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When off-the-shoulder wedding dresses made their debut in the bridal world, designers ran with the concept, transforming a once seasonal trend into a lasting style. You'll find this alternative neckline, favored by the likes of Beyoncé and Paris Hilton, on tons of fabulous wedding dresses because it flatters most body types and highlights the upper body in a way that's elegant but a bit sexy, too. The best part is off-the-shoulder necklines work in tandem with every gown shape, from mermaid to column-style to ballgown, and complement a range of fabrics, from wispy tulle to intricate lace to crêpe de chine.
If you can't decide whether or not you want to go with a strapless dress, an off-the-shoulder dress offers the best of both worlds. The straps or sleeves start below the shoulders, showing off the décolletage and collar bones, while still offering some coverage of the arms. According to Sharon Sever, head designer at Galia Lahav, off-the-shoulder necklines are perfect for a regal look any time of the year. For fall or winter nuptials, pair a long sleeve off-the-shoulder gown with a satin or mikado skirt. If you're tying the knot during the spring or summer months, keep it light and airy with tulle fabric and an exaggerated drape to your off-the-shoulder straps.
Meet the Expert
Sharon Sever is the head designer at Galia Lahav.
You can choose from teensy straps, voluminous styles, and even long-sleeve versions. "If you wish to feel like a princess, this neckline definitely puts you in the right mood," says Sever. A long blouson sleeve á la the Renaissance is the epitome of romance whether you go for a sheer, embroidered, or silk jacquard version. Traditional gowns appear tasteful with delicate, off-the-shoulder straps made of silk chiffon, tulle, or lace, reminiscent of 18th-century necklines. For a whimsical look, consider an off-the-shoulder gown with fantastical details like embroidered floral or metallic appliqués, voluminous tiers and ruffles, or puff sleeves.
To inspire your search for a gown with this ultra-romantic neckline, we rounded up 43 of our favorite off-the-shoulder wedding dresses below.
Most Romantic: Martina Liana Luxe Off-the-Shoulder Embroidered Lace Wedding Dress
Size Range: 2 - 28 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Embroidered Lace and French Tulle
This off-the-shoulder A-line wedding dress features embroidered lace and sheer French tulle, hand-cut silk organza flowers, and detached puff sleeves. Details like exposed boning in the bodice, light beading, and a flowing train complete the look.
For the Classic Bride: Markarian Eveline Off-the-Shoulder Scalloped Neckline Dress
Size Range: 0 - 16 | Runs: True to Size | Length: Midi | Materials: 100% Silk
This slim and straight silk wedding gown features an elegant off-the-shoulder, scalloped neckline. It's the perfect classic '30s dress for vintage-lovers.
Best Ballgown: Galia Lahav Magnolia Gown
Size Range: Custom | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Silk Tulle
This sweet, romantic ballgown features silk tulle draped over a corset bodice, feminine off-the-shoulder embroidered long sleeves, and a full sheer skirt.
Most Delicate: Watters Mist Gown
Size Range: 00 - 24W | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length (Petite, Tall, or Regular Option) | Materials: Pleated Netting
This gorgeous gown will make you feel like you're floating on a cloud. Lightweight, butter-soft netting is delicately pleated over the corseted bodice and crinkles down in diaphanous godets for a full, airy skirt. The gown also comes with detachable puff sleeves and streamers in the same feathery fabric.
Best Sleeves: Galia Lahav Bellina Gown
Size Range: Custom | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Silk Tulle
These soft and fluttery off-the-shoulder tulle sleeves will have you feeling straight out of a fairytale. Details like pleated silk tulle and embroidered embellishments at the bodice and fitted sleeves make for a romantic and whimsical look.
For the Sexy Bride: Dany Mizrachi Off-The-Shoulder Gown
Size Range: Inquire With Retailer | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Embellished Lace and Tulle
This unique allover lace gown atop nude lining features a sheer tulle off-the-shoulder overlay with an attached train and a deep V-neckline.
Best Corset Bodice: Galia Lahav Gaga Gown
Size Range: Custom | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: 3D Lace and Silk Tulle
This ivory and ice-pink ballgown features 3D lace, two-toned silk tulle, and an open-tailored corset atop an inner fitted sweetheart corset.
Best Tiered Dress: Ivy & Aster Michaella Dress
Size Range: Inquire With Retailer | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Dotted Tulle
A truly romantic look, this gown has both thin straps and off-the-shoulder sleeves for a cold-shoulder look. It's made from dotted tulle and features a full tiered skirt.
