Often associated with royalty and grandeur, ballgowns have been known as a classic wedding dress option for centuries. Today, the idea of an extravagant ballgown may seem outdated, but there are plenty of designers pushing the envelope to create modern and unique looks for every type of bride.
Whether you are after a princess-like look or want a cool, edgy style, there is a ballgown that will fit your dream day. And while trends have recently shifted towards more minimalist styling, statement gowns will still be popular no matter the season. Paris Hilton even recently donned two glamourous ballgowns (out of a total of six looks!) during her fairytale-esque wedding.
To help guide you through your search for the perfect modern ballgown, we put together 22 of our favorite looks. Scroll on to see if this style is "the one" for you.
For the Classic Bride: Jenny by Jenny Yoo Lawerence Gown
We love a classic ballgown, and this one from Jenny Yoo is just that. The square neckline and illusion side cut-outs bring a subtle hint of modernity into the gown.
Price at time of publish: $1,300
For a Fairytale Wedding: Alonuko The Freedom Collection Look 11
Live out your childhood dreams with this one-of-a-kind ballgown fit for a princess. The illusion sleeves give a magical feeling, while the sequins throughout the gown sparkle at every angle.
Most Dramatic: Vera Wang Bride Sleeveless Mikado ballgown Wedding Dress
This ballgown from Vera Wang doesn’t need glitz or sparkle to make a statement. The oversized organza bow shoulder is truly breathtaking, paired with the plunging V neckline. Plus, it can be made in Mikado—an eco-friendly fabric option.
Best Cut-Out Detailing: Suzanne Neville Elliana Gown
Cut-out detailing was everywhere in Fall bridal collections. This look from Suzanne Neville subtly incorporates the trend with a modern cut-out along the neckline.
Best Ruffles: Vera Wang Bride Strapless Ballgown Wedding Dress
Vera Wang is known for her dramatic gowns, and this contemporary look shows us why. The structured corset bodice is juxtaposed with a sideways ruffle skirt that will leave your guests speechless.
Most Versatile: Galia Lahav Ballerina Gown
Go from ceremony to reception in this two-piece ballgown from Galia Lahav. The dress’s dramatic tulle skirt is perfect for a formal ceremony. It’s constructed around a strapless corset mini dress that you’ll want to dance the night away in.
Most Intricate Detailing: Peter Langner Amandine Gown
This off-the-shoulder ballgown features flowers and leaves hand-embroidered onto the dress. Each flower or leaf is hand-cut in the lace fabric and sewn on one by one, making for a truly one-of-a-kind gown.
Best Feather Detail: Ines Di Santo Martina Gown
Feathers are definitely having a moment right now, and this Ines Di Santo gown takes the trend to the next level. The off-the-shoulder dress features layers of white feathers separated by sequins.
Best Budget Option: Azazie Lotus Wedding Dress
You would never guess that this whimsical ballgown is priced below $500. The satin and tulle ruffle skirt, and pleated corset make for an unforgettable look.
Most Elegant: Giambattista Valli Magnolia Gown
Glide down the aisle in this beautiful ballgown from Giambattista Valli’s first bridal collection. We especially love how the coloring is ivory as opposed to traditional pure white. It gives this minimalist gown a hint of unexpectedness.
Best Beaded Detail: Watters Carroll Beaded Gown
Fashion-forward brides, take note of this beaded and sequin ballgown. The striking structured bodice adds a bit of edge to the soft, flowy full tulle skirt. Lengths range from petite to extra tall.
Best Pop of Color: Andrew Kwon Flora V2 Gown
Gone are the days of strictly pure white wedding gowns. Now, brides are experimenting with color more, and we love this pale buttercup yellow ballgown for those going the nontraditional route. The tiered ruffle tulle skirt and corset bodice will certainly have your guests in awe.
Best Slit Detail: Alex Perry Abigail Satin Ball Gown
Ballgowns tend to be a more conservative option, but you can have the opportunity to show some skin with this high-slit ballgown. Pair with a red lip and slicked-back hair for a bold and glamorous look.
Most Simplistic: Anne Barge Crazy For You Gown
If you love the idea of a ballgown but still want a classic, minimalist look, opt for this simplistic ballgown from Anne Barge. The sweetheart neckline and thin spaghetti straps are made for a memorable look, sans sparkles.
Price at time of publish: $4,610
Best Bow Detail: Amsale Pierce Gown
Bold and chic, this modern ballgown is perfect for a black-tie wedding. From the plunging sweetheart neckline, abstract bow, and asymmetrical layered skirt, this gown has plenty of eye-catching details.
Price at time of publish: $5,280
Best Lace Detail: Oscar de la Rena Spring 2022 Look 8
Crafted in only a way Oscar de la Renta could, this beautiful ballgown features luxe pressed embroidery and lace. Not to mention the breathtaking full skirt that looks straight off the runway.
For the Whimsical Bride: Peter Langner Panarea Gown
Your wedding dress is all about showing off your personal style, and we think this ballgown is perfect for brides who like to have fun with fashion. The entirety of the gown is embroidered with a paper ribbon, and the thin straps are made with paper ribbons tied into bows.
Most Royal-Wedding Inspired: Rita Vinieris Thyra Gown
From Kate Middleton to Lady Kitty Spencer, we know how much the British royal family loves lace-detailing in their wedding dresses. This long-sleeve lace-bodice ballgown is elegant and modest, and sure to make you feel like royalty.
For the Edgy Bride: Carolina Herrera Cut-Out Tulle-Layered Gown
Edgy brides will fall for this Carolina Herrera tulle ballgown that is like no other. The black cut-out fabric is layered on top of a full feminine and romantic tulle skirt.
Best Off-the-Shoulder Dress: Justin Alexander Off-the-Shoulder Plus Size Ball Gown
We adore this off-the-shoulder ballgown with elegant Venice lace and tulle detailing. The cathedral train adds another level of drama that will look spectacular at a black-tie wedding.
For a Garden Wedding: Monique Lhuillier Freesia Gown
Spring and summer brides, take note of the delicate floral detailing on this unexpected ballgown. We could picture it at a formal outdoor wedding with a bouquet that brings out the unique detailing throughout the gown.
Most Statement-Making: Ines by Ines Di Santo Rebecca Gown
Perfect for a winter wedding, this long-sleeve ballgown is adorned with pearls all throughout the bodice and is paired with a statement tulle skirt. Not a fan of long sleeves? No problem, they are detachable and sold separately, so you can choose which style works best for you.
Are modern ballgowns only appropriate for formal weddings?
While it's true that ballgowns are more popular for formal weddings, they are just as great for laid-back, more casual celebrations. If you are looking for a more subtle ballgown, steer away from sparkle and intricate detailing and try a more minimalistic design.
What are the best shoes to wear with a modern ballgown?
Since ballgowns are floor-length, your shoes won’t be as noticeable. That means you have the ability to prioritize comfort over fashion, as you most likely won’t see your shoes in photos. Still, it would be best if you opted for shoes with a bit of height, so you aren’t tripping over your gown.
Are modern ballgowns timeless?
Ballgowns have been around for centuries, so it is unlikely for them to fall out of style. That being said, you should follow your heart and pick a dress that you love just as much today as you will in 30 years.