What Are the Most Common Wedding Dress Fabrics?

Satin, lace, and tulle, oh my! When it comes to wedding dress fabrics, the world is truly your oyster. Explore fabulous wedding dress fabrics at Zola.

By The Zola Team

wedding dress fabrics
Photo by Petronella Photography

The time has finally come to start looking for your perfect wedding dress. Whether you’re a mermaid style girl or you’re partial to a classic A-line gown, you have some semblance of the shape that you’re after.

While these are certainly important factors in choosing the best bridal gown for your special day, there is one aspect of the process that many people tend to overlook: the fabric.

The fabric is the foundation of your gown—it may not be the flashiest part of the process, but it’s going to be what every other piece builds off of.

The Importance of Fabric

Choosing your wedding dress fabrics isn’t an easy task. It takes some research to know exactly what fabrics are going to provide you with the look that you want. The same exact gown made from silk is going to look vastly different if it were made out of chiffon.

What Are the Most Common Wedding Dress Fabrics Photo Credit // Studio Carre

But, don’t worry! Everything you need to know is just a scroll away:

Fabrics Can Be Categorized by Finish

The fabric, or combination of fabrics, that you choose is going to be based on what sort of finish you’re looking for. A fabric with a shiny, slinky finish is going to drape over the body luxuriously, accentuating every curve. But, a stiff voluminous finish will provide shape and texture.

Different fabrics are also going to work well with different styles, and certain combinations of fabrics are going to work together better than others. There are so many wedding dress fabrics to choose from.

Below, we’ll outline some of the most popular choices:

Silky Fabrics

The term “silky” doesn’t necessarily refer to actual silk (although it can). Wedding dress fabrics that fall into the silky category are going to be any material that is soft, glossy, and finely woven. Silky fabrics are great for sheath, mermaid, and some A-line style gowns.

With the help of other materials, these luxurious fabrics can hold a bit of shape, but for the most part, they’re going to hang off the body and let gravity do the work. Some common varieties of silky wedding dress fabrics include:

  • Charmeuse – A lightweight, glossy fabric that is extremely common in wedding gowns, charmeuse can be made from silk or polyester, depending on the style. This material tends to be shiny on one side and dull on the other, which makes it a comfortable and beautiful choice for a sexy, form-fitting bridal gown.

  • Mikado – Mikado is a stiffer variety of silk that offers a glossy sheen, while being able to hold a substantial shape. This fabric is often found in A-line wedding dresses because it stands up to gravity, while appearing just as soft as any other type of silk. Mikado is also a great choice for the bodice of mermaid and trumpet wedding dresses because it can hold the tight shape that these gowns require without appearing dull or feeling rough on the skin.

  • Satin – Commonly mistaken as a fabric, satin is actually a specific weaving technique. Satin can be made from several types of fabric, including silk, polyester, or nylon. When shopping for a wedding gown, it’s important to understand what satin is because you’re probably going to come across it quite a bit. Satin wedding dress fabrics are lightweight, comfortable, and offer the perfect amount of soft sheen. This is a great choice for delicate, flowy gowns that aren’t too figure-hugging.

Sheer Fabrics

Sheer wedding dress fabrics can play a lot of different roles in the texture, shape, and style of your gown.

Some sheer fabrics are soft and delicate, while others are coarse and shapely. These wedding gown fabrics are typically paired with other materials that provide further coverage, as well as beading and embroidery.

Whether you’re looking at tight illusion style dresses, or large, elegant ball gown wedding dresses, sheer fabrics are most likely going to appear in this wide array of styles.

  • Tulle – Tulle is an extremely common fabric used in all different types of wedding dresses. Due to its netting-like texture, tulle is typically used as an overlay to add dimension to a skirt. Using tulle is a smart way to add volume to a gown without weighing it down from the heavier fabric.