Most Shakespearean: Alon Livné Andrea Gown
Size Range: Inquire With Retailer | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Chiffon
The long semi-sheer off-the-shoulder sleeves, romantic all-over chiffon draping, and belted corset bodice of this angelic gown will have you feeling like gazing out of a balcony window Juliet-style.
For a Garden Wedding: Lazaro Margaret Gown
Size Range: 2 - 28 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Floral Embroidered Tulle and Horsehair Trim
This champagne floral embroidered A-line gown features off-the-shoulder cap sleeves complementing a sweetheart neckline, a sheer corset bodice, and a circular skirt with horsehair trim.
For a Winter Wedding: Theia Bridal Sasha Gown
Size Range: 0 - 16 | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Guipure Cotton Lace
This soft, romantic gown is made from giupere cotton lace and features delicate off-the-shoulder cape sleeves and a mermaid silhouette.
Most Regal: Sareh Nouri Florence Dress
Size Range: Custom | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Floral and Leaf Lace
This A-line gown is made of lovely lace with floral and leaf designs and comes with a detachable off-the-shoulder capelet.
For a Spring Wedding: Oscar de la Renta Bridal Collection Fall 2020 Look 5
Size Range: Custom | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: 3D Floral Appliqué
This fitted mermaid gown has off-the-shoulder straps comprised of 3D florals that adorn the bodice and trickle down onto the skirt.
Best Mermaid Dress: Carolina Herrera Bridal Fall 2020 Collection Look 6
Size Range: Inquire With Retailer | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Lace
A fitted satin mermaid silhouette contrasts beautifully with elbow-length lace sleeves and lace trimming at the neckline.
Best Jumpsuit: Imad Eduso Bridal Jacqueline Jumpsuit
Size Range: Made to Measure | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Silk Satin
This ivory silk satin bridal jumpsuit features off-the-shoulder puff sleeves, a corseted bodice, and a detachable train for an easy ceremony-to-reception convertible look.
For the Royal Bride: Monique Lhuillier Marbella Gown
Size Range: Inquire With Retailer | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Satin
The cuffed off-the-shoulder neckline adds a unique touch to this ivory ballgown with a dramatic pleated skirt for a classic and elegant look.
Best French Lace: Alon Livné White Rita Wedding Gown
Size Range: Inquire With Retailer | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: French Lace and Crepe
Oversized sheer lace and tulle sleeves fall off the shoulders of this fitted corset wedding dress featuring a high side slit on the skirt and a French-lace-look top.
If you don't want to feel totally bare, a dress with mid-length, long, or bell-shaped off-the-shoulder sleeves will conceal your upper arms in a beautiful and stealthy way.
Best Appliqué: Lela Rose Bridal The Isle Gown
Size Range: Inquire With Retailer | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: 3D Floral Appliqué and Crepe
Available in white/nude and white/white, this off-the-shoulder fit-and-flare gown features whimsical floral appliqué along the bust and sleeves for romantic elegance.
Most Dramatic: Watters Augustus Gown
Size Range: 00 - 24W | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length (Petite, Regular, Tall, or Extra Tall Option) | Materials: Silk Georgette
This chic, silk Georgette sheath gown is form-fitting, fit-to-flare beauty featuring statement-making, off-the-shoulder interlacing ruffles that's sure to keep heads turning.
For a Summer Wedding: Wtoo by Watters Miles Gown
Size Range: 00 - 15 | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Stretch Mesh
This effortless off-the-shoulder dress is made of layered stretch mesh and features shirred sleeves and a full skirt. Eyelash lace along the neckline adds an elegant touch.
Best Two-Piece: Grace Loves Lace Loyola Set
Size Range: 2 - 16 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Crepe and Floral Burnout Silk
This stunning two-piece gown is handcrafted from layers of floral burnout silk and crepe de chine. The off-the-shoulder top has an elasticated neckline for a customizable look and the full skirt features a dramatic train.
For the Goddess Bride: Tadashi Shoji Athena Gown
Size Range: 00 - 20 | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Crepe and Floral Appliqués
You'll look like a Grecian goddess in this off-the-shoulder crepe gown with a cascading ruffle, floral appliqués, and translucent tulle along the neckline.
For the Fashionable Bride: B by Yolancris Brava Gown
Size Range: Inquire With Retailer | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Crepe
This simple mermaid crepe gown has gorgeous off-the-shoulder puff sleeves with long cuffs for a unique and fashion-forward look.
