How To Choose Bridesmaid Dresses
July 26th, 2023 Wedding IDEAS, INSPIRATION AND INSIDER TIPS
How to Pick Bridesmaid Dresses: Colors, Styles, and More
If a gorgeous bridal dress is the centerpiece of your dream wedding ceremony, the bridesmaid dresses provide the perfect complement. These amplify both the wedding dress itself and the overarching theme of the event. They also boost the actual experience of the bridesmaids, ensuring that they feel both comfortable and beautiful during the entire wedding day.
There's no denying that bridesmaid dresses play an important role in your big day, but they can often be difficult to select. These gowns bring all the complexities of wedding dresses to the table — the need for the right fit and aesthetic, for example — along with additional concerns such as the season, the budget, and the need to accommodate various schedules or locations.
Despite all this, the process of finding the perfect bridesmaid dress can be surprisingly enjoyable if you view it as an opportunity rather than an obligation. We're here to remove the guesswork so you can find dresses that your bridesmaids adore. We go over colors, styles, budgets, and more to help you find the best bridesmaid dresses.
Choosing the Perfect Bridesmaid Dress Color
The wedding dress status quo remains white and, while a growing share of bridal styles incorporate other colors (or even patterns), there's no denying that bridesmaid dresses are a lot more versatile in this regard. This is even more true with recent trends where brides choose a palette of colors and let their bridesmaids choose the color of their own dress. This is both a great opportunity and a major challenge: you get the chance to play with a vast color palette, but it may be difficult to accommodate every bridesmaid's color preferences.
Ultimately, your wedding color scheme will play a major role in color selection; you need something that works well with the flowers, decor, and so on. Beyond this, take into account the various colors that are most likely to complement your own dress or your bridesmaids' skin tones.
If the vast range of options feels overwhelming, consider narrowing down your long list of choices based on current color trends that fall within the scope of your preferred color scheme. Keep in mind this is your wedding, so the color options are ultimately up to you and your partner.
When in doubt, look to Pinterest for inspiration. Compare and contrast, using (if available) your already selected bridal gown and other existing wedding elements to determine whether potential bridesmaid dresses complement or clash with the essentials.
Deciding on a Style
Silhouette, neckline, fabric, embellishments...there is a lot to take into account beyond color alone. At minimum, any bridesmaid style should complement the bridal dress — but ideally, it won't be too similar. Consider the general aesthetic of your wedding, along with the designs that are most likely to flatter your bridesmaids so they look and feel their best on this special day. Take these factors into account as you examine potential dress styles:
Bridesmaids deserve to feel just as beautiful as the brides they support. Too often, however, they endure dresses that simply aren't suited to their unique body types. For this reason, a truly considerate bride will opt for bridesmaid dresses that make everybody feel gorgeous. This might mean selecting one of a few tried-and-tested styles that are universally flattering for all body shapes.
When in doubt, the classic A-line is a safe bet for making any bridesmaid feel confident during the wedding ceremony and reception. Fitted at the bodice but featuring a gentle flair, this will accommodate any size or shape while drawing attention to bridesmaids' best features.
The neckline must also be considered, especially if bridesmaids have considerably different bust sizes. Sweetheart necklines can be gorgeous, but V-necks and scoop necks are more likely to flatter a wider variety of bridesmaids. Some bridesmaids will be more amenable to strapless dresses than others, so take their stated preferences into account.
Keep in mind that, while your bridesmaids can (and in most cases, should) get alterations to make their dresses fit perfectly, the ease and expense of this will largely depend on the style of dress you've selected. This is another advantage of the A-line: few alterations will be required to achieve the perfect fit.
Beyond the silhouette and neckline, preferences regarding fabrics, colors, and other features must be taken into account. Some bridesmaids love chiffon, for example, while others are more impressed by crepe or satin. Some love the idea of figure-flattering A-lines while others would like to play with more daring or contemporary silhouettes.
Prior to selecting a dress, request feedback on several styles and themes, so you get a feel for what your bridesmaids generally like — and which styles they are most determined to avoid. You may be surprised by the answers, so don't hesitate to get their honest feedback.
