Wedding Gowns vs. Wedding Dresses: What’s the Difference?

December 5, 2021

You may be thinking, “Wait, there’s a difference between a wedding gown and a wedding dress?” The difference between the two may seem confusing due to the two terms being used interchangeably in today’s society. However, they are not actually considered the same thing.

This may seem like splitting hairs, but hear us out on this one. All gowns can be dresses, but not all dresses are considered gowns. Traditionally, gowns tend to be more formal and have a variety of different shapes. If you are in a pickle about whether you should choose a wedding dress or a wedding gown — or aren’t sure how to tell them apart — then let the experts help.

So What is a Dress?

Let’s clear up some of the confusion behind what a dress is. Usually, when you picture a dress, you might think of a cocktail or a maxi dress. If you imagine an A-line outfit or simple sheath dress that you wear to work, you would be just as correct. Dresses encompass a wide range of styles because they can be worn for many different occasions.

By definition, a dress consists of a skirt with an attached bodice and a top piece covering the torso and hanging partially over the legs. As long as the dress is a one-piece containing a skirt of any length, you wouldn’t classify it as a gown.

What makes it a dress is two things — one, being the event that the clothing is worn to and two being the type of material. You may wear a light dress that is made of cotton at the beach. But if that dress is made out of chiffon, it transforms into a gown you wear to a beach event.

So, What is a Gown?

So when the word gown pops in your head, the dresses stated above probably don’t fit the bill. Typically, people refer to a dress worn at a formal event like a wedding when talking about a gown. However, you don’t have to be the only person who is wearing a gown at the wedding. Maids of honor can also be the ones wearing a formal gown, depending on the style you choose.

Usually, a looser garment that is knee to full length is what classifies as a gown. For a dress to also be considered a gown, it needs to have an attached skirt and a bodice. 

Men can wear gowns too. These are often worn for special occasions or for professions. Judges also can wear a dress or a robe due to the formal nature of the event. You may have heard the term graduation gown, which males or females also wear. It’s all about the event and its formality that dictates whether it is a gown or a dress.

Adjectives Matter

Any adjective connected to the word dress or gown is also a good indicator of the difference between the two. A great example is a summer dress versus a wedding gown. The word wedding instantly makes the attire more formal. This is also true if they have the same silhouette. If a dress and a gown both consist of an empire waist, one can still be a summer gown while the other is an empire waist wedding gown. Here are some more examples of what adjectives can do to the words dress or gown:

  • Club Dress
  • Summer Dress
  • Dressing Gown
  • Graduation Gown
  • Prom Dress
  • Wedding Gown
  • Party Dress

Wedding Gown Vs Wedding Dress

Hopefully, that clears up some of the confusion for you, so now we can look at the disparity between a wedding gown and a wedding dress. It will follow the concept that was listed above, with a few minor differences.

Whether it’s a bridal dress, wedding dress, wedding gown, or bridal gown, it will depend on the rules of the event. An example is, if you have a casual wedding on the beach, you would be buying a wedding dress and not a wedding gown. 

For example, a chiffon A-line dress made for a wedding is not a gown. Usually, at the wedding, the casualness of the event and setting will dictate what types of dress/gown the others will wear along with the bride. If you are the maid of honor, mother of the bride, or bridesmaids, picking a dress or gown will depend on the formality of the ceremony. 

Let Us Help you Find your Dream Dress or Gown!

At Sposa Mia Bridal, our hand-curated collection of Bridal Gowns will steal your heart. With a mixture of price points and styles, we provide a unique selection of gowns and accessories that is elegant, timeless, and romantic.

Please give us a call at the boutique or take a moment to complete our appointment request form to schedule your visit. We will get back to you as quickly as possible to confirm the details!

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