Elegance & Texture: A Guide to Wedding Dress Fabrics

The type of wedding dress fabric you choose for your bridal gown makes all the difference in how you look and feel walking down the aisle on your big day. Your chosen wedding dress fabric can keep you warm or cool, make a statement about your personal style, or suit a particular bridal theme.

Sadly, many brides don’t often give wedding dress fabrics the consideration they deserve. It’s easy to get wrapped up worrying about choosing the features you can easily see, like the neckline, silhouette, or train length, but forget to think about how a certain fabric will feel after you’ve worn it all day long in certain climates (For more on other dress features, be sure to check out our guides on necklines, silhouettes, and train length).

Your comfort should not be so easily overlooked! To that end, Avery Austin has put together this in-depth wedding dress fabric guide to walk you through recognizing the different bridal materials available and choosing fabrics that are best for you. Let’s start with a brief overview of the types of fabrics that are considered “bridal.”

What Type of Fabric is Used in Bridal Dresses?

The most common types of fabric used to create bridal dresses are:


These top 12 bridal fabric materials stand out because they offer a luxurious sheen, intricate detailing, elegant structure, or gorgeous drape. Chances are, many of these wedding dress fabrics sound familiar! While they certainly aren’t exclusively bridal materials, these types of wedding dress fabrics are most often used for formal attire. Ready to learn more about each fabric? Time to get down to the sweet details!

12 Popular Wedding Dress Fabrics

Let’s really dive into each of the 12 types of wedding dress fabrics from the bridal material list above. By the time you’re through reading, you’ll have a good idea about what each fabric is, how it can feel to wear it, and what time of year is the most comfortable for it. Here are the top 12 types of wedding dress fabrics, organized alphabetically (not by popularity).

#1 Charmeuse

What It Is: Charmeuse is a lightweight wedding dress fabric with a satin weave that gives it a beautiful sheen on the top side and a dull finish on the underside. Often made of silk, but sometimes rayon or polyester, charmeuse is one of the more expensive wedding dress fabrics available. Despite the expense, charmeuse wedding dresses are loved for their soft, glamorous feel against the skin, the way they flow beautifully around the curves, and the classic charm they provide.
When to Wear It: The opulent look and feel to charmeuse wedding dresses makes them perfect for formal venues. Like silk, charmeuse is a fabric that’s comfortable all year round because of the way it traps body heat in the cold or releases body heat when it’s hot. Since charmeuse fabric is not easily embellished, the simple, unadorned bridal styles made from charmeuse are perfect for modern wedding themes.
Fun Fact: If the phrase “satin weave” and the shiny texture has you wondering if charmeuse and satin are the same, you’re not alone! They are certainly the same in terms of weave and weight, but the real difference between satin and charmeuse is the level of lustrous shininess! Charmeuse is by far the glossier of the two, outshining satin with a beautiful polished gleam when the fabrics are placed side by side.

#2 Chiffon

What It Is: Chiffon is a sheer, lightweight fabric that's made from silk or polyester. It has a soft texture and tends to flow well, making it a popular choice for wedding dresses. Chiffon is available in various colors, sizes, and styles, which means it can be used for a variety of different looks.
When to Wear It: If you're considering a chiffon wedding dress, keep in mind that it's best suited for spring or summer weddings due to its airy, breathable nature. This means it’s a great choice for destination weddings! We also absolutely love this look if you’re going for the bohemian vibe. Something to keep in mind though is that chiffon is prone to snagging. You’ll need to be careful when getting ready, wearing certain types of jewelry, or taking photos.

