your ultimate guide to bridal lingo

learning the bridal lingo…

As a little girl it’s likely you dreamed of your future wedding, and more specifically your wedding dress. Now you’ve got that sparkle on your finger you have the green light to start planning your big day! Stepping into the world of wedding planning and bridal can feel like your entering a whole other realm, with a whole new language to learn with phrases and words that have an entirely new meaning!

To help you navigate the process with ease and feeling savvy we have compiled a glossary of all the bridal terminology you are likely to come across when planning and shopping for those unforgettable wedding day outfits for you and your Love!

We’ve broken it down into sub-headings to help you better navigate the terms. We hope you find it useful!

For more help with your wedding dress, book an appointment at our bridal boutique in Botley where our friendly HEB team Hannah & Kelly will be more than happy to help you say yes to the dress. 

Your A-Z Bridal Glossary | Rosa Clara Bride | Hannah Elizabeth Bridal
Your A-Z Bridal Glossary | Rosa Clara Bride | Hannah Elizabeth Bridal
Your A-Z Bridal Glossary | Rosa Clara Bride | Hannah Elizabeth Bridal

Dress shapes and structures

A-line silhouette – is a dress Silhouette that resembles the letter A. Fitted until the waist line and softly flare’s out to the hem.

Ball gown silhouette – also known as a Princess style, is a dress that has a fitted bodice and a full more dramatic skirt.  

Bodice – the name for the section of your wedding dress that sits around your ribcage running from your shoulder or top of chest to your waist. 

Boning – structural material (usually plastic) that is sewn inside a wedding dress to help shape and support the bodice of the gown.

Column Sheath silhouette – a dress that follows the contours of the body from head.

Corset – a tight fitting structured bodice.

Drop waist – a low waistband usually in line with your hips, usually preferred by brides who want to elongate their torso.

Empire line silhouette – a dress with a bodice that typically finishes below the bust, with a soft flowing skirt  preferred by brides with more of a classical pear shape.

Mermaid silhouette – also known as fishtail, is a wedding dress which is fitted from bust through the waist and hips and flairs out at the knees. 

Separates – a bridal top and skirt or trousers instead of a one-piece wedding dress. We stock designer Catherine Deane with a selection of stunning fashion-forward separates!

Trumpet silhouette – is a lower key version of the Mermaid shape with a fitted bodice which continues through to the hips and flares out from mid thigh.

Bridal trains

Train – is an extra length of fabric which extends from the back of the hem of your dress and trails behind you as you walk.

Cathedral train – a length of train which is more than 22 inches long. 

Chapel train – a length of train which is 12 to 18 inches 

Detachable Train – A train or skirt overlay which can be attached to the waistline of your dress and can be removed for a second look or for ease of dancing and moving!

Royal train – also known as monarch, is a length of train which is 12 feet long.

Sweep or puddle train – a length of train around 6 inches long.

Bridal necklines and sleeves

Boatneck – also known as bateau neck, a boatneck is a straight neckline which skims across the collarbone/ extending from shoulder to shoulder.

Butterfly sleeves – this design of sleeves resembles a butterfly wing when your arms are lifted. 

Cap sleeves – short sleeves that cover your shoulder but not under your arm. 

Cowl neck – a draped neckline.

Flutter sleeve – a style of sleeve that gives the appearance of fluttering, created with pleats or cuts in the fabric. 

Halter neck – a dress which is sleeveless with some form of straps or neck detail which ties or fixes around the neckline.

Illusion neckline – a dress made of sheer fabric such as tulle or lace which extends from the top of the bodice to the base of the neck or over the shoulders to gibe an illusion of the dress being strapless, plunging neckline or dainty strap gown.  

Juliet sleeves – a puffed sleeve from shoulder to elbow, with a tight fitting sleeve from elbow.

Keyhole cutout – an opening in the back or neckline of a wedding dress. 

Off the shoulder / cold shoulder  – a dress where the shoulders are exposed and sleeves drape on your arm. 

Plunging neckline – A neckline which dips low to accentuate your décolletage and elongate the torso.