  • Chiffon – Chiffon leans more toward the softer end of the sheer fabric spectrum. More tightly woven than tulle, chiffon offers a bit more coverage and is comfortable when worn directly on the skin. Chiffon can be layered beautifully to create a lightweight, flowy skirt. Illusion wedding gowns often use chiffon under their beading and embroidery. They give a subtle peek at the skin while still providing coverage.

  • Organza – Organza is a step above tulle when it comes to gauzy, netting-like texture. Woven loosely, organza is incredibly sheer, without being shapeless. Organza is also a lightweight fabric and makes an incredible base for intricate embroidery, beading, and jewels. This fabric can also be used to craft the flashy hem of a mermaid or trumpet style gown, due to its rigid nature and dynamic texture. Whether you’re opting for something delicate, or you’re leaning toward a more glamorous affair, organza is a versatile wedding dress fabric that works for all different wedding dress styles.

Intricate Fabrics

If you’re looking for something with a little more oomph, some wedding gown fabrics come with a little more intricacy. Of course, textures, embroidery, and decorative elements can be added to any material, but these fabrics offer a “popping” appearance, while remaining simple and elegant.

Although silky and sheer fabrics often work together to create one gown, these fabrics can typically be used alone or in conjunction with others. So, whether you’re looking for something subtle—or you like a bit of drama—these intricate style fabrics are going to do it all.

  • Lace – Lace is one of the more classic wedding dress fabrics. Varieties of lace fabric can range from incredibly delicate and sheer, to totally stiff and full-coverage. Lace can be used as an overlay or as the main fabric for your entire gown. There are many different types of lace, but a few have continued to remain popular in the wedding dress industry throughout the years.

  • Chantilly Lace - Chantilly lace is a common fabric that’s used for delicate overlays or sleeves, while Brussels lace is going to be thicker and more structured (think three-dimensional embroidery). No matter the type, lace fabric is going to add a beautiful texture to your gown that’s anything but boring.

  • Crepe – While crepe could potentially be categorized as a silky fabric, it falls into the intricate category because of its versatility. Crepe is naturally a glossy and smooth fabric, but it can easily be manipulated into holding a textured, almost wrinkled shape. Designers often utilize crepe to create subtle details for a gown without using extra layers and embroidery that weigh it down. If you’re looking for a lustrous, lightweight fabric that can also hold a texture, crepe is the way to go.

  • Brocade – Brocade is a thicker fabric that has a raised pattern woven directly into the material. This textured fabric is one of the classic wedding dress fabrics that will offer a timeless design that’s both gorgeous and subtle. If you’re looking to add texture or pattern to your gown, but don’t want multiple layers of decorative additions, brocade is a great way to incorporate these elements elegantly.

Know Your Fabrics

This information can seem like a lot when you first begin your search for the perfect wedding dress. Even when you know the names of wedding dress fabrics, it’s difficult to decide what fits your personal taste, and which ones are going to help you look and feel your best.

The good news is, you don’t have to be an expert. There’s a reason why designers spend their whole life studying this art—so you don’t have to. While it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the general elements of these commonly found wedding dress fabrics, you don’t need to rack your brain with the ins and outs of thread counts and weaving patterns.

You’re getting married, you already have enough on your plate! Knowing what fabrics you find beautiful, and the general aesthetic that you want your gown to have is enough. Solidify an idea of what you like, and go from there.

Let the designers handle the rest.

Zola Is Your Wedding Partner

While you’re researching wedding dress fabrics, don’t forget to actually research the dresses themselves. If you’re shopping for a wedding gown online, make sure to check out Zola’s Bridal Boutique. There, you can narrow down your search by style, color, pricing, and designer.

The Bridal Boutique offers everything from sleek, satin sheath dresses, to larger than life, tulle ball gowns (and everything in between). If you’re really committed to choosing your gown based on its fabric, the details page on each dress will provide you with the materials found in your selection. So, now that you’re a textile expert, get out there and start shopping.