Best Sweetheart Neckline: Allure Bridals Style 9908
Size Range: 0 - 30 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Satin and Metallic Dimensional Appliqués
This gown's off-the-shoulder neckline bend seamlessly into the gorgeous textured sweetheart bodice. The shimmering satin finish, metallic threading, and dimensional appliqué make for dreamy romantic touches.
Best High-Low: Odylyne The Ceremony Ruby Gown
Size Range: 2 - 20 (Above Size 20 Available Per Request) | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length (Petite, Standard, or Tall Option) | Materials: 100% Silk
If you love ruffles and drama, Odylyne The Ceremony's Ruby Gown is a must. Cascading frills of silk billow down the high-low shirred skirt, across the strapless corset bodice, and down the lowered off-the-shoulder long sleeves with breezy elegance.
Best Princess Gown: Maggie Sottero Zariah Gown
Size Range: 0 - 28 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Tulle, Lace Motifs, Sequins, and Horsehair Trim
Available in all-ivory or ivory-over-blush, this off-the-shoulder princess gown features lace motifs over sparkle tulle, a sequin lace bodice, and an asymmetrical ruffle tulle skirt with horsehair trim.
For a Dreamy Wedding: Sabrina Dahan Liliane Gown
Size Range: Inquire With Retailer | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Tulle and Lace Appliqués
This whispy tulle gown is beautifully airy. The off-the-shoulder neckline, bodice, and skirt are adorned with beaded 3D florals for added romance.
Best Sheer Corset: Justin Alexander Signature Parker Gown
Size Range: 4 - 32 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Tulle and Embellished Lace
This mermaid gown's romantic sweetheart neckline complements its embellished off-the-shoulder straps, which come detachable. Beaded lace overlays beaded and sequined tulle for a sparkle effect.
For the Elegant Bride: Anne Barge Evermore Gown
Size Range: 0 - 24SP | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Embroidered Floral Lace
Available in silk white over nude or all silk white, this off-the-shoulder A-line gown with a sweetheart illusion neckline is made from crepe de chine with re-embroidered floral lace for a classic look with a modern touch.
For the Fairytale Bride: Morilee Kristabelle Wedding Dress
Size Range: 0 - 28 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Beading, Textured Embroidery, Feathers, and Tulle
This long-sleeve, off-the-shoulder gown has a fitted bodice and a full skirt with a cathedral train and a feathered hemline. Beaded accents and textured embroidery add tons of dimension.
For the Gatsby Bride: Houghton Anahita Gown
Size Range: 0 - 30 | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Embroidered Tulle
Decadent crystal embroidery on nude tulle with an off-shoulder hand draping give this Houghton gown an Art-Deco glamour that's oh-so-1920s. Plus, the exposed corset brings in a modern edge.
For the Cottagecore Bride: Whistles Rose Wedding Dress
Size Range: 4 - 18 | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Lace
This modern off-the-shoulder A-line gown features lace fabric, a Bardot neckline, a raised front hem, and a boned bodice to breathe life into all your cottagecore dreams.
For the Simple Bride: Nouvelle Amsale Julia Gown
Size Range: 0 - 24 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Silk Chiffon and Lace
This delicate A-line ballgown features a silk chiffon draping over a lace bodice and thin straps with graceful off-the-shoulder sleeves. Barely-there lace pokes up from the bodice and a plunging V-back, adding a touch of romance and whimsy.
Best Mini Dress: Odylyne The Ceremony Mini Casden
Size Range: 2 - 20 (Above Size 20 Available Per Request) | Runs: True to Size | Length: Mini (Petite, Standard, or Tall Option) | Materials: Silk Organza
The sweet and angelic mini dress will turn heads at the reception, ceremony, or after party. Ruffled silk organza shirred at the waist of the sweetheart boned bodice is expertly paired with sheer puff drop sleeves for a dreamy, light-hearted look.
Best Structured Dress: Nouvelle Amsale Landon Gown
Size Range: 0 - 24 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Mikado
This Mikado fit-to-flare gown is sleek and modern. It makes a statement with a structured silhouette and an off-the-shoulder neckline that trails to the back in a bow detail for understated elegance.
Best with a Cape: Houghton Holly Pearl
Size Range: 00 - 30 | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Pearl and Sequin Embroidered Tulle and Crepe
This stunning off-the-shoulder crepe column gown is dazzling with pearls and sequins all over. A sparkling tulle cape descents from the off-shoulder straps for a touch of ethereal glamour.
