I’ve been a busy bee with all the tiny details that wedding pros warn you about – missed communications , last-minute budget squeezes, forgetting deadlines….
But now that I’ve finally chosen my own bridesmaid dresses, I can give you the skinny on pitfalls, tricks, and tips that will save you time and money!
5 Tips for Finding the Perfect Bridesmaid Dresses
1. Shop for the most difficult girl to fit.
Of course you want all your bridesmaids to look stunning, but chances are there are one or two girls that have more challenging body types. Your busty sister might feel awkward and exposed in a strapless dress, your curvy cousin may not fit in some retail sizes, your pear-shaped MOH might hate you if you choose a bodycon minidress… If you keep them in mind while you’re looking, there will be less tears in the long run. Bonus: if you make your girls feel amazing on your wedding day, they’ll pay it forward when you’re a bridesmaid in their weddings!
2. Retail or Bridesmaid Brand?
One of your first decisions will be whether you are going to buy retail or a bridesmaid brand. If you’re on a budget or are letting your girls go wild and pick their own, retail may be the way to go, but keep in mind that if you’re picking out one dress from say, Banana Republic, it might not be universally flattering. I found a fabulous dress at White House Black Market that was in budget, but its skirt pattern wouldn’t allow for hemming and it was far too long on my shorter bridesmaids. Another retail dress looked amazing on my MOH, but was only available up to a size 12, and ran small (not going to work for some of my curvy bridesmaids!). Bridesmaid brands may be a little expensive, and you have to wade through a lot of tacky ones, but they are highly customizable, available in a plethora of sizes and colors, and most salons offer in-house alterations. It’s ultimately up to you, and what kind of dress you’re looking for.
3. Do Your Research!
This was a tip on my wedding dress shopping list as well! It really helps to do some serious Pinterest pinning and see what options you have out there. If you have an amazing budget for dresses, you might try looking for bridesmaid dresses made by the same designer as your wedding gown! Modern bridesmaids dresses aren’t too hard to come by these days, and fabulous lines like Alfred Sung and Jim Hjelm offer much more wearable style than the taffeta disasters of old. If you’re on a budget, check out Vera Wang’s line for David’s Bridal – it’s drape-y romance for much less than you’d expect.
4. Wait to ask for input.
If you’re picking out your bridesmaid’s gowns, chances are you want a cohesive look. Opinionated bridesmaids can be overwhelming, so unless you want an avalanche of differing opinions, wait until you know what look you want to let them in on the fun. After you’ve picked a few styles that are in budget and a good fit for your wedding, let your girls weigh in on their favorites. If heated battles persist, remember there are a lot of dress collections that look cohesive but come in a variety of necklines, lengths, and shapes so each girl can pick what flatters her.
5. Don’t order blindly.
We’ve heard some horror stories about our brides ordering dresses online (sight unseen!) and having to dump money and time into fixing/reordering/realtering/returning dresses that were all wrong. If you’re dead set on a dress that you (or your girls) can’t try on, be sure to order really ridiculously early so you can fix any issues ahead of time. Take your MOH or your whole group of girls in to try on dresses. They look so different on real people than in a magazine or on a model!
- If you find a dress you love in a boutique or department store, ask ASAP how long they plan to carry it, or if they go on sale periodically. It would be horrible if you couldn’t exchange for a different size later on, or it was out of stock by the time you could order.
- It goes without saying, but if your girls are picking up the tab and you find the “perfect dress” overbudget, be ready to pay the difference yourself or double check with your bridesmaids. No one wants money drama to ruin their big day.
- If you let your girls choose their own dresses, make sure you set some parameters. Just saying “black dress” could saddle you with four different fabrics, multiple lengths, and who knows what else making your posse look more thrown-together than styled. A safe bet would be: chiffon, black, floor-length, flowy, rhinestone or plain embellishments. Another (less controlling) way would be to go shopping with your bridesmaids for their dresses or request approval via phone photo before they purchase.
- Don’t rule out “out of the box” ensembles. If you find the most amazing metallic circle skirt that everyone adores, go hunt for some adorable blouses and statement necklaces to go with it. Hunt for vintage lace dresses at thrift stores and get them altered, pick a bold print, mix and match colors – anything you want!
That’s all my experiences have taught me! Have a wonderful Monday darlings! I’ll be busy putting together my wedding in April – can’t wait to show you!
XOXO – Morgan Elizabeth