How to: Choosing Your Bridesmaid Dresses

The bridesmaids dress may very well hold the title of being the single most contentious piece of clothing in the history of the universe. Its function is to not only make your bridesmaids look great, keep your theme consistent and satisfy your personal tastes, but also, to somehow help maintain- or even strengthen- your friendship with your bridesmaids. So, it’s quite a bit to juggle. Working together can help you minimize conflict, and keeping in mind that your bridesmaids are people you want to credit for their loyalty and friendship can help you enter the dress search with the right frame of mind. Read on for our tips to ensure that you find fantastic dresses, and hopefully, have a bit of fun along the way.

Consider Your Wedding Theme

If you’ve already chosen a theme for your wedding, use it as your compass for selecting bridesmaid dresses. You might love the look of red satin gowns, but this selection can look over-the-top at a casual outdoor wedding. If you’re still not sure of the style or color palette you’ll use for your wedding, you can use your bridesmaids’ dresses as an opportunity to narrow your selection and hone in on styles you like. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Is this dress practical for my wedding setting? For example, lace is lovely, but might be doomed to fail at a rugged outdoor wedding.
  • Does this choice fit within my wedding theme?
  • Will this dress clash with my decorations?
  • Is this dress too similar to my own dress or to dresses worn by my mother, mother-in-law, or other members of the wedding party?
  • How will this dress photograph? Some considerations may include: Does the dress turn sheer when faced with flash photography? Does it have an unusual texture that might look strange in photos? How do the colours photograph (for example, Multi-colored dresses can look lovely in person, but in photos, they can look blured and look muted.)?

Consider Your Bridesmaids’ Style and Shape

If you spend a few minutes scouring the Internet, you’ll quickly find horror stories of brides who demanded that their best friends go on pre-wedding diets or who insisted on a change of hair color for a maid of honor. No matter how much you want your special day to look perfect, your friendships are more important than a particular color palette or dress (also, this behaviour is verifiably nuts).

Choose dresses that will work with, not against, your bridesmaids’ figures and personal style. Read up on dresses that look good on each body type, then choose a dress that will be universally figure flattering. Similarly, if you know that if your bridesmaids are hopelessly modest, choose a style that they’ll feel comfortable- and hopefully, incredible- in. Steer clear of trendy pieces or styles that only work with a specific hair color or aesthetic. You love your bridesmaids for the unique contributions each of them has made to your life, and forcing them into a cookie cutter dress that doesn’t fit or suit them well doesn’t quite honor this love.

Get Your Bridesmaids Involved

Getting your bridesmaids in on the search can save you the trouble of a long, drawn-out dress search, and almost guarantees that you won’t end up fighting with your friends about what they wear on your big day. Contact your bridesmaids well in advance of the wedding to get a read on styles in which they feel comfortable. Try asking each to send you five dresses or five colors they love, then submit the ones you like to the group for final approval. Go shopping with your bridesmaids, and solicit their opinions. Perhaps most importantly, give each bridesmaid at least one veto so that she’s not stuck wearing a dress that makes her feel awful.

Try a Less Traditional Choice

More and more brides are steering clear of the matchy-matchy bridesmaids dresses of yesteryear. Rather than selecting a single dress, try picking a colour, then allowing each bridesmaid to pick her dress. This strategy usually works best if you’re buying dresses from the same manufacturer. Alternatively, try selecting dresses you love in three or four different colors and styles, then allow each of your lovely ladies to choose the one she likes the best. A varied colour palette can look smashing in photos, and allows each bridesmaid to be an individual.

No matter what dress you choose and no matter how good – or bad – each of your friends looks at your wedding, make your friendships the priority. A single dress will not make or break your big day, but loving bridesmaids can. Your bridesmaids will be the people who help you into your own wedding dress, who bring you water when you’re parched, and who talk you down off of the ledge if you’re having a pre-wedding panic, and, maybe most importantly, hold your dress when you need to pee. Use dress shopping to cultivate, rather than destroy, your friendship, and you’ll guarantee yourself genuinely jazzed wedding day helpers.