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If you’ve been dreaming of a magical fairytale wedding, chances are a whimsical wedding gowns is the right choice for you. This ethereal and playful style is known for its soft and feminine silhouettes, from glamorous ballgowns to retro tea-length dresses.
“I think whimsical can mean different things to different people, but to me, it’s very soft and ethereal,” shares wedding fashion stylist, Gabrielle Hurwitz. “It’s probably not super traditional, like a silk faille or mikado, nor is it flashy with a lot of bling or sparkle. I think a whimsical wedding dress is typically light and airy and may include details like color, prints, or textural appliqués like 3D flowers or ruffles.”
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From nature-inspired details to flowy silhouettes, whimsical gowns are well suited for boho or romantic bridal styles. However, Hurwitz recommends that brides keep an open mind when it comes to dress shopping. “I do think that any silhouette can be whimsical,” says the stylist. “You might not think of a mermaid or trumpet silhouette as whimsical, but if it’s covered in little 3D flowers, I think it can feel more whimsical. Similarly, a ballgown with a layered or ruffled skirt can feel just as whimsical as a sheath or A-line.”
Best V-Neckline: Willowby by Watters Hearst Gown
Size: 00-26W | Length: Floor | Materials: Tulle
Nothing about this A-line gown is understated, and that's what we love about it! From the oversized floral appliqués to the open back and side cut-outs, this gown has a bit of a dramatic flair without being too over-the-top.
Best Sleeve Detail: Alexandra Grecco Calla Gown
Size: Contact brand | Length: Floor | Materials: Silk crepe and illusion tulle
If you're looking for a gown with a soft and romantic design, then this is the one for you. The billowing sleeves and skirt side panels are covered in floral appliqués, adding a striking element to this classic silhouette.
Best Convertible Dress: Danielle Frankel Freja Gown
Size: 0-12 | Length: Floor | Materials: Satin, tulle, and lace
Trying to decide between a whimsical or sultry gown? With this satin slip dress from Danielle Frankel, you don't have to choose. Transform the simple cowl neck gown by slipping on the tulle cape, featuring chantilly lace floral embroidery, for a graceful result.
For a Summer Wedding: BHLDN Veronique Gown
Size: 0-16 | Length: Floor | Materials: Tulle and organza
Covered in floral embroidery and organza fabric, this sheath-fit gown from BHDLN is effortlessly chic. The plunging neckline and low back give this gown a sultry silhouette that is perfect for a warm-weather soiree.
Best Square Neckline: Justin Alexander Charlotte Gown
Size: Contact brand | Length: Floor | Materials: Organza, lace, and tulle
Enchanting and sophisticated, this ballgown from Justin Alexander is a stunning choice for a modern bride. Made of organza, it features a square neckline, illusion bodice, and sequined floral appliqués.
Best Empire Waist: Odylyne the Ceremony Bellina Gown
Size: 2-20 | Length: Floor | Materials: Silk organza
There's something effortlessly whimsical about this empire-waist gown. The silk organza puff sleeves and slightly tiered skirt are simple at first glance but give the gown texture and dimension.
For the Classic Bride: Anne Barge Sienna Gown
Size: 0-22 and 16SP-24SP | Length: Floor | Materials: Satin and lace
The charm of this classic gown from Anne Barge lies in its simplicity. The satin V-neck bodice perfectly complements the floral lace that trickles down the full skirt. Style with a lace-trimmed veil for a sleek finish.
Best Corset: Galia Lahav Nirvana Gown
Size: Made-to-order | Length: Floor | Materials: Tulle and lace
Our favorite detail on this gown by far is the three-dimensional flowers that rest on the shoulder straps. They add a certain je ne sais quoi to an already stunning gown that features a corset bodice with exposed boning and hand-embroidered lace.
Best Ballet-Inspired: Zimmermann Rhythmic Fluted Gown
Size: 2-10 | Length: Maxi | Materials: Linen, silk, and organza
Ballet-inspired wedding dresses are trending right now, and this abstract number from Zimmermann is made for the unconventional bride. Whether you're looking for a unique ceremony look or a fun and fresh after-party ensemble, this gown will bring a bit of edge to your bridal look.
Best Off-the-Shoulder: Galia Lahav Nouvelle Gown
Size: Contact brand | Length: Floor | Materials: Silk tulle
This blush and ivory tulle gown from Galia Lahav gives off-the-shoulder sleeves a fairytale upgrade. The puffy sleeves have a magical quality that can only be enhanced with the provided black satin bows (not pictured). Bonus: the sleeves are detachable for a two-in-one look!
Best Spaghetti Strap: Anne Barge Poetic Light Gown
Size: 0-22 and 16SP-24SP | Length: Floor | Materials: Lace and crinoline
Between the tiered crinoline skirt, the open back, and the three-dimensional floral embroidery, this ballerina gown is luxurious yet sophisticated. Pair it with an embroidered veil or headband, and you have a truly elegant final look.
