Are wedding dresses true to size?

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As your big day to say “Yes, I Do” approaches, you have to think about shopping for a bridal gown that fits right. The last thing you want is to stick yourself in a tight or loose wedding dress, as it can cause you so much discomfort that ruins the whole experience. But are wedding dresses true to size? This is a very important question, especially if you want to buy a wedding dress in an online shop.

Wedding dresses almost never run true to size because every designer uses a different sizing chart based on their own patterns. Some patterns run small, so you should get a piece larger than the standard sizing conventions. Others run big based on the type of cut used on the dress.

For instance, brides with pear-shaped figures wear small-sized full-bodied skirts for a perfect fit in the bust and waist because the hip measurements don’t matter nearly as much.

Why Do Wedding Dresses Run Small?

The leaders in the wedding industry started in Europe, and they’ve stuck to the past bridal gown sizing traditions for decades. Their sizing charts run smaller than the American ones. And with many American wedding companies filled with European designers, we’re unlikely to see a change in the wedding dress sizing they’ll use.

Since designers still make wedding dresses based on European bridal sizing, you’ll have to choose two to four sizes larger if your normal size seems snug.

For example, if you wear a size 4 in jeans, you may want to try a size 6 or 8 wedding dress to see which one fits you comfortably. Remember that, unlike your everyday clothing, your bridal gown may need an alteration to be as comfortable as possible. And in a case where alterations are necessary, a larger-sized dress is something to expect.

What Size Wedding Dress Am I?

Bridal gown size charts are dependent on designers, so there isn’t a universal sizing option when it comes to wedding dresses.

Check if your designer has a bridal gown sizing chart online, or in their shop near you, and measure yourself to have an idea of your size based on their designs and patterns. Expect to go up to four sizes up from the size of your everyday dress depending on your figure and the style of the bridal gown.

Some couturiers use bridal gown sizing that reflects American sizing. If you’re a size 10 in a regular dress, for example, you’ll more than likely fit into a 10 for their wedding dresses. Such companies make your shopping experience better, especially if you prefer to shop online.

American sizes range from 0 to 24 to fit women of every shape and size, but they’re not universal. So you should take your measurements just to be more confident in your purchase decision.

  • Measure your bust: With your arms lifted, wrap the measuring tape around your bust and record the measurements where the tape overlaps.
  • Measure your hips: Take the full measurement of the fullest part of your bottom and thighs. Since it might be a challenge to line up with one size, go with your largest measurement.
  • Measure your waist: Get the measurements of your natural waist by wrapping the measuring tape about 2 inches above your belly bottom.

You can take the measurements on your own, but we recommend that you ask someone, such as a professional designer or a stylist at the bridal store, to help you.

When taking the measurement, consider the hollow to hem length. You’ll do just fine with a longer dress because it’s easier to make smaller.

How to measure hollow to hem for wedding dress sizing

Wedding Gown Size Charts

Wedding dress size charts vary based on country and designer. Below you will find a few example sizing charts for dresses sold in America.

1. Bridal A


2. Bridal B


3. Bridal Plus Sizes


To be abundantly clear, these size charts don’t follow the measurement standards of ready-made dresses. Given that you won’t measure a size similar to your usual dress size, you will need to do some consultation to get a perfect fit for your big day.

Can I Get a Wedding Dress Size Altered?

You can get your bridal gown altered to achieve a perfect fit that suits your body type. Remember, seamstresses are somewhat difficult to find. So we strongly recommend booking a wedding dress alteration service in advance.

The cost to alter a bridal gown varies based on who does the alteration, what you need to be altered, and the seamstress’s skill level. A full wedding dress alteration will cost you $350 to $600. You’ll pay $150 to $300 if you don’t need the hem altered.

Should I size up or down for a wedding dress?

Many designers cut dresses small, meaning full-figured brides have to order dresses in sizes they usually wouldn’t. Even petite brides sometimes have to order up a size, only to have the dress tapered back down to their exact size. Your wedding dress should fit you like it was made for you on your special day.

What size am I in a wedding dress?

Bridal sizing isn’t like typical streetwear 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 an 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

What if my wedding dress is too big?

If the dress is too big and not fitting your body how you want it to, still remember not to panic. Dafra recommends adding some bra cups to fill out the bust area if it’s too large in your chest area. You can also find a beautiful sash to cinch your waist if it’s too roomy at your midsection.

How many sizes can a wedding dress be let out?

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.

Can seamstresses make dresses smaller?

If you have fabulous old-fashioned, vintage, or outdated garments and would like them to be brought back to life, the tailor will gladly do this for you. This can be decreasing a dress’ size or just making it just slightly smaller, replacing the zipper, and letting out or taking in every seam of a dress.

How many inches are between dress sizes?

From sizes 10 to 16, there is a 1-1/2-inch difference between sizes. From size 16 to size 18 and above in women’s sizes, there is a 2-inch difference; sizing at other retailers may differ. This means that the amount of weight you need to lose to drop three sizes varies based on what size you currently are.

Final Thoughts: Are Wedding Dresses True to Size?

Couturiers recommend buying clothes that run true to your body’s size because wearing anything a size (or half a size) up or down can make you look buggy and completely out of place.

But it’s a different case for bridal gowns. Because designers still use the old-school European sizing chart, many wedding dresses are never true to size. Instead, they run small.

So, get the measurements for your bust, waist, and hips. Then, order a bridal gown based on the largest measurement of the three. If in doubt, get a size up.

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