I’m 5’2″, and I have a clothing line for petite women under 5’4″, so I know from not only my experiences but also thousands of my customers that finding the right wedding dress can be such a challenge!
No matter how tall you are, wedding dresses for short brides should be constructed to elongate the legs and create the illusion of height.
Here’s a comprehensive guide I’ve put together for all the petite brides looking for their wedding gown. I used these tips and tricks to find my own gown- they are proven to work!
Table of Contents
Gowns with Elevated Waistline
Proportion is such a key concept in petite style and it should be the core of your wedding day style too.
If you are short, you should look for wedding dresses with a waistline higher than your actual waist. (This actually works with not just wedding gowns, but with any dresses, and I use this principal when we put together our dress collection.)
The reason is when your waist appear higher, it will draw the eye’s attention higher, creating the illusion that your legs are longer than you actually are.
Long and Lean Silhouette
In fashion, there are many different silhouette, i.e. the trumpet, ballgown, mermaid, A line, princess, etc.
Silhouette is the foundation for any dress..
The ideal wedding dress for short girls needs to create the illusion of height through a long and lean shape.
In other words, it should go vertical, instead of horizontal.
Wear Lower Neckline
The neckline for the wedding dress is a critical design every bride should consider in order to find the best style to flatter their shape.
This has more to do with your body type, instead of your height.
On the other hand, since most petite women tend to have a shorter neck, going with a lower neckline generally elongates our neck.
This is the most feminine style that flatters many different body shapes and works perfectly for petite brides. It hugs at the midsection and flares at the skirt like a fish tail.
For petite brides who want to ditch the ball gown wedding dresses but still are interested in a little bit of drama, the mermaid style will make you feel glamourous walking down the aisle and give you the moment of “red carpet” feel.
Mermaid style emphasizes bust and hip, so they are the best wedding dresses for petite brides who want to show off their feminine curves.
The flare skirt has moderate volume and will not overwhelm the petite frame of short brides.
Look for elevated waistline (i.e. above your natural waistline) so that your legs will look longer.
Trumpet style wedding dress is a close cousin to the mermaid style. Some wedding gown retailers may use these terms interchangeably.
This wedding gown silhouette has a fitted top and hugs your butt and thighs tightly, and then the train flares out, which is why it is similar to the shape of a trumpet.
Just like the mermaid shape, this kind of wedding gowns emphasizes your feminine curves, especially flattering for petite women with bigger busts and slender waist.
Sheath (Column) style
This style is designed in such a way that the seam runs vertically from the shoulders down to the hips. They are meant to be one of the best wedding dresses for petite brides who love simple and minimalist design. Many brides love sheath dresses made from chiffon material because the drape of the fabrics really accentuates your figure and appears remarkable as you walk down the aisle.
Because most sheath wedding dresses are light weighted, they are perfect for outdoor weddings and especially destination weddings in a resort setting on the beach (they are so easy to pack and go and you will be ready for your big day!). If you are a petite bride with a nice figure, let the sheath dress hug your body instantly and show off your natural curve. Sheath wedding dresses also help butter up your figure and give you that long and lean silhouette needed by short brides.
Simple A line
A line dresses are ideal for petite brides because they hug at your hips to accentuate your waistline of your body. Like the letter A, this style has the look of a tightened hip line that gradually broadens all through the ankle. This style a classic wedding dress suitable for a traditional ceremony at the church or a casual ceremony, and really, it works for any other types of wedding settings too.
If you are a petite plus-sized bride, A line dress will work especially well for you because it instantly crates a figured silhouette and emphasize your charming assets of the body. Now, if you are a short bride, keep in mind you want a simple A line, nothing that overwhelms your petite body frame like the exaggerated ball gown style (which also creates an A shape). The right A line dress will make you feel the most beautiful bride of the world without too many details or accessories.
Fit & Flare Style
This silhouette is most common for wedding dresses at knee length or midi length.
This works the best for a shorter brides because it is fitted on the top half, bringing focus to your chest and show off your legs.
