Often associated with royalty and grandeur, ball gowns have been known as a classic wedding dress option for centuries. And even though the idea of these extravagant silhouettes may seem a bit outdated today, there are plenty of designers pushing the envelope to create modern and unique iterations for every type of bride.
Whether you are after a princess-like dress or want a cool, edgy style, we're confident that there's a look that will fit your dream day. So, to help guide you through your search for the perfect ensemble, we put together our favorite looks for every style, budget, and season. Read on to find the best modern ball gowns available to shop now.
For the Classic Bride
Jenny by Jenny Yoo Lawrence Gown
Size: 0-18 | Materials: Taffeta | Length: Floor-length
We love a classic ball gown with a twist, and this one from Jenny Yoo is just that. The square neckline and illusion side cut-outs bring a subtle hint of modernity to the gown, making it the perfect look for a contemporary bride.
For a Fairytale Wedding
Alonuko The Freedom Collection Look 11
Size: Made to order | Materials: Tulle, beading, sequins | Length: Floor-length
Live out your childhood dreams with this one-of-a-kind ball gown fit for a princess. The illusion sleeves give a magical feeling, while the sequins throughout the gown sparkle at every angle.
Vera Wang Bride Margot Ball Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Mikado, organza | Length: Floor-length
This ball gown from Vera Wang doesn’t need glitz or sparkle to make a statement. The oversized, organza shoulder bow is truly breathtaking, especially when paired with the plunging V-neckline.
Best Cut-Out Detailing
Suzanne Neville Elliana Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Satin | Length: Floor-length
We absolutely love this look from Suzanne Neville, which subtly incorporates a modern cut-out along a traditional neckline. Style your ensemble with drop earrings and a classic updo to complete the royal-inspired look.
Vera Wang Bride Jeaninne Ball Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Organza | Length: Floor-length
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, all of which will leave your guests absolutely speechless.
Galia Lahav Ballerina Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Embellished silk tulle | Length: Floor-length
Go from ceremony to reception in this two-piece ball gown from Galia Lahav. The dress’s dramatic removable tulle skirt is perfect for a formal ceremony, and the strapless corset mini dress will make you want to dance the night away.
Most Intricate Detailing
Peter Langner Amandine Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Illusion tulle, crinoline, lace | Length: Floor-length
This off-the-shoulder ball gown features beautiful and intricate hand-embroidered florals and leaves. However, the best part is that each flower and leaf is hand-cut and sewn one by one, making for a truly one-of-a-kind gown.
Giambattista Valli Magnolia Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Taffeta | Length: Floor-length
Glide down the aisle in this beautiful ball gown from Giambattista Valli’s first bridal collection. We especially love the ivory hue and couture design, details that are perfect for brides-to-be with elevated aesthetics.
Watters Laraline Ball Gown
Size: 00-24W | Materials: Stiff mesh crinoline, tulle, netting, tulle | Length: Floor-length
Fashion-forward brides should take note of this uniquely textured ball gown. The striking structured bodice adds a bit of edge to the soft, flowy tulle skirt, while the pleated design element adds an unexpected touch.
Best Pop of Color
Andrew Kwon Flora V2 Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Tulle, silk organza | Length: Floor-length
Gone are the days of strictly pure white wedding gowns. Now, brides are experimenting with color, and we love this pale buttercup yellow ball gown for those going the non-traditional route.
Best Slit Detail
Alex Perry Abigail Satin Ball Gown
Size: 2-10 | Materials: Satin | Length: Floor-length
Ball gowns tend to be a more conservative option, but you have the opportunity to show some skin with this Alex Perry high-slit number. Pair with a red lip and slicked-back hair for a bold and glamorous look.
Anne Barge Crazy For You Gown
Size: 0-22, 16SP-24SP | Materials: Silk satin chiffon, Italian kalika | Length: Floor-length
If you love the idea of a ball gown but still want a classic, minimalist look, opt for this simplistic dress from Anne Barge. The sweetheart neckline and thin spaghetti straps are made for a memorable look, sans sparkles.
