- Emily Scoville
A Quick Guide to Bridal Necklines
So, you’ve figured out what silhouette you envision your wedding dress being. You’re set, right? Well… almost. There’s yet another piece of the puzzle to fit into your wedding lookbook: the neckline. Understanding which necklines you love and suit you can take a lot of complication out of the wedding dress shopping experience. The good news is that bridal necklines are similar to everyday fashion; you may not wear ballgowns or mermaid dresses everyday, but chances are you’ve worn a halter or a V-neck. If you know which styles you gravitate towards in your daily life, then you’re one step ahead! This guide aims to show you common necklines and what they look like in the bridal industry.
Pictured: Rebecca Ingram's "Pippa Lynette," Rebecca Ingram's "Hattie," and Wilderly's "Melody"
Sweetheart necklines tend to be the first thing people think of when they think of bridal necklines. However, there’s a lot of versatility in this style! The standard shape mirrors the upper half of a heart shape, hence the name. It’s perfect for emphasizing the girls, especially if you opt for a plunging sweetheart. If you’re loving the look of a sweetheart but want something a little more modest, then the semi-sweetheart might be your friend. Sweetheart necklines are most often found in strapless gowns, but are also paired with off-the-shoulder or spaghetti straps.
Pictured: Sottero & Midgley's "Essex"
V-necks are another incredibly common bridal neckline. Typically accompanied by thick 1-2 inch straps, they’re amazing for supporting the girls. If security is your concern, then V-neck is a fantastic option for you. V-necks can also create the illusion of a longer torso.
Pictured: Allure Bridal 9900
Square necklines are the moment for our 2023-2024 brides. The perfect blend of trendy and timeless, square necklines are a fresh take on bridal fashion. They are well-suited for brides who want some modern edge in their wedding wardrobe. They’re also fantastic if you’re worried about security or modesty, though some brides find square necklines can broaden their shoulders.
Pictured: Allure Romance 3503
Scoop necklines are the softer sister of square necklines. They have a similar level of support and modesty, but are much more delicate. Scoop necklines are fantastic for bustier brides, and are great if you want a fairytale dress with a trendy touch.
Pictured: Sottero & Midgley's "Holden"
Straight-across necklines are the perfect choice for someone who likes the idea of a sweetheart, but wants something with a little bit of a modern touch. Typically strapless and very sleek, straight-across necklines are an elevated and sophisticated choice for your wedding day. If champagne towers and checkerboard dance floors are your vibe, then the straight-across neckline might be for you!
Pictured: Demetrios Capsule 200109 and Zavana Bridal ZB22501
There’s a very large umbrella covering the dresses in the illusion neckline category, but it encapsulates any dress that incorporates illusion mesh into the neckline. Illusion mesh typically covers skin up to the collarbone, making it a deceptively modest choice. Lace is often sewn on illusion mesh to create a unique neckline, and the details appear to float on the skin. Designers also employ illusion mesh to fill in a deep plunging neckline, offering security for the girls and a bit more modesty.
Pictured: Rebecca Ingram's "Hazel"
Halter necklines are another amazing choice for modest brides, but are also perfect if you want to appear more mature. They reach up to the base of the neck, coming in at the sides to show off the shoulders. Some brides may find this neckline restricting, but it’s definitely a versatile style, being a recurring motif in boho, clean, and classic designs.
Pictured: Zavana Couture ZC377
Portrait necklines call back to 1950s cocktail dresses and Old Hollywood glamor. Portrait necklines immediately draw focus to the bride’s face, as the sharp line between the dress and bare skin creates a framing effect à la Renaissance portraiture. They’re the perfect blend of classy and sultry.
Pictured: Rebecca Ingram's "Winnie"
If you lean more towards out-of-the-box, unique styles, then the one-shoulder neckline might be for you. One-shoulders on a boho dress come off as quirky and fun, while clean dresses with one-shoulder necklines are architectural and sleek.
Pictured: Sottero & Midgley's "Kingsley"
Popularized in modern bridal fashion by Kate Middleton’s royal wedding dress, Queen Anne necklines are regal indeed. They come up to the sides of the neck, sharply plunging downwards to create a striking silhouette on the bodice. Queen Anne necklines are the perfect choice if you wish to lean into a mature, dignified look.
Pictured: Rebecca Ingram's "Bethany"
Bateau necklines reach just below the collarbone, stretching straight across to the shoulders. They can continue the straight line for an off-the-shoulder look or come up over the shoulders. Bateau necklines are a timeless and classy choice for your wedding dress.
Pictured: Rebecca Ingram's "Ardelle"
Jewel necklines are very similar to halter necklines. They dip lower and are rounder at the neck, and are a great alternative for brides who like the look of a halter but want more breathing room. Additionally, they don’t come in quite as far on the shoulders, creating a thicker looking strap than that of halter necks.
Pictured: Wilderly's "Arly"
Cowl necks are a timeless and trendy neckline, giving your dress a sultry and effortless vibe. They're typically present in clean dresses. The fabric can drape from the dress itself or be its own separate piece. Cowl necks are made for your off-duty model needs.
Pictured: Demetrios 1185
High necks are on the rise in bridal fashion. They cover the most skin of any bridal neckline, coming up to the base of the neck. Grace Kelly’s royal wedding dress infamously incorporated a high neck, but recent celebrity weddings like Paris Hilton and Naomi Biden have put the high neck on a lot of brides’ radars.