While most brides prefer matching bridesmaid dresses, there is a viable backup option if people express dramatically different preferences regarding dress silhouette, necklines, or even fabric: select a specific color or color palette and allow each bridesmaid to choose a dress silhouette and style that fits this shade but also works for their unique body type. This isn't quite as cohesive, but it is an increasingly popular option for laid-back weddings or for accommodating plus-size, petite, or tall bridesmaids and making sure everyone feels comfortable.
Bridal Gown Coordination
Yes, your bridesmaids should feel beautiful, confident, and appreciated, but remember: you, the bride, remain the star of the show. Don't compromise your preferred style for the sake of bridesmaid dresses — your gown should always come first. It's important to be considerate, but it's also okay to be a bit selfish, so long as you are respectful as you communicate your preferences.
Because you are the belle of the ball, it's best to select your bridal gown before you start researching and shopping for bridesmaid dresses. This way, you can choose your dress strictly with your preferences in mind, rather than instinctually compromising because you're worried about what others will think. Once you've achieved this crucial step, you may find that it's actually easier to narrow down the vast selection of available bridesmaid designs.
In addition to coordinating the bridesmaid dresses with your own unique bridal style, you'll need to do the same between bridesmaids — especially if you have opted to allow various bridesmaids to choose their own gowns. What's more, you'll need to determine how these fit into the greater scheme of the event itself.
This is where your emerging vision of the perfect wedding photos might come into play: if you have a specific backdrop, setting, or type of decor in mind, which bridesmaid styles are most likely to amplify the effect?
You'll find this a lot easier if you've already defined the aesthetic for both your gown and the wedding itself. A few simple adjectives can streamline this process: think terms like fairytale, boho chic, sultry, or cottagecore. With these descriptions in mind, you'll immediately know if a particular dress makes the cut.
Considering Practical Matters
You could find the perfect dress that complements your wedding theme and looks amazing on every bridesmaid — but it still might be out of reach if it's meant for the wrong season or simply not feasible from a budgetary perspective. Take these factors into account as you seek something suited to your wedding party:
● Everyone's budget. Some bridesmaids will be able to dedicate far more to dresses than others. Many are willing to spend around $200 or $300 before dedicating additional funds to alterations. Be sensitive to budgetary limitations that, depending on the situation, may force you to select a modestly-priced gown that calls for minimal alterations.
● Comfort and wearability. Sometimes, the most stunning dresses are also the least comfortable. Remember: your bridesmaids have a long day ahead. Choose something that looks lovely in photos but also allows them to dance the night away. Also think about the season: what works for a summer wedding is unlikely to be comfortable or practical in the winter.
● Coordinating with bridesmaids. Sometimes, scheduling is the biggest problem. Your bridesmaids are busy and, chances are, they don't have a lot of spare time for browsing or trying on dresses. For this reason, some will strongly prefer the convenience of online purchasing.
Bridesmaid Dress Shopping and Decision-Making
Wedding dress shopping gets all the attention, but browsing bridesmaid dresses can be just as fun. The vast selection of bridesmaid dresses can feel overwhelming at times (especially since almost any dress can work!). It helps to narrow your options by focusing on a specific type of store or online retailer.
Wedding boutiques are charming but may not be accessible to all bridesmaids, especially if some live thousands of miles away. Some bridesmaids may prefer to rent instead of purchase their gowns, so be willing to research these services.
Finalizing the Dress Selection
The process isn't quite over once you've found the perfect look for your bridal party. Next comes tasks like taking measurements, planning for alterations, and getting the dresses to your bridesmaids. Set aside plenty of time to address these moving parts. At minimum, aim to select bridesmaid dresses at least six months before the wedding.
Once the dresses are ordered, you can complete the final touches by selecting shoes and accessories. Aim for comfy, yet cute footwear and simple jewelry that fits the overarching aesthetic. Ideally, your bridesmaids will be able to rewear these pieces in the future or use pieces they may already own.
Make Bridesmaid Dress Shopping a Breeze
Like all aspects of wedding planning, shopping for bridesmaid dresses should be fun — not stressful. We've highlighted all the essentials to keep in mind, but don't forget the power of your own intuition. With this at the forefront, you should have no trouble finding the perfect style for everyone involved.
It all begins with finding a wedding dress you adore. Look to Moonlight Bridal for styles that work for every budget, body type, and aesthetic. Reach out today to learn more or find an authorized retailer near you.
Photo Credits: Kate Hensley Phillips Photography
Dress: Moonlight Tango Style T963