A Bridal Stylist's Wedding Dress Tips for Petite Brides

Discover how to make your favorite bridal silhouette work for your body type.

Written by: Maradee Wahl

Editors Circle member and bridal stylist Maradee Wahl of Dear Maradee has been sharing her styling advice for Inside Weddings readers who have shared their questions on Facebook and Instagram. This week, she's sharing her wedding style tips for petite brides. While many people have told brides-to-be that they can't wear certain silhouettes due to their height, Maradee explains her tips for donning the dress style you've always dreamed of – no matter how tall you are.

Bride with Adam Ottavino baseball player wedding day getting ready first look shot
Photo by Elizabeth Messina; Bridal Stylist: Maradee Wahl for Dear Maradee

Read on to learn more about choosing a dress for a petite body type in the next Dear Maradee post, below:

Dear Maradee,

I am a petite bride and am concerned that many styles I like won’t be flattering on my specific frame... Can you help me pick the best option for my wedding day?

Signed,
Kate

--

Dear Kate,

There are a number of regulations on the Internet about what you should or should not wear as a petite woman. While I somewhat agree with the overall suggestions for everyday clothing, I usually don’t agree with these regimented restrictions for a bride on her wedding day.

In fact, choosing a custom-made bridal gown is the best opportunity to select a unique style that may never work with clothing off the rack.

If you’ve been following my past advice, you know my theory that applies to everything (including life!) is that a bride can have whatever she has dreamed of as long as she pays attention to the overall look and considers proportion and balance.

The most common advice you will hear is that petite brides should never wear a ball gown or mermaid style, as these cuts make a bride appear shorter. How disappointing to imagine you can’t wear two of the most classic and lovely bridal gown silhouettes for your wedding!

Here are my top ideas to avoid a shortening effect on a bride:

Ball Gown
- Consider a waistline that curves up slightly in the center.
- Choose a waistline that starts straight but lowers around the back.
- Pick a narrow belt or ribbon in a tonal (not contrasting) color.
- Request less fullness in the skirt by reducing the crinoline or tulle.

And... always request a petite cut or custom bodice measurement. You will likely incur an additional charge, but you may save on alterations and will definitely save yourself from a disappointing first fitting!

Mermaid Gown
- Pay careful attention to the horizontal style: lines-less will be best!
- The “mermaid” seam could curve on a petite bride to elongate the look.
- Call attention to your face with details on the upper bodice.
- Consider a trumpet gown instead (a gradual, modified mermaid shape).

And... ask your bridal consultant specific questions about how the sample gown will change once it's made in your size. Expectations help!

For Any Other Shape You Like
- Consider a modified sweetheart neckline or curved waistline.
- Try straps in different widths (an easy alteration or customization).
- A V-neck style will add length and draw the eye to your face.
- A bottom-edged border should fade gradually into the skirt.

Remember, you are the bride, so choose to wear what you love best.

Happy Styling!

xoxo
Maradee
Maradee Wahl for Dear Maradee bridal stylist services
Be sure to check back for more advice from Maradee! If you have questions of your own, we'd love to hear them! Leave a comment below, and the next Dear Maradee feature could answer your question!

Find more fashion on InsideWeddings.com here, and read Maradee's tips on walking down the aisle in styleincorporating tradition into your ensemble, choosing the best bridal shoes for you, and finding the perfect bridal gown. See if you should wear a veil or not, and discover the first steps to take when selecting a wedding dress.

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