dress with sleeves.
Best Short Wedding Dresses For That Special Day
Choose according to the type of civil ceremony you will have. There is no need for an elaborate knee-length ball gown if it is a small affair with only 12 guests. Conversely, if you are expecting 200 guests, you may feel under dressed in a plain sheath dress with minimal detailing.
Short Beach Wedding Dresses
A beach wedding is a beautiful affair. The combination of the gorgeous scenery with the love-filled celebration creates a remarkable wedding that no one in attendance will ever forget. But with a beach backdrop comes the challenges of having a wedding outdoors. Not only is there sand to contend with, but your wedding will also likely be at least somewhat open to the elements and at the mercy of the weather. This is no reason to avoid having a beach wedding, and it just means you need to adjust your plan, including your outfit. So, instead of opting for a traditional gown, which can be troublesome at the beach, choose a short one instead. Between mid-shin and mid-thigh is an ideal length to allow you to navigate the location easily. Keep fabrics light and styles unstructured to also remain comfortable and sweat-free on what will undoubtedly be a warm day.
Vintage Short Wedding Dresses
Whether your wedding carries a vintage theme or is simply traditional, a vintage gown can be a lovely choice. Timeless and beautiful, a vintage style wedding dress provides a bride with polish and charm on her big day. While floor-length gowns can still look classic, of course, nothing says true vintage like a shorter length. For a great 1920’s style, choose a knee-length dress featuring feathers or fringing. The touch of flapper girl fabulousness will look gorgeous and exciting for the occasion. Alternatively, a tea-length gown that finishes just above the ankles makes a great vintage option for ladies that are after a slightly longer length. While flapper dresses are generally loose-fitting with a column shape, tea-length dresses and other vintage styles often feature a fit and flare silhouette. Completed with a touch of classical lace, these vintage styles look positively perfect for a wedding.
Modern Short Wedding Dresses
A short wedding dress can easily reference a point in time and look vintage, but it can also just as easily look modern. While classic brides continue to select floor-length gowns and dresses with trains, a new wave of contemporary brides is choosing short, edgy designs. Beautiful and unique, modern short wedding dresses have an exciting and unexpected air to them. Perfect for stunning guests, these gowns are the ultimate in fashion-forward wedding attire. When shopping for one, keep an eye out for anything that looks current, non-traditional and chic. Think bold and structured for the silhouette and be sure to choose a gown with unique and stylish details.
Short Lace Wedding Dresses
A lace gown is a traditional wedding look. Despite being a bridal favourite for countless generations, the delicate fabric never seems tired or outdated. Instead, it remains a classic that many women still choose to wear on their big day. If you love the look of lace but are leaning toward a more modern style, why not consider a short, lace dress? The style can be just what you need to bridge the gap between the worlds of contemporary and classic. Featuring all the elegance of a conventional lace dress with all the excitement of a modern one, a short, lace, wedding dress is a superb option. For a spring or summer wedding, choose lighter styles of lace and crochet lace with the subtle appearance of skin from beneath the fabric. Likewise, a length finishing at or above the knee will offer an airy feel that’s perfect for warm weather.
Short Wedding Dresses with Sleeves
While a short, sleeveless or strapless wedding dress will conjure thoughts of a spring or summer ceremony, a sleeved version can look perfectly in place for any season. Offering a slightly more traditional look to otherwise contemporary styles, sleeves add a ladylike elegance to even the shortest of wedding dresses. Wedding dress sleeves, which are almost always made in the same fabric as the bodice, tend to be fashioned in lace. As the delicate fabric offers a light and bridal feel, it’s perfect creating sleeves that are well balanced with the dress. Other, heavier fabrics can still look great, and will undoubtedly have a modern and sharp appearance.
Short-Sleeve Wedding Dresses
Long sleeves tend to make wedding dresses look more elegant and polished. Short sleeves, on the other hand, have a different effect, creating a more relaxed and sweet appearance. Reminiscent of a classic t-shirt, the style is refreshingly simple for a wedding dress. Keep the look from getting too casual, however, by opting for luxurious fabric and a perfectly fitted bodice. Doing so will ensure that your look remains bridal, rather than just “done up”. Also, remember to ensure that the dress is well-balanced in terms of weight and how much skin you are showing. As short sleeves keep the top of your dress light, you’re able to add more volume to your skirt if you wish. Likewise, as your arms and lower legs are bare, a high-neck, which covers more skin, makes a great collar option.
