Essential Parts of a Wedding Gown by Names and Anatomy: Every Bride Needs to Know

So, you’re planning for your wedding? What type of dress are you looking for? What style of neckline, sleeves, skirt area, bodice, train? Before walking into any bridal shop, it’s a wise idea to first know the names and styles of every wedding dress part. By knowing the names of the separate parts of a wedding gown, you can avoid being misunderstood and can clearly describe your style preferences. Being an informed bride will make wedding gown shopping less stressful and save you money.  Continue reading for an explanation of the anatomy of a wedding dress, the names by which each part of the gown is called, as well as a list of available styles for the various wedding gown parts – so that you can shop with confidence. 

wedding gown parts

Everyone knows that a wedding gown is (usually) white and long, and that there’s the upper part and the bottom part of a dress. But that’s not all.  A wedding dress can be described by the silhouette (or overall shape), as well as by the style of each dress part. In a previous article, we explained the different wedding gown silhouette styles, and in this section, I’ll explain what each part of a wedding gown is called, and the styles each dress part comes in.

Every wedding dress is made up of different parts, and each part has a name – the silhouette, the neckline, the bodice, the sleeves, and the train. While every wedding dress has an overall shape (aka silhouette), each dress part comes in many different styles, and that is what makes each one uniquely different from another. 

The Names of Different Wedding Gown Parts and Descriptions

The sleeves and the neckline are the parts of a wedding gown that most brides know, or refer to the parts as the top and bottom part.  However, every wedding gown has 7 main parts by which they are described in the bridal industry. Each part comes in different styles.  You too should know them so that you won’t look lost when you start shopping for that dream wedding dress.

So, here are the 7 main parts of every wedding gown:

No matter the shape and style of a wedding gown (and no matter where you buy the gown – in Nigeria or elsewhere), every wedding gown has the following basic parts:

1. Sleeves:  What is a Wedding Gown Sleeve?

You can guess that this is the part of the gown around the arm area. Wedding gown sleeve styles include sleeveless, long-sleeve and short-sleeve which are commonly worn by Nigerian brides.  Those are not the only styles of wedding gown sleeves.  Popular sleeve types are explained in another post (click).

2. Neckline: What is a Wedding Gown Neckline?

As the name implies, this refers to the neck area of the wedding dress, and there are different styles of wedding dress necklines – we’ll discuss that in another section (below). Some popular styles of wedding gown necklines seen in real Nigerian weddings include: strapless neck, spaghetti straps, sweetheart neckline, halter neck, v-neck, off-the-shoulder and scoop neck.

3. Bodice: What is a Wedding Dress Bodice

The bodice is basically the “body” or top part of a wedding gown.  You can easily identify the bodice as that part of a wedding gown between the shoulder, chest and the waist or top part of the hips.  Put in another way, the bodice is the top part or blouse-part of the wedding gown.  To keep it really simple, let’s call it the part of the bridal dress that is between the neckline and skirt part of the dress.  Like other parts of a wedding dress, there are different types and styles of bodice. Most wedding dresses worn by Nigerian brides have a fitted or body-hugging bodice.

4. Waistline: What is a Wedding Gown Waistline?

This is the horizontal line (or seam) that separates the bodice from the skirt area of a wedding gown.  There are different styles of waistlines in wedding gowns, and each has a name.  If you have 2 identical dresses, a difference in waistlines can change the overall shape (silhouette) of each dress, and make each uniquely different.  I’ll explain styles of waistlines in another section down below.

5. Skirt: What Part of Wedding Gown is the Skirt?

The skirt part of the wedding dress is the bottom part, or simply put, that part of the bridal gown that starts from below the waist and flows downward. Depending on the cut/ silhouette and style of a wedding gown, the skirt area may be long, short, slim or full.  Some wedding dress styles look very similar at upper part (neckline, bodice, waist) BUT only differ in the skirt area – for example, the difference between the Trumpet (Fit n Flare) silhouette style and Mermaid Wedding Gown is that the mermaid wedding dress flares from the knees while the trumpet wedding dress flares from the mid-thigh (right after the hips); also the skirt part of the mermaid wedding gown is fuller and puffy. Both mermaid and trumpet gowns are similar in their upper part (bodice), where they are tight-fitting.

6. Train: What is a Wedding Gown ‘Train’?

The wedding gown train is the elongated back part of the dress that lies on the floor, sweeping the floor and following behind the bride when she is walking, making her look like a princess. Bridal trains are named according to how long they are.  There are different lengths and styles of wedding gown trains and each one is best suited to certain wedding gown type and venue setting.  The longest bridal trains are called cathedral train and chapel train.

NOTE: Some Nigerians use the term “bridal train” to mean ‘the bridesmaids, flower girls’, but now you know that it’s a part of the wedding gown.  Bridal party is the name that the wedding industry uses to refer to the bride and groom = bridesmaids, groomsmen, bestman, maid of honour, flower girls and ring-bearer.


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About Stella Anokam

Stella is the founder and Editor of this blog (NaijaGlamWedding). Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Submit your photos to be featured - it's FREE, because we love everything weddings, bridal showers, engagement shoots.

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