For a Formal Wedding: Jenny by Jenny Yoo Cooper Gown
Size Range: 00 - 32 | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Crepe
This modern fit-and-flare gown in knit crepe has a convertible, foldover, off-the-shoulder neckline for a chic and distinct look.
Best Three-Quarter Sleeves: Berta Style 18-126
Size Range: 36 - 44 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Tulle and Lace
This glamorous gown is full of stunning details, like off-the-shoulder three-quarter sleeves with ruffled cuffs, floral embroidery on the bodice, and a plunging illusion neckline.
Best Embroidered Ballgown: Galia Lahav Casablanca Lily Gown
Size Range: Custom | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Embroidered Tulle
This embroidered sheer tulle ballgown is adorned with 3D rose motifs and features a sheer corset pleated skirt and a dramatic, ruffled off-the-shoulder neckline.
For the Head-Turner Bride: Inbal Dror Style BR-18-28-C
Size Range: Inquire With Retailer | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Embroidered Tulle
The branch-like embroidery on this off-the-shoulder gown makes it truly unique. The fitted bodice with off-the-shoulder sleeves contrasts beautifully with the dramatic full skirt with a train.
Best Colorful Gown: Paolo Sebastian Style PSS/S2010
Size Range: Custom | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Dimensional Embroidered Tulle
This couture ballgown features blue tulle, an asymmetrical off-the-shoulder neckline, and 3D multicolored floral embroidery.
Favorite Floral: Willowby Watters Lilia Gown
Size Range: 00 - 15 | Runs: True to Size | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Dimensional Embroidered Tulle
This romantic floral gown has optional puff sleeves you can wear on or off the shoulder and an open, sheer back to show off the embroidered details.
For the Sophisticated Bride: Maison Signore Zambia Gown
Size Range: 38 - 54 | Runs: Small | Length: Floor-length | Materials: Mikado and Chantilly Lace
For the bride looking to exude timeless beauty and sophistication on her wedding day, look no further than this mikado ballgown. With its off-the-shoulder neckline, accentuated waistline, and delicately embellished chantilly lace bodice, this stunner makes a statement.
What to Look for in an Off-the-Shoulder Wedding Dress
Now that you've gained some serious shoulder-bearing inspiration, take note of not only how you want to look—but how you want to feel on your big day. So, before you say "yes!" to your off-the-shoulder wedding dress, be mindful of how willing you are to sacrifice some mobility. "The most crucial thing that will determine if this is the right neckline for you is your ability to adapt to the somewhat restrictive movement when the off-the-shoulder sleeves or straps wrap around your shoulders and force you to act in a regal manner," advises Sever.
To ensure optimal comfort, check to see that your gown is fit as securely as any strapless gown would. No matter how structured or fitted your straps are, the dress should never be relying on the off-the-shoulder straps to hold up your gown. Instead, it should be held up entirely by the structured fit of the bodice.
Worried about not being able to dance the night away? Keep in mind that the looser the strap, the more mobility you'll have. Opt for a fabric with a bit of stretch and an off-the-shoulder style with more of a drape for a more dance—and YMCA—friendly neckline. Still not sure? Check in with your bridal alterations specialist to see if it's possible to have your off-the-shoulder straps removable. Flaunt the super romantic and regal look during your ceremony and cocktail hour, but slip them off when it's time to get the party started.
Is an off-the-shoulder neckline for me?
Flattering on a wide array of shapes and sizes, an off-the-shoulder design is best for the bride seeking to highlight her shoulders, elongate her neck, and frame her face. The low neckline provides a feminine touch and accentuates the collar bones and décolletage.
How do you style an off-the-shoulder wedding dress?
Minimal accessories with a bridal updo further shows off the alternate neckline while gloves add a regal style. "This neckline frames the shoulders; therefore, no necklace or fussy hairstyles. A light messy chignon and a small pair of earrings would be perfect," says Sever.
Is the off-the-shoulder neckline considered a trend or a classic?
"Wearing an off-the-shoulder dress is a timeless look that has been fashionable for centuries, favored by many royalties. If you wish to look at your wedding photos and be reminded of how incredibly regal you looked on your wedding day, this would be the one to go for," says Sever.
Why Trust Us
Contributing author Laura Lajiness Kaupke is a writer and editor with expertise covering all things fashion, accessories, and fine jewelry. With a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and as the former senior fashion editor at the Zoe Report and Pop Sugar, she has extensive experience sourcing and researching the best fashion items.