The Dos and Don'ts of Short Wedding Dresses

Hoping to wear a short wedding dress for your big day? Learn more about how to pick the perfect one for your celebration.

By The Zola Team

short wedding dresses
Photo by Zola

For many brides, the thought of finding the perfect wedding dress usually conjures images of gorgeous floor-length gowns and long, flowing veils. However, for some brides, an elegant dress means a shorter hem. Though short wedding dresses are often overlooked as boring or outdated, these garments are a classic choice reminiscent of earlier decades that are effortlessly chic.

Ditching the formality of a long bridal gown and opting for something a little more cooler might explain why we are seeing a resurgence in their popularity. Whether you are looking for a sleek designer dress or a vintage find, you are sure to have plenty of options when searching for your short wedding dress. But, as you hunt for the dress of your dreams, there are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind.

The Dos and Don'ts of Short Wedding Dresses | Zola Photo Credit // Living Photography Videography

DO Know Your Options

One thing you may not realize or have considered before is that there are a variety of short dress lengths that can be worn for your wedding day. Understanding the differences between these options will help you select the best dress for your big day.

Mini: An increasingly popular choice for city hall weddings and civil ceremonies, a miniskirt-length dress are those that hit somewhere around mid-thigh. Though this may sound a bit risqué for a wedding, choosing the right dress can have a very sleek and modern appearance or hark to the ‘60s. Those with shorter legs might also benefit from choosing this type of dress to elongate their lower body. At the same time, women with longer limbs will want to use discretion, as a miniskirt may appear even more revealing on them.

Knee-Length: Falling just at the knee, these dresses can range from flirty and sexy to sweet and retro, depending on their design. A knee-length skirt can be an especially beautiful choice for rustic country weddings, vintage affairs, or a garden-themed celebration. However, the style can be paired with nearly any theme. Just remember if you’re shopping online, most of the models will be on the taller side, so knee-length on them may not fit the same on you. However, a quick trip to a seamstress can help you make the necessary adjustments for a perfect fit.

Midi or Tea-Length: These hemlines hit just below the knee or around mid-calf and are quickly becoming one of the most popular short dress options. Their longer length is comparable to the formality of a floor-length wedding gown, but still a bit more fun and flirty. This length of skirt can work for nearly any style of wedding, including vintage, classic, and modern, depending on the design of the dress itself. Similar to knee-length dresses, a mini or tea-length dress may require some custom adjustments to ensure the length works for your height, but that’s easily achieved.

DON’T Reveal Too Much

Finding and selecting a short wedding dress that’s both flattering and elegant is all about creating balance. As suggested above, anyone endowed with long legs may opt to avoid miniskirt dresses as they are known to elongate the lower body further and appear too revealing.

Should you select the shortest hemline, you may consider having more coverage on the top of your wedding gown. Similarly, a longer hem like a midi may pair nicely with a sweetheart neckline or thin straps with a deep V-neck. Of course, these are just guidelines and, ultimately, you should wear whatever you feel most beautiful in.

DO Make Sure You’re Comfortable

Choosing the right dress for your big day is a big decision, regardless of length. Of course, you will want to look and feel gorgeous, but you will also want to feel comfortable in the garment you choose. Make sure you try different [wedding dress styles](https://www.zola.com/expert-advice/what-are-the-most-common-wedding-dress-styles) and lengths to find the best option for you and your body. Your seamstress will be able to make adjustments so that the dress feels custom fit, but she cannot alter the style or design. Here are some of our top tips for different body shapes to help guide you through the process.
  • Bigger Bust: Opt for a dress with a higher neckline and a more structured top for support. An illusion neckline is a perfect option if you want to show a little more skin.
  • Smaller Bust: Without the need for extra support, you may want to consider a lower backline, which can be sexy without being too revealing.
  • Curvy Shape: An A-line gown will define your waistline and complement your natural curves.
  • Straight Shape: You can create the illusion of a curvier figure by opting for a fuller skirt.
  • Pear Shape: To create balance, look for a simpler skirt that doesn’t add a lot of volume to your lower body. Then, focus on accentuating your waist and upper body with embellishments and a beautiful neckline.
  • Petite: The key here is to find a dress that doesn’t overwhelm your frame. Opt for softer skirts, and be sure to have it hemmed to the appropriate length.

DON’T Pick a Short Dress Just Because It’s Trendy

The dresses that are trending now won’t necessarily stand the test of time, so don’t be pressured into picking the most modern design if you feel it doesn’t suit you or your wedding. Similar to the above, you must first and foremost make sure you feel your best in your dress. Though your friends, family, and stylist may express that you look exquisite in a certain gown, it’s up to you to determine what’s best. However, if trendy is your style, then don’t be afraid to try out those designs.
The Dos and Don'ts of Short Wedding Dresses | Zola Photo Credit // impressenshi

Why You Might Want to Wear a Short Wedding Dress

Beyond simply the style and design of the wedding dress, there are a wide variety of reasons why brides choose short wedding dresses over full-length gowns. These include more apparent concerns, as well as some more personal ones.

Practicality: Above all, a short wedding dress may simply be a more practical option for some brides when they think about walking down the aisle. Whether they find the style of a short wedding dress more flattering to their body type, worry about being too constrained by a fitted trumpet skirt, or feel hindered by a cathedral train, many brides opt for the practicality of a shorter hemline.

Theming: As we’ve mentioned above, short wedding dresses can often complement specific wedding themes. While a grand ball gown may be the perfect choice for a traditional church wedding, it would look out of place at an informal beach celebration. Shorter dresses can be styled to fit nearly any theme at any time of year. Still, they can be a particularly great choice for outdoor weddings in the summertime when extra fabric pooling at your feet may be uncomfortable.

Shoes: Though a dress is usually chosen for its silhouette and style before its length, opting for a shorter dress may be a priority for those brides you want to show off their shoes. Whether you splurged on an elegant pair of designer heels or want to add a youthful touch with bold colored sneakers, covering your shoes with a floor-length gown may be a shame. If this is the case, a short dress is a perfect choice to have your footwear on display all day and night.

Elegance: Reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn, short wedding dresses can be just as elegant as a floor-length gown—perhaps even more so. Something about a shorter hemline is effortlessly chic and stylish, guaranteeing a sense of elegance and grace.

Adornment: A stunning wedding dress creates a sense of balance in its design, and this is sometimes harder to achieve with a longer dress. Because a full-length gown is already dominated by its skirt, one feather or bead too much and the dress can quickly go from ornate and elegant to gauche and over the top. So, if you crave adornments on your dress, a shorter hemline might be the way to go. Your bare legs will leave plenty of room on top to play with embellishments without looking overwhelmed by their weight and emphasis.

Though a short wedding dress will not be the best choice for every bride, it’s something every bride should consider. These dresses are versatile and practical, making them an excellent option for nearly any type of wedding in any season. Even if you aren’t sure a shorter dress would be right for you, talk to your stylist about the options available and try on a few different styles. Maybe you will find one you fall in love with for your big day.

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