The Basic Types of Short Wedding Dress
You might think that short bridal dresses are not versatile in terms of shapes and designs. Still, there are, indeed, different types of short dresses you can consider, ranging from bold mini options to slightly below the knee variants, also including knee-length or slightly above the knee types. The most important thing is that you need to take time to choose wisely. This will also allow you to pick between the styles, choosing the style you like and feel comfortable with.
If you are getting married while pregnant, you can pick an empire type wedding dress. This will nicely conceal the belly and focus everyone’s attention on your décolleté and legs.
As for those with ideal figures, the most reserved pieces are recommended. This way, you won’t overload the look with luxury and glam and will create a counterbalance between the sassy figure and the fabulous dress and accessories.
So, talking about these options more in-detail, we can differentiate between the following looks:
Tea Length Wedding Dresses
As we all know, tea-length dresses have the intermediary position between the mini and maxi lengths and present a totally different type of chic and glam. Most of the dresses of this type belong to the flare category and often also have a 50’s retro feel. Nipped waists and fitted bodices are some of the most characteristic aspects of tea-length dresses.
Tea-length dresses are ideal solutions for ladies who have wide hips and for those who want to create an hourglass figure with it. Still, brides having apple-shaped figures need to avoid this type of dress. On the contrary, those having shapely legs can also go for tea-length dresses without worrying about creating the wrong look.
Brides should pick this type of dress for a daytime or casual evening ceremony. As for the style inclination, retro glam is the most suitable and exact form that can be picked for combining it with tea length bridal dresses.
Mini Wedding Dresses
Coming to boulder and shorter alternatives, we can talk about the diversity of options within this type of dress, as well. Mini wedding dresses may be of full and flare silhouettes, body-con options, and many more. Though this is risky and daring, some ladies go for it! The retro style has its influence here, too. These dresses are best for ladies with beautiful legs, as we noted in the beginning. Wearing pantyhose or nylons may add some tan effect to the looks, too. In any case, picking simple and classic jewellery and accessories for styling these types of looks is the best way to feel sure that the image is not overloaded and has some formal touches about it, too.
Short Wedding Dresses with Sleeves
Short, sleeved wedding dresses are one of the most stylish and trendy designs. These looks have an array of benefits, one of which is that apart from being elegant and chic, this allows the brides to accentuate her girly and charming vibes. Thus, short and often lace-made sleeves create the best effect possible. Such dresses are the most suitable way of feeling comfortable and looking bedazzling at the same time.
Talking about the compatibility of the sleeved dresses with certain types of figures, we can first of all note that tall and slim girls with long legs are the best candidates to wear such wedding dresses. Still, the sleeved dresses are suitable for ladies with medium height as well. Accessories like cute shoes are the main hits for the combinations made with short-sleeved dresses.
Accessories for Short Wedding Dresses
Bridal accessories are so important when choosing your wedding look. For bold and crazy looks, you can pick options like boots. Still, if you want to have the traditional and chic looks, you need to pick options like delicate and chic heels, sandals, lace-adorned options, or diverse forms of snow-white heels.
In order to spice up your looks, you may use a bright and catchy belt in order to break the monotone look of the white gown and to create some contrast. Matching the shoes with the belt is a perfect solution.
You might even think about wearing a removable bottom worn over a shorter dress or a combination of the mini front and the elongated floor length or even floor-sweeping back.
Long gloves are the next ideal accessory for short dresses. Pearls or jewel necklaces, subtle transparent scarfs, hats, etc. are ideal for short dresses, too. As for the hats, fedoras or extensive brim options can be a good way out.
The only factor that might put you off from picking a short wedding dress is entering the church, for which the long and solemn variants are more preferable. So, go for the short bridal dresses and astound everyone with this striking and fabulous looks of yours!
As for when to wear a short wedding dress, it depends. Some of these brides chose their numbers to elope, while others wore them throughout their more traditional weddings. Still, others picked short second wedding dresses, which they slipped into for their receptions.
No matter your desired vibe—be it bohemian or elegant—there’s a style in this roundup to inspire your bridal look. Click through to find out exactly how to style and wear a short wedding dress on your special day.
Whether it’s a simple jacket ensemble, a flowing 50s inspired swing gown or a fitted dramatic mini, and a short wedding dress can give you exactly what you’re looking for as a bride. The options are endless when it comes to how they can be worn, and you can create whatever look it is you want to have on your wedding day with this equally versatile and stunning gown. Better yet, after you pick the perfect short gown, you can move onto selecting the perfect pair of shoes.