Petite Wedding Dresses: A Bridal Stylist's Dress Tips for Petite Brides

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

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.

Photo: John Solano Photography

If you are a bride searching for a petite wedding dress leading up to your big day, you're not alone. In fact, you're one of many brides who want to find the right silhouette for a wedding dress – petite style or not! We believe that every bride should be able to wear the wedding dress she's always dreamed of; however, it's also important to find a wedding dress that fits your frame and personal silhouette, so that you can feel your very best in your wedding dress at the ceremony and reception.

To help offer her expert tips, bridal stylist Maradee Wahl of Dear Maradee has shared her styling advice in the past with Inside Weddings readers who have shared their questions on Facebook and Instagram. Today, she's offering her wedding-dress style tips for petite brides who are searching specifically for wedding dresses for petites. While it's true that many people have told brides-to-be that they can't wear a certain silhouette due to the way it will look on their height and frame, Maradee explains her tips for donning the wedding 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 petite wedding dresses

Photo by Elizabeth Messina; From Real Wedding: Fairy-Tale Wedding with Enchanted Forest Theme in Santa Barbara

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

Dear Maradee,

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



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 wedding dress 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 – yes, even petite wedding dresses.

The most common wedding-dress 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 wedding dress silhouettes for your wedding!

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

Bride in ball gown wedding dress ideas for petite wedding dresses

Photo by Jana Williams Photography; From Real Wedding: Classically Elegant Alfresco Ceremony + Ballroom Reception in Ojai

Ball Gown Wedding Dresses

- If you want to make sure your waist doesn't get cut off, consider a waistline or your wedding dress that curves up slightly in the center to create an elongated effect.

- Choose a wedding dress with a waist that starts as a straight line but lowers around the back.

- Brides can also pick a narrow belt or ribbon in a tonal (not contrasting) color to add to their wedding dresses – petite bridal gowns often include this embellishment, so you can create the look on your dream dress as well!

- Request less fullness in the skirt by reducing the crinoline or tulle. While still having a ball-look, your skirt can end up looking more like an A-line or even a sheath depending on how much fullness you remove from your wedding dress.

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

Mermaid Wedding Dresses

- If the mermaid style of wedding dress is more your look, pay careful attention to the horizontal style: lines-less will be best for your dress to ensure the style of drop-waist doesn't get in the way of you looking your very best!

- The “mermaid” seam could curve on a petite bride to elongate the look and give you a more "well-fit" wedding dress!

- To continue the elongated look, call attention to your beautiful face with details on the upper bodice above the waist of your wedding dress.

Though brides often wish for mermaid wedding dresses, there are similar silhouettes that could work even better! Consider a trumpet gown instead, which features a gradual, modified mermaid shape.

And... ask your bridal stylist and consultant specific questions about how the sample dress will change once the gown is made in your size. Expectations will help to choose the wedding dress you really want!

Bride coming down staircase in luxury wedding dress ideas for petite wedding dresses

Photo by Kris Kan Photography; Bridal Gown: Panache Atelier by Sahar Fotouhi; Bridal Salon: Panache Bridal; Floral & Event Design by Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle and Design; From Real Wedding: A Luxe Wedding Inspired by French-Garden Elegance in Los Angeles

For Any Other Wedding-Dress Shape You Like

- No matter which style wedding dress you choose, consider a modified sweetheart neckline or curved waistline to ensure your dress is picture-perfect.

- Try straps in different widths (an easy alteration or customization) to find the wedding-dress look that's perfect for you and your body type.

- Regardless of which wedding-dress silhouette you choose, from sheath to A-line, a V-neck style will add length and draw the eye to your face to create an elongated long beyond the dress itself.

- If your dress features a bottom-edged border, it should fade gradually into the skirt so there aren't harsh lines.

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

Happy Styling!


In addition to these tips on petite wedding dresses, find more fashion on 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.

Opening photo by John Solano Photography; Planning & Design by Alyson Fox, Levine Fox Events, Inc.; From Real Wedding: Romantic, Intimate Summer Wedding in Beverly Hills, California