Next to choosing your own dress, choosing the bridal party attire for your bridesmaids can be one of the most important and challenging tasks in planning your wedding.
As the bride, you will choose the color and type of fabric for your bridesmaids, junior bridesmaids and your flower girl if you have one.
Dresses for bridesmaids should complement your gown and be beautiful and comfortable for your bridesmaids as well. You will need to take into account their styles, figure types, and their budgets. If you can arrange it, go shopping with your maid of honor and one or two bridesmaids to get ideas and narrow down the selection.
When planning bridal party dresses, three major considerations are your wedding’s theme and/or season, how formal your wedding will be, and the ages and finances of your bridesmaids.
If your wedding has a theme, then your bridal party attire should complement that theme. The dresses for a summer beach wedding will be very different from that for a winter wedding that may have a winter holiday theme.
If you are planning a fairy tale wedding theme, then you will want the dresses for bridesmaids to be traditional rather than avant-garde.
Certain fabrics go better at different times of the year. Velvet is gorgeous for a winter wedding, but far from ideal for an outdoor wedding in the summer. Conversely, the gauzy, Bohemian bridesmaids’ dresses that are perfect for a beach wedding will seem skimpy and incomplete for a Christmas wedding.
The overall level of formality will also determine your bridal party attire. The more formal your wedding, the more precise and “done” the dresses for bridesmaids should be. Additionally, in a more formal wedding you’re more likely to want your bridesmaids to wear identical dresses, whereas with a more casual wedding, bridesmaids might wear different variations on a style, yet with the same fabric.
At a very casual wedding, particularly in high summer, the bridesmaids may have more scope in choosing their own dresses – with your approval, of course. A vintage or retro themed wedding might allow a range of styles, since “vintage” generally doesn’t mean that everything matches.
When planning bridal party attire, do take into account the ages and financial means of your bridesmaids, particularly those who are traveling long distances. While elegant velvet sheath dresses with bell sleeves will look wonderful on a bridesmaid in her 30s or 40s, younger bridesmaids may not shine as much in this style.
Younger bridesmaids often look better in slightly trendy styles, and can carry off spaghetti straps and more daring styles better than older bridesmaids.
Keep in mind that in general, younger women who are just starting off their adult life may not have the money to spend on an expensive outfit that a bridesmaid in her 30s or 40s will.
When it’s time to select bridal party attire, remember why you chose your bridesmaids in the first place: because they are special to you. Though you are the bride and have final say over the color and style of dresses for bridesmaids, try to put yourself in their dyed-to-match shoes, or remember times when you served as a bridesmaid.
The best bridesmaids dresses result in happy, confident bridesmaids that make a beautiful wedding even more beautiful, and can strengthen your friendship even during this hectic and stressful time. If you don’t lose sight of your wedding’s theme, the level of formality, and the ages and budgets of your bridesmaids, you’ll make a choice that both you and they can be proud of.