Bridesmaids are an important part of the wedding ceremony. So is what they wear.
As a bride, this group of women is near and dear to your heart. They’re your closest friends and family members who will support you and share one of the most special moments in your life. However, when it’s time to decide what they should wear, there’s plenty of potential roadblocks.
Issues like body types, budget, and even the color scheme of the decor come into play. What should be a happy time can quickly become a stressful headache.
You don’t have to dread picking out the dress. In fact, it can be turned into a fun task with the right tactics. If you’ve ever wondered how to make that dress decision, keep reading for the top 10 tips when bridesmaid dress shopping.
1. Select a Shade
Picking a shade doesn’t have to be difficult.
If you’re stuck, you can get inspiration from the palette of your wedding’s color scheme. The season can also be an inspiration, like springtime greens and yellows. A fall wedding can work well with richer colors like burgundy or emerald.
What’s more, there are alternatives to picking a specific color on the spectrum. You can pick a range of complementary colors that work well together. Since it’s likely that your bridesmaids will have different undertones, they may enjoy a warmer or cooler tone in the range.
If you want to push out the boat and try something edgier, opt for prints. Just remember that this may not work for a larger bridesmaid party. If you want to go really simple, have your bridesmaids wear white, like Kate Middleton.
2. You Don’t Have to Be Traditional
With your dress choices, as with the rest of your wedding, you get to choose what’s right. So you can ditch old rules like the one that says wearing black and white are off limits. The best bridesmaid dresses are the ones that your bridesmaids will be happy to wear again.
It’s very possible that your bridesmaids already own a black or white dress too. Not to mention that black instantly adds sophistication and makes them look better in photos. If you’re really stuck on colors, think outside of the box and choose this universally flattering color.
Using all white dresses can also be chic and give a crisp look to your ceremony.
This works especially well for spring or summer weddings. If your bridesmaids will be outside, they’ll appreciate it even more. White is a color that doesn’t absorb heat and keeps them cool from the sun’s rays.
Another rule that you can break is on the length of the dress. Short bridesmaid dresses are cooler in the summer as well. They can give a great contrast in photos, especially if your wedding dress is long.
Another wedding trend is the two-piece dress. This is a modern choice that can be fun for younger brides.
3. Keep Costs in Mind
If you’ve been planning your wedding, you already know how costs can add up. Choosing a venue or caterer or decorator isn’t cheap.
However, often brides forget that their bridesmaids are spending a lot to be involved too. There’s the bridal shower, bachelorette parties, and wedding gifts to consider.
It’s especially important to be sensitive if your bridesmaids have different income levels. If you’re questioning if a dress will be a burden financially, rethink that choice. It makes sense then that the considerate thing to do is to pick affordable bridesmaid dresses.
You can start by looking for more affordable stores or online boutiques. Or just pick the color and let the bridesmaids choose their own style of dress.
Demanding brides can ruin relationships over what amounts to one day in a long friendship. Even if you have strong opinions and think they should wear the same thing, keep their budget in mind. Remember, this dress will probably only be worn once.
4. Offer to Pay
Traditionally, bridesmaids pay for their own dresses. Even so, you can offer to pay for them. This definitely applies if you are requesting a specific style. It’s not a requirement, but it will be appreciated.
The goodwill it will get you with your bridal party can’t be underestimated. Again, remember your bridesmaids are probably already spending a lot to be a part of your special day. There’s hair, makeup, shoes, and accessories they’ll be paying for.
If you have the means, this graceful gesture can make all the difference. You don’t have to break the bank though. Most bridal stores have dresses on sale and you can look for discounted styles.
5. The A-Line Is Always a Good Choice
Maybe you’re one of those brides want to retain control over the style of the dresses for a uniform look. If so, still consider your bridesmaids’ body types. Like most people, they are probably different shapes and heights.
If you plan to insist on a specific dress, make it flattering. The a-line cut is one of the only styles that work on everyone’s body type. That’s right, every woman looks good in one.
6. Consider Customization
Are you frustrated with all the dress choices that you’ve been seeing? Want to really change the wedding party game? Then the answer you’ve been looking for is custom dresses.
Not only will you get something completely unique, you can be as picky as you like with the details that matter. Dress specialists like Henkaa offer convertible dress designs you can customize to get the perfect look.
With this type of style, each bridesmaid can make the dress her own. The silhouette and fit can be adjusted while maintaining an overall color and theme. It’s also a top choice for wearability after the wedding.
7. Take Them Bridesmaid Dress Shopping
There is a lot to be said for the “one-day” decision. You can choose a day where all of you go to a dress store and decide right then. Having everyone go together can take a lot of the pressure off.
This is something to consider if you’re busy with work or wedding planning obligations. If your bridesmaids live in different places, this can also work. It’s a fun bonding experience and after that day, you never have to think about dresses again.
One thing to keep in mind is that you may have strong opinions on styles. It’s okay to guide the bridal party on colors and fabrics. Don’t throw a fit if their choices aren’t exactly what you want.
No one likes a bridezilla.
8. Let Your Bridesmaids Choose
At the end of the day, a bridesmaid dress is just as much pressure as your wedding dress. If you’re really overwhelmed by too much choice, let your bridesmaids choose their own dresses. There are several ways to make it work.
You can choose a designer that you like and let them pick from that range. The designer probably has a look or aesthetic that ensures the look will still be complementary.
Or, pick a color and let them choose the dress that fits them best. They can go light or dark and pick the undertones that flatter their personal style.
If you have narrowed things down to a few dresses, you can also do a vote. Present the choices to the bridesmaids and let them decide which one they like. This will show that you value their opinions and care about their choices.
Another version of this is to create a vision board that has themes or colors you like. Share this board with the bridal party and get their input and opinions. A good resource to use is Pinterest, where you can create a public board or one shared with specific people.
9. Get a Rental
Guys aren’t the only ones who can rent formal wear like tuxedos. It’s also possible for women to rent bridesmaid dresses. Clothing rental sites are becoming more common.
This option can also be a solution for the cost-conscious bridesmaid. If there are differing budgets among your girls, you can suggest this to them. It also solves the issue of worrying if the dress will ever be worn again.
10. Be Sensitive
A tactful bride is always appreciated. Dress shopping brings up sensitive issues like body types or finances. if you need to discuss these things, always speak to your bridesmaids in private.
You can also show your appreciation by giving a small gift of jewelry. Pick something that both matches the dress and is wearable after the ceremony.
The Perfect Wedding for You
The process of bridesmaid dress shopping doesn’t need to be stressful. Now that you have these tips, get out there and enjoy the process.
One thing to keep in mind is to let your bridal party know they need to wear the right undergarments. For styles like strapless or one shoulder dresses, special bras may be required. Form-fitting ones may also call for a specific panty or shaper.
Want some more inspiration? Read our guide to throwing the best bachelorette party ever.