The Ultimate Wedding Dress Neckline Guide

The expert info you need to find the best style for you.
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
maddy sims the knot associate editor
Maddy Sims
Associate Editor
  • Maddy writes for The Knot, with a specialty in beauty, sustainability, mental health and inclusivity.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Maddy wrote for several different publications, including Insider, Bustle, Real Simple and Apartment Therapy.
  • Maddy has a Bachelor's degree in magazine journalism and a Master's degree in health, science and environmental reporting (both of which are from Northwestern's Medill School ...
Updated Oct 20, 2020

If you're just starting your wedding dress search, you may feel overwhelmed by the options available. Considering all of the different silhouettes and styles, it can be difficult to know where to begin. One efficient way to narrow your search is to look at wedding dress necklines. For instance, if you're hoping for a regal, modern look, you'll likely love a Meghan Markle-esque high-neck gown. Or, if you want a more traditional vibe, a sweetheart neckline might be the best choice for you. To help you find the right style, we created a wedding dress neckline guide featuring every kind of cut you'll need to know. Read up on all the wedding gown lingo (and find the perfect wedding dress neckline for you), below.

Sweetheart Neckline

Sweetheart neckline wedding dress
Photo by Chandra's Collection Photography

The sweetheart neckline—which is actually shaped like the top half of a heart— accentuates the decolletage. It's also commonly known as the "princess neckline," because of its soft edges and feminine shape. The sweetheart style draws attention to the decolletage and gives the illusion of a longer torso and neck (especially great news for petite brides). To-be-weds looking for a more modest cut can opt for a semi-sweetheart neckline (which is cut a little higher on the chest) or an illusion sweetheart neckline (which consists of a sheer fabric overlay to cover the decolletage).

Bateau Neckline

Bateau neckline wedding dress
Photo by Scarlet Roots,Dress by Theia,Bridal Boutique: Head Over Heels

This shape, also known as the Sabrina neckline or boatneck, gently follows the curve of the collarbone and stretches out almost to the tip of the shoulders. (Think: Meghan Markle's iconic ceremony wedding dress.) If you're searching for a modest look, the bateau neckline is a great choice, as it's cut straight across so less of the decolletage shows. This popular neckline can be paired with sleeves or worn as a sleeveless style.

Jewel Neckline

Jewel neckline wedding dress
Photo by Pat Furey Photography,Dress by Jaclyn's Bridal

The jewel neckline is also known as the "T-shirt neckline" due to its similarity to the casual wardrobe staple. The jewel neckline is round and sits right at the base of the throat. The higher cut and fuller coverage accentuates your bust while still offering a modest style.

Scoop Neckline

Scoop neckline wedding dress
Photo by Amy Bennett Photography

The scoop neckline, a U-shaped style, is universally-flattering and classic. The neckline gently scoops down from your shoulders below your collarbones and across the chest. It can be cut low or high depending on your preference. Quite often, the scoop will continue on the back of the dress. If you're going for a sultry vibe but don't want to show too much skin, look for a dress with a higher neckline and a lower scoop style in the back

Halter/High-Neck Neckline

Halter neckline wedding dress
Photo by Marie Tony Photo,Dress by Nicole Miller

The halter neckline features straps that wrap around the back of the neck, or a high neck with deep armholes. This alluring style—worn by celebrities like Meghan Markle and supermodel Hunter McGrady—allows brides to show some skin while also keeping the bust and decolletage covered. Pro tip: Halter and high-neck necklines especially flatter the shoulders and the arms.

Portrait Neckline

Portrait neckline wedding dress
Photo by Kaleigh Turner

The portrait neckline is similar to an off-the-shoulder style, but it's made with more fabric. The popular style is characterized by a wide, soft scoop from the tip of one shoulder to the tip of the other. Portrait necklines are a great choice for to-be-weds aiming for a formal, black-tie look, as the cut is reminiscent of chic special occasion gowns. The portrait neckline is also a wonderful choice for brides hoping to achieve a vintage look.

Strapless Neckline

Strapless neckline wedding dress
Photo by Lori Paladino Photography,Dress by Oscar de la Renta

The strapless neckline can be either a sweetheart or straight-across square cut. While the sweetheart neckline is classic and feminine, the straight-across style is more fresh and modern. Plus, straight-across offers more coverage while still showing off your decolletage and collarbones. The strapless neckline is popular with brides with larger chests, but it can work for smaller busts too. If you're concerned about your strapless gown sliding down, work closely with your salon, tailor or seamstress to get the perfect fit.

Off-the-Shoulder Neckline

Off-the-shoulder neckline wedding dress
Photo by Sposto Phography,Dress by Heidi Elnora, Bridal Salon: Loho Bride

Just like the name implies, the off-the-shoulder neckline sits below the shoulders to showcase the collarbone and shoulders with sleeves that cover part of the upper arm. Psst: An off-the-shoulder neckline looks amazing on all figures and bust sizes, which makes it a must-try for your wedding dress shopping appointment. However, if you don't like the idea of baring your shoulders completely, you might want to consider a portrait neckline instead. Additionally, be sure to check your arm mobility when trying on these gowns. If you want to throw your hands up on the dancefloor, test how high you can comfortably raise your arms.

One-Shoulder Neckline

One shoulder neckline wedding dress
Photo by John David,Jumpsuit by Diya

This modern style offers an asymmetrical look for fashion-forward brides looking to make a trendy statement. Typically, the one-shoulder neckline starts on one shoulder and cuts diagonally across the chest for a Greek goddess vibe. The one-strap style will instantly draw attention to your gorgeous face and radiant smile.

V-neck Neckline

V-neck neckline wedding dress
Photo by Jeff Brummett Visuals,Dress by Carolina Herrera

The name says it all. The V-neck neckline dips down in the front (and sometimes in the back as well) in a flattering V-shape. The clean lines elongate the torso, while the straps offer support and security (read: you can dance the night away without any wardrobe malfunction worries).

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