Now that you’ve found your dream wedding dress, it’s time to start another gown shopping journey: the quest for the perfect bridesmaid dresses. No matter your wedding style or size of your bridal party, we’ve got everything you need to know to make bridesmaid dress shopping a breeze. Check out our tips on finding the perfect bridesmaid dresses for you and your besties, below.
Start off by doing some research. You can browse thousands of gowns here, bookmark your favorites and share them with your friends, and find salons in your area that carry the dresses you love. Whether you’re flipping through magazines or browsing online, it’s a good idea to tear out pages or save images to your inspiration board to help zero in on the colors and styles you like best.
If any of your friends have been in a bridal party before, they’ll know bridesmaids pay for their own dresses. But a gentle reminder is never a bad idea. When it comes to price, try to be considerate of your friends’ lifestyles. If you’re concerned your wedding might be a financial burden for one or more of your bridesmaids, focus your search on dresses in a more affordable range, or select a color you like and let them pick their own style.
Consider what kind of shopping experience will suit your personality best. If you tend to have strong opinions, it’s probably better to shop alone (or with just one friend). If you prefer more input, take the whole gang and give them guidelines, like color or fabric.
To ensure your bridal party matches your style, order your gown before making any decisions about the bridesmaid dresses.
It can sometimes take up to six months for orders to arrive and four to six weeks for alterations. A six to eight month cushion will give you and your friends ample time to find and order the dresses and get them fit.
A bridesmaid dress is typically ordered using a person’s biggest measurements (from the bust, waist and hips), so your friends will likely buy dresses at least a size larger than they normally wear. If a friend wants to buy a size smaller, let her know it’s much easier to alter a larger dress, and if the dress ends up being too small, she’ll likely have to order a new one and you’d hate for that to happen.
There are several foolproof ways to pick the perfect color. One of the easiest methods is to play off the color schemes of your palette, the venue and the season. For instance, if your wedding will be held at a rustic vineyard with burgundy décor, you might want to rule out clashing hot pink dresses. Rich colors—marsala and emerald—work well in the fall and winter months, while lighter shades—mint and lavender—are perfect for spring and summer. If you’re still at a loss for exactly which hue to choose, go for a general color, like green, and let your bridesmaids pick their favorite shades from light to dark for a trendy, mismatched look. Want to push the envelope even further? Consider prints—floral-print bridesmaid dresses are hot right now. Just remember: Patterns work best in smaller parties and should be paired with simple accessories. Or, you could opt for an all-white bridal party, à la Kate Middleton or Solange Knowles, for a look that’s crisp and chic.
Also, think about choosing a shade that goes well with a variety of skin tones. Stonewashed colors, like blush, greige (a combination of gray and beige) and sand, are universally flattering and right on trend. Jewel tones (think amethyst, emerald and sapphire) complement fairer complexions, while brighter, bolder hues, like cobalt blue and hot pink, pop against darker skin. Want an edgier feel? Try flattering metallics, like silver, bronze and champagne. If you’re opting for a print, make sure the dominant colors work with your entire bridal party. Or alternatively, deck out just your maid of honor in a print and keep the rest of your girls in solid colors. Fully embellished dresses are another fashion-forward option for a more glamorous affair. We love the idea of mismatched sequin dresses—that way your girls can choose a shade that suits them.
Remind your girls to get the right undergarments. Depending on the style of dress (read: strapless or one shoulder), your bridesmaids may need some special support. Trust us—even the most amazing dress can look unflattering with the wrong bra. In addition to a new bra, each bridesmaid might also need a specific panty or body shaper.