Best Budget: Lulu's Life of Love White Floral Lace Short Sleeve Maxi Dress
Size: XS-XL | Length: Maxi | Materials: Lace
Floral lace and a plunging neckline make for a breathtaking combination. And the best part? It's a budget-friendly option. At a price point of $99, this maxi dress from Lulu's is full of delicate and elegant details.
Best Ballgown: Amsale Yumi Gown
Size: Contact brand | Length: Floor | Materials: Tulle and organza
This tulle gown from Amsale puts an artistic and ethereal twist on the traditional ballgown silhouette. Featuring hand-painted and embroidered florals, as well as a corset bodice, this gown is both trendy and timeless.
For a Garden Wedding: Needle & Thread Araminta Lace Gown
Size: 0-14 | Length: Ankle or midi | Materials: Tulle and lace
If your goal is to look like a garden fairy at your wedding, you'll fall in love with this petal pink gown from Needle & Thread. Trimmed with intricate lace and covered in multi-colored floral embroidery, this tulle gown is so delicately feminine and romantic.
Best Slip Dress: Galvan Frida Floral Velvet Maxi Dress
Size: 4-12 | Length: Maxi | Materials: Velvet and silk
A slip dress might seem like a more modern choice, but this one has quite a few whimsical details. The velvet fabric and rose embroidery are ideal for an after-party or rehearsal dinner celebration look.
For a Backyard Wedding: Marchesa Notte Arabella Dress
Size: 0-12 | Length: Midi | Materials: Tulle
This embellished midi dress doesn't lack the punch of overstated bridal glam. The floral appliqués and silver embroidery play up the drama on this strapless silhouette—a great choice for spring or summer nuptials.
For the Fashion-Forward Bride: Hermione de Paula Miniature Rose Tassel Gown
Size: UK 6-20 | Length: Ankle | Materials: N/A
You'll be the ultimate dancing queen in this stylish gown from Hermione de Paula. The tassel skirt and floral embroidered bodice give the dress a lighthearted feel that can be worn from ceremony to after-party.
For the Modern Bride: Carolina Herrera Sequin Floral Applique Bow-Back Midi Dress
Size: 2-16 | Length: Midi | Materials: Organza and silk
Nothing says whimsical like floral appliqués and color-blocking. This midi dress from Carolina Herrera features a bateau neckline, sequin embellished floral appliqués, and a black bow for a romantic bridal look that has a bit of edge to it.
Best Strapless: Alexandra Grecco Emmett Gown with Floral Overlay
Size: Contact brand | Length: Floor | Materials: Illusion tulle and silk crepe
Glide down the aisle in this graceful gown from Alexandra Grecco. This free-flowing piece includes a detachable floral embroidered overlay and an inner corset that gives the relaxed silhouette a bit of structure.
What to Look for in a Whimsical Wedding Dress
Opting for a whimsical wedding dress provides room for you to be as classic or as playful as you want with your bridal look. For a more timeless style, stick to lace or embroidered florals. If you’re looking for an unconventional or glam dress, consider 3D floral appliqués, ruffles, or pastel colors.
When it comes to accessorizing your gown, it's helpful to think about the season your wedding will be in. “I think whimsical wedding dresses can work great for all seasons—it’s all about the styling,” notes Hurwitz. “For colder months, consider adding a cape, which plays up the whimsical element. For warmer months, accessorize with florals like fresh flowers in your hair or jewelry with a flower motif.”
How do you style a whimsical wedding dress?
When it comes to the overall styling of your bridal look, it’s best to follow the aesthetic of your dress. “I think the key to styling a whimsical look is keeping everything soft and romantic,” says Hurwitz. “I love the idea of a statement accessory, like one of Jennifer Behr’s circlets or a Lelet NY headband, atop a soft hairstyle and paired with glowy makeup. Consider picking up some of the details of your dress, like a veil with appliqués or jewelry in a similar motif. I think the key is to avoid anything too glamorous.”
Where do you shop for a whimsical wedding dress?
You can find a whimsical wedding dress almost anywhere, and most brands will carry at least one or two styles that fall into this category. But, a few brands to consider are Alexandra Grecco, Watters, Amsale, and Mira Zwillinger.
What type of wedding is a whimsical wedding dress best suited for?
Since a whimsical wedding dress can be so versatile, it will work for both outdoor and indoor weddings. “When I think of a whimsical wedding dress, I think of an outdoor wedding, whether it’s on a beach, in the forest, or in a garden,” says Hurwitz. “But it can absolutely work indoors, too, especially if you plan to bring in elements of nature into the overall design.”