#3 Crepe

What It Is: Crepe is one of the most lightweight fabrics you can use in a wedding gown and has a very crisp, soft, and distinctive crimped texture. It is typically made from silk or wool. We particularly love this wedding dress fabric on curvy figures as it accentuates your body perfectly, but truly, anyone can wear this beautiful bridal material.
When to Wear It: Crepe wedding dresses are year-round favorites, especially when styled in an a-line or mermaid silhouette. The lightweight nature of crepe makes it easy to move around in, but it’s not as airy as chiffon, making it comfortable for any time of the year. Keep in mind that crepe can wrinkle easily, so have a plan in place for minimizing or treating wrinkles (especially if you will be traveling with your wedding dress). Check out these tips on how to store your wedding dress for travel and prep your gown the night before your wedding.

#4 Lace

What It Is: Lace is a timeless wedding dress fabric that adds a touch of elegance and femininity to any gown. It's made with delicate yarns that are intricately interwoven to create patterns (usually floral). Because of its impressive design, lace often appears heavier than it actually is.This type of wedding dress fabric comes in various weights and styles, which impacts both the look and feel of the bridal gown. For example, a lightweight lace will appear more delicate on your dress, while a heavier one will provide more structure. If you're considering a lace wedding dress, keep in mind that it's often used as an accent rather than the main material. That said, there are plenty of beautiful all-lace gowns out there for brides who want to make a statement.
When to Wear It: Lace is a great choice for any season but works especially well for spring and summer weddings. Of course, heavier weaves will work great in winter months. Regardless of weight, lace is always a good option for more formal celebrations. Since lace is regarded as a very romantic, and sometimes even ethereal fabric, lace wedding dresses are perfect for romantic, rustic, or boho bridal themes. Word to the wise: Choose jewelry carefully so that it will not snag on the delicate woven patterns of your lace wedding dress.

#5 Mikado

What It Is: Mikado is made from silk or wool and tends to have a heavier feel. This thick wedding dress fabric provides the perfect structure for ball gown wedding dresses or bridal gowns that feature a lot of design and embellishments. You’ll often see mikado used as the fabric in strapless bridal gowns since it’s super supportive!
When to Wear It: Mikado wedding dresses are a favorite for colder months thanks to the warmth the thick fabric can provide. The smooth sheen of unembellished mikado makes it a favorite for brides with modern wedding themes, as well as brides who want to pull off a sexy off-the-shoulder or strapless look with plenty of support.
Fun Fact: Frequently, mikado is mistaken for satin at first sight, and indeed they are very similar wedding dress fabrics. So, what is the difference between satin and mikado, you ask? While they are both woven (often from silk), different techniques are used to create the fabrics, and this generally gives mikado more structure and a softer shine than that of satin.

#6 Organza

What It Is: Organza is a sheer, lightweight fabric that's made from silk or nylon. It has a crisp texture and tends to hold its shape well, but it’s usually used as an overlay because of its transparency.
When to Wear It: If you're considering an organza wedding dress, keep in mind that it's best suited for formal summer weddings. It's also a good choice for destination weddings, as it doesn't wrinkle easily. Keep in mind that, similar to chiffon and tulle, this delicate fabric is prone to snagging, so it may be worth avoiding bracelets and taking care with dressing and picture posing.
Fun Fact: Organza and tulle are easily mistaken for each other thanks to the thin, sheer nature of the materials. However, in the epic wedding dress fabric standoff between organza vs. tulle, they rank differently when it comes to structure. Organza wins hands-down when a stiff structure is required for the bridal gown to hold its shape, while tulle is the clear winner when a flowy look is the goal.

#7 Ponte

What It Is: Ponte is a thick, medium-weight fabric that's made from cotton, wool, or nylon. It has a knit texture and a bit of stretch, which makes it one of the more comfortable wedding dress fabric options available. While similar to jersey, ponte is a bit heavier and thicker with a soft sheen that elevates the fabric to formal status. This type of fabric is much less common than the other types of fabrics for wedding dresses we’ve covered thus far, but there are ponte wedding dresses at Avery Austin!
When to Wear It: The stretchy nature of ponte makes it perfect for showing off your natural figure, so brides hoping for a sexy look that showcases their curves are sure to fall in love with this wedding dress fabric! The heavy, thick nature of ponte wedding dresses makes them a suitable choice for fall or winter nuptials.

