Here's How to Determine Your Wedding Dress Size (2024)

Shopping for a wedding dress is a very different experience from shopping for literally any other item of clothing. Instead of thumbing through the racks looking for your usual size, bridalwear requires you to try on a sample size of the gown you potentially want to buy. This can mean that the looks you try on are either way too big or way too small, and even if a dress does seem to fit your measurements, it will still need to be tailored to perfection.

So, for most brides-to-be, it can truly feel confusing when attempting to find a wedding dress in your size. Even if you wear, say, a 10 in other clothes, you may be a 12 or 14 when it comes to bridalwear. What's more, sizing can vary from brand to brand, which can further contribute to you feeling a bit overwhelmed. But since finding the right size is obviously pretty important, you'll, of course, want to do it correctly.

Ahead, we spoke to an expert to find out exactly how to determine your wedding dress size when searching for "the one." These tips will help you ensure that your shopping experience is at once effective and stress-free.

Meet the Expert

Madeline Gardner is the designer and creative director of the heritage bridal brand, Morilee.

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How to Figure Out Your Wedding Dress Size

The best way to figure out your wedding dress size is to get measured multiple times, allowing the bridal attendant to measure you at each salon you visit. "I always recommend my brides get measured by their bridal stylist," says Madeline Gardner, the designer and creative director of Morilee. "Getting properly measured makes all the difference in ensuring the best fit!"

While you can attempt to shop for your gown using your standard dress size (like asking to try on an eight), ultimately, your best bet is to figure out your exact measurements. That's because wedding dresses are typically two to four sizes larger than ready-to-wear clothing, as they're created to fit the largest part of your body with the understanding that they'll get altered to fit the rest of your silhouette.

And even if you're buying a wedding dress off the rack, you should still consider alterations in order for it to fit properly. "No matter how close the fit, you should always expect some minor alterations to give you the perfect shape, tailored specifically to your body," Gardner advises.

The Difference Between Bridal and Ready-to-Wear Sizes

In general, wedding dresses run small. "This is actually based on a little known tradition that most bridal sizing dates back to original European size charts from the 1940s," explains Gardner. "For this reason, most brides will find they have to size up two to three sizes from their typical ready-to-wear size."

Before you get stressed out by the numbers, though, it's important to remember that shopping for your gown is more than just the size: it's about how you feel when wearing your look. "My advice: don't get caught up in the sizing aspect of your dress shopping," Gardner says. "Find a gown you love and, most importantly, a gown you feel your best in."

The Difference in Sizing Based on Style and Designer

To make things even more confusing, bridal dress sizes can also vary by brand, with some designers opting to create their own sizing charts. So, don't be surprised if you wear a different size across several brands.

Additionally, the style of the gown can also change the way it fits. "Different silhouettes or back styles, like for corsets, for instance, can also impact the sizing of your gown," Gardner notes.

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How to Get Measured for a Wedding Dress

Gardner recommends going to a professional, like a bridal attendant, to get measured for your wedding dress. Measuring is part of their job, so it's something they're good at and a skill every bride should use to their advantage.

That said, you can try measuring yourself if you'd like. To do this, be sure to only measure yourself without any clothes on, aside from underwear. When using a measuring tape, keep it parallel to the floor, and don't hold it too tight or too loose. Next, measure your length (from your collarbone to the hem), bust (around the fullest part of your chest), natural waist (the most narrow part of your waist), and hips (the fullest part of your hips). Lastly, write down your numbers, and don't forget to bring them to your bridal appointment.

What to Expect With Wedding Dress Alterations

While custom or made-to-order wedding dresses should, ideally, fit perfectly, you should expect that almost every wedding dress out there will need to be altered in some way. Many bridal shops offer in-house alterations, but you don't need to feel obligated to use their services. Instead, you can take your gown to a tailor you trust or a less expensive option if that's what you prefer.

The dress alteration process can also take some time, especially if your gown is made of delicate material or has a lot of beading. More high-maintenance ensembles generally take longer to alter, and some may even take months to complete. Therefore, this means that you should strive to go for a first round of alterations three to four months before the wedding. Once alterations are complete, you'll then go in, try on the gown, and see if you need any further changes. If you've lost or gained weight, especially a significant amount, you may want to go in sooner to ensure nothing has changed and that your dress fits perfectly.

