Choosing dresses for your bridesmaids is one of the most fun parts of planning your wedding. To make sure you have the look you want and have happy bridesmaids, too, a little planning is in order.
Are you planning a June wedding? A winter wedding? Something in between? By starting with the season you will wed, you will instantly narrow down the myriad of choices to a more manageable list. Also, what colors do you love? Do you already have specific colors in mind for your bridesmaid dresses? If not, no problem. Typically, pastels and lighter colors are more popular for spring and summer weddings, with darker colors more popular for fall and winter weddings. Time of day and formality also come into play. Darker dresses can look lovely and sophisticated for evening weddings, while lighter dresses have more of a “daytime look.” Black used to be taboo for bridesmaid dresses, but no more! If you like the simplicity and sophistication of basic black, why not choose it for your bridesmaids at your evening wedding? Black has the advantage of going with everything and will look classic next to your white dress and any flowers and candles that you choose.
Often bridesmaids’ dresses are all one color, but some brides prefer their maid or matron of honor to stand out with a slightly darker shade of dress in the same pattern. Whichever you choose, keeping your wedding palette to a maximum of two colors (plus whatever shade of white you choose and black) will create a finished look for the wedding party.
Although it is traditional (and a bit easier) to have your bridesmaids all wear the same dress, the reality is the same dress doesn’t always flatter the figures of all your bridesmaids. An option would be to choose the same length of the dress and the same fabric but let each of your bridesmaids choose a style of dress that works well with their figures. A little coordination and either a family member, friend, or professional dressmaker can carry this off and make it look fabulous.
If you opt for the same dress on all your bridesmaids, don’t just think about what looks pretty to you. Think about the shapes and sizes of your bridesmaids. When in doubt, an A-line skirt will look lovely on almost any figure and hems just at or past the knee are usually flattering. This is part of the reason that fit-and-flare dresses are a wardrobe go-to for so many of us. They just look great. Keep necklines in mind, too. A simple V-neck or slight scoop to a neckline is the most versatile. With a little forethought, you can choose dresses that will look lovely on all your bridesmaids (and they might even wear them again!).
This may sound a bit odd, but bridesmaids work. Yes, they walk down the aisle, but the typical bridesmaid will also carry things, open doors, and be at the ready for any last-minute details that the bride needs. So having a dress that doesn’t wrinkle easily, will flow nicely while walking down the aisle, can repel a stain, and won’t show perspiration when she dances all night at the reception are all pluses. Synthetic fabrics with a bit of lining can be excellent choices for these reasons.
Typically, bridesmaids have matching shoes. Unless they wear maxi dresses and their shoes will barely show, matching shoes will create a lovely look for the wedding party. Satin shoes dyed to match the dresses are always nice, but a neutral dress shoe that your bridesmaids can work into the rest of their wardrobe can be both beautiful and practical.
If you prefer to have all your bridesmaids wear matching jewelry, consider buying it for them as a bridesmaid gift or going shopping for faux jewelry together. Unless you are a super casual bride, you will want whatever jewelry your bridesmaids wear to not stand out much from each other. In the wedding photos, it is nice to have the bridesmaids look like they are wearing beautiful “uniforms.” Speaking of gifts, make sure to keep groomsmen’s gifts and anniversary gifts in mind as you plan your wedding. Remembering to thank all of your attendants is important when planning a wedding, and it is thoughtful to honor your parents and future in-laws’ anniversaries, too.
Hairstyles are an area where most brides are happy with having their bridesmaids express their individuality. The only exception to this would be a traditional bride and a bridesmaid who prefers fashion-forward hairstyles that include bright colors or unique silhouettes. If you have a clash of styles with any of your bridesmaids, talk one-on-one early with your bridesmaid about how she plans to wear her hair. Be respectful, and make sure you are both on the same page so there won’t be any surprises or hurt feelings on either side.
With a bit of planning (which is fun!), you and your bridesmaids will love your bridesmaid dresses.