Best Bow Detail
Amsale Ada Ball Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Silk magnolia | Length: Floor-length
Bold and chic, this modern ball gown is perfect for a black-tie wedding. From the sweetheart neckline to the crystal appliqué bows, this ensemble has plenty of eye-catching details any bride will love.
Best Lace Detail
Oscar de la Renta Spring 2022 Look 8
Size: Made to order | Materials: Lace | Length: Floor-length
Crafted in only a way Oscar de la Renta could, this beautiful ball gown features luxe-pressed embroidery and expertly designed lace. Not to mention the breathtaking full skirt, this look certainly brings the runway to the aisle.
For the Whimsical Bride
Peter Langner Panarea Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Tulle | Length: Floor-length
Your wedding dress is all about showing off your personal style, and we think this ball gown is the perfect option for brides who like to have fun with fashion. Take your look to the next level by wearing colorful heels and bold jewelry for a one-of-a-kind look.
Rita Vinieris Thyra Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Lace, silk | Length: Floor-length
From Kate Middleton to Lady Kitty Spencer, we know how much the British royal family loves lace detailing in their wedding dresses. This particular long-sleeve ball gown is elegant and modest, and is sure to make you feel like a true royal bride.
Carolina Herrera Patterned Jacquard Midi Dress
Size: 0-14 | Materials: Jacquard | Length: Midi-length
Edgy brides will fall for this Carolina Herrera jacquard midi ball gown that is at once unexpected and utterly unique. The short hemline is perfect for laid-back nuptials, especially backyard or courthouse affairs.
Justin Alexander Off-the-Shoulder Plus Size Ball Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Lace, tulle | Length: Floor-length
We adore this off-the-shoulder ball gown that features elegant Venice lace and tulle detailing. What's more, the cathedral-length train adds another level of drama making it spectacular for a black-tie wedding.
For a Garden Wedding
Monique Lhuillier Freesia Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Lace, tulle | Length: Floor-length
Spring and summer brides, be sure to take note of the delicate floral detailing on this unexpected ball gown. It's the perfect look for a formal outdoor wedding, paired with a bouquet that brings out the unique embroidered detailing throughout the gown.
Ines by Ines Di Santo Rebecca Gown
Size: Made to order | Materials: Tulle, beading | Length: Floor-length
Ideal for a winter wedding, this long-sleeve ball gown is adorned with pearls all throughout the bodice, which is further complemented by a statement tulle skirt. Not a fan of long sleeves? Luckily, they're detachable and can be removed for a more pared-back look.
What to Look for When Shopping for a Modern Ball Gown
Since ball gowns are typically a standard silhouette, shopping for a modern iteration will require you to pay attention to the details. Focus on looks that lean into the trends, like ensembles that feature bows, lace, and oversized embroidery. Additionally, it's important to keep the season in mind when looking for a dress that's right for you. For instance, if you're having a summer wedding, opt for strapless looks that'll keep you cool as you walk down the aisle. Hosting a winter affair? Long sleeve ball gowns are the perfect choice for your big day. Ultimately, though, any ball gown you choose should be a reflection of your personal style, so be sure to buy a look that you feel comfortable and confident wearing.
Are modern ball gowns only appropriate for formal weddings?
While it's true that ball gowns are more popular for formal weddings, they're just as great for laid-back and casual celebrations. And for those looking for a pared-back look, steer clear of sparkle and intricate detailing and try a more minimalist design.
What are the best shoes to wear with a modern ball gown?
Since ball gowns are floor-length silhouettes, your shoes won’t be that noticeable, and thus, you have the ability to prioritize comfort over fashion. Still, it would be best if you opted for footwear with a bit of height, so that you aren’t tripping over your gown as you walk down the aisle.
Are modern ball gowns timeless?
Ball gowns have been around for centuries, so it's 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.
About the Author
Contributing writer Melony Forcier is a recent graduate starting her career path in beauty and fashion journalism. Before graduating, she interned with both Boston Magazine and Foundation PR. Additionally, she served as a fashion editor for Boston University's lifestyle magazine, The Buzz.