#8 Satin

What It Is: Satin is a smooth, glossy fabric that's made from silk or polyester. It has a soft texture and a luxurious feel, which makes it a popular choice for wedding dresses. In fact, satin has been a top pick for bridal gowns for decades now. Satin is available in various weights, which impacts the way it hangs on your body. A heavier weight will drape better than a lighter one, which can sometimes appear stiff.
When to Wear It: Similar to lace, satin is often used as an accent on wedding gowns but can also be used for the entire dress. If you're considering a satin wedding dress, keep in mind that it's best suited for formal venues. It's also a good choice for winter weddings, as satin is usually thick and provides extra warmth. With that said, some brides do not like the wrinkles associated with this type of wedding dress fabric.

#9 Silk

What It Is: Silk fabrics are lustrous with a shimmering, satin-like texture that is the peak of elegance. If you’ve ever wondered what the most expensive fabric for wedding dresses is, silk is the answer! Known for creating luxurious fabric, silk is a natural, ultra-soft fiber that must be harvested from the silkworms that create it. Starting with raising silkworms and ending with carefully weaving the prepared fibers into textiles, the process for creating silk fabric is a long and expensive one, so this understandably affects the price of silk wedding dresses. Ranging from softly flowing to stiffly draped, silk fabrics can be woven in different ways that affect the weight and structure, creating a number of glamorous possibilities for bridal styles.
When to Wear It: The naturally luxurious feel to silk makes it ideal for formal weddings. One of the best things about silk wedding dresses is that they can really be worn in any season, but brides especially love to wear them in the summer since the fabric breathes well, regulates temperature comfortably, and has moisture-wicking properties (though it’s not as absorbent as linen or cotton fabrics when it comes to super humid days).

#10 Taffeta

What It Is: Typically made from silk, rayon, or polyester, taffeta is a lightweight plain-woven fabric that’s smooth and crisp to the touch. The quality that the taffeta wedding dress fabric is most well known for is its shape retention. Even though it is light and thin, taffeta can be draped and shaped in a variety of ways and hold its form like heavier wedding dress fabrics. Taffeta can be created with an iridescent sheen, adding to the luxurious look of this beautiful bridal material.
When to Wear It: The ultimate bridal material for formal celebrations, taffeta is a top pick for the fanciest of occasions and is often preferred when styled into the iconic ball gown silhouette. Taffeta wedding dresses are best worn in cooler months, since it’s not a breathable wedding dress fabric. You’ll also want to choose your jewelry and venue carefully, as taffeta is delicate and can be easily torn.
Fun Fact: The natural crispness can make taffeta a bit noisy, rustling with each step you make down the aisle, but many brides find this side effect to be a welcome addition to the overall ambience of their wedding experience.

#11 Tulle

What It Is: Tulle is a lightweight, net-like fabric that's often used to create extra volume in skirts or as a decorative overlay. Regarded as sheer and delicate, tulle is often used in illusion-style gowns and makes the perfect backdrop for lace appliques and other delicate embellishments. It's available in various levels of stiffness, which means tulle can be used to achieve many different looks. For example, a softer tulle will create a romantic, flowy feel, while a stiffer tulle will add more structure.
When to Wear It: If you're considering a tulle wedding dress, keep in mind that it's best suited for summer weddings since it’s a lightweight bridal material. However, when used for layers to create ball gown wedding dresses, tulle can also work well for celebrations during the colder seasons. Be warned that the net-like fabric can snag easily, so consider your accessories and venue carefully when you plan to wear a tulle wedding dress.

#12 Velvet

What It Is: A woven, tufted wedding dress fabric, velvet is made from silk, cotton, or polyester in what’s called a pile weave. This method creates a dense, short pile of clipped yarns, which gives velvet its quintessential soft, downy texture that’s a joy to touch. Known for its perfect balance of comfort and elegance, velvet is a luxurious bridal material that’s also very durable, as well as water and wrinkle resistant.
When to Wear It: A classic fall and winter wedding dress fabric, velvet can be worn for both day and evening events. Since there is very little stretch and breathability to velvet, most brides prefer not to wear velvet wedding dresses in the hot summer months or at tropical destinations.

