Your choice of bridesmaid dress can really set the tone and say so much about your wedding day style. The colour establishes the entire scheme, the fabric suggests how formal or casual your day will be, and the style choice will demonstrate your style sensibilities for eternity. So a whole lot of pressure then!
Finding a dress that ticks all the boxes for you is the easy part, getting your bridesmaids to agree can be one of the most difficult tasks of styling your wedding. Negotiating varying body types, skin tone and hair colour can be tricky enough, but your bridesmaids aren’t mute! They will tell you what they do and don’t like, which areas of their body they are unhappy with (invisible pot bellies, flat chests and so on), some will insist they must wear a proper bra, others will tell you they must wear full length as they don’t like their legs, that she wore purple to Sarah’s wedding so cannot possibly wear purple again. You get the picture!
So I am here with some hints and tips on how to get what you want – you are the bride after all!
One of my best pieces of advice is to take control from the very beginning. I’m not saying to be a bossy bridezilla, but let your bridesmaids know that since you are buying the dresses that you get the final say. You’ll let them direct you towards their favourites, but the choice of colour, shape, colour and fabric are ultimately up to you.
I find the best plan of action is to go shopping for the dresses without your bridesmaids! Usually at the end of a bridal styling appointment I will make recommendations on what kind of bridesmaid dress would best suit your chosen wedding dress, and I find that this is the perfect opportunity to narrow down the selection available yourself.
If you have a particular colour in mind then the best starting point is to sift through the colour charts to identify which dresses are available in your chosen colour. There is no point finding a dress you love only to discover that the colour choice is limited and having to compromise.
Your wedding dress will dictate your bridesmaid dress choice to a certain extent. I strongly believe that they shouldn’t be too similar as it will look like you opted for a ‘set’, like you were told what to have! I feel like there should be one similar element, such as a similar neckline, skirt shape or fabric that ties you all together. It’s more important that the ‘feel’ is similar, for example if your wedding dress is lace the overall ‘feel’ will be a softness that is best mimicked in a chiffon bridesmaid style, as chiffon hangs well and flows in a similar way to most laces, whereas a taffeta dress will have a much more structured and severe look.
If you have a theme in mind this will really help to narrow down the choices. If your theme is red carpet glamour then a satin jewel toned dress will work really well. A vintage floral theme will be best reflected in a chiffon gown in a soft muted shade. A retro fifties theme generally works best with a shorter fuller skirt and a summery colour such as daisy yellow.
So armed with the knowledge of what will suit your dress and your theme, along with your preferences, I suggest having a good look at all the options available and to try to narrow it down to five to ten contenders.
Then it is time to bring in the bridesmaids! It’s a good idea to explain to them prior to their appointment that you have narrowed it down to these options and their job is to help you decide which one is best. Make sure that they understand that you’ve already done the legwork and eliminated all the ‘bad’ styles, they just have to give you their input on which one of these is the best.
Bridesmaid dresses are far from the frumpy dresses of past years, today’s styles are more elegant, sexy and sophisticated, and above all flattering! You are lucky to have so many options! But still you might have one bridesmaid who throws a strop or gives you grief over your chosen style. It’s worth keeping in mind, and maybe even mentioning to your girls that being asked to be a bridesmaid is an honour, and that were she just a guest at your wedding she could easily spend £200+ on your outfit. So getting rigged out in an outfit chosen by the bride shouldn’t be such a hardship.
Whilst you do have to take control and be borderline manipulative in order to get what you want, you still need to be kind to your girls and choose dresses that are kind to them. I always find that if you focus on finding a style that suits your most awkward maid the most (in personality or body type), then it will work out perfectly. Obviously your tall thin bridesmaid will look fab in most dresses so don’t let her choice dictate, especially if the style won’t flatter your curvier bridesmaid.
I have all kinds of tips on what style will work on each particular figure type, but that’s a whole other blog! But a bit of pre-emptive advice especially for the bridesmaid whose double g’s threaten to crush your choice of bridesmaid dresses is to suggest that all your girls get fitted for really good strapless bras before they come shopping, that way you won’t have to guess how a dress would look if their boobs were in the right position. In my opinion the best strapless bra around is by Wonderbra, which fits up to a 38g.
It can be difficult to find a style that fits and flatters everyone’s style, personality and skin-tone, but remember that a bridesmaid dress doesn’t have to be a uniform – straps can be added, necklines tweaked, skirt shapes tailored. You can customise and tailor the dresses to be the best possible match for each of your bridesmaids!