Round /Jewel Neckline – a simple rounded neckline often known as a ‘T – shirt’ neckline = originally designed to showcase necklaces. 

Scoop – deep and curved neckline.

Spaghetti straps – very thin shoulder straps on a wedding gown. 

Square neckline – An open neckline with straps that resemble the shape of a square. It can be cut wider or lower for a modern look.

Straight – a clean straight neckline often known as strapless.

Strapless – a wedding dress with no supportive straps, held up by a fitted bodice.  

Sweetheart – a neckline which is shaped like the top of a heart.  

V neck – a neckline with a deep centre point forming the shape of a V.

Fabrics and detailing

Appliqué – decorative patterns that have been sewn onto the dress.

Brocade – a woven fabric with a raised floral or figured design.

Chantilly lace – is a delicate lace that is traditionally handmade to feature floral patterns.

Charmeuse – a wrinkle resistant lightweight fabric which drapes easily. It has both a matte side and a shiny side.

Chiffon – a lightweight sheer material made of silk or nylon.

Crepe – is a silk or synthetic fabric that has a soft wrinkled and textured appearance.

Mikado – a woven silk which has a slight grainy surface, some Mikados will have a matt look whilst some will be bright and opulent.

Ruching – when fabric is gathered into a repetitive pattern to create a ripple effect. 

Satin – a fabric with a glossy side and a dull back.

Sateen – a cotton or cotton blend fabric which is similar to satin. 

Taffeta– a stiff matte fabric used to create structure in a wedding dress.

Tulle – a lightweight very fine netting.

Veils and accessories

Veil – fine lightweight  material traditionally  worn to conceal the bride’s face. Typically made from tulle. For the modern bride it can be worn as an accessory to enhance her style and bridal look. 

Blusher – A smaller portion of the veil traditionally worn over the face as the bride walks down the aisle or during the ceremony. Designed to be lifted and flipped back to reveal the bride’s face.

Double Tier / Two-Tier Veil – This is when the veil includes the ‘blusher’ which can be worn over the face for the ceremony then swept back over the head to form a second/ double layer of veil at the back.

Garter – a piece of bridal lingerie made from a narrow delicate piece of fabric worn around the leg traditionally worn to hold up stockings.

Single Tier Veil – The veil flows from its attachment point – normally via a comb or hair pins straight down the back. There is no blusher – front section to this veil.

Bridal events and shopping

Off the Rack / Ready-to-Wear This is when you purchase from the boutiques showroom samples – they will have been tried on before which are bought directly from the boutique ready to take home.

Sample Sale – when a bridal boutique sells their sample dresses. A sample dress is a dress tried on by brides in store but never altered or purchased in the past. 

Trunk Show – when a bridal boutique who stock a selection of dresses from multiple designers, have an event which showcases all the designs from one designer.

Bridal events and shopping

Black Tie – formal evening wear usually consisting of a dinner jacket or tuxedo and black bow tie.

Buttonholes – also known as a boutonnière, is usually a single flower worn in the lapel of a tuxedo or suit jacket.

Cravate – a neckband that is tucked into an open-necked shirt.

Corsage – a floral arrangement worn on the wrist or pinned onto a dress.

Cummerband – a broad waist sash usually worn with a Tuxedo. 

Morning Suit – gentleman’s formal wear consisting of a fitted coat with tail, waistcoat and trousers.

Tuxedo – a formal evening suit usually with distinguishable satin facings on the jackets lapel.


Your bridal appointment

Our award winning bridal boutique is located in the Hampshire village of Botley, home to our carefully curated collection of modern luxe wedding gowns. From the streets of Paris, to the beaches of Australia, and the hustle and bustle of NYC – we’ve selected the finest bridal designers from across the globe, all specialising in exquisite designs, classic couture and exclusive styles. Your bespoke experience starts the moment you make contact with us. From our first phone consultation to your exciting and luxurious bridal boutique appointment. We lead you with our expertise and guide you through our extraordinary array of designers, their exquisite fabrics and mesmerising designs. We passionately provide an unparalleled, inspirational and high-end bridal shopping experience.


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5 High Street, Botley,
Southampton, Hampshire,
SO30 2EA