Prairie Hive

Why Wedding Dress Sizes Run Small

Going on a shopping spree to find the perfect wedding dress for you is like a dream come true. But once you start trying on some dresses, you discover to your dismay that none of the dresses fits you at all!

Do Wedding Dresses Run Small

What is going on here? If you are scratching your head right now wondering why wedding dress sizes run small, continue reading on to know the answer to this mind-boggling age-old question.

Do Wedding Dresses Run Small?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Wedding dress sizes do run small. Now, this is not meant to confuse you further or even make you feel less confident of your size.

The truth is that wedding dress sizes have a very long history, something that didn’t see any changes over time just when the rest of the world already did.

women's white dress on hangers

Short History of Wedding Dress Sizes

While styles evolved through the years, the wedding industry, in general, seems like it has remained stuck on longstanding traditions.

Many wedding industry leaders have always been in Europe, or at least have begun there, and the size charts of their wedding dresses run smaller compared to those of the Americans.

Even in the case of American-based companies, most of their designers are also European, and this is why they continue to use the same bridal sizing. This means that they are not only trying to make you feel bigger than your actual size.

While both retailers and designers would want you to feel and look beautiful on your big day, the sad news is that based on the European bridal sizing, most women will have to wear something that is two sizes bigger than their American size.

But you don’t need to stress yourself out if your usual size feels snug in your wedding dress. It doesn’t mean that European ladies are way smaller compared to American ladies. The main issue here is that these guidelines on sizes are based on the body types from many years ago. While women have drastically evolved through the decades, the size charts for wedding dresses did not.

Street Sizes vs. Wedding Dress Sizes

Based on the reasons stated above, your street size and your wedding dress size can have some significant differences. The sizes of street clothing, or the clothes you wear every day, have already changed and evolved with the times. The bridal sizing, however, has not.

It explains why there is a discrepancy between these two. Even if your favorite pairs of jeans are in size 4, there is a high chance that you will be asked to try on wedding dresses either in size 8 or size 6.

It is also rare for everyday clothing to be altered, unlike wedding dresses. Take note that if there are expected alterations, it is necessary to have a larger size.

What is Wedding Dress Size?

Sadly, there is no such thing as a universal size chart as far as wedding dresses are concerned. Since the size charts mainly depend on the specific designer, you might have no idea what the size of your wedding dress is until you finally pick your wedding dress.

But if you have access to the online bridal size chart of your chosen designer, you can try measuring yourself at home to get some idea of what your size is in that particular brand.

You can typically go up at least one size from the size of your everyday clothes. But it may also be more depending on your unique figure and style of the dress.

How Do You Measure for Your Wedding Dress?

In most bridal shops, the size of your wedding dress is dictated by the measurements of your hips, waist, and bust. After you have taken the measurements below, it is recommended that you order your size based on the largest out of these three.


Wear the undergarments that you plan to wear with your wedding dress. Wrap around the measuring tape under your arms and your back at the fullest portion of your bust.


Bend to the side while standing up straight. Your natural waist is the crease formed when you bend. Wrap around the measuring tape on your natural waist’s narrowest portion.


Keep your feet together while standing up and wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of your seat and hips.

Tips When Measuring for Your Wedding Dress Size

When you take your measurements, it is recommended that you ask someone to lend you a hand. Make sure that you also use a flexible and soft measuring tape. You can also get the help of a professional, if possible, like the stylist at the bridal shop.

See to it that you consider the length of the dress. Don’t forget that it is easier to make a large dress smaller than make a small dress larger. Be sure to order a size up if you are in doubt.

Tips to Find the Right Wedding Dress Size for You

If you have been part of a bridal party in the past or you have personally shopped around for a wedding dress, you might already know that wedding dress sizes can be very tricky.

Shopping for wedding dresses is hard enough to coordinate and navigate without the additional stress associated with all the confusing numbers. Some brides find it daunting to deal with wedding dress sizes.

To save you from all the trouble, here are a few things you need to remember:

Measurements Don’t Always Equal Size

Your size and your measurements are two completely different things and there is no one-size-fits-all approach here. To find a dress that perfectly fits you, your measurements will be taken. Again, remember that for most brides, the measurements don’t necessarily match a size number.

Runway-Style Dresses Are Often Smaller

While you might find that runway-style wedding dress beautiful, remember that designs fresh from the runway usually run on the smaller size. While you might be tempted to pick one, always consider this first.

Sizing Is Nothing but A Number

Finding a wedding dress is not the same as buying a pair of jeans. Your size at your favorite clothing store might be different for your wedding dress. Remember that wedding dresses are sized to alter and are not necessarily sized in the same way as jeans.