6 Favorite Modern Wedding Dress Styles

Modern wedding dresses are chic, stylish, and effortlessly elegant. Take a look at Zola's guide to modern wedding dress styles for your modern wedding.

By The Zola Team

modern wedding dress
Photo by Hannahcostello

The days of every woman’s wedding dress looking like Cinderella’s ball gown have come and gone. Modern brides are branching out, discovering innovative new styles that make walking down the aisle feel more like walking down the runway.

While some wedding dress trends have moved toward a sleek, form-fitting approach, others have stuck with a modest style that still offers a fresh, memorable look. Some modern wedding dress styles aren’t even dresses at all, as many people have begun opting for new forms of wedding day outfits (pants and jumpsuits, anyone?).

If you’re a 21st-century woman looking to make your special day just as unique and groundbreaking as you are, read on for ways that the wedding gown industry is changing the game with these modern wedding dress styles.

Modern Wedding Dress Styles Photo Credit // Hannah Costello

1. Mermaid Style

Mermaid style gowns have gained a great deal of popularity in the last decade.

What makes this style so popular is its curve-hugging shape that simply oozes elegance. Mermaid wedding dresses are a perfect look for the modern bride who isn’t afraid of showing flare on her wedding day. The tight fit of a mermaid gown is going to give any bride a beautiful hourglass shape that will provide a sultry, modern look without showing any skin.

This style is characterized by its tight-fitting shape all the way down, with an exciting flare below the knee. Mermaid style gowns have a glamorous hem that often feature ruffles, beading, and jewels (to resemble the fin of a mermaid’s tail). This is a great way to incorporate added decoration without detracting from the gorgeous, curvy shape that the rest of the gown highlights.

Mermaid style gowns are going to be the best option for any bride looking for a dress that gives them a little more oomph. This shape won’t stray too far from the classic bridal look that you know and love, but it’s definitely going to have a more sophisticated allure that‘s a perfect look for the modern bride.

Modern Bride Bonus: The hem of a mermaid gown is going to be tighter than a typical gown. To avoid stumbles, practice walking in your dress before the big day. This may seem like a bit more work than the average wedding dress, but it will give you a leg up (see what we did there?) on being comfortable in your gown. This will ensure that your big day isn’t ruined by any surprises that come with wearing your dress.

2. Mini-Dress

Many modern brides are ditching the lengthy, traditional wedding gown and opting for shorter, more comfortable options. If you’re looking to show off a little skin, or you just want the freedom to bust a move on the dance floor at the reception, a mini-style wedding dress is going to be perfect for you.

Mini-style wedding dresses don’t have to sacrifice class and beauty.

Many short wedding dresses have the same intricate beading, delicate lace, and unique styles that floor-length gowns offer, but without the extra baggage. Ditch the long train of days past and opt for something cute and comfy. The only thing that should be following you down the aisle is confidence (and maybe your cute little dog).

Modern Bride Bonus: Short wedding dresses are a great way to show off your shoes. Why spend all that money on a gorgeous pair of heels that nobody is going to see?

3. Two Piece Gowns

Along with the rise of crop tops came the sweeping trend of two-piece gowns.

Not only are two-piece dresses trendy and hip, but they also offer a more comfortable fit that’s going to allow a greater range of motion than a traditional bridal gown. With added space around your torso, you’re going to be able to breathe, dance, and show off a little extra skin.

A two-piece gown is also a great way to incorporate modernity and tradition together in harmony. The cute, little top is going to provide the fun, modern factor, while a flowing, princess-style skirt will add traditional elements and keep you feeling like the radiant bride that you are.

A two-piece gown is truly the best of both worlds, allowing the old and the new to meet in a way that’s both cool and gorgeous, just like you.

Modern Bride Bonus: Opting for a two-piece gown will allow you to add some color to your wedding wardrobe. If you’re partial to white, but crave a little variety, opt for a different colored top to mix things up a little bit. Blush pink and pale blue are some trendy, bridal tones for 2020 that will make any two-piece gown look especially unique and interesting.