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Here's How to Determine Your Wedding Dress Size (2024)

FAQs

Here's How to Determine Your Wedding Dress Size? ›

The best way to figure out your wedding dress size is to get measured multiple times, allowing the bridal attendant to measure you at each salon you visit. "I always recommend my brides get measured by their bridal stylist," says Madeline Gardner, the designer and creative director of Morilee.

How do I figure out my wedding dress size? ›

The best way to figure out your wedding dress size is to get measured multiple times, allowing the bridal attendant to measure you at each salon you visit. "I always recommend my brides get measured by their bridal stylist," says Madeline Gardner, the designer and creative director of Morilee.

What is a size 12 wedding dress equivalent to? ›

Yes, wedding dress sizing is different from regular street sizing. "Wedding dress sizes differ by running about three sizes larger than regular dress sizes," says Bergeron. "This means that a bride who wears a size 12 in the mall would be around a bridal size 18."

What is a size 14 dress equivalent to? ›

US size 14 in women's dresses is UK size 18. This is equivalent to the L international size. This dress size has a bust of 103-107 cm (40-42 inches), a waist of 86-90 cm (33.5-35.5 inches), and a hips size of 109-112 cm (42.5-44 inches).

Is a size 14 wedding dress plus size? ›

So, depending on your size, choose your wedding dress wisely. There are usually differing opinions on this. Some places will say 12 while others may say 14, 16 or possibly even 18. The middle ground that tends to be considered is usually 14–18 & upwards is considered “plus size”.

What is a size 10 wedding dress equivalent to? ›

Bridal sizing isn't like typical street wear sizing. While you might be a size 4-6 in jeans, you're in fact a bridal size 8-10, and if you're a size 14-16, you're likely a 18-20. Don't worry about it–sizing is just a number! You'll likely see most of our samples in a bridal size 8, 10, 12, 18, 20 or 22 to try on.

How does bridal dress sizing work? ›

Ready-to-wear sizing in the U.S was adjusted over the years, but bridal dresses have remained true to original size charts. That is why, for the most part, bridal sizing runs two sizes smaller than ready-to-wear (what you would buy when you are shopping in Nordstrom, for example).

Can a size 22 wedding dress be altered to a size 14? ›

Usually, you can alter a wedding dress two sizes down and a size up. A dress could also be recut if you need to take more than three sizes in. However, your tailor could make other special alterations depending on your size, the dress's current size in question, and its peculiarity.

Do wedding dress sizes run big or small? ›

How Does Bridal Sizing Differ from Street Sizing? In general, wedding dresses run small. That's why you may notice that your bridal size seems bigger than your street size—at least in number. Another factor to consider is alterations.

Is size 12 big for a woman? ›

US size 12–14 is usually considered “Large” and some brands do start “plus sizes” at 12.

Is an XL a size 14? ›

While a size XL is designed to fit a size 16/18, she may prefer to wear a size 1X, which equates to a size 14/16. This is because the plus-size section was designed with curves in mind.

Can a size 14 wedding dress be altered to a size 8? ›

Taking a gown one to two sizes down is pretty common, and should still keep the integrity of the original design fairly easily. Of course, the closer to your actual size the better; you'll save money in alterations, and the gown will look best when it is closest to how it was designed.

What size dresses does David's bridal carry? ›

They offer sizes 0-30W, which means brides of all shapes and measurements can find samples and on-trend styles that match their wedding vision.

Are David's bridal dresses true to size? ›

true to size

At David's Bridal, sizes fit the way you'd expect them to, so you'll wear the same size as you do in your favorite outfit.

Are wedding dress sizes the same as normal sizes? ›

As a rule of thumb, it's always good to assume that your bridal size will be one to two sizes larger than your street clothes. However, this could change depending on the style of the dress, its country of origin, alteration capabilities, and your figure.

How many sizes can a wedding dress be taken in by? ›

The experts will tell you that you can increase the dress size by one or decrease it by two sizes without having to change out the dress entirely or recut it. Some slight alterations can change the size slightly so that it fits you better. Not all wedding dresses can be altered quite so easily, though.

What is a medium sized wedding? ›

These numbers may vary a little depending on who you're speaking with, but a small wedding typically includes 50 people or under, a medium wedding has a guest list of anywhere from 50-150 guests, and a large wedding has over 150 attendees.

Are dress sizes different from pant sizes? ›

When it comes to questions of how to determine dress size by pant size, both measurements take waist size into account. However, pant sizing does not include the bust, back, shoulders, and sleeve length when applicable. Accordingly, more than pant size is needed to provide enough information to fit dresses properly.

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