While these 12 wedding dress fabrics are the most common, there is always a chance you may come across other fabric options while trying on bridal gowns. It’s also possible to have fabric blends that combine the best features of each wedding dress fabric, such as silk chiffon or stretch satin. Don’t be afraid to ask about the pros and cons of the fabric for any wedding dress you’re considering for your big day. The information you receive might just help you make your final decision!

How Do I Choose a Wedding Dress Fabric?

When it comes to choosing a wedding dress fabric that’s just right for you, you’ll want to keep four factors in mind: the season, the venue, your theme, and (of course) your personal style and comfort. Check out Avery Austin’s tips below for choosing a wedding dress fabric with those four things in mind.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Dress Fabric

  • Season: Heavier wedding dress fabrics will keep you warm in the cooler seasons, while lighter ones can keep you cool in the warmer seasons. That’s not to say you can’t pull off a satin ball gown wedding dress in the summer or an ethereal chiffon wedding dress in the winter, but you may need to brainstorm ways to keep yourself comfortable if you do! For example, extra layers in the winter or staying in a temperature-controlled venue in the summer might just do the trick. The weather is also something to keep in mind. If you’ll be getting married during a rainy season (April showers bring May flowers, comes to mind), then going for a fabric that won’t easily stain if it gets wet is a must.
  • Venue: Knowing if your wedding will be held in an elegant ballroom or by the seaside can make a huge difference in your wedding dress fabric selection. While more delicate fabrics are safer at indoor venues, it’s important to choose sturdier, more durable fabrics if you will be wearing your bridal gown outdoors among sand, grass, or fairy-tale style gardens. If you do wear a delicate, ethereal fabric at a beach or garden setting, simply take the time to prepare yourself in advance for your aisle walk, photo shoots, and mingling, as well as emergency repairs if you do experience a fabric snag!
  • Theme: Some wedding dress fabrics lend themselves well to certain bridal themes. The classic elegance of charmeuse, for example, has a certain Old Hollywood charm to it, but since it usually cannot be heavily embellished, it’s also a great fit for modern weddings too! Lace has always been a top pick for romantic, rustic, or bohemian wedding themes. As you start to plan out your bridal theme, be sure to consider which (if any) fabrics suit it well so you can keep that in mind when you go shopping for your dream wedding gown.
  • Personal Style and Comfort: The final, but probably most important, thing to consider when it comes to bridal materials is how they make you feel. If there’s a certain fabric that you have always loved wearing or certain types of wedding dress fabrics that just make you itchy, too hot, or otherwise uncomfortable, let these feelings guide you as you try on bridal gowns. Bottom line: If you love the wedding dress fabric’s look and feel when you’re wearing it (and can imagine still wearing it hours later), then go for it! Your comfort on your wedding day is a top priority.

While brides often focus on other wedding dress features like necklines and strap options, it’s important to also take into account your wedding dress fabric. The fabric can make or break your overall bridal look, and the effect a wedding dress fabric can have on your overall comfort throughout the day cannot be understated. Take the time to try on wedding dresses made from various fabrics to get a good feel for what makes you feel the most comfortable and beautiful. When you shop Avery Austin’s collection of wedding dresses, you can easily filter all of the glamorous options by your favorite fabric. You can also order fabric swatches in advance to get a feel for the hues and textures of each bridal material, or choose some swatches for free when you build your own Try at Home box (Here’s all you need to know about Avery Austin’s Try at Home Program). Whether you decide to try on dresses at home or at a bridal salon, you’ll be able to discover your favorite wedding dress fabrics by both sight and touch. And who knows? You may find a fabric that’s simply love at first feel!