Modern Wedding Dress Styles Photo Credit // Unsplash

4. One-Shoulder

In terms of modern wedding dresses, nothing beats a one-shoulder style gown. These elegant, simple wedding dresses will have you looking like you walked straight off the runway and down the aisle, seamlessly.

An asymmetrical cut is a perfect way to add a modern spin on an otherwise classical looking wedding gown. You can still have the silky texture, the floor-length hem, and the beautiful flowy skirt without sacrificing your uniqueness. The single-shoulder style can also be enhanced with elements such as ruffles or beading, to give your unique style some added flair.

Modern Bride Bonus: If you like the graceful look of exposed shoulders, but you also want the stylish addition of sleeves, a single-shoulder bridal gown is going to be a chic compromise that beautifully embodies everything you desire in your dream wedding dress.

5. Suits and Jumpsuits

The most modern wedding dress style is ditching the dress entirely.

Modern brides are breaking free from the chains of gender roles and opting for a new variety of wedding attire that many find comfortable and akin to their personal style. Opting out of the classic wedding dress approach can be intimidating, but if you feel more comfortable and confident in pants, then a jumpsuit or a bridal suit is the way to go.

While traditional wedding gowns are beautiful, they aren’t exactly suited to everyone’s tastes. Many brides who never wear dresses in their daily life can find putting on a dress for their big day uncomfortable. The best option for what to wear on your wedding day is something you feel beautiful in.

If you like wearing pants, but you still want to look feminine, don’t worry. Choosing to go an alternate route with your wedding ensemble doesn’t have to come at the cost of glamour. Many bridal suits incorporate beading, gems, and lace to ensure that you still feel like the beautiful bride that you are—just in pants.

Modern Bride Bonus: Bridal suits provide an added luxury that men have enjoyed for years: pockets. Keep your phone, tissues, and lipgloss on you while you say “I do.”

Can anyone say convenience?

6. Capes and Ponchos

A great way to incorporate delicate overlays into your gown is the new trend of bridal capes and ponchos.

These interesting additions to your wedding gown not only add a bit of mystique, but also provide extra coverage if you feel that your gown is too revealing. Bridal capes and ponchos are almost always going to be made of lightweight, sheer fabric that will ensure your beautiful gown is still completely visible.

If wearing a veil is too antiquated for you, a bridal cape or poncho is also a fresh way to add a similar delicate accessory without subscribing to the old-fashioned tradition of hiding your face under a veil. After all, you probably spent a couple of hours in the makeup chair. Why on earth would you want to cover up all that head work?

Modern Bride Bonus: A cape is going to make you feel like a real-life superhero. Choose a color that complements your outfit, and become the queen that you are.

Don’t Let Your Special Day Be Especially Démodé

A modern woman deserves a modern wedding. Whether you want to look seductive, chic, or entirely unique, the current wedding dress industry has more choices for your wedding day attire than ever before.

In the past, gender roles, traditions, and societal pressure have played a role in how a bride chooses to dress on her special day.

In 2020, these “norms” are being challenged and erased. If you’re more comfortable in pants, or you can’t decide between sleeves and sleeveless, the choices are all up to you. If you have people in your life who don’t approve of your wardrobe choices, don’t be discouraged. Wearing what makes you feel beautiful, regardless of the opinions of others, just proves that you’re absolutely fearless (and you really do deserve that superhero cape).

Let Zola Take Care of All Your Wedding Dress Needs

From mermaids to ponchos, Zola’s got everything a modern bride needs to prepare for the big day.

If you’re perusing wedding dresses virtually, check out Zola’s online Bridal Boutique. There you can search for wedding dresses (or jumpsuits, you get the idea) by style, designer, price, and even color. The Bridal Boutique also has all the accessories that you’re going to need to accompany these modern wedding dress styles, and complete the entire ensemble.

After you’ve picked out your perfect modern gown, don’t forget to register at Zola, and create personalized save the dates and invitations. And, if you’re really feeling modern, check out Zola’s Wedding Website Designs to keep all your guests up-to-date virtually.