If you are short, it is always a good idea to bring focus upwards instead of downwards.
Fit & flare is especially flattering for shorter brides who do not have a defined waist, because the flared skirt can create the illusion of a smaller waist.
If you want to opt for something different than the traditional wedding gown, go for a short wedding dress. There are many wedding designers who now offer short style for your special day.
Short wedding dresses never disappoint petite girls- they are one of the most obvious choices on our list for best wedding dresses for petite brides. The reason is quite simple- they show off your bare legs and make you look taller. They are also simpler than other wedding dresses and will not look you are being worn by the dress.
With a short wedding dress, you can feel free to get the embellishments and laces you desire without having to worry you are over-accessorizing.
Short wedding dresses are suitable for petite brides who want to try something different. They are perfect for outdoor ceremonies, as it is so much easier to walk down the aisle without a train dragging on the grass! And of course, they are your best bet for a destination wedding as well, given how much smaller they are than full length wedding gowns which make it super easy to pack and care for during your trip.
What is empire waist?
According to Wiki, empire waist is a high waistline that cuts horizontally across the body, just below the bust. This waistline gives a long, slender look and excellent fabric drape in the skirt and allows for short, inconspicuous shaping darts.
Empire style wedding gown is defined by the raised waistline which sits just below the bust from which the rest of the dress flows down to the hem. Skimming over the hips and tummy area, this silhouette is perfect for any short brides, and especially flattering for pear-shaped brides.
The high waist line followed by the skirt of the gown will create the perfect illusion of length and perfectly camouflage the heavy bottom of the pear shape.
The waist line design is essential no matter what kind of wedding dress you are getting for your big day.
In order to emphasize your waistline, you can also wear jeweled belt and ribbon on the fitted waistline makes you look slimmer and shaped.
Avoid Puffy Gowns
Ever since you were a little girl, you may have been dreaming about wearing a princess gown for your wedding.
Now here is the reality. Those big puffy ball gowns are not very flattering for petite brides. I knew that from first-hand experiences.
When I was shopping for my dress, I had my eyes set on those Vera Wang for David’s Bridal collection. So I went to David’s Bridal and tried on all the puffy gowns they had. None of them looked flattering on me.
The reason is simple: puffy gowns expand you horizontally.
If you are already short, anything too puffy will only make you look bigger and shorter than you are!
Avoid Train Too Long
For petite brides, it is key to choose the right length for your wedding dress. In general, you want you dress to be long enough to elongate your short frame, but you do not want it to be too long as to overwhelm you, either.
When the train is too long for your gown, it can draw too much attention downwards and make you look bottom-heavy.
Meanwhile, when the gown has too long a skirt train, it can also make it easy to trip when you are walking down the aisle.
Invest in Tailoring
For most other dresses, you can just look for the petite sizes. However, for wedding dresses, it is not as simple as finding the petite department.
Every bride, no matter short or tall, should be prepared to go through rounds and rounds of tailoring with your wedding gown, in order to find the perfect fit for your big day.
If you long looking for a long wedding gown, be prepared you most likely won’t find something that’s ready to wear off the shelf (short wedding dresses are a different story).
When it comes to petite wedding dresses, length is not the only thing that matters.
Where to Find Petite Size
I had mentioned earlier it is hard to find petite wedding dresses, but here is the list I have gathered where you have a better shot.
They have the most stunning wedding dresses online! Plus, who doesn’t love the world class service of Nordstrom?
This is one of the few places which has specified “petite size wedding dresses”. On their home page, you’ll find explanation of how petite sizes are made differently.
The neckline is adjusted, and the bodice is 1″ shorter. The waistline is repositioned. The train and embellishments are adjusted and skirt is 3″ shorter.
Tadashi Shoji is a brilliant designer that specializes in formal dresses and have dressed numerous Oscar winning actresses. The great news is they do have petite sizes!
This is another designer that specializes in wedding and other special occasion dresses and they do have a petite department as well.