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Are Wedding Dresses True to Size?

Picking out a wedding dress is a big decision and you want to get the sizing right. You might be wondering if wedding dresses sizes are the same as your street clothes.

So are wedding dresses true to size? Most wedding dresses are not the same size as your street clothes, in fact, they could be up to two sizes different. The reason for this is many wedding dress designers are from other countries and their sizing is different than in the United States.

There is no need to be alarmed when it comes to getting the right wedding dress size, even if you decided to purchase your dress on line rather than at a bridal shop. All you need to know is the following information.

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Why is My Wedding Dress Size So Big?

Most wedding dresses run small. It’s just a fact of wedding dress shopping that we have to accept.

A lot of brides have commented that they kinda freaked out when they ended up needing a size that is 2 to larger than what they normally wear.

It’s okay, you didn’t suddenly gain weight over night. There is a real explanation for this.

There are two reasons why wedding dress sizes are never the same as your regular size. ONE, many wedding dress designers are from European countries and have a much smaller standard size chart than what we have in America, and TWO every designer uses a different size chart based on their own patterns.

There are two different sizing standards that you should familiarize yourself with; ready-wear and wedding-wear. Ready-wear sizing are the clothing sizes that you are familiar with from clothing stores. These are the sizes you would wear every day and are standard across almost all clothing stores. Wedding-wear sizing are the clothing sizes for brides and bridesmaid dresses made by most European-based or European immigrant designers. These sizes are usually small and are equivilent to nearly two sizes up from what we’re used to.

So what can we do to avoid wedding dress sizing headaches?

  1. Know your measurements. Ask someone to measure you and write those measurements down on a piece of paper.

  2. Refer to the designer’s size chart. Each designer will have a size chart for you to refer to. Compare you measurement with the size chart to see which size you need to order.

  3. If you plan to order online to save money, visit a bridal shop for a free fitting first. This will give you the opportunity to try on different styles and have your measurements taken by a professional. Once you have an idea about what styles you like, you can more easily choose a dress online. watch their size chart and make sure to get something that fits your measurements.

  4. When in doubt, order on the larger side and have the dress tailored. There is no harm is ordering bigger than what you need. Simply take into account that you could have a few extra hundred dollars in alterations depending on how much needs done.

Wedding Dress Size Chart

If you’re looking for an idea of what size you should try, here is a chart that will help you determine what your wedding dress size should be.

Please keep in mind that every designer has a different sizing method, so this is not an exact chart. This chart is simply to give you an idea of what size to try on.

How to Measure for a Wedding Dress

If you buy your dress at a bridal shop, they have professional stylists that will take your measurements and help you find the dress that best fits your body type.

However, if you plan to buy your dress online or shop sales and trunk shows, you’ll be on your own. Therefore, knowing your measurements is very important. Get someone to help you and write down your measurements for these basic sizes. Also, if you’re going to a local sale or trunk show, bring a fabric measuring tape with you so if you have any concerns or need additional measurements, you can easily get them.

Just remember, you can always get the dress bigger if there is any concern and have it tailored by a local seamstress. Don’t stress out too much if you can find a dress that fits you like a glove right off the bat. Wedding dresses are made to be fitted to the bride.

If you accidentlly got a dress that too small, don’t worry! Wedding dresses can be let out too!


You may not need this measurement for every style dress, but it’s good to have it just in case.

Start with your measuring tape at the tip of your shoulders and measure around the back until the tape measure meets. The measuring tape should just skim the skin so it’s not too tight.


Your bust is measured by wrapping the measuring tape around the fullest part of the breast, under the arms, and around the back. The tape should be as tight as possible without changing the breast shape.


Wrap the measuring tape around the smallest part of your waist. Note that this is not where the bottom of your shirt ends or the top of your pants. It should be approximately halfway between your hips and your breasts.


Hold the tape measure on one side of your hip at the fullest point. Then wrap it around your hips until the tape measure meets up again where you started.

Arm Length

This is another measure that may not be necessary unless you want long sleeves.

Start at the top of your shoulder and measure down to your wrist.


You will need someone to help you take this measurement.

Hold the tape measure at your collar bone, stand up straight and measure all the way down to your feet.

Is It Better to Buy a Wedding Dress Too Big?

It is ALWAYS better to buy a dress that is too big rather than too small! If you’re ever in doubt, just purchase the next size up and have your tailor fit it to your exact measurements. There is no harm in buying a dress that is a little bit too big.

It’s always easier to take a dress in than it is to let it out, so keep that in mind when you’re planning on alterations. You’re more than likely going to pay the seamstress more to let a dress out than take it in.

Related Questions

Should I wear shapewear to try on wedding dresses? Many shops will have shapewear that you can use as you’re trying on dresses but you can also bring yours along. You might want to just bring it along so you have it if you want to try it. You can learn more about what to wear when trying on wedding dresses here.

What is the average wedding dress size? The average wedding dress size is usually between size 10 and size 12 (which is size 6 to 8 in street clothing).

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Hi, I’m Kristin. While I haven’t found my Prince Charming yet, I’ve been dreaming of getting married for a long long time. I started this site as a place to record all the things I’ve found and researched in preparation for my own wedding someday. I can’